En cours

Written 2023-09-16, Published 2023-09-26

Month 2

CW: Depression, Disordered Eating, Discussion of Suicide

The passing of the second month was quieter than month one. Month 2 ended a week ago, at the end of my mid-semester break, which I'll talk about a bit here, but this post will be a bit more on the "hey, how's New Zealand been, alice?" side of things.


Today was good, but I feel encapsulates a lot of the feelings I've had over the past month . Yesterday evening, someone I know (but wouldn't call a friend, no offence intended, looking with an analytical mind) asked if I wanted to do a couple of day trips with them this weekend. I don't have anything better to do, so he asked some folks he was partying with last night and ended up in the 15°C waters near Goat Island, rented thin wetsuit compressing me and snorkel bared between my teeth. Aside from me and this acquaintance were three others: his girlfriend (who is the roommate of one of my friends and I could call her a friend?), a fellow I'd met a couple of times but seemed like a totally different type than me, and another guy I met when he got in the car, who seemed interesting but still, a different type than me. I've met so many people here: knowing literally no one in a country is a encourager to get yourself out there. However, I've made far fewer friends than I thought I might at this point, and this lack of intimacy and the connection it brews is awful.

Due to the general uncertainty of when I would get picked up (and the depressive episode I think I'm in), I had about four spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter and had just finished making coffee when I realised I needed to run, leaving me without even a consideration of a proper meal. I would not eat until about 8 hours later. The snorkeling was incredible. Beautiful fish, lovely kelp forests (I understand why cold ocean biomes are like that in minecraft now. I wish I was joking.), dolphins came and swam with us ??? and so did a seal ???!! The cold water was brutal. The rocks of the island were sharp, and the mollusks that had died clinging to its shores were even more so. It was gorgeous. We spent nearly 5 hours in the water. I watched two of my compatriates do a very sketchy cliff jump and survive to tell the tale. My lips are so dry, and I can still feel the buoyancy of the ocean gently moving me up and down. After all that, I feel a bit closer to the friend who invited me, but not to anyone else. They all previously knew and interacted with each other regularly, and I felt like the odd one out of it all (which has become a frequent feeling), but I don't know if I was searching for a connection with them.


It has gotten to a point that a friend told me that I should see a therapist. This didn't come from a place of animosity or intervention, but a suggestion that a professional might be able to offer a perspective that's unavailable to me in my present position and aid in it coming to an end sooner. So, let that be a marker of how serious I think it's gotten. I feel oppressively lonely. I am doing everything in my power to prevent that from locking me up (I think that would only cause the loneliness to fester and make me feel fully powerless / inept, which are feelings I would like to avoid). With a more judicious gaze upon my past, this is not my first depressive episode. I've only been able to recognise it due to the similarities it has to those previous ones. I have lost my sense of hunger. This is not a good thing. I feel like a fucking stone eater, the same feeling of loosing track of my bodily senses but still having to maintain myself as I am unmade. I think this is a product both of the episode and the place I live having really inconvenient kitchens. It normally doesn't take me more than half an hour to make a meal, ten minutes for breakfast, but the seeming mental hurdle to jump to go into a public space and make the journey and not forget anything is large enough that I do not make it until it is actively hindering me. With the lessening sense of hunger, this hinderance has appeared in the form of the physical experiences hunger bring; I've made a lot of meals in a semi-lucid state. I think I've been better at identifying the origins of my emotions, at least, and trying to remedy them by attacking the root whenever possible. However, for food, this means I've been hanging around a solid meal a day, generally supplemented by snacks (read: spoonfuls of peanut butter) that I can keep in my room. A good suggestion from a trusted friend was to get food that feels 'easy' to make, whether or not it actually is; focusing on the perceived barrier to begin the process of making food and letting the process follow, even if it ends up being 'longer' than a more difficult meal. This has worked in some ways, but most of the difficulty in doing food lies in the separation of my living space and where it is, so, it is a minor remedy.

A question that's appeared a couple times from concerned people is "are you safe?". In short, yes. At the highest level, I refuse to kill myself while I'm here (and in general, fwiw). There are more than a few reasons, but a major one is repatriation. It seems like a huge hassle and I wouldn't put that on anyone. Also, I still haven't met the (only somewhat joking) restriction of having lived longer with my current name, legally, than I my prior one (which means I have until about twenty nine and a half). I am grateful that I do not know the means that my friend used, though imagination is torturous. The anniversary of their death came this past month, and I did not have a candle to perform my normal ritual. I've been walking through graveyards recently: living my goth dreams and making out in them, coming in the day to lay rocks on the headstones, and reading faded names aloud for a gentle reminder that they were here and someone still sees them.

I think a major part of the malaise is that I would consider my support system in Montréal good. I have many close friends and confidants, people I trust to tell it to me straight, offer advice, or simply care. Being stuck in an acquaintance state here Sucks. I feel like I'm trying to build friendships but going wrong somewhere. I invite people to things (gigs, a lot of times) to mixed success, but we often don't hang out much after that. I don't know how to perceive it: is it disinterest? or are they waiting for me to reach out to them? would they be physically affectionate if I initiated it because they read me as shut off from that? am I being too much? The ugly visage of social anxiety rears its head again. All the same, I am doing my best to not let that shut me off from social stuff, just invite and hang out with people the best I can, however that is.

Some nice events / catchup


So. I've ridden a lot of transit, which has been neat. I'll write more about Australia's transit in its proper write up (and a very ambitious endeavour to do a Miles in Transit style vlog of my experience). But, here's some stats for the nerds:

Mode / Lines Traveled / Unique Vehicles / Trips / Trips per Line
Bus 31 54 58 1.87
Cable Car 1 1 1 1
Ferry 2 3 4 2
Streetcar 9 10 10 1.11
Train 15 24 25 1.67
Once again done with quick and dirty code in R. Might yknow. figure out how to make this a nice little repeatable thing but. alas. from 2023-08-09 to 2023-09-12.

It is with great regret that I inform you that I wasn't able to catch a train or ferry in Wellington while I was there. I made an adventure there the evening before I was set to leave but they were running bus replacement services, so me and a new friend (met through RPR and from Christchurch!) ended up just turning around and heading back to the hostel.

I really enjoyed the transit in Australia (I think I'm kind of in love with Melbourne?), Sydney's was also very interesting, if disjointed. Sydney has a wide variety of 'modes', and I was able to ride 5/6 in my 24hrs there: suburban trains (with metro-like frequency downtown), metro (imagine a longer REM, I think it even uses the same rolling stock / system), 'light rail' (operates functionally as a streetcar on most of its network), buses, intercity trains (equivalent to commuter rail in NA, generally), and ferries (didn't ride). Melbourne, however, was so sweet. Generally fewer modes but a more cohesive network. I am a streetcar fan girl, and adore how dense their system is (even if they call them trams). Their train network was also great, offering a good supplement to the dense and frequent tram service, an approach that I think is growing on me (though I think the benefits of frequent dense metro service would be more appropriate for the shorter, central trips I was taking, though again, Streetcars). The bus that I took was clean and relatively on-time, and a lot of the quirks of the history of such a network's construction were fun to witness (to be seen in the video <3).

I think that Auckland's ferries have become a favourite of mine. Only a few trips (2 round trips) since the last report, but one was a 1hr (one-way!) trip to the northern suburb of Gulf Harbour and its nearby Shakespear Regional Park, which is a true joy to be transit accessible (for less than 10$NZD roundtrip) from the city centre.

Climate action and Wellington

So, aside from going to Australia for three and a half days during break, I spent about four and half days in Wellington (capital of NZ) organizing with Restore Passenger Rail. I'm not going to really talk details of their whole deal, but the gist is they're a direct action protest group that's advocating for restoring nationwide passenger rail in New Zealand which was mostly dismantled in the early aughts as well as for free nationwide public transport.

A map of present, past, and proposed passenger rail service in New Zealand.
(Image of present, past, and proposed rail lines from Restore Passenger Rail, accessed 2023-09-23).

Most of their actions are based on a combination of disruption theory and the radical flank theory. Disruption theory supposes that while most people may be sympathetic to an action or care about an issue, they may not pay much attention to it and continue with their quotidienne. With the direct action RPR engages in, they hope to primarily generate media coverage through the inconvenience of shutting down rush-hour roadways as this will keep their demands in the public conscious in a way that other forms of protest (e.g. a rally outside city hall or a petition) may not. Adding to this is the radical flank theory: while most people may not agree with the 'methods' of RPR or other direct action groups, they're sympathetic to the cause, and may be more likely to advocate / support the end goals in a more passive way. The 'radical' group raises awareness and brings previously moderate people into a more clear state of support for restoring passenger rail / free public transport.

While I was in Wellington, I attended one of RPR's non-violent direct action (NVDA) trainings and did a whole lot of mobilizing. The NVDA training was super interesting. A big tenant of RPR's actions is that they're explicitly non-violent, with blocking traffic being the most "violent" an action may be, otherwise explicitly de-escalating if they're confronted by an agitated member of the public but still holding their ground. The training focused on what this de-escalation could be like, what we (attendees) thought was a non-violent, violent, or "not violent" action was, and also served to query if we would be willing to participate in one of RPR's actions. They greatly discouraged getting involved in one of their actions if there would be large consequences for getting arrested (e.g. immigration status, being a caretaker, employment would be affected). They provided a lot of food throughout the stay (all vegan, occasionally with a vegetarian option) and also covered my accommodation (and offered to cover my transport, too, though I opted to take care of it myself).

For mobilizing, I now recognise most of Victoria University at Wellington after leafletting there for most of a morning, I'm an expert at making wheatpaste (I made the smoothest batch I've ever seen / used), put up hundreds of posters and flyers all across town for upcoming information / get involved talks, and became really familiar with the neighbourhood of Island Bay after I walked 22km (~14mi) putting flyers in letterboxes (not a crime here, fuck you USA!). I became a guerilla phone banker, basically, giving follow-up calls and texts to "get involved!" to people, which was also intense. I met so many incredible and brave people, and I'm excited to keep doing the good work that I can do up here in Auckland. The most difficult thing for me a couple of people that I had made friends with doing an action and getting arrested a day after I had returned to Auckland. It was scary before, but it feels different when it's someone you know: being unsure if they had been involved before (and thus might not be provided bail immediately, which was the case for one of them), thinking of their loved ones + children, of what it might've felt like in their place. These are the unfortunate realities of a direct-action approach (particularly one where participants are accepting getting an arrest).


Wow. classes have been happening. Overall, I've been doing a bit better with it all than I was at the very beginning, but it's still a little shaky. A quick overview:

GEOG 325: Human dimensions of disasters

10/10. This is my favourite class I'm taking. The prof rocks, it's incredibly interactive and non-traditional in that way, with nearly every class having some collaborative activity in it. Interesting content, too, I haven't talked much about disasters and this class is making me happy that my honours research went in a different direction than I originally imagined, I would've fucked it up without this knowledge. The prof is very focused on genuine empowerment (relating to POPLHLTH 207, see below), so has focused on giving some power to the students to determine due-dates of assignments, genuinely incorporating criticism, and leading the rejuvination of the Student Advisory Committee in the School of Environment. I'm serving as a class representative for the course, so it's been fun to see of the bespoke power structures at the uni.

GEOG 335: Advanced Physical Geography

5/10. This class is fine. I struggled to get into this class, which sucked, but it happened eventually. The first half focused on air quality (which I have a lot of experience in already) which was a bit boring for me, though the slapdash design a study and then report on it was interesting, though I had also done something similar to that in the past. The second half is focused on waterways, though, which has been interesting. It's less equation and methods focused than McGill's Environmental Hydrology (GEOG 322) course that I took (which kicked my ass! but made me learn the subject well) and more purpose / thought based, which has been cool. I'm excited to see where the rest of the semester goes.

POPLHLTH 207: Community & Cultural Development

8/10. Praxis, the class. Not an insult, just is what it is. While in the school of population health, it's more focused on genuinely engaging with a community and how to have that be meaningful and ensure that power is shifted to them. Neat stuff, but it feels like there's a lot of potential for it to be co-opted by processes that may attempt to 'engage' with a group without genuinely providing power to them.

POPLHLTH 725: Environmental Health

6/10. This class is weird. Graduate level, meets four times during the semester for a entire day. The lectures are neat, but nothing particularly ground breaking? Mostly giving a brief dive into some of the 'real-world' applications of environmental health with some speakers from the Transport Agency or research firms, with a few big assignments. It could be that I have a better background in this than my classmates, who mostly are coming from a medical background rather than the more environmental/geography side I have? I think I would've preferred to take a different course.


So many fun little under the radar shows. the thing that is keeping me going. might do a chart with ratings and stuff? strikethrough indicates bands that were on the bill but I didn't actually see.

Show Date Venue Notessss
Lost Vessels / Bad Bishop / Jack Bromwich / Offside 2023-07-19 Dead Witch Really fun first show! Went with my friend and another one of their roommates and we had a really good time. Had a little transphobia and read as a dude by most of the pit, but the music was good. I liked Jack Bromwich (and my friend got really into them), and ultimately only stayed until halfway through the third band (bad etiquette, I apologise).
Minimal & Techno Night 2023-07-20 Silent Studios My first techno concert. Really enjoyable, got offered to buy but just got pretty drunk and danced very fun with my friend and a lot of their friends. Pretty early on in the semester so a lot of folks didnt know each other that well and I felt more on the in-group
Sorry Sorry / Lorenzo Hazelwood / Bad For Education 2023-08-04 Wine Cellar Went w/ my friend, we thought it would be an interesting gig, but it was just okay. It's alright though, we both had a fun time dancing all the same.
Rocky Horror Picture Show 2023-08-18 The Vic This only barely counts, I think, but was really enjoyable. I finally saw Rocky Horror the week before with some folks who insisted I watch the film before I saw it live, and I'm thankful they did. I made a friend while I was there, which has been really nice :)
Pocket Money / Brackenwood Coven / Late to Chelsea / Slow Rage 2023-08-19 Grey Lynn Library Hall (Yeah I know it's a weird venue it was Fun) Really fun gig, brought a friend I had made @ Rocky Horror the night before, first time kissing a capital B Boy (i think?), smallish crowd but a lot of good dancing, connected with other folks that were dancing hard and have been getting invited to gigs they are attending since
Neither Do I / Eight Head Body / Jacob Scott And The Wayfinders 2023-09-09 605 Morningside So. this night began with me going to comedy show and then forgetting my id. the comedy was fun and trans (and a little somber), and i went to this gig. weird ass venue (you had to walk between the band and the audience in this narrow room to get to the bar, which most people were there to do), it wasnt actually ticketed which kinda blows bc it was like 20$ online, and due the bar atmosphere nobody was really standing and dancing? however, i was dancing for the last couple bands sets and made friends with the other person dancing, who invited me to the next gig
Raiden Freeman / Power Nap / DalyanRD And Mapili 2023-09-09 Whammy Backroom People in NZ have a lot of faith to just. get in the cars of strangers. which I did. and went to see this guy who had a really good solo set that definitely would've been better with a bigger band. still really fun, and ran into some of the emo trans friends i've made on the walk over who were going out clubbing and went to my first gay club after this. fun night :)
UoA BoB: Jack Bromwich / Good Grade / Noah & The Arks / KMC 2023-09-13 Whammy Backroom Went to this for Jack Bromwich (they released a single before this that really rocks). The rest of the band were a litttttle rough but. an alright night.
Dig the Gig Grand Final: Mull Brain / Bullet Stars / Jack Bromwich / Uncommon State 2023-09-14 Galatos My friend is a really big Jack Bromwich head! Went with them to this and had a really good time! lots of other really good bands, got to go in a really solid pit for my first time in a while, got a free drink, had a piccy taken by the event's funky photographers, it was good! Jack Bromwich did not win.


It hasn't felt too different than Canada. It's expensive—a meal from a fast food place is around 18$NZD (~14.5$CAD / 10.8$USD), which feels like Toronto prices, yk. Culturally, it feels similar to lots of English-speaking bits of Canada, generally nice, but some weird politics hiding under the surface for a lot of folks (particularly relating to immigration, again, English-speaking Canada,). There's an attitude of NZ being a rural country, even though nearly 80% of the country lives in a city now and there's an election going on currently that's expected to bring one of the furthest right coalitions into power for the first time in a long while. During the RPR actions people were often Angry and confrontational in a way I hadn't experienced before (personally). I've always heard about folks experiences getting confronted doing some kind of activist work, but this was my first actual experience with it, and it was scary.

Writing a few days later, I'm doing a bit better than when I first wrote the bulk of this article, but I still feel broadly lost and empty. I've been able to pass off the Auckland winter as being an early autumn, but now that spring is coming it feels out of place (it's started getting warm enough that I can't wear my typically two layers of jackets). I miss my friends, I miss the vibes of Montréal, I miss my bike, I miss the métro, I miss Toast, I miss you, reader. Here, it is officially spring, but it has been nothing but gray (this isn't a metaphor), and I hope that the coming warmth will be good. Whatever happens, I welcome it, and know that I'll be somewhere new soon enough.

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