After several glorious days of cold but sunny weather, this morning is cold, gray and damp. Naturally my thoughts turn inward. Postponed are my plans for a long walk along the Waikemake Harbour to the St. Helliers' library. Today I may venture no further than the post office at the Eastbridge Shopping Center (10 min.). Staying with a family (friends of Mara Connolly's) was a good idea for my first few weeks. I cannot withdraw too much. I have formed my schedule around their work and school schedules and it has helped to have solid fellow humans to talk to everyday. Joanne and Vaughn Crang have been gracious hosts. And Joanne's mum and dad, Jill and Graham, have also been generous with their time in showing me around Auckland and taking me to see my potential studio apartment in St. Hellier's and to the shops at the Mall. Best of all I got a taste of the Crang family's life and social circle at the St. Joseph's quiz night fundraiser.
The Quiz Night was jolly. It was a taste of all the fun parts of New Zealand. Emceed by an irreverant comedian, the parents sponsored tables and picked themes for dress-up for their team. There was a silent auction, a no-host bar and a raffle. The questions were purchased on a disk with video and music clips and quite challenging for the non-Kiwi (me). Our team did all right. Everyone once in a while the rounds were punctuated with a "gold coin" round when for an additional NZ$1 you could play a true/false round. Everyone stands up and if you think the question is true you put your hands on your head; false keep your hands by your side. If you get one wrong you sit down. I was the last person standing due to lucky guesses, so now I have a wok for my apartment. At the end of the evening there was dancing with a DJ. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and I managed to stay up past 9.
The next day Vaughn dropped me near the Mt. Eden Friends Centre. They are a small congregation that enjoys an hour of silent worship from 10-11 each Sunday. You have to be a Quaker to understand the stereotypes represented. I was quite charmed. I really missed any mention of Christ as I am accustomed to a 40 minute teaching sermon from Jim Healton each Sunday. I will return though on every 3rd Sunday when they have a talk afterward (on topics ranging from co-housing to permiculture) and for a shared lunch. On the other Sundays I hope to find a church close to my home.
After church I took the bus to the Ferry Building and the ferry to Devonport. Devonport is a big part of why I thought Auckland would be a good landing spot. It has a restored Victorian movie theatre, a terrific yarn shop, used book stores and more. The cold weather took some of the joy out of the afternoon. And none of the movies seemed worth paying NZ$14. (Remember that the NZ $ is close to parity with the Greenback!) So I luxuriated in the warmth of the library and read back issues of this terrific magazine: Mindfood.
I returned to Auckland in time to meet Kris Hartley, a fellow American, for dinner. Kris was recruited out of grad school at UC Berkeley but he originally is from Nashville. He knew of a yummy Thai restaurant. It was terrific to have a conversation that was so comfortingly familiar. He knows housing, planning, transportation issues and current politics. He also could help me better understand Kiwi politics and social codes as he's been here since October. Linda Wheaton and Cathy Cresswell at CA Housing and Community Development Department connected me to Kris. They only knew him from e-mails. It really is a small world and you see it more clearly when you are this far away from the "center".
This week is about confirming my studio apartment for a Saturday move in, creating versions of my resume and circulating it, contacting people for informational interviews, and digging in a little deeper into my redesign project. Afterall, the point was not to move here and get a job just like I had and to recreate the same intense schedule sans the family and friends who make it tolerable!
I have enough money to take the first 12 weeks (length of my tourist visa) and figure out the basic architecture of my redesign. So I started a morning routine that includes reading a couple of chapters of Michael Kings' Penguin History of New Zealand (the publisher not the bird), the Gospel of John, and then a bit more of Herminia Ibarra's Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career. (shout out to Gigi Johnson for the recommendation). My next post will be about the basic assumptions I have underpinning my work life.