Simple Pleasures

I just got home from grocery shopping. Going to the market in a different country is always interesting. Unpacking groceries after shopping in a different country feels a bit like seeing all of the Christmas presents under the tree. No one product delights more than others; all of the packaging is different even for familiar products. And even the same product, such a basil in a tube from the produce section, may be pronounced differently. Basil with a long “a“or short “a”? (I’ll stick with long for herb and short for man’s first name.) It is a bright sunny day and that is a pleasure too. I may be able to peel off my sweater! And I found ice cube trays on top of the refrigerator and made some ice. I do not think there is a people group on earth who gain as much pleasure from ice as Americans. And I am an American. My ginger ale tastes so much better poured over ice. Plus it looks more festive.

I have been trying to figure out how to pronounce things and whether to try to adapt to the Kiwi accent. More challenging when you are spending time with people from UK, Ireland, and America! Today I accepted that I am an American so I am going to stick with my own pronunciations. I may adopt local slang and place names (of course). Accepting that I will always be an American even if I change my status to dual citizen or stay here for years and years helps to get my bearings. I am a daughter of the West, and I have moved further west is all.

Reading is a pleasure too, though sometimes too intense to be called simple. Today I read two small essays printed as books and offered to customers for FREE at Unity Bookstore. (Already a loyal customer, now I will sweep their steps and wash their windows!) Here is the first paragraph from Lydia Wevers, “On Reading”: I suffer from an illness, an illness which has no cure, no limit and no end. It’s compulsive, expensive, consuming and addictive, it fills my house and my life and my time – I refer of course to reading. Susan Sontag has famously argued that illness should not be used as a metaphor and some might say that to think of reading as an addiction is, and can only be, metaphorical. But even as a child I was aware, when I woke before dawn and had to hold my eyelids open so I could see the next page of Anne of Green Gables or The Magic Faraway Tree, that I had a condition.”

When I meet Lydia I know we will be kindred spirits, even if our reading tastes differ wildly. (And I will meet her on this island/village.) I love reading NZ fiction from the library. I like that so many people have read these particular books already. And I like returning them when they inevitably do not hit “the spot”. I am still too much of a foreigner to really appreciate them. I learn from them and there are moments I really enjoy them. Then something happens and there is a let-down, like when Fiona Farrell ends The Skinny Louie Book with a post-apocalyptic section that doesn’t fit. (I have to ask someone if there was a period in film and literature in the 70s and 80s in AUS/NZ where everyone was fascinated with the end of the world, i.e. Mad Max, Coca-Cola Kid, etc.)

Sometimes pleasures that were so simple in the US, like downloading a new episode of Inspector Lewis on iTunes, is so complicated here that is a pleasure out of reach. It seems that downloading one tv program takes 1GB on my landlord’s internet service, and he only gets 10GB a month. So do me a favor and enjoy a simple pleasure for me: download a song or a program on iTunes or watch a YouTube video (and you will be forgiven if you break into God Bless America), then write and tell me how you spent your unlimited broadband.

Another pleasure is watching World Cup Rugby in my local pub. You do not have to have a great understanding of the game, you just listen to the crowd groan or cheer. For those of you who are wondering (in rugby-deprived USA) this weekend England plays France, and Ireland plays Wales on Saturday, then New Zealand plays Argentina, and South Africa plays Australia on Sunday.

It is lunchtime so I am now going to enjoy a very delicious NZ lunch: Edam cheese, a Gala apple and a few slices of sourdough bread from the local bakery. Keeping it simple.