Be warned. You may notice my American accent during a chatty, multi-beverage evening. But if you happen to spout something along the lines of, "America got what it deserved in Donald Trump", I will bite off your favourite appendage. Maybe two. I will reduce bits into human-avocado toast quicker than you can say, "Deutsche Bank, save me!"
Health alert: Don't mess with me right now. As a Kiwi-American, I am not a pretty sight these days. Yes, the Kiwi side of me preens every time an international notable goes all gooey-eyed jealous over Jacinda like I personally invented sane leadership in All Birds.
But my America side. Ooooh Boy. Have you ever spilled an entire bag of uncooked rice all over the kitchen floor, under the fridge, and down your pants at the same time? Then tripped, ended up in full-body traction, and contracted a killer infection that made you hallucinate small, orange hands in places that your mother would never say the anatomical word for?
From one who straddles both countries in my heart: New Zealand, hold fast to what you value. It can fly away from your grip faster than you ever dreamed.
Well, that's how poo-ey I feel on an excellent day. Like doo-doo on the feet of the larva of the scum procreating in White House sewage. In short, like a US Republican Senator from Alabama. The new forced-birth capital of America! A land where — as of last week — a child impregnated by rape or incest will serve more prison time for an abortion than the person who raped her. Where her doctor can get a 99-year sentence for trying to help. I'm up for a bill that says "life begins at Viagra" and watch whose willie wilts faster than spinach in a hot pan.
By Monday last week we got the President of the most militarised nation on the planet tweeting, "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!" As a journo, I did feel the exclamation mark was superfluous, but who am I to parse presidential punctuation in your average invitation to world armageddon?
I miss sanity. I miss headlines that don't use 100 synonyms for the word, "lies".
I miss satire — or just being able to tell it apart from reality.
I miss the unmentionable "c" word — "civility".
I miss boring — because I'm not sure we will ever return to a "normal" we recognise again.
This is the dirty truth I can barely bring myself to say out loud; Under this president, the darkest forces of America are winning. The pain of seeing the country I love move into the unthinkable is debilitating.
I am watching my birth nation turn into a cartoon of political catastrophe. Everything I value is dissipating into its inverted opposite. The head of environmental protection is anti-environment. A man who says "bigly" doesn't think his Intelligence is intelligent.
We all thought America's famed "checks and balances" would eventually right the ship. Until we've watched this administration batter huge holes in its sides, gleefully pronouncing it will make America sail faster. The very institutions that are meant to correct course busy themselves trying to steer, while the gashes grow bigger daily, with those furthest below deck in water up to their ears.
It hurts. There are so many people you love and admire behind your nation's generic label. The pain is visceral. Where does your mind go first—the cruelty of the suggestion from someone who doesn't feel it personally, defensive anger, or defenceless recognition that hurts too much to unpick?
Don't even begin to feel sanctimonious that Trump's polarised political mayhem couldn't happen here. Every time I see small pieces of it quietly fester, I feel gut-clenching familiarity. Our first refugee MP is the only official besides the Prime Minister to now require police protection. I sat in a van to the Auckland Airport while a Waikato clergyman behind me declared, "Muslims want to take over the world, you know." Increasingly, I hear the volume of our commentator's voices getting louder and shrill — because we now complicitly accept that outrage yields ratings. Today MPs double down on a useful political lie, because the gamble pays off.
I want to shout, Stop. Now. My home country cannot make the same tragic mistakes of my birth country — just delayed by a handful of years.
We don't get what we deserve. But we can become what we fear. From one who straddles both countries in my heart: New Zealand, hold fast to what you value. It can fly away from your grip faster than you ever dreamed.
In 1841 Henry Clay once said, 'We, Senators, will soon pass away, but our principles will live while our glorious Union shall exist.'
That's just what I'm afraid of.
• Tracey Barnett is a columnist, author and founder of the refugee issues initiative, WagePeaceNZ.