Thursday, 22 March 2012


I hope this post reflects how wise and worldly I now am. Monday marked another year older for me as well as my first birthday spent in my new country. Had you told me last year that I would be spending my next birthday at an improv class in New Zealand I probably would have said - It's possible. But doubtful.

What does a mature woman such as myself do to celebrate her birthday besides go to improv class? If you said go to dinner, drink her favorite wine, participate in Ellen's Dance Dare competition, and make her husband film it then you guessed right!

For those of you that don't watch Ellen every single day like I do then let me share what Ellen's Dance Dare is for you. It basically involves dancing behind someone that has no idea you are doing it. It looks like this:

As we approached the bar to pay for our meal, the dance dare mood struck me. Cultural side note - Kiwis are not so big on dropping your bill at the table. For most any kind of restaurant, you go to the front to pay. So as we are waiting I see a perfect opportunity to make my move. The guy in front of me naively thinks he is just in line to pay for his dinner. I show him, though, by dancing wildly behind him as restaurant patrons look on, confused, and most likely embarrassed for me.

Unfortunately, Adam did not make his move and somehow failed to actually film me. I of course did not know this and proceeded to do the Dougie, robot, and some new Bollywood moves I recently picked up. Yep, one year older is not gonna slow this gal down.

Besides a failed Dance Dare attempt, my birthday also entailed breakfast and prezzies in bed, as well as lots of overseas love. I feel like my birthday began over the weekend though as soon as "Mum and Nannie " picked me up for our girls weekend in Whangamata. It was a great time and I am definitely a fan of the Kiwi beach life. How cute is their batch?

And the lovely Coley ladies:

And in case you forgot what I look like drinking wine. Michelle and me at the Whangamata Boat Club:

Enjoying the view:

While in Whangamta dining alfresco one afternoon, I did make eye contact with a salesperson, which everyone knows is the come hither look of retail. I was so taken with the sales pitch that I caved and immediately bought what she selling:

Did I mention that she was an 8 year-old girl? Girl Scout cookies are called Girl Guide biscuits here. There name many be different but they taste just as good going down. Thanks to a special delivery that came from America this week I have lots of sweet options.

With all this cookie business, good thing my next vacation involves walking ten miles a day. This time next week we will be here:

I love you already Milford Track. Please don't rain on us the entire time!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

No Sleep Till Whangamata

Well they say you should stop and smell the roses, so this week I did. I made my first trip to the Parnell Rose Gardens. It's a beautiful little spot:

It's nice to have another stay at home Mom, but without the kids, friend to do stuff with. Adrienne and I also went to check out the Parnell Baths, which should be renamed the Parnell Public Pools. Baths sound ancient and natural, we saw a mini water park for children and a place to do laps. I wanted ancient and natural. Oh well, now I know. And knowing is half the battle.

Speaking of knowing, looks like the New Zealand Government is going to know a whole lot about us by the time this Visa process is over. I went to meet with our immigration specialist yesterday and he brought our file with him:

Wow, I had no idea we were that interesting. Apparently we are. So to all the people that personally know me, you're welcome. The greatest thing is that this stack isn't even complete, he said by the time it actually gets submitted it will be close to double that.

After tending to all of that business downtown, I made my way to the Viaduct to see the Volvo Ocean Race, which is currently stopped in Auckland. It's  a yacht race around the world that is held every three years. The boats are amazing:

I even got to ride in a simulator that made me feel like I was actually doing this:

And possibly the coolest part of it all is that I ran into my English teacher from freshman year of high school, Billy O! I knew he lived in New Zealand but he's in Christchurch on the South Island so I  didn't expect it at all. It was so fun to catch up and meet his beautiful family.

Adam has been in China this week and hasn't had much computer or phone access, so all I really know is that he made it there safely and sat next to someone on the plane that needed a seat belt extension. I have been trying to remember all of the things that happened while he was gone so I can fill him in when he returns. For example, how I was in Zumba class Wednesday and after the first song a woman, who looked like a cast member from Absolutely Fabulous, just shouted out "My son's been dead 3 years today but I'm OK."  Que Gloria Estefan. It was both hilarious and painfully sad. Zumba imitating life. Who knew?

In just a few short hours, I am heading off for my big girls weekend in Whangamata near the Coromandel. My friend Michelle told me that her Mum and Nannie will be coming to pick me up and then we will all be going to get her from work. I guess earlier in the week, Nannie had told Michelle I hope your friend likes to drink the wine. Well, guess what Nannie, you're in luck.

Monday, 12 March 2012


So a creepy doctor, an immigration specialist, and a celebrity obsessed manicurist walk into a bar, um I mean, my life. Some characters we stumble upon in this world are more pleasant that others. I tell you this because we are currently applying for our permanent residency in New Zealand, permanent in our case is longer than two years.

This means lots of money and paperwork go to the New Zealand government, and perhaps a love letter or two showing that we have a real marriage, the in love kind, not the fake Green Card kind. Thank you long distance relationship that allowed us to create such works of art. This whole visa stuff also means repeating the vigorous medical testing we completed prior to moving, just a few short months ago. I would assume I still don't have sugar in my urine, jaundice, or a mental illness but go ahead and see for yourself.

This is where the creepy doctor comes in. I wasn't actually harmed in any way unless you count feeling really skeeved out as harm or counting really poor bedside manner as damaging. Maybe I lived in San Francisco for too long or have just had female doctors but I could have sworn a male doctor couldn't be alone in a room with you if he was doing anything more then checking the laces on your shoes. If anyone wants to chime in, I'd love to know if I made this up or not.  Anyway, I was glad to find out that I was not alone, as Adam went to see the same doctor a few hours later, and agreed that he was "awful" and "very awkward." Sometimes, with your other half, it's as nice to unlike the same things or people as it is to like them. 

As far as the manicurist goes, no the NZ government doesn't require well maintained hands and feet to call this country home, I just do. I went to get my nails done earlier in the week and the girl who did them was very inquisitive and we got to chatting. When she discovered I was from America she immediately wanted to know if I had met any celebrities. Funny enough, I have actually "met" and seen tons of them, due mostly to travel, some jobs in fancy restaurants, and certain places I've lived, such as Martha's Vineyard. I started listing some names off, and this sweet girl didn't even know what to do when I mentioned Ryan Reynolds. Her voice cracked and she said she wouldn't even know what to do or say, I said well I understand, but I just went with "Can I take your order?."

 When it was time to actually paint my nails, she asked if I wanted to get the shellac manicure (gel), I said yes.  I don't always get that kind but it last a long time so I thought sure. This does have a point, don't worry.She told me well it's quite popular in America and followed with and  "Kim Kardashian gets it. Have you met her?" I just started laughing. No, no I haven't. I'm not sure how she would feel about all the barefoot people and terrible fashion here but I'll be sure to ask if I ever do meet her.

In the meantime, I will continue to try build a life here for myself. Some days that is easier then others. It seems good when I do things like go to the ballet and out to dinner with friends or have Chicken Finger Friday, fun parts of the past week. It's harder though, when you wake up for the sixteenth Monday in a row and have no job to go to. Well I could actually just go to the beach but the beach doesn't need therapy, it's  more like therapy for me. Anyway, thank goodness for the Internet!

I can honestly say I have spent more time on the computer in the past 3 months then in the past 3 years. Seriously, I didn't really get it before. I'm the person a few years ago who said  "Blog. What's that and who would read those ?" Maybe that's why I'm still surprised when people email me out of the blue saying they read my blog,  I'm like really? I think it's great and it really brightens my day to hear from friends and strangers alike, so please keep it coming.

The ipad has become my security blanket these days. With a touch of a few buttons I can be entertained, educated, and talking to friend or family member back home in a matter of minutes. I download books, I listen to podcasts, I scour food blogs for what I'm going to cook next, I keep up with friends growing children on facebook, I read about other expat experiences, I skype. A lot. I read the NY Times and try to keep up with life in America. I mean heaven forbid I am on a plane in a few years next to a celebrity or a  past Republican hopeful and don't recognize them because I lived in New Zealand during the time they came into the limelight.

This did actually happen to Adam but when he still lived in Atlanta. He was on a flight to LA and unbeknownst to him was sitting next to one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Since he had no idea who she was, he was confused when he sat down next to her, and she immediately turned and said  "Sorry, but I'm not going to talk to you." Um, ok he thought I wasn't interested in talking to you either but thanks for the announcement. It wasn't until he got off the plane until one of his counterparts said Hey, weren't those the Real Housewives?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


You win some you lose some. The man who chose Eden Park to parachute onto during halftime of my first live rugby game did not win. Mostly because his landing landed him with a broken femur. Ouch.

New Zealand Warriors didn't actually win either. Defeated again by the Australian Sea Eagles. I'm sure it would have been a different story completely if they were playing the Land Eagles...maybe next year. Despite NZ not winning it was really fun. If you can't have fun, though, sitting in complimentary box seats on a beautiful Auckland day, where free food and booze are at your finger tips, well then go back to your cave.

I thought for a minute I was at a Burning Man Fundraiser when I saw the live drummers and torches a blaze but nope just a good old fashion League Rugby game. And imagine my surprise when on our way out, one of the hosts gave me the largest and most decorative bouquet of flowers I have ever seen. If I had gotten a sash too I could have stopped at the Miss Auckland 2012 pageant on our way home. I've never received flowers for attending a sporting event, but I told Adam I will expect it from now on.

Other happenings from the past week include a mid-day Oscar party with Adrienne, my other jobless and recently transplanted North American friend, who is fabulous and smart enough to get the fancy movie channel so that on a Wednesday afternoon we could actually watch the Oscars in their entirety, as well as all of the Red Carpet coverage on E. Folks at home might have taken for granted being able to see J-Lo in a played out look, but not me. I was all gratitude that day.

However, the day before I was grateful for other things, like being able to find humor in situations that don't exactly turn out as I had imagined. When I found a certain woman's resume online and reached out to her I was thinking about all the things we seemingly had in common, but my fantasy of meeting my new best friend and professional confidant was soon squashed.

We both came from the US and I shared that my husband had gotten recruited by a company over here which was the impetus for our move. I then asked her what made her move. She simply said "Bush." As in the president.  Alrighty then. Mmm let's see where do I take this conversation now. Is this where we trade makeup secrets and  I ask if she wants to try on my ring? Nope not getting that vibe. Well of course it led to the community shared eco housing development she calls home. This is what I think of as a commune but what do I know. Hey different strokes for different folks. It was actually really interesting to learn about how these things are set up and work. I'm not going to be the one to break it down for you, that's what Google is for, so look it up sometime.

While you can't win 'em all you can win 'em some. And I would proudly like to report that I did win one round of the red hat game in improv class.

Two people wear actual red hats (provided by the instructor - whew!) and the goal is to be the first person to knock the hat off the other person's head. The kicker being that the entire time you are trying to do this you are also engaged in a improv scene with you partner. It's multi tasking at it's finest. I continue to look forward to class every week and am so glad I signed up.

I am also really looking forward to our Milford Track trip. Three weeks from today and we will be hitting the trails!