Sep 28, 2011

Dumpster Diver

Weirdo Trash Digger

Good morning to me. I woke up to the crushing of cans and the rustling of trash bags. It happens every week but this is my first documentation. The Moxham Ave. boarding house sucks - no one cares about cleanliness let alone recycling...except for this jerk. He literally digs through each trash bag sorting out plastic, cans, etc. that were wrongly dumped in the reg trash bin. I'm guilty. My trash is the crunchiest of them all. What I find disturbing is that this asshole is not only digging through my beer cans and wine bottles but also my credit card receipts, notes to self, Q-tips & tissues (EW!!), etc.

"Why don't you recyle?", you ask.

I could have never guessed the depth of the cultural differences between New Zealand and the US. This includes radical differences in garbage (or rubbish as it is called here) collection. Sure I know that NZ is literally on the other side of the planet and was colonized a good one hundred years after the States were but the cultures are severely different. And it is another layer of difference altogether experiencing these new challenges as a tenant of a shitty boarding house. Boarding houses are for drifters or short-timers. These are people you will never see again. They are transients like you. There are rules such as taking a shower no longer than 6 min. in order to assure hot water for all lodgers and keeping all common areas clean. There are time limits to conserve energy for example my private bathroom light will automatically shut off after 30 min. It is an odd existence living with people that you did not choose as roommates.

Sep 17, 2011

Bitter Much?

I have three topics in regards to Moxham to discuss.

Topic #1: thievery. After slaving away in the library and studio all dang day a fellow post grad asked if I wanted a ride home AND we could swing by the grocery store on the way. WHHHHHA-WH-WHAT?! Hells yes, let me get my coat! Let me tell ya, when you hoof your groceries from store to boarding house odd considerations come into play. For example...weight (mandarins are lighter than apples), packaging (a bag of cereal travels better than a box), priorities (I'd give up a cheese for coffee), alc/vol (wine=13% p/bottle and beer=5% p/can. mathematically wine wins.) Double this with - I'M BROKE BITCHES! and you can see how truly valued groceries are. So when someone offers you a ride, you stock up!

Having said this you'd probably understand the emotion that was felt when 10 min. after unloading my precious groceries I walk in to find Rm #13 lacin' his sammie with my newly bought mustard. Dude, it's literally American mustard asshole. It says so on the bottle and you are a resident of New Zealand but a goddamn Brit by birth - put some fuckin' HP sauce on that sandwich son, this condiment is reserved for me and my fellow countrymen!

Topic #2: new dude aka Rm #8. Now if you aren't aware, I'm Rm #7 so this is some next door shit. Infiltrating my life now is rugby full coming through my closet. Apparently he wears cinder blocks for shoes as well and a big thank you for smoking in your room #8, not only does your screaming sport seep through my wall so does your smoke.

Topic #3: Sweet David and his door. I like this dude, Rm #6, but I'm 2 door slams away from removing said door from it's hinges and sacrificing it bon fire-style in the front yard. Maybe I'll have Rm #13 snake some h-dogs for a front yard cook out. Guess I need to buy some h-dogs...

Sep 13, 2011

Clockin' In.

Well hello there, thought I'd report in since it's been awhile. Still rockin' the Moxham Ave. address which is good for me - little to no drama but sad for you - little to no drama. I mean sure, the dishes are still sky high and Rm #10 continues to dig through the community garbage...but other than that, not much on the home front. I am experiencing some shower drainage issues due to what I think might relate to consistently flushing cig butts down the toilet, but I'm not 100% sure and don't want to assume anything.

Clockin' out.

Whew, that was a close one. Apparently the drainage issue is simply from doing dishes in the shower. Ashtray/toilet...resume.

Jun 15, 2011

Jun 5, 2011

Skid Row Dishes

The Dishwashing Standoff
(Note fully functioning dishwasher below dish pile. Awesome.)

Well folks, I'm both happy and a little sad to say that I no longer live in Skid Row Digs. You may disagree by the above photo but trust me, that pile of dishes is a platinum sculpture in comparison to The Adelaide. Yes, the kitchen on Moxham Ave is foul at the moment but word around the campfire is that One Star Rental is working on a solution to this problem.

Sure there are a couple of a-hole Moxhamites but they are mere lambs that stand in the shadows of The Adelaidians. Complaining about dirty dishes just doesn't fit under the umbrella of "Skid Row Digs". Maybe more posts are to come...I have another yr. and a half in NZ, lord knows the last 3 months have been overflowing with SRD shit. I still don't have a solid job lined up for next semester, I may be living with the hobbits.

SRD is not dead. In it's honor I'm working on Skid Row Dig sketches. How bout a coloring book...dirtbag-style.

May 26, 2011

Ode to the South.

Ode to the South

Room #7 has a shelf above the bathroom which I have converted into a shrine. Ode to the South. Prickly Pear painting, Texas banner (thanks Jelena!), beltbuckles...of course, postcards of AZ, and then you have Pepe Lopez sitting in for the right side bookend.

And yes, if you zoom is indeed $27.65 for a hip pocket of poor quality tequila in NZ. On one of my first journeys home, I happened upon a U.S.-style liquor store. I cruised in to select a bottle of something fine to celebrate the new digs. I walked out with Pepe Lopez. This shit was behind glass with lock and key. I collected the shop keeper and pointed in Pepe's direction. "This looks like a high class bottle, I'll take it", I said. He then tapped the bottle on the counter to prove that yes, it is plastic.

New Routes.

So the new digs call for a new route to campus. It's a trek when on the ole hooves, so I'm checking out my options. There are numerous bus routes in town but none seem to follow my destinations. I waited 15 min. for what I thought was a bus that would take me from school to the general vicinity of Moxham Avenue but apparently I was mistaken. I boarded the bus and was told by the driver that there are no buses from Massey to my new home. I got off cursing the New Zealand bus system in my mind. So hooves it is. Option one...

Forest Couch Route

Forest Couch Route. Enchanting isn't it? This is actually on a walking trail just above the sidewalk about 5 min. from Room #7. I can honestly say that some of the most unpedestrian friendly routes are located in the new hood. I risked my life frogger-style just before I took this pic. Once I get past the forest couch, it's pretty much smooth sailing. But how many times can you win at frogger? Option two...

Mt. Vic Tunnel Route

Mount Victoria Tunnel Route. I like to say that this alternative is the "urban" route in comparison to above Forest Couch Route. It is a more direct path to reach campus but the tunnel provides pros and cons. Pros: 1. Shelter from the daily angry winter weather consisting of screaming wind and dumping rain. 2. Level ground. No goddamn sick inclined hills that make my heart explode from my chest. Cons: 2. It's a solid 10 min. walk within a cement artery of clogged cars. The walkway is elevated for pedestrian safety but also means being gassed with vehicle exhaust. But man, that first blast of fresh air upon exiting the tunnel is what I'd imagine a newborn baby's first breath to feel like.

Hmmmm...decisions. The Forest Couch Route, after the death defying street crossing, is fairly calm and passes through Newtown which is a sweet suburb of Wellington filled with coffee shops and what have you. It ends with the downside of a major hill so it only takes 15 min. to stop sweating when I reach the studio.

Mt. Vic Tunnel Route is closer but ends with a fucking wicked steep hill that makes me question why I left the U.S. This is more of a 30 min. cool down. I also feel this is more of a social experiment. Bicyclists are prevalent here in Wellington and I'm learning bike/pedestrian etiquette with this route. Do you walk on the reggie or louie side of the walkway? I get numerous bicycle bell alerts whichever side I choose. "Sorry, I'm new to this tunnel...still learning the ropes".

These are just decisions that I never thought were needed to make before I moved here. New Zealand -1, Layla - 0 on this one.

May 22, 2011

Moxham Mania

I moved yesterday. I opened the windows and the dang french doors while I unpacked. You know what I can see from my room? Green grass and rose bushes. I did laundry. The dryer works. I bought hangers and hung my clothes in the CLOSET. The toilet flushes on command. I warmed the room with the portable HEATER.

I walked to the grocery store. Word on the street is that said g-store is the cheapest in Wellington and you know what? I believe it is true. You know what I saw on the way to the store? A shit ton of rugby players and the freakin' ocean. In that order.

I left this morning from my own private entrance. But I left a little deflated. Apparently none of the other tenants are fans of One Star Rentals. In fact they are all highly disgruntled and have given the rental co. 14 days to resolve some issues or they walk. One of the issues being that the entire lower floor flooded recently. Oh yeah, there is currently a dish washing stand off taking place as well. Everyone refuses to do the colossal mound of rotting dishes. The fantastic part is that there is a working dishwasher directly under the heaping dish mound. Oops. Do I spy some Skid Row Digs material?

One fellow Moxhamite was astonished when I said the new place was a fucking palace compared to The Adelaide. I hadn't yet divulged that The Adelaide was such a wicked experience that I currently write a blog about it. I'll let the wine tell him that one evening.

Adios Adelaide

It's my last night in this shithole. Got the key to the new place and I'm moving tomorrow. Pretty amazing that it only took half an hour to pack up everything I have. And yes that is a large bag of dirty clothes to the left. No sense in washing them here, they can't hold anymore mildew.

The Adelaide has been quite an experience. I've met people that I never would have known existed. You know why? Because they keep people like that hidden away from society in dive boarding houses. You're not supposed to see them but for some reason only known to baby jesus, I was not only allowed to witness them but to live like them.

As I filled out the rental transfer (god, I feel like I'm being relieved of duty) today I reminisced aloud..."I'm kind of going to miss the guys at The Adelaide...". The manager said, "They are characters. You'll never meet people like that again." that a promise or more of a passive aggressive way of saying that I just spent the last 2 and a half months in a "home" of sorts. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest comes to mind but oddly enough I was more of the cuckoo than most residents here in the scheme of things. The rental manager could have played a convincing Nurse Ratched but I didn't think she would find this as a compliment and I'm not pushing it. Personally I think she is an America hater but that is neither here nor there.

There are little things I'll miss...I can always tell the exact time of day or night it is by the traffic noise on Adelaide Road. And before getting out of bed I always knew if it was a rainy day by the sound of water on the car tires. The amount of sweat on the walls helped determine that as well.

Frank, I'll miss you the most. I know you, Franklin, and the other several hundred rodents living in these dilapidated walls will get along just fine. Within 10 days this place will be boarded up and you'll have the place to yourselves. Well, almost. I'm sure you'll have to share the place with junkie vagrant squatters at times and I'm afraid to report that people like that don't have food, just have a McDonalds dumpster only a couple of blocks away.

I feel like #7 165 Moxham will be my first "home" in NZ. But I've thought that about the other two places I've lived. Here goes.

May 15, 2011

If I Were a Mouse, I'd be Franklin

I had a long talk with my dad yesterday and we agreed that my New Zealand experience has been equivalent to the training needed to climb Mt. Everest. Room #4 is my base camp. It is where I get acclimatized to reach the peak both physically and mentally.

Dad loved to travel. He explored much of Central and South America but my favorite story is his trip to Cuba. Man, he loved it there. I imagine it has a lot do to with the fact that he looks like a young Castro. "You only live once", he says. God, I hope so...I'm exhausted.

I can't help but think that ole Frank has been having a similar talk to with his offspring. I've seen a mini-Frank in training the last couple of nights. I've named him Franklin. Frank is obviously showing Franklin the ropes of rodentdom. Franklin is a tini tiny little thing and hasn't quite grown into his whiskers. He's very nervous and he makes twice the noise as Frank and isn't half as successful in his ventures. Last night after I switched the light on, Franklin scampered away but not before tripping over my cellphone.

First thought...god, I've gotta get outta here. Second thought...I have to climb a fucking major mountain? If I'm not mistaken there are a few base camps on the trek up ole Everest. I'm good at this first stop then I'm climbing my ass down and booking a luxury beach vacation.

I'm a Beast.

I've turned into a beast and here is why:
  • I've been sick for the past week and look like it. It's hard to get over an illness involving lots of snot and the sensation of your lungs being squeezed when you basically live inside of a wet washcloth. I woke up at 3am this rainy morning to the water feature that is the plaster hole in the ceiling. The only thing I had to contain the leak was my cereal bowl. While I was up I thought it would be a good time to clean the black mold from my window. Hmmm...inhaling moldy spores. Is that conducive to good health? This leads me to bullet point number two...

  • Mold. As I've mentioned before the dryer doesn't work here, so it takes a good three days for my clothes to get dryish. My room officially smells like mildew - not a surprise but what was surprising is that I smelled the exact stench of my room in my studio. And in the library. And the computer lab. It was me. My f-ing jeans reeked of mildew. I'm the stinky kid.

  • My face has broken out. I look like I was bitch slapped with poison ivy.

  • The Layla bangs are no more. They've even moved pass Beiber bangs and have to be held back with a bobby pin.

  • I have two kinds of outfits. Painting clothes and hiking clothes. And they are exactly the same. My jeans are wearing thin and I fear a blowout soon...back pocket-style.

Oh Layla, you might are over exaggerating. But oh no my friends, I am not. In the past three weeks I was mistaken for a squatter..."Oh, you're not squatting? You PAY to live at The Adelaide?" I know it's hard to believe that I'm paying to live here but I find it just as difficult to believe that I'd be categorized as a squatter. A squatter to me are the burnt-out junkies in Trainspotting.

A week before that I had my pack on the train and the carriage attendant asked if I was a hitchhiker. Now, since I'm on a train I can only translate this to mean..."Are you a hobo?". I wanted to say, "Not less than 3 minutes ago I paid you for a ticket, therefore I'm not a hobo". After I got off the train I realized that he never gave me back my change. That ended up being a goddamn $20 train ride and a blow to the ego.

Another benefit of heavy rains is that my toilet leaks and leaves an enormo puddle on the floor. I'm out of anything absorbent to wipe it up with so I had to venture across the hall to the dreaded communal bathroom and I swiped the only roll of toilet paper. Of course it couldn't be just an ordinary roll of toilet paper it had to be industrial size, you know the kind that they use in porto-potties? As I heaved that car tire size roll of tp to my room I felt defeated.

I cleaned up the mess as best I could and as I turned the knob to the toilet and waited for the tank to fill up (my toilet is broken and I have to do this every time I flush) I thought, okay God or MTV Punked-type got me. I've become the silt on the bottom of the mosquito infested pond of life...will you please stop with the daily kick to the balls? The only sound to be heard was Frank digging in the rubbish.

Moxham Ave?

And the saga continues...

With the Tenancy Tribunal safely filed and underway (unbeknownst to the slumlord) I agreed to meet with One Star Rentals to see one more place. I needed some new material for the ole Skid Row Digs. The room is another boarding house in Hitaitai which is a nice suburb of Wellington so my interest was peaked. The walk is a little more than twice the distance to campus from my current shithole but a 40 min. walk isn't bad and it passes through Newtown which is super cute.

I throw on the backpack, lace up my sneaks, and hit the pavement. As I get closer to the address I can't help but be impressed by the neighborhoods filled with sweet cottages and no puke puddles littering the sidewalk. There is a furniture making shop, cafes, a fish & chip joint, and wait...a wholesale liquor store. (Insert screeching noise) I rubbed my eyes, refocused, and craned my neck and is indeed a wholesale liquor store.

I reach the house and look at my watch, it's straight up 1pm, we did agree on 1pm, right? It starts to rain. My rain jacket is in the studio. So this is how it's going down, eh? I call One Star.

"Hi, I'm supposed to see the room on Moxham at 1pm."
"What's your name?"
Oh god, they probably have my "file" on the message board, here goes..."I'm Layla Lu..."
"Oh shit yeah. Layla Luna. Mike is on his way, he just called to say that he was caught up in traffic."

I don't really know how to translate the "shit yeah" part and I didn't go into detail that New Zealand doesn't have traffic especially at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Mike rolls up shortly. Let's do this.

Straight away I can see the place is a million times nicer than The Adelaide but most everything on the planet is nicer than The Adelaide. Dumpsters and dive bar bathrooms included. It's a large house that has about a dozen rooms, 3 full baths, and a shared lounge and kitchen area. It was remodeled a few years ago so the carpet hasn't worn down to the wood plank flooring and it doesn't smell of sin.

We enter the foyer and what is this sensation...the air seems to be dry and the walls aren't sweating? He shows me four vacant rooms, all of which have BUILT IN CLOSETS. My eyes well up and my heart fills with joy the moment I see room #7. It's big enough for a regular size human to inhabit, it has it's OWN PRIVATE BATHROOM/SHOWER, and this is where it gets serious...brace has it's own private entrance in the form of french doors that open to the front GRASSED LAWN. The place even has a washer and (working) dryer, a back yard with a proper clothesline, and leather couches with a tv and dining table in the lounge. There is a kitchen. With a stove.

How much. "Well", says Mike, "the office wants to negotiate the price with you." Oh boy. Blah, blah, blah, words...I got the room for what I'm paying now. Don't know when I can move. I cancelled my application for the Tenancy Tribunal but haven't received an acknowledgement from them as of yet so it is a complete possibility that One Star finds out, gets pissed, and takes away my Christmas.

May 8, 2011


My journey of poor quality NZ beer has led me to Double Brown. Not bad. But my taste buds have been skewed by the anti-inflammatory lozenges that you see in the photo which paralyze the throat so I'm not getting the full beer flavor. I'm not even exactly sure that the DB is liquid due to the strength of the Difflam. I'm sure it's hard to believe that I'm sick with these weather conditions. It's day 3 and my laundry still isn't dry. But, the nature lover in me is impressed by what looks like a new growth of black mold on the inside of my window pane. (And yes that is the one and only party purse collecting dust in the background).

Check it! I know I only have 3 weeks left at The Adelaide but I thought I'd spoil myself and outfit Room #4 with a working office. Yes, that is my underwear drawer working as the office chair and the Tui beer box elevates my jank one lap top to the perfect elevation. Ergonomically correct...check!

Another notable office item in the photo is what I like to call the window-keeper-upper which is the box to the cell phone I purchased in week one of Layla goes to New Zealand. It provides 3 different air ventilation settings. You know the ads for cell phones that are elderly-friendly? Well I pretty much own one of those. I can call and receive calls, check messages, and text in a very time-consuming manner. It's actually really great. Suck it Blackberry.

May 7, 2011


So, I checked out One Star Rentals substitute room and as of yesterday and it's official...I submitted the application for the Tenancy Tribunal (NZ law-talk to get out of this godforsaken lease). The room is about 1/3 the size of The Adelaide dumphole situated inside of a bustling hostel in downtown Wellington. The bed is just larger enough for a midget hobbit. No private bathroom. I would be using a locker room-style communal showering and shittin' facility shared with a bunch of enthusiastic backpackers. No offense backpackers, but while you're hopping over to NZ from your Australian vacation, I'm trying to live.

Okay One Star a-holes...I get're a business trying to make money and I signed a lease. I understand capitalism and as a Yankee I dealt with car loads of ass clowns just like you on a daily basis. I may not win but will sure as shit try to break up with you.

I can say that moving here has and is the most wonderful and difficult thing I've ever done. I'll spare you the sob story of what led me here but since the very moment that my feet touched NZ soil it has been a daily kick in the balls. Well, I've had it. I'm inches away from reaching my breaking point and this shit can go one of two ways rental bitches: 1. You get me out of this dump or 2. Push me beyond my breaking point and I'll go all America on your ass. I'm talkin' grassy knoll-carjacking-LA riot-shit. Your choice.

May 3, 2011


I've got a hankerin' for The Scrumps.

Friends meet Scrumpy...Scrumpy meet friends. So I've been mixing up my walk home from campus to see some new sites. I really needed to go to the grocery store but was too exhausted to do the full on g-store trek (it takes an hour both ways) so I decided to stop in to a corner store or as they call them here four squares or dairies to pick up a few items.

That's where I met Scrumpy. As you can see by the label, Scrumpy is a strong cider. It is 8.2% alc/vol and comes in a deceivingly innocent 1.25 liter bottle that closely resembles Sprite (or lemonade as the Kiwis call it). Well I've got a thirst and Scrumpy is looking for a home...come with me Scrumpy.

Whoa Scrumps, you are indeed strong and delicious. And I'm only allowed one giraffe juice glass full of the Scrumps. Mmmmm....scrumptastic. Well, maybe two.


" AVAILABLE NOW!", says the ad.

Beautiful pic, eh? Hey One Star Rentals...photoshop much? It was listed on, NZ's equivalent to craigslist. Hmmm...kinda weird but I guess there will be plenty of vacancies seeing as in 28 days all current tenants along with their belongings are required by law to vacate the property.

Latest news...slumlords are hosting a viewing of rooms at another one of their properties tomorrow at 3:30pm. Dude, I can't miss this. Apparently I will be joining a few of my fellow Adelaidians for the tour.

Apr 26, 2011

The Adelaide Social Experiment Continues...

I went away for a lovely holiday this weekend to the middle of nowhere NZ. I stayed in a log cabin and it was bliss. There were couches to lounge on and I was warm while I slept. I had endless access to a refrigerator and I hand washed the dinner dishes for 2 days until someone reminded me there was a dishwasher and you know what...I continued to handwash the dishes cuz I enjoyed it.

I was loaned gum boots for beach walks to keep my tootsies dry and we had 2 fires every night - one outside to roast marshmallows and drink good quality beer around and one inside to heat the house when you came in to get more beer. From the fridge. I used a vacuum cleaner for the first time in 2 and a half months - I goddamned volunteered for the job and loved every second of it. Hot meals where served at every sitting and I drank red wine out of a proper wine glass instead of my giraffe juice glass.

I walked home from the train station on Monday night just hoping that The Adelaide was still standing. (My NZ worldly possessions are in #4 after all.) As I rounded the corner there she was...sagging with the posture of a beaten down ole hobo. God love her...she's put in her time - can't we just say our goodbyes and walk away to the sound of bagpipes and a 21-gun salute?

Today I came home after slaving away in the studio to the lease agreement I requested from the rental co. The sealed envelope that they gave me upon signing said lease only contained the bond info and general information that is completely unhelpful and downright false (ex. rubbish disposal, etc.). It was a very thick packet so I unscrewed the white wine (that tastes like grapefruits) and settled in to a good readin'.

Blah, blah, blah, words, rules, blah...rental period up Feb. 2012, more words, blah, WAIT, WHAT!!!!!!?? A 1 yr. lease!!!!! Dude, really? Really!? Don't panic. More grapefruit wine. Okay, put this down and start the laundry. Oh, the dryer is broken so my room looks like a yard sale heavy on the garments. In my mind I've replaced the damp clothes for oversized Tibetan prayer flags.

Laundry removal turned into an Adelaide tenant pow wow. Two fellow Adelaidians cruised in to heat up some dude food and the conversation began...

Room #9: Did you get your walking papers?
Me: Uh what? Did we receive another letter? I tried to get out of my lease and the fuckers won't let me.
Schneider: They've started calling people. I got a call today at 3pm. May 31st they board everything up and the notices will be posted on the building. If you don't have your shit out by then, you won't get it.
Me: I thought they were making us move to a hostel while they fix up this shithole to just below mediocre standards.
Room #9: It'll take 6-12 months for that kind of renovation.
Schneider: Yeah, after May 31st it's over.
Me: I guess I'll be last on that calling list. Why are they fucking with me?
Schneider: Don't take it personal. And yes. You will be last on the list.

Is this some kind of demented mind fuck? My brain instantly computes that if your building is condemned then you don't pay rent to that address anymore cuz you can't live there but all of the letters, passive aggressive emails, and unaccepted phone calls have me questioning myself. Is this part of the NZ experience? Is this like a frat initiation? Am I being elaborately punked?

Apr 20, 2011

I Miss You America.

Dear Adelaide Rental Agency,


Room #4

So, should've guessed it. One Star will not allow me to end my lease early...even after receiving the lovely letter featured in yesterday's post.

According to the manager, if the building has not met code by May 30th then we will be moved to one of their hostel facilities. We will be receiving a letter within a week and a half outlining all of the details.

Let me set the know the part in Kill Bill...when Uma Thurman is about to go apeshit samurai-style and that crazy music starts to play and she has that look like the devil is trying to escape from her eyes...that is how I felt inside upon hearing this news. I'm trying to move into grownup mode and let these feelings subside a bit before I do something rash.

So you are telling me that we are supposed to be cool with a) the fact that we are currently living in a building that according to Wellington City Council is of unsound building quality to properly withstand an earthquake AND we live in a country that literally has hundreds of earthquakes every year? and b) packing up all of our shit to move to a hostel for god only knows how long and then move our shit back to that dump and feel safe?

I know I'm merely an immigrant to this country but is this how things fly? I'll hand it to ya, that's some hardcore's like wild west rules out here.

Having said all of this I'm confident that One Star will sue me for slander but will make me represent myself after going through law school on my own dime. Apparently that's how they roll.

Apr 19, 2011


So I'm cruisin' home after some solid studio time and bump into one of my fellow Adelaidians. "Did you get the letter that says our building is condemned?" he asks. Uh what?! I was actually the one who pulled this particular heap of letters from the mail slot but all dozen or so were addressed to "current resident" my mind - junk mail. It's tossed to the floor and I pay it no mind.

He goes on to say that the Wellington City Council has deemed our abode as an Earthquake Prone Building and must be vacated by May 30th. (I'm no engineering wizard but I could have told them that). He adds that his side of the building is safe and my side, the street side, would and I quote, "fall like a deck of cards in an earthquake".

Apparently The Adelaide has had since 2004 to fix this prob. Lord knows I'm still learning how things work here in NZ but I'm pretty sure that if your building is no longer inhabitable that should free you up to find another place, eh? Here is the letter, I've pulled out some highlights below...

"If a territorial authority is satisfied that a building is dangerous (check), earthquake prone (they said it folks) or insanitary ("IN"sanitary? I totally agree), the territorial authority may attach blah blah blah (this is my favorite part)...a notice that warns people not to approach the building. On 30 May 2011 a notice in conjunction with section blah blah blah will be placed on the building, this will require the building to be vacated". It goes on to include a couple of usages of one of my fav words "demolition". Unfortunately not in the context of derby-style.

I skip the rest of the way home and meet a long term tenant at the top of the stairs. I feel like making conversation..."So, I hear our building is condemned". "It's not condemned, he says". Hmmm...I disagree. In the near future a sign on our disintegrating building will state that it needs to be vacated...that is the living definition of what condemned means.

So, I've been in NZ two months and I'm on to flat numero tres. Good god, I can only imagine...

Apr 18, 2011


See the plaster damage action to the reggie of the burnt out bulb? It may just be a combo of the bottle of $7.99 cab and cans of Export Gold but I'm convinced she's growing. Today is what I'm learning to be a typical Wellington winter day - wicked cold wind and dumping down rain. Why are you so angry wind? At about 7am I awoke to what sounded like Frank jumping to his death from the light fixture, thank god it was only a leak. I put a bowl under the leak (heaven knows I don't want to damage this carpet) and spent the next hour and a half wondering if what I was experiencing was similar to Chinese water torture.

When first moving into Room #4 I thought..."Wow, a gaping hole in the ceiling - what character!", then that changed to feeling certain that the opening housed a camera (I know, how conceited), but now I know that it's just a major leak that the ceiling cannot contain. With the angry winds, ceaseless heavy rain, cracking plaster, and mini waterfall (totally over exaggerating but I'm not stopping) the next step was the ceiling caving in. I almost wished for it just as an out to end my lease but after seriously analyzing the situation and comparing it to all others here at The Adelaide, I knew good and goddamn well that if the roof caved in I would merely be referred to a tarp company. I pray for your strength roof...

Apr 10, 2011

I Salute You NZ!

God, I'm such a wuss. Here is a view from my window that I haven't shared.'s the goddamn New Zealand flag bitches. I'm whining about living amongst mice and filth when I've got this son-of-a-bitch flying high in the sky. I'm in New Zealand. I have no ties and in the grand scheme of things, minimal responsibilities. I have the luxury of devoting 2 yrs. to making art (I'm paying a shit ton for that luxury but that is besides the point), I'm experiencing the culture of another country, and meeting people that I never would have met if I didn't fly half way across the planet. There is an entire country outside of my doorstep to be tromped over by my footsteps and I'm complaining because I might have to share a bathroom with strangers?! I've been acting like such an American. I apologize for being petty. Unfortunately I can't guarantee that it won't happen again. Not only am I an American but I'm also a chick...

Apr 8, 2011

Get Your Own Place Frank!

Okay, so I'm in the process of being released from my Adelaide existence to find a more cost effective abode. A couple of evenings ago I sat in deep thought on this situation and came to the conclusion of...NO! I will ride this dang 6 month lease out and make this dirtbag reality my home by god!

It was solidly decided that #4 would be my home for the next 4 months and then Frank appeared. Moments after this decision I heard a rustling of paper products. What ever could that be...but I knew goddamn well what it was. That was the sound of a mouse (oh please a mouse and not a rat!). I looked in the direction of the disturbance and our eyes locked. We both eeekkkked!!! and Frank scampered behind the wardrobe and I hid under my covers.

I officially have a mouse problem. Why not, it seems perfectly fitting that my room would be infested with rodents. It's getting cold and Frank needs provisions to feed what I assume to be a huge family living in the walls of The Adelaide.

On that note I do have a positive aspect of the approaching cold weather months that will soon consume Wellington...I have no heat. What this has meant in the last few days is no need to put the beer in the fridge. It's like when you go camping and put the 6-pack in the chilly waters of a near by stream but by stream I mean my freezing room.

I sleep in jammie pants, socks, undershirt, and topped off with my ASU sweatshirt. Probably why I'm sleeping alone but who cares...I keep the beer bedside - who needs a mini-fridge? Man, this place is basically paying for itself. Cheers Frank...a thimble of Tui awaits you my friend.

Mar 31, 2011

Full-on Shithole

The Adelaide is foul. The scary thing is that I need to find a cheaper place to live. My teaching contract is up in July with no guarantee of renewal. Okay...plan B: move yet again. I contacted the rental agency in regards to breaking my lease a few months early. They have other properties around town, it might mean moving farther away and taking the dang bus to school but if that's what it takes...I got an email today with the proper document to change properties and by change properties the alternative is to change rooms here at The Adelaide. This means a smaller room with no personal bathroom.

I don't mean to sound like a princess but I have already given up the use of a kitchen (my diet of p-nut butter sammies and cereal isn't that far off from my American diet) because of general disgust with the shared facilities. I know, I'm an only child but I don't mind sharing. Shit, you should've seen my last kitchen situation. But my current environment is full on nasty. I've seen my fare share of dirtbag shit but rotting food in the fridge, used dishes in the cabinets, a greasy stench so strong that it makes me want my mom to hold me in her arms? Now you're telling me with the downgrade I have to share a toilet/shower with these 50 yr. old bachelors?

I have tried to refrain from certain details but I shall not hold back anymore. Here we go, at least 3 times a week, I'm awoken around 4am to the sounds of explosive diarrhea being expelled in the toilet across the hall from my door. The same toilet I would now have to use. The dude doesn't even shut the bathroom door. After this experience I wait, oh lord please let me hear the sounds of this motherfucker going to the the sink/shower room to wash his paws...please...but the faucet always remains quiet.

I came home a couple of days ago from an exhausting day at school/work and almost had to pick myself up off the floor because of what I was hoping and praying was someones utter success at mimicking the odor of a forgotten port-o-potty left at a mid-summer Grateful Dead concert venue. The odor was true and unfortunately not engineered.

I met another tenant, same dude pissing in the doorway a couple of weeks back, stumbling drunk in the hallway. He was nice enough, we exchanged introductions as best as the situation allowed, but the next morning as I was changing my laundry to the dryer he cruises in with a goddamn whisky dent on his forehead. that the disturbance I heard in the stairwell last night?

It's time to call on some peeps that are historically versed in situations such as this. Guide me experts...unfortunately Lydia Lunch would most likely push me in a gutter with a shiner for being a pussy and Bukowski would just want to procreate while polishing off bottles of red wine. Any insight Kerouac? have any words of wisdom to give me from the grave? Guess I'm on my own.

Mar 20, 2011

Fruit Fly Farm

I was never good at keeping plants or fish alive. I do well with dogs or other large mammals but in general I'm not a good farmer or care giver. Until now. Apparently I am an excellent fruit fly farmer. I know what you are thinking. Landfill. Well, the landfill is no more. Yesterday (in broad daylight mind you) I decided to find a dumping ground for my garbage, or rubbish as they say here. I have an advantage that the other tenants do not, I am a student so therefore I must look like a student, right? So I can just nonchalantly walk my tuition paying ass over to the student apartment trashcans next door. Easy as that. In yo face rubbish. But...garbage gone - fruit flies remain. Hearty little fuckers. Hopefully I don't have to pay a pet deposit.

This scenario filled my melon as a fellow tutor and I discussed our current living situations as a 1st yr. undergrad student listened in as she painted. Said tutor and I discussed the absence of dishwashers, minuscule square footage (meters?), and general lack of lavishness from our present lives. Young students says, "God, it sounds like you live in a garbage can."

Indeed young student, we do live in a garbage can of sorts. We are grownups with art degrees and this is what you have to look forward to...losing your grip and slowly slipping towards the bottom of the food chain. See ya in 10 yrs.

Mar 19, 2011

Who Let The Hoons Out...

Basin Reserve, Mt. Cook, Wellington, NZ

What happens when an event occurs at the Basin Reserve (cricket field/party zone venue)? Answer: 20-somethings fill Adelaide St. carrying battered 12 packs, stumbling in the middle of the busy road, and pissing in every nook and cranny the block has to offer. It is a little different than in The I walked up to the front steps of The Adelaide I was greeted by one of my fellow tenants, "My apologizes." he said in mid-piss. An American would never apologize for whizzing on public property. At least he was respectful enough not to be relieving himself directly on the door of the main entrance. I'm hoping for a decent rain this evening to clean away the day's activities.

UPDATE: Unfortunately no rain during the night. On my walk to the studio this morning I encountered an obstacle course of beer bottles and other booze-related debris, but was surprised to see only two piles of puke. Sunday morning in downtown Phoenix has nothing on this place.

Mar 17, 2011

Rooftop Skate Park

Adelaide Skate Park

This is the building across the street. Interesting architecture don't you think? It's an office building of some sort...during the day. At night apparently drunken punks think it's a rooftop skate park. Hey, if I was 18 yrs. old and drunk on 8% nz beer and whip-its or whatever kids do around here for fun, I'd probably want to grab the nearest skateboard, climb on the awning, and attempt some ollies too but I'm not. No, I'm the 35 yr. woman trying to get some shut eye at 4am whose already stressed to the max about teaching 40 1st yr. undergrads how to look at color in regards to painting.

I had to close the curtains before witnessing one of them (probably one of my students by the way) eat shit and meet their maker in one of the ground floor planters. I've seen enough shit in my lifetime without having to worry about erasing that nightmare from my mind. But hey, you know what is better than being woken up by those jerks? How about The Adelaide smoke alarms going off at 6:30am? Apparently the alarms get fussy when it rains. Weird, cuz it rains like everyday. Seems like maintenance would have cracked that nut by now.

Mar 16, 2011

No Different Than Them


The Lounge


Laundry Room

Send help...I'm turning into one of the men that I inhabit this building with. In my defense the kitchen/bathroom just makes sense. I didn't say it was sanitary but when you own a plate, a bowl, a spoon, & a fork and would rather wash your dishes in the b-room sink instead of facing the stench in the shared kitchen area then by god make use of your resources.

I invite you to the lounge (north corner of my room) to enjoy a Tui. They are delicious and the cans make for a lighter, quieter walk from the grocery store as opposed to bottles. You can also smash the cans to take up less room to the landfill area.

Okay, I know the landfill is gross. I'm embarrassed by it but it's my life right now. I asked a fellow Adelaidian what we did with our trash and was told that small amounts can be thrown in the shared kitchen trashcan. Which is really small. It tends to fill up quickly especially when you are the jerk that keeps cramming your garbage in it. As for the larger amounts of trash we are "on our own". Not 100% sure exactly what that means but I think it entails throwing it away in the student housing trash bin next door...under the cover of nightfall. Don't worry, I was assured that the cameras in that particular lot were "just for show".

As you can see I haven't made that trek as of yet. Yeah, that's my laundry pile. Pretty impressive when you think I only brought 2 bags of clothing here from The States. I think I have 1 clean sock and tank top, and a semi-clean pair of jeans. Kitchen/bathroom/laundry room perhaps?

Mar 13, 2011


Room 6

ATTN: THERE IS A VACANCY AT THE ADELAIDE...I REPEAT, THERE IS A VACANCY. You better act fast because deals like this don't last long. Look at that square footage, sun beaming in from the parking lot, and you can hardly notice the bloodstain. Who needs a toilet or sink when you can enjoy a community bathroom shared with strangers? And closets are overrated....

Adelaide Snapshot-style



Shavers Only?
(Seems a bit narrow-minded if you ask me.)

Mar 11, 2011

The Adelaide Social Experiment Continues...

The Adelaide

Two weeks ago I received my key to Room #4 and so my skid row existence began. The Adelaide was once the infamous Tramway Hotel which was built over 100 years ago. Here is a quick rundown of my new furnished room consisting of a bed and dresser drawers ($5 per week per piece of furniture) and a private (thank you baby jesus) bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower. You pay by the week (common in NZ). $220 NZD per week is my price for this experience.

The ten or so rented rooms are on the second floor of an out of biz bar. We share a few common areas such as a kitchen that I avoid, a few bathrooms, and a "lounge" (NZ's equivalent of a living room) that I have as of yet ventured to visit. It's basically me and 50 yr. old bachelors and we all keep to ourselves. Everyone has been very nice but these are the dudes your mom warned you about.