December 28th, 2010 10:55am - Home for Birthday

My birthday spanned three countries and forty-eight hours. I flew from Cairns to Brisbane, Brisbane to Auckland, and Auckland to San Francisco. I was in the air for seventeen and a half hours. When I landed in Brisbane, I was tired. When I landed in Auckland, I was exhausted. When I landed in San Francisco at ten o'clock in the morning on my birthday, I was as useless as non-alcoholic beer.
My mom wanted to spend the day shopping. I wanted to spend the day in a horizontal position. The word comatose replayed in my brain. For two hours out of the six-hour timeframe my mom had delegated for splashing the cash, I forced my sister and mom to sit with me at Lefty O'Douls. They watched me drink beer and mumble delirious and sleep-deprived nonsense. At one point I talked about obtaining a pet alligator. In retrospect, they would make horrible pets. They're not soft.
My best friend Princess and I have the same birthday, and our moms had organized a birthday dinner for us at Bin 38.
As it was a few days before Christmas, San Francisco was as packed as Beijing. It took us forty-five minutes to get to the front of the line at the Union Square parking garage exit. When my mom reached for the parking ticket, she realized she didn't have it.
"Where's the ticket?" she asked.
"I don't know, you just had it."
"But where'd it go?" she continued.
"I don't know, you just had it!" I repeated.
Amid honks and profanities, we ransacked the car. Three minutes later, my mom sprinted to the payment booth in her heels. People behind us got out of their cars to yell at me. Those in the holiday spirit granted me the double middle finger. We sat in the idling car for nine minutes, never found the ticket, and were late to dinner.
Princess and the rest of our families had been at the restaurant for almost an hour and had eaten their way through appetizers and wine. I wanted to sit for two hours at the restaurant, and then I wanted to go to my girl E's apartment, shower, and sit some more on the couch with friends and Cali wine I hadn't seen in a year. I wanted it more than Christmas.
I sat down with a jet lagged sigh. The food portions were enough to satisfy a gerbil. I had been there for two minutes before Princess suggested we go to Bar None.
I was more likely to experiment with anal beads than go to a bar.
"But I'm going to Bar None to meet up with a guy I'm kind of seeing, and you have to come! We're leaving in fifteen minutes," Princess insisted.
"Um. No. That sounds like an absolutely terrible idea. That's the last thing I want to do."
"But you love Bar None."
"I loved Bar None my junior year of college. Why in the world would you think I want to go there now? I don't want to go to a bar at all."
"Please go to Bar None, it'll be fun! Two of your friends are there."
"Two of my friends are there? Which ones? Why would my friends go to Bar None? We haven't hung out there in three years."
"E and Fi-Town."
"I want to go to their house and shower and then sit on the couch and drink a bottle of wine! And you told them to go to Bar None? I can't even go to their place now? You told my friends to go to a bar? That's the last place in the world I want to go. I've been in three countries in the past forty-eight hours, and on four flights. I'd rather run home to Santa Rosa than go to a bar."
"Just for one drink? Please come out with us! Just for one drink!"
"Fuck no! I refuse to go."
Princess was insistent.
"I refuse to go to a bar just so you can be all over some guy. Two years ago, we lived together and on our birthday you didn't leave your goddamn room. I'm not going just so you can have a hook-up tonight."
Princess cried.
Then she called my friends, who were already at Bar None. I told them that I didn't want to go to some bar, and that I'd rather be around only the people I care about. They said I should just come out for one beer, and then we could go and sit on a couch.
I didn't want to go to any bar, and the dinner options were as appealing as the movie Flubber.
The only thing on the menu that was potentially a decent portion of food was the burger. I threw the menu down in disgust.
"Who the hell picked this place? They don't even have real-person portions."
Princess and our good friend from high school had decided upon the place.
"Please come just for one drink! There might be friends of yours who you haven't seen in awhile. Let's leave in five minutes."
"Nobody in their right mind would go to Bar None. I just want to shower and sit on a couch. Not watch you flirt with some guy you probably don't even care about."
Princess cried again. She told me that she had organized a surprise birthday party for me and we were supposed to have arrived there forty minutes ago. She was just trying to make me happy.

December 25th 2011 7:55pm - Gilligan's and Shaka Shaka Shaka

Last week I laid out on the beach at Surfer's Paradise with a few friends and a book. There is a hole in the ozone above Australia. I should have worn sunscreen.
The next week, my entire body was peeling. I was shedding skin like a snake. My skin got so burnt that it split and an open gash formed on my leg. My bottom lip produced growths that comprised of multiple sun blisters layered over each other. I clearly contracted a serious case of herpes from the sun.

I was going home for Christmas and my first flight, from Cairns to Brisbane, was at 6am. While I was in the tourist office arranging transportation, some guy glanced at me and then screamed that I looked like a gremlin. I don't know what a gremlin looks like, but people stared at my cracking and blistering skin. My lips were the size of a ball sack.
The kind souls in that tourist office booked me a shuttle for four in the morning. At three, I hadn't gone to sleep yet. I had thought it more important to pack and then watch while Manchester made friends with a vagabond on the street.
Manchester and I had been walking back from the corner store when we were approached by a homeless man. He didn't speak, but he motioned for food. I was intoxicated and more engrossed with pounding back water like a crazy camel lady than paying attention to the exchange. I was trying to sober up for my flight and water tasted fantastic. The liquid was crisp and cold. I was happier than if I had smoked pot. It was so good, I swear I could have been drinking God's saliva.
I took four sips and then Manchester castrated the water bottle from my hands and offered it to the derelict.
"What? Why?" I asked Manchester.
"Shaka Shaka Shaka," replied the hobo. And then he chugged the rest of the water bottle. I watched him gulp it down his trachea.
"The man's just thirsty and hungry," said Manchester. "He needs food."
"Shaka Shaka Shaka," said the transient.
We were on the street outside of Gilligan's Island, our badass backpackers accommodation. I looked at Manchester, at the hobo, and at the door.
"What's your name, man?" asked Manchester.
"Shaka Shaka Shaka."
"Your name's Shaka?"
"Shaka Shaka Shaka."
Some Aussies entering into Gilligan's screamed at us to leave him and come inside.
"It's okay, we're just talking to the man," yelled Manchester. "He's just hungry."
"Leave him, he's an Abo," they replied.
"He's a man," Manchester hollered, "and the reason he is this way is because of the British."
I stared at the man's eyes. They were bloodshot with yellow. I didn't know how that was possible, and I was just impressed.
Exhaustion was beginning to affect my brain functions, but we walked back to the corner store to buy Shaka some food. Manchester told him he could choose five dollars worth of food. Shaka threw an armload on the counter, and then went to the aisles for more. It amounted to thirty-two dollars.

A half hour later, I psuedo-sleepwalked down Gilligan's stairs with my bags. I returned the room key and put the ten dollar key deposit in my wallet. I then went outside and sat on the curb waiting for my shuttle. I sat half-comatose for an hour.
My senior year in high school, I received the most honorable of awards: Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Class. The next year, my brother got the award. We have skills. Sleeping skills. The shuttle that was supposed to come at four in the morning didn't come until five. When I stood up my right ass cheek stuck to the concrete. I'd been sitting in gum for an hour. It wasn't until the shuttle pulled away from the backpackers at 5:20am that I realized I had left my cell phone on the counter when I checked out.

December 24th 2010 9:50am - Dirty Head

Cairns is the Barbie of Australia. Barbie has everything. Cairns has everything.
Cairns boasts Great Barrier Reef diving and snorkling, sky diving, bungy jumping, horse riding, rainforest swimming, river rafting... and everything costs $250. Average. A bus trip up the coast to Cape Tribulation costs $150. For a bus trip.
I won a jelly wrestling contest in a bar and subsequently won a white water rafting trip valued at $250. In Peru, I paid $15 to white water raft. In India, I paid $8.
As a birthday present, my mom paid for me to dive the Great Barrier Reef. I couldn't afford anything else. No backpacker could.
Thus, Manchester, Ireland, Scotland and I wandered around Cairns doing things that were in our budget. We drank beer, ate McDonald's sundaes and tried on hats.
We strolled past a tourist shop with hat stands near the sidewalk. Scotland is a woman. She picked up and considered buying a pink Cairns hat. Manchester is a man. He elevated a bright pink hat that my grandma would wear to church. He placed the pink floppy hat on his head and rotated towards us with an angelic smile. A sweating man who worked at the shop bowled over to us and screamed, "Get your dirty head out of my hat."
I thought he was joking. I laughed. He turned on me.
"You wouldn't think it was so funny if someone didn't pay the ten dollars to buy the hat because there had been a dirty head in it," he shouted in my face. Some of his spit landed in my wide open mouth.
"Get your dirty head out of my hat," Shopkeeper shouted. His eyeballs looked like they wanted to inject us with tranquilizers.
Manchester was confused.
"I'm sorry," he replied, "but I don't think my head is dirty. I washed it this morning with Women's Grapefruit Body Wash."

December 17th 2010 9:43pm - A Toilet and a Plane Flight

When I woke up the morning after my going away BBQ, I felt fantastic. The world was glowing and my life was perfect. I was happy and warm. I was tingly. I was still drunk. That feeling rapidly abandoned me. When Boyfriend dropped me off at the airport to fly to Australia, a racquetball game was playing inside my stomach. I had started to sweat. Rum exuded out of my pores. My arms, legs, stomach, head, everything hurt. My toenails hurt. I felt like I'd been trampled by an elephant. My hangovers vary from slight stomach unease to bodily distress, akin to death.
When I'm hungover, consuming soda provides me with a false sense of functionality. I like to believe that the carbonation soothes my wreck of a body. It doesn't. I bought a bottle of 7-Up and then sat in the airport's waiting area with my head back, my eyes half-closed, and my limbs feeling like they had been attacked by a rabid dog. The airlines called everyone to board, I got in line, and when I extended my arm to hand over my ticket, I could feel my body rejecting the soda I had just swallowed. I screamed, "Oh God! Hold the plane," pivoted away from the line, and sprinted to the toilet.
Seven minutes later, nobody was in the line, and the airline attendants were waiting for me looking anxious. In a country with a population of four and a half million, they hold planes. My friend Rob Awesome was once standing outside the airport in Nelson smoking a cigarette when he received a call from Air New Zealand saying he had checked in but wasn't on board, and every passenger on the plane was waiting for him. He finished his cigarette and then got on the plane.

I had been assigned a middle seat in aisle four. The only toilet was in the back of the plane. I breathed shallowly and closed my eyes. The first time I asked a stewardess if I could go to the bathroom, she replied that the plane hadn't even left the ground. The fourth time I asked, she said that the fasten seatbelt light should turn off momentarily.
Forty-five minutes into the flight from Auckland to Brisbane, everyone knew my name. The first three times I got up to sprint to the bathroom in the back, the man sitting next to me in the aisle seat groaned. The fourth time he muttered, "For fuck's sake." In my subsequent sprint down the aisle, I shimmied around an old man and almost knocked a small child on his head. An hour and a half into the three hour flight, the stewardesses moved me to an aisle seat one row in front of the toilets. I had easy access and I was ecstatic.
During our descent, a steward asked me if I had vomited during the flight.
"Clearly," I replied.
"Once we land you're going to have to go through an extra interrogation before you're allowed to enter Australia."
"What?" I managed to utter. My eyes were closed. I had a second heartbeat in my head and the mental capacity of a file folder.
"Do you have any idea why you're vomiting?" Steward asked.
"I'm hungover as all hell." I stuck out my tongue. It was suffocating me.
Seven minutes later, the fasten seatbelt sign was on and I asked a stewardess if I could use the toilet.
"No, sorry, you have to stay in your seat. We're in our final descent."
"I'm going to puke on this seat."
The generous soul handed me seven barf bags.

December 14th 2010 8:00pm - Goddamn Cameras

In the past two years, I've hit up Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia. I had a camera in five of those countries. In March 2009, I left my camera on some rocks while looking at condors in the Colca del Canyon in southern Peru. In October 2009 in India, a monkey attacked my replacement camera. He assaulted it like my technological life was a female in heat. I never saw the camera again. Finally, my last night in New Zealand, I lost the camera I'd had for a year. Cameras document my life. I have adored every one of them as much as I will my future children.
My friends in Auckland threw a BBQ in my honor and, upon arrival, one of the boys taped my hands to a wine bottle. He initially endeavored to attach each of my hands to wine bottles, but as I've aged I've clearly become an alcohol prude. I have standards. Wine is meant to be sipped and relished. I wouldn't allow my pride at being a lady tarnished with a bottle of wine in each hand. That's just not classy. I finished the one bottle in a half hour.
Within a few hours, someone had vomited, someone had overflowed the toilet, and one of my friends had repeatedly announced, "I'm a good Christian girl. I don't do bad things. I'm a virgin. Sort of. No, I am a virgin. Sort of. I'm a good Christian girl." She had had a bottle of wine taped to her hands as well.
We relocated to the bars in the Viaduct. We ultimately ended up in the bar Provedore, also known as Provide-a-Whore. Provedore is the bar where I met Boyfriend.
Mistake #1: I took my camera out with me. I wanted to archive my last night in New Zealand. Mistake #2: I offered my camera to a stranger to take a photo. He took the photo and then backed away. I was absolutely ecstatic that, 1: I had commandeered a Santa hat and was still wearing it, and 2: that we were taking pictures on my last boozy night in Kiwiland. I never retrieved my camera from him.
The next morning, I realized that I didn't have my camera, and that good Christian girl sort of virgin gave head to a stranger in a bathroom stall.

December 12th 2010 10:23pm - Phone out Window

I had been without a phone for five days and I swear my brain was attempting to implode. My life was lost. Scraps of paper with notes ornamented my bookshelves, windowsills, and couch. I woke up one morning with a piece of paper in my hair. It had Boyfriend's number on it. Another morning when I flushed the toilet, my To-Do List went down the tank. That To-Do List had my Australia flight details on it. The list must have either been in my underwear or pants. I certainly hadn't intentionally thrown it into the toilet.
Skype became my most valuable asset. Without a phone, I didn't know if it was November or December. Though I commonly listed reading the sun as one of my countless talents on my resume, in reality I couldn't tell if it was dawn or two in the afternoon. To wake up in the morning, I set an alarm clock through the internet. Half of the time it worked. Or my laptop turned itself off.
I was ninety percent positive that I had been so lost trying to get to Boyfriend's Air Force Town Green extravaganza that I had soberly thrown my phone out the window and then soberly blacked out. It seemed like the most logical explanation.
I had called my phone multiple times over the past five days. I decided to harass it like a male nymphomaniac calling for some cooter. The fifth time I called, someone answered and then hung up. The seventh time, someone picked up, I screamed, "This is my phone!" and they hung up. The sixteenth time, a pubescent male voice answered, "Hello?"
"This is my phone!" I shouted with the gusto of a drunk Italian.
He told me his little brother had found my phone in the middle of the street. This made sense.
"You want to come by later tonight?" he asked.
I looked at my laptop. "Well, it's eight o'clock," I responded. "Is it possible to come by now?"
"You should come by much later."
Under normal circumstances, I would have classified him as a weirdo stalker teenager and hung up. But I was going to Australia in a few days and wanted my phone. After losing my sanity driving around lost for forty minutes, I located the street.
Linguist has also been listed among my resume plethora of specialties. I hadn't understood the crazy Kiwi accent when they gave me the address of the house, but I had heard an aggressive dog barking. I went to two wrong houses before I found the correct one.
When I got my phone back, the ninety dollars credit had been used up. Calls to Australia had been placed. He had charged a five dollar IOU on the phone. He had messaged someone, "Hey babaayyy, I want to cum cum cum cum cum cum cum cum." My brain sang the cum's into a tune.

December 9th 11:30pm 2011 - Bathroom at the Point

The five kids I babysat, their mom, and I went to Bastion Point in Auckland for the last dinner I would have with them. We had McDonald's and carrot cake. When the mom had asked me the day before what cake I would like, I said chocolate. She bought carrot cake because the nine-year-old was on a diet.
The five-year-old wandered in the street, the baby shoved french fries in his mouth, the nine and seven-year-olds futilely attempted to get their kite out of the tree, and I watched the three-year-old's facial expressions as he played with himself. After two minutes, I needed to pee.
"Hey baby, do you need to go to the toilet?" I asked.
"I not a baby, I a big boy. I have a baby," the three-year-old responded.
I wasn't about to destroy his delusions about having a child two years younger than himself, so I agreed with him, swung him onto my shoulders and carried him to the bathroom.
When I removed his hands from torturing my hair and set him down in the bathroom, he informed me, "I have to do big poos."
I covered the toilet seat with toilet paper and set the kid on it. Four minutes later he was still discussing the size of his impending excrement, I was still standing in his stall, and I had to pee. My bladder pain began afflicting my brain.
"Are you almost done?" I asked.
He grunted and repeated, "I have to do big poos."
I went into the next stall to pee. As I was sitting down, the three-year-old informed me, "You have to do poos."
"I don't have to do poos! I just have to pee," I replied.
"You have to do poos because I'm doing poos."
"Logical. But I think I might just pee."
"Kara, do you love me?"
"Of course I love you, but that doesn't mean I can force myself to do poos."
"Sometimes you have to squeeze it out. I'm squeezing it out now. I have a little bum. Not a lot of poos come out at one time."

December 5th 2010 9:30pm - Chief Warrant Officer

Babies have a better sense of direction than I do. They find their mom's nipples with acute accuracy. They smell milk boobs. I can't find North.
New Zealand's Air Force hosted an event called the Town Green at Auckland's AF Base. The Town Green supposedly had live music, cheap beer, and countless drunks. Boyfriend was in the Air Force and half an hour after I was supposed to meet him at Base, I was driving in varying circles in towns I never knew existed. When I called Boyfriend and read him street signs I was passing, he said I was twenty minutes away. It takes twenty minutes to drive from my house to the base. I had been driving for forty. I stopped at three gas stations, a produce cart, and a jewelry store to ask for directions.
After the jewelry store, I decided to call Boyfriend again with a status update. I couldn't find my phone. When I drive, I usually put it in between my legs. In my crotch. It wasn't there. I pulled over and ransacked the car, my purse, and my pockets. I plundered under the seats and raided the glove compartment. I came to the conclusion that I must have thrown my phone out the window while driving through a neighborhood trying to find the freeway.
I arrived at the base without a phone an hour and fifteen minutes after I had left.
When I walked up to the gate, I was greeted by nine officers, average age forty.
"Ticket please?" Steroids asked.
"Oh, I actually don't have a ticket. I mean, I have a ticket, but I don't have it. My boyfriend does," I replied.
"Is he here?"
"Yes, he's in the Air Force."
"Okay, you're going to have to call him so he can bring it out to you," Steroids continued.
"I actually somehow managed to lose my phone while driving here. I'm pretty sure it's on a street somewhere."
"Okay... what's his number? I'll call him and get him to come sign you in."
Boyfriend and I had been together for nine months. I didn't know his phone number.
"You don't know his phone number? We can't let you in the gate unless someone signs you in and takes responsibility for you." Steroids was now looking at me like I was injectable.
"Can't you look up his phone number in the system?" I asked.
All nine officers laughed at me. They asked what system I was talking about.
"I don't know, like something online that documents contact info for everyone in the Air Force," I said.
They laughed harder. I had temporarily forgotten that I was in New Zealand.
"Alright, where does he live?" Yoked Grandpa kindly asked.
"He used to live in a house a few minutes away, but he's lived back on Base for about a month now."
"Do you know what building he's in?"
I had visited Boyfriend a couple of times. I had no idea what building he lived in.
"Were you supposed to meet him somewhere?" Steroids asked.
"No, I was supposed to call him."
"So you don't have a phone, don't know your boyfriend's number, don't know what building he lives in, and don't know where he is," Steroids summed up my brain capacity and intellect.
Yoked Grandpa assured me we'd find him. I hopped in the white molester van and we drove around the barracks seeing if I recognized anything. I didn't. The road split, so I pointed left. We drove for four minutes before Yoked Grandpa conversationally asked me if I knew where my boyfriend's ancestors were from.
"He was born in Durban in South Africa, but beyond that, I just don't know."
"He's not Maori? He does not live over here then."
I had pointed us in the direction of the Maori barracks.
Ten minutes later, one of the seventeen identical buildings looked vaguely familiar to me. When we walked into the dorms, everything appeared recognizable. After wandering up and down the halls and asking if anyone had seen him, some chick pointed us to the next building over. After I harassed everyone I saw in that building asking if they knew Boyfriend, I found his room. I was elated when the door was unlocked. But Boyfriend wasn't there.
We got his phone number off a dude that was clearly trying not to slur his words in front of Yoked Grandpa.
After I got handed over to Boyfriend and the molester van drove away, Boyfriend exhaled his beer breath.
"How did you end up with The Man? What did you say to him? What did he say to you?" he asked. "Do you have any idea who that is?"
"Yoked Grandpa?" I asked.
"Kara, that's The Chief Warrant Officer. He's The Man here."
"Yoked Grandpa was nice," I said.