Since I've last written much has changed for me. I'm now an independent woman in Auckland! So much to share about-work, driving, new home and friends. About a week ago, I interviewed at Hudson Recruiting, which is the largest recruiting and temp agency in NZ. Rather than place me with a client, they hired me to work for them. So now, I'm a well-paid paper pushing temp in a corporate office that over looks the Waitemata Harbor. The office views are breath-taking and rather distracting, when I should be working hard pushing paper. My job is rather mundane, so I won't bore you with the details, but I work with a nice group of women and the momentum of the team is always busy and bustling. My actual job is fairly isolated, but each day I seem to get to know the individual team members a bit more, so it continues to get better and better. Also, there are fun perks, like a full kitchen with espresso machines, waffle makers, etc. The first week of work, I made love to that espresso machine on a regular basis. Also, every week a yoga instructor comes and teaches a class after work in the main conference room. I work in downtown Auckland on Quay St.
I also am now officially driving. I've only driven on the wrong side of the road once-phew! My mantras when I am driving are: stay to the left (I say this one often), follow the car in front of you (but not for too long or I may miss my turn) and follow the give way rule. The give way rule is a bit tricky-if I am want to turn right (crossing over traffic) and an oncoming car wants to turn left in the same direction, that car has to yield to me. Weird, huh? But, all in all, people are fairly nice and patient in Auckland when driving. It's not like driving in California where everyone unforgivingly drives like bats out of hell. However, since everything is on the other side of the road and car, it's taking me time to get used to it all. For example, when I need to signal to turn, I turn on the windshield wipers. When I go to shift the gear of the car, I reach for the door. You can imagine what this looks like to other drivers and friends that are in my car with me.
For a week or so I looked for a flat via the internet (a "flat" is an apartment, btw). There are great websites with lots of different options and needs for flat seeking people like myself. After checking out a few flats, I quickly learned that when someone is looking for a "female flatmate" it often meant a bunch of messy, sometimes weird dudes, who need some estrogen in their lives to clean up their flats. Also, because I'm only planning to stay in Auckland for 2 months (and have always been upfront about my plan), I was a fairly undesirable potential flatmate. The best house that I saw was in Grafton, which is somewhat close to where I work and is a spacious house with 4 other people. Check out the pictures that I've sent out to all of you. I visited the house twice to meet the flatmates and a few days later they called- they liked me! So, I'm living in a great room with really interesting people.
Jill is an artist who has lived here the longest and probably owns most of the stuff in the house. She's friendly, fun, very down to earth, extremely creative and a wonderful baker. Her art is all over the house and it's really cool. Chris is earning a masters in film and television and in the process of completing his thesis, which is a short film (I'm about to summarize the film and it's somewhat violent, so you may want to skip to the next paragraph) The film is about a woman who wants to surprise her husband who's traveling for a work conference. She visits the hotel he's staying in while he's at the conference and the concierge lets her into his room. But, the concierge lets her into the wrong room by mistake and she walks in on 2 people making love. She assumes the man is her husband having an affair and flies into a fit of rage; she murders the couple (the man has a prosthetic arm and she uses it as a bludgeoning device), and then has to hide the bodies. Then, her husband shows up and she accidentally kills him, too. I guess mistaking him for someone else. The ending is still undetermined, but one idea is the woman running out into the street and getting run over by a truck. While the story isn't the most positive and uplifting, it's been pretty cool to understand the process he has to go through to create the movie on a small budget. Chris is witty, fun and very nice.
Then there's Peter, who is a graphic design student and musician who plays his electric guitar all the time. He's very relaxed, cool and creative, too. Sandy is the other female flatmate who works for Maori TV as a sound technician. The technicians just formed a union at her station and it's been really refreshing to hear her describe how it's all coming together. Her union is upbeat, positive and organized, which is a bit
part of a women's rugby team and I'm looking forward to watching her play. Overall, my flatmates are really diverse, creative, kind and I feel blessed to be included in their flat. This weekend, we will have a spring cleaning session and flatmate dinner, which will be fun. Also, I walk to work every day, which I love. I'm still navigating the best walking course, but there are 2 parks I get to walk through to get to my office. It's a beautiful way to start and end the day.
It was a little sad leaving the home of the Miskells. But, they have been so supportive, helpful and kind to me. They lent me some basic items like towels, bedding, etc. so I wouldn't have to buy much and I'm planning on making them dinner next weekend, so they can all see my flat. I hope to see them often! Before I moved out of their home, John (the father) and Tom (his son) took me to my first rugby game. We watched Auckland beat Wellington at Eden Park stadium. Rugby is my new favorite spectator sport! Tom said it would take me "years to learn the game", but I think I have a fair understanding of how it works. There are 30 young, buff, athletic men running around the field tackling each other while trying to get the ball to their end of the field to score. While the game is a full contact sport, they don't wear any pads or helmets. But, I learned that the US has way better cheerleaders, hands down. All in all, it was a fun and tipsy night. Everyone loves to drink beers at rugby games. Thank goodness the Miskells live in walking distance to the venue.
I'm really getting used to the accent of the Kiwis, too. There are lots of fun words that I'm incorporating into my vocabulary. "Dodgy" is my new favorite word. It means "sketchy", like some of the guys who were looking for a female flatmate were a bit dodgy. Another one is "heaps", like I had "heaps of paperwork on my desk when I started at Hudson" meaning, "lots". Other fun sayings are "who ate all the pies", when someone is bit chubby and could have gotten that way from eating lots of pies. Pies are traditional food in NZ. They are like our potpies, but are filled with minced meats, cheese, mushrooms, etc. They are yummy, but not that good for you, I reckon. However, I'm still earning the lingo and am constantly asking people to repeat what they said. Of course, Kiwis like my accent and are always asking me where I'm from.
I attended my first kiwi concert, too. I attended a "Fly my Pretties" concert in a historical venue, which was really cool. The venue was an old theater with wood furnishings, benches and open balconies. The band was a modern folk, indie group that played very chill, relaxing music. The concert I attended was being recorded for a CD and I look forward to hearing it in a few months.
I'm also discovering Auckland and slowly falling in love with the city. I've discovered some similarities between Auckland and San Francisco. One of my most favorite streets in Auckland is Karangahape Road, or K Rd. for short. The street is filled with interesting stores, restaurants, cafes, clubs, bars, etc. The area has a little bit of everything and is in walking distance to my home. K Rd. reminds me a bit of the Mission Dist. in SF.
I'm slowly meeting people, which has been interesting. I've learned what a social addict I truly am. Coming to a country, where I only knew one family, it was a bit hard for me to get used to not having the social network I'm used to having at home. I've stayed in contact with a few people that I met on the bus tour that I wrote about in my last e-mail and have gotten to know other people through those first friends, etc. Later this week, I'm going to meet some new girlfriends for a beer after work. I love meeting new people and am surprisingly a bit unconfident and insecure at times, it seems. I know this is part of my learning process and from these experiences I'll be a stronger person. But, I am feeling a bit homesick and would love, love, love to hear from you all. Please e-mail me when you can. I've also been able to call just a few people, but the time difference is tricky and I need a new calling plan, as my last one was too expensive. Later this month, my friend Glen will be visiting me from San Francisco and I can't wait to hang out with him. I've noticed how I really miss people that know me for me.
I hope each of you is well and are thankful for our health and safety. Reflecting on the recent sad and violent bombings in Bali, I am again quickly reminded of how precious life truly is. Be well and keep in touch!
P.S. The subject title means: Raining in New Zealand. Aotearoa literally means "long white cloud", which is a A reference to the appearance of mountainous land when seen on the horizon from a canoe after an ocean voyage.