My Boyfriend has a Fu Manchu

The short version catch-up: I’m still in New Zealand, still in the tourist-capital of Wanaka, and still bartending/waitressing at the Bullock Bar. New is – I’ve been house/dog sitting for a month, and I took a second job (!) in the kitchen of a cafe.

Pat in the kitchen where we house-sat

I’ve been working tons of hours or engaged in daily life or desperately needing sleep at all blogging opportunities for the last month! My work week is generally about 60 hours, and around that I squeeze in adult tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, showering, fitness maintenance, and sometimes sleep. It’s been really nice, after living in the van for a month, to spend these six weeks at a house. However, I am realizing the more opportunities I have, the busier I am. Van life doesn’t allow for as many opportunities (I’m going to bake my own cereal! I’m going to try making kale chips!), and ironically it is less stressful.

Things have slowed down considerably at my first job. Now that we aren’t slammed every night, I’m mostly just working in “the grill.” It’s just the chef and I. When it’s busy, it’s “mental.” Never before have I seen a restaurant (that seats up to 55 people!) where a single person is the hostess, waitress, bartender, food runner, cashier, bus boy, AND the dishwasher! It works only because New Zealanders and most travelers are understanding and don’t expect to be waited on hand and foot. When people are rude to me or treat me like a scum-sucking servant, I’m embarrassed to say that they are *always* Americans.

My view from behind the bar in the Bullock Grill

My second job is a nice change of pace. It’s at the same cafe where I “trialed” and then the person whose shoes I’d have filled ended up staying. It’s probably the busiest cafe in town, in a great location and the owners are amazing, sweet people. It’s generally known as “Kai” or “Cafe Kai.” The whole name is Kai Whaka Pai, which means “food made better” in Maori. To my initial astonishment, it is pronounced “Kai Fuck-a Pie.” Whaka is a common Maori word. It feels strange to say it so casually all the time.   There are two or three of us in the kitchen who prep, plate food, cook, and wash dishes.

Laurie and James in the tiny Kai kitchen

Ironically both my jobs involve a component of dishwashing, and at first I was horrified. I feel, in American culture, jobs like housekeeping and dishwashing are heavily stigmatized. Here, having a certain background — be it engineering, admin, technology, teaching, etc — doesn’t make you anyone special. And very few people feel they are “too good” to do a certain task. I never would have expected being tricked into doing commercial dishes would have catalyzed personal growth, but here I am actually appreciating the experience!

Bullock Head Chef Reece backlit by the "washing up" area

As for the blog title, Pat is, for the first time in his life getting to experiment with the masculine miracle of facial hair. His post-pubescent life thus far has been spent in the military and behind an accounting desk. Suddenly he has a choice about his appearance and has gone wild! He hadn’t shaved or gotten a haircut since the day after Chris and Julie’s wedding at the beginning of September. A week or two ago, he finally got a trim and started his “manscaping.” It will probably be another month before he makes it back to the clean-shaven man I used to know. I just pray none of the stages in between involve a highway-patrolman’s mustache.

Pat's "chops and goatee" - one of the many stages of manscaping I have endured.

1 comment

  • February 27, 2011 at 4:15 am

    ! Awesome Blog. You inspire! Cool story about Pat’s facial hair.

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