**The following was written March 31st. It had not been previously posted as I asked a few people to weigh in before publishing. We're feeling better, though idle for another couple of weeks. Baby G's finger is healing nicely, I was just freaking out for a minute and needed to get this off my chest. Enjoy!**
The following was written by Dizzle. Baby G may write her own narrative, but for the moment, you're all stuck with me.
One thing I learned in college was the format of a three-act play. Supposedly, one of the major parts of telling a story is that the first third, or Act I, is an introduction to the characters and the beginnings of their conflict or story. The second third, Act II, generally ends on a down note, and the audience is left going out for a cigarette or coffee at intermission wondering if the heroes will resolve everything by the end. Finally, and obviously, Act III is the ultimate resolution, stereotypically with a happy ending (not THAT kind of 'happy ending'. The kind from 'Jedi'). The “Star Wars” trilogy follows this format, and I've heard George Lucas was inspired by the old pulp-style superhero stories that followed this format closely. You can even see it sometimes in other movies or TV shows. Commercial breaks are timed in such a way to be conducive to this type of story-telling.
Well, since the very beginning of Baby G & Dizzle's Kiwi Experience started with a post called “Prologue”, I feel it's appropriate to pause for a moment and update you on the state of our “heroes.” I'm not afraid to tell you, it's been a rough couple weeks. We have come this far away from home (the first time *I* for one have ever set foot out of my home country) in part to think very seriously about our future. Those of you who know us well, know that we have a tendency to over analyze and become slightly panicky about the more negative developments in our lives. Also, we've spent the better part of the last four years (since we graduated) sort of idle in the restaurant business. This is not necessarily BAD work, but we have needed to decide if it's really what we want to be doing with our lives.
The downhill slope started a few weeks ago. One of my best friends, a guy by whom I've been inspired to be a better person, lost his dad to a sudden heart attack. I've known him most of my life, and I'd even go so far as to say his parents had a hand in raising me. This buddy of mine and I lost touch when I was a teenager, mostly due to the fact that we lived far away from each other and teenagers are more concerned about garage bands and acne than they are keeping in touch with one another. In late 2005 he moved nearer to where Baby G and I were living in Washington, DC, and we were blessed with a chance to reconnect. I learned that he had become a very good man. He is kind, funny and compassionate, and that's great, but I've heard that said about me, too. No, the thing about this friend of mine is that he is LAID BACK, something I've never been. I admire that, and have been trying to channel him throughout this trip to New Zealand, in an effort to become a better man – someone who is more able to handle a more “roll with the punches” mindset. The loss of his father shook him up, and so when I called to express my condolences and offer anything I could do for help, he sounded less like how I remember him and more like he had a lot on his plate. Don't get me wrong, he obviously IS going through a lot right now, and my heart goes out to him. I'm just saying that hearing his voice like that; sad, stressed, out of sorts was something for which I was ill-prepared. Dude, if you're reading this, know that you are missed and loved by both Baby G and I, and feel free to call us anytime if you need to.
Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker had just learned about his own lineage and has left Dagobah to confront Darth Vader.
The beginning-middle of March found your protagonists looking for work. I was offered a job managing a pool hall in what ends up being a shady neighborhood after dark, and had to turn them down as public transportation doesn't run as late as I would've been getting out. Baby G could've stayed at the university answering phones, but the office is (for some reason) flea-infested, and she's been having trouble understanding the Kiwi accent over the phone. So we accepted the only job we'd been offered as a team: the airport food lounge. It's essentially the same as what I imagine working at McDonald's would be like: scooping fries, working the register, pouring the occasional soda. We are VASTLY overqualified for this work, but because we could be hired together, we figured we'd just do our best to help each other to laugh through it. We looked at the finances and figured we'd only need to stick it out for about six weeks in order to make enough money to explore the South Island for a couple weeks and then head back to the States. Some of the shifts for work start at 4:00am, as there is a lot of commuter air traffic to places like Auckland, Christchurch and Sydney, so BG and I had to swiftly alter our sleep schedules as best we could to still be able to wake up at the brutally early hour of 2:30am.
Have any of you ever had a job you absolutely hated? I mean, a job where no one with whom you work speaks English, and though the work itself isn't difficult, you can feel your sanity slowly slipping away each time you open the greasy hot-food case or some other comparable task of banality? If you have, then you understand what we're going through for 40 hours a week. Combine the mindlessness of the work with the lack of adequate slumber, and you're looking at a ZombieDizzle.
Ordinarily, these two things would be a bit of a downer, but manageable for 6 weeks. As long as we didn't lose any more sleep, didn't get sick, and didn't receive any news from home that might make us homesick during this stretch, we'd be fine, right? Keep our heads low, our mouths shut, and get the work done. Get paid, take off, have learned lessons and become better people in the process, right? RIGHT?
Sounds about as promising as Han Solo, Chewie, Leia, R2 and 3PO heading off to Cloud City to go see their good friend Lando to discuss the dark times they've witnessed over good food, company and wine.
On our third day of work, Baby G had an accident. We were both working in the espresso bar, and she had a line of customers. She apparently had gotten a few orders for hot chocolate, but had run out of mix and needed me to find some. When I got back from across the food court with the chocolate, my Baby was running her hand under water. “Are you okay?” I asked her, and she sort of gritted her teeth and nodded and told me to go help the customers. The next thing I know, Baby G is gone, and after about ten minutes of making coffee for people, the duty manager, Grant, came over to me and told me to “knock off early”. He asked if I knew what happened, and I told him I didn't. “Well,” he said, “[Baby G] got her finger ground up in the coffee grinder and so Moni is off to get his car to give you guys a ride to the ER. Go ahead and clock out; she's in the lounge.”
I sprinted to the employee lounge to see my love crying and shaking and bleeding. Not necessarily in that order, but doing plenty of all three. One of our coworkers, Momoe (or something), a thoroughly unpleasant Samoan, asked what happened and (I swear to God) started LAUGHING when I told her. Before either BG or I could clock this chick in the face, we heard Moni's keys as he ran to get us, so we decided to split and meet him in the hallway.
I know most of you already saw the post regarding the injury, so I won't bore you with the gory (anyone?) details, but suffice it to say, it was a horrible night. She didn't need stitches, but whenever we tell people that, they make a face like, “Oh, phew, at least it's not that bad.” It's better to say she didn't RECEIVE stitches. She NEEDED them badly, but unfortunately, there wasn't enough SKIN to stitch. Seriously, you can see the inner meat of her finger when they redress this thing. It's really gross and there is no way she's very comfortable. They told us at the hospital (the kids in the waiting room, Moni's girlfriend, and the drunk 16-year old are either stories for another post, or for the next time we see you in person. We can't give it ALL away, can we?) that she should get a new, clean bandage in 3 days, and that we should go to the clinic down the road. Sadly, that plan didn't work out for us as she bled through that thing in, like, 20 hours. So we went to the clinic to get it redressed, and they informed us we'd need to come back to have it changed every day for awhile. I pretty much bitched out the doctor for the entire New Zealand medical system and how confusing this was for us. We were both (Baby G and I, not me and the doctor. Sorry.) understandably scared, and a little lonely. My girl doesn't do too well with doctors as it is, so to have to attend one every single day for God-knows-how-long was pretty rough. I didn't sleep too much that first few nights, and was starting to lose my shit by the third day.
I did, however, keep going to work, as the company was paying for BG's missed wages up to the first week, but we'd worked out our return budget with TWO full-time incomes. Wanna watch time move really REALLY slowly? Go to work at the above-mentioned job worrying for 8 hours about the person you love. Time's funny that way, I guess.
Figuring out New Zealand's medical system has been a trip in and of itself. I won't go too far into it, but from where BG and I were, it seemed we shouldn't have to pay a DIME because this injury occurred at work. It doesn't work that way here, though. Apparently, we pay the prices of the FACILITY where she's getting the redressing done. So, at this clinic that was referred to us by the ER, they were charging us NZ$43 a visit and telling us to come back every day for awhile. Thankfully, BG got the idea to go to a GP here in our suburb and they have thus far been very cool and are only having us come in once a week and charging us less. Since Workman's Comp isn't a thing here in NZ, we're going to be out of pocket some, but this is much less of a concern than Baby G's healing, which, after a week now, is finally coming along. Thank God. The point is, it has taken a lot of questions to every doctor, nurse, manager, and receptionist to sort any of this out, as no one really knows what to do with two Yanks on a working holiday visa if one's gotten her fingertip cut off in a coffee grinder. We're still working on this as I type, but last week was by far the worst time it's been here.
Baby G got many emails of support during this time, which I know made her feel much better and lessened the pain some, but from what she tells me, she was pretty freaked out those times that I had to go to work. There was some news from home, also, that was more business-oriented than anything emotionally supportive, and so she had to nine-finger-type her way through some of that on her own. Not easy.
Remember when I said “As long as we didn't lose any more sleep, didn't get sick, and didn't receive any news from home that might make us homesick during this stretch, we'd be fine”? Well there's the hat-trick. We got all three in one fell swoop.
But, hey, Luke lost his whole HAND, right?
I guess BG saw in my body language after the third or fourth day that I was pretty close to the edge, because she asked me if I was okay. I hadn't known it, but I was pretty far from okay. I was walking around like a dead guy due to fatigue, and was starting to feel the pressure of some of the more everyday things like customers at work, housework, and emails to the States regarding tax-time. It was then that we really sat down and had a long talk about what the next step should be. Neither one of us has been very comfortable in our own skin lately, and we hadn't yet really had the opportunity to address it with one another.
Things are looking up today. We went into town and continued pumping each other up, trying to calm each other's nerves and raise our self-esteem. Baby G asked if maybe it would help to blow off some steam in this blog, and so that's what I'm doing. I asked if it would be inappropriate to blog about my feelings, but she reminded me that we know of several people who do just that, and that it's not egocentric since the people who read this blog are smart people who care about us and should be in on these things.
My dad said something early on in this trip, and my buddy Paul echoed it today on the phone. They both mentioned that though the blog and pictures look good, when is the other shoe going to drop? Six months is a long time to be in a foreign country for the first time, and believe it or not, I think it was comforting to THEM to know if things were looking slightly unsavory. Like a reality-check, you know? To know that even Baby G and Dizzle, “anonymous” main characters of this travelogue, can be slowed in their adventure. Well, guys, and to anyone else out there wondering the same thing, the shoe's dropped. We're looking up now, and actually feeling pretty good knowing we have tickets home, newfound ambition for our lives, and that we're closer than ever to each other, but for awhile there, man, did it get dark.
I am not writing this to sound whiny, weak or selfish. Though I may sound all three of these things, the intention is to blow off some steam by publicly letting you know how we're doing, and that no matter how pretty the scenery, sometimes you just wish you were back at home. THAT emotion is yet another lesson learned.
We've reached the end of Act II, and it's time for intermission. We may blog updates in the next little while, but until April 30th, nothing is scheduled to happen other than showing up on time for this absurd position in airport food service. Don't worry about us – that's not why I wrote this – we feel fairly confident that we'll be partying with the Ewoks soon enough as we near the conclusion. You should come. There'll be a big bonfire and friendly robots and Alec Guinness' ghost might show up. But do us a favor: If you DO decide to come dance to the “Yub Yub” song with us, bring pre-ground coffee, okay?
Thanks. Go hit the bathroom or grab a smoke. We'll catch up with you shortly at curtains-up.