31.8.09

I don't even like curtains.

It took twelve weeks for the new curtains to arrive. And then, another (gruelling) three hours for our landlords to hang them up.

I was away during our landlords' latest foray into DIY. Poor Adam was on landlord duty, and I am in his debt.

But I was with the child, at a children's birthday party. So I think we are even.

And magic, magic. Our new curtains are up. On three windows.

The curtains are from the very trendy (in NZ and Australia) Spotlight store. And just so you know, there really is no such thing as too neutral.

I love them. Believe me, it could be worse.

30.8.09

My computer was born again. Hurray!

After nearly killing my computer, I’m still feeling quite tender about it. I want to give it big cuddles and lots of kisses. I’m so glad you’re okay, baby! I love you!

I really don’t know what I did. It might have had something to do with the router. Which stopped seeing my IP address. When my ISP (hi TelstraClear) was having, um, some issues.

Side note, if you are on Twitter. You can get a quick response from a large company, if you just tweet a rant at them.

Oops. Sorry, Comms Chris (the guy behind @telstraclearnz). But you probably get this a lot. If only Twitter had never been invented.

Besides, the problem was probably a Microsoft update. I thought I had been shutting down my computer. With the (stupid) Vista Shutdown button. It looks like a shutdown button.

But it's not. Hopefully, if you use Vista, you are smarter than me, and you have changed the setting. Otherwise, if you click on this, you are just putting your computer to sleep.

And, while I am on the subject of stupid, um, Microsoft? Why does System Restore never work for me?

Maybe I should just tweet this. Never mind.

For the moment, I am tethered to my desk. I am weary after updates and installations. But I am grateful and relieved that my computer is up and running. And I still have my personal files. It’s even kind of nice my computer has been wiped clean.

I don’t feel brave enough to sort out the router just yet, but I do miss being wireless. I hope, in time, I will find the courage to try again. Fingers crossed.

23.8.09

I was tagged, y'all!

I was flattered when the clever and very charming Harmzie tagged me for Wellington Road's first meme. But it sure wasn’t as easy as I hoped.

Here are the rules:
•Open your first photo folder.
•Scroll down to the 10th photo. Or, you know, just pick a photo.
•Post that photo and story on your blog.
•Tag five (or more) friends to do the same.

After college, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I worked for a restaurant company. After a couple of years, I was transferred to Chicago’s northern suburbs, to open a new store. This photo (it really is the 10th photo in my first photo folder) was taken around the time the store opened. Not long after, I had an epiphany, and I quit restaurant work.

Aren't they enthusiastic? Except for Amy, who looks absolutely terrified.

Those six months in the suburbs weren’t a total loss. I got to move to Chicagoland, and I hired and trained lots of people. And two of them, Mike (above, on the right) and Amy (above, second from left), became my best friends.

One day, while I was still doing time in the suburbs, Mike and I made plans to go into the city. We were going to get tattoos. But I chickened out. So I left a message on Mike’s answering machine. About tattoos. But, oops, I forgot Mike was still living with his parents. And I guess they weren't too happy to find out about his tattoo, on the answering machine (yeah, Mike wasn't a chicken).

I had big city dreams. I was so eager to get out of the suburbs, and I think maybe Mike was eager to get out of his parents’ house. He forgave me for getting him in trouble, and we found a small flat in the city. We turned into flatmates. Mike was like a combination of Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen (okay, he was more like Tim Allen). And he had nice friends.

After a while, Mike got a Golden Retriever puppy. Who doesn't love a puppy! And he got me hooked on Star Trek: The Next Generation. And years later, when Mike got married, his wedding was really fun. I went to his bachelor party in Vegas, baby! And I got to be a bridesmaid. I loved my dress, and we ate great food, and he even let me bring Amy as my date. And I think his parents were totally over the tattoo. Sort of.

A few years after the wedding, in my bridesmaid's dress. Believe me, by San Francisco standards, I was not that weird. Really.

Amy moved into the city just after I did. In our early twenties, we spent quite a few nights on the town. We were always looking for a better, hipper place than the last one. And for some reason, we were always on foot. I guess we had not heard about taxis. Sometimes we spent more time walking around than actually being anywhere.

Amy had worked in retail, and she was able to find couture on the sale rack. And she would share her favourite and best clothes with me. She would say, it looks better on you anyway. She always asked questions that made me feel knowledgeable and cool. We double-dated, um, more than once. And she was maternal and domestic and a bit Martha Stewart. Like when I called in, she would polish my silver jewellery for me. And to unwind after work, she would clean house. No wonder her place was always so tidy.

When I moved across the country, Amy realized that it was the end of a chapter. She dropped everything to help me drive my car to San Francisco. She was the Thelma to my Louise.

Thelma and Louise, on their road trip to San Francisco

Over the years, I have kept in touch with Mike and Amy. But I still miss them. These photos makes me want to, you know, turn back time. Because if you live in Chicago, San Francisco and Wellington are pretty much the same damn thing.

Tag! You're it.
Feel free to ignore me if you don’t want to play along. If I didn’t tag you, and you want to tell a story, go on. Don’t be shy.

Christina from Musings of an Amerikiwi. She takes beautiful photos. And Christina's was the first expat in NZ blog that I found. I lurked, and then a few years later, I found out that she went to high school with my cousin. It really is a small world!

Sarah from Chez Lee. She has so many good ideas. And I know she has some great photos.

And the other Sarah, from Secret World of a Housewife, because she makes me want to seize the day.

Aliceson from Feet Off the Table, because she is awesome and insightful.

Darsden from Ramblings About Why. She might have some funny for us. No pressure!

22.8.09

George Eliot, Dooce and me.

After I came out with real-life photos, CNN posted a story about revealing anonymous bloggers. You just are not that anonymous on the internet.

I do understand if you need to use a pen name. It's a literary tradition. Maybe you are a political whistle blower. Or you are blogging about work.

An online persona can be so complicated.

17.8.09

Is it all right if I call you a Kiwi?

I used to think a kiwi was a fruit.

In NZ, it is called a kiwifruit (this is a golden kiwifruit).

I learnt that a kiwi is a . . . small, flightless bird.

It is usually nocturnal.

15.8.09

I'm coming out of the closet.

You might have noticed there were no photos of me on this blog. Because I was worried someone would steal my identity. Yes, apparently, I work for the CIA (cough).

Anyway, I was inspired by Aussie Erin’s heartfelt anniversary post. So here is my version, with photos of me in NZ over the last seven years.

November 2002

This was me in Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. I was enjoying a carefree, five-month holiday in New Zealand. Then Adam (my husband) and I went back to San Francisco for five months.

July 2003

I was engaged, and I was just about to secure a work permit. In between visits to the NZ Immigration office, I spent lots of time at the computer, looking for work, hanging out in the craigslist travel forums, and playing the Sims.

October 2004

In our garden in Wellington's northern suburbs. Everything was coming up roses. My husband and I had eloped, and we finally had our own flat. I had applied for NZ residency, and I had a job that I liked. And I was a few months pregnant. Note the corrugated iron fence. Very common in NZ.

April 2005

This was me at Adam's parents' house. It was four weeks after I had given birth to the child. Look how blissed out I was. I was in love with the child, and the breastfeeding hormones.

October 2006

Here I was with the child napping in his buggy. We had moved up the coast about a year earlier. I was so happy to be living by the sea. This photo was taken in the park next to our house. I love how this track gives you the impression of wide open space.

June 2007

At a family lunch in Petone. Wellington city is in the distance behind me. I was experimenting with a new hair colour.

February 2008

I was over the moon. My husband and his family had given me a piano for my birthday. NB. I don't usually wear my crown at home.

April 2009

And here I was in Auckland, getting ready to go to America, for the first time in six years. I was hormonal anxious.

13.8.09

I'm a personality blogger.

My husband keeps asking, when are you going to earn some money with your blog. Because, ahem, I have not earned one 10 cent piece.

My reviews. My posts about movies and wine and books. My local quest for a new cafe.

Yeah, I’m still bloggin’ it old school, yo. It's just about what inspires me.

Which really means, I'm not trying to make any money. There are no advertisers on this site (yet).

See how I left the door open. Because I’m an English major, not a journalist. And that’s how I roll.

I have nothing against those of you who make a buck with your blogs. As we say in NZ, good on ya.

The thing is, blogging about products and free samples and the discussion on CNN about mommy bloggers? It just ain’t happening in NZ.

So, Wellington Road. "Blog with integrity" or sanctimonious, full of shit blog. You decide.

11.8.09

Enough of the soapbox already.

It’s time for another edition of Funny Things Kiwis Say.

Chur. I think this means cheers, as in thank you. It's grunted by men only. It’s a way of acknowledging that you heard what someone said and that you agree.

Bro. You might hear someone say Chur, bro or that was choice, eh, bro. Again, it’s a guy thing.

Youse. You plural, as in thank youse very much. If you get annoyed when you hear this, you are probably a tall poppy.

Sweet as. An iconic phrase. It’s sort of the Kiwi version of No worries. It means awesome.

Far out. Doesn’t mean hip or cool. You say this if someone is being an idiot.

Wicked. The East Coast slang from back in the 80s. It’s still around. Awesome.

10.8.09

I learned something new.

Before I read this story, I always used to buy the freshest bread and milk on the shelf.

I thought other people would (be forced to) buy the older bread and milk. Because I am entitled, and they got to the supermarket after me. Suckers!

That’s right. It never occurred to me that I am supposed to buy the older bread and milk. So it won’t get thrown away.

Apparently, my husband knew all about this easy way to stop food from getting wasted. And he only mentioned it once or twice when I wasn't listening.

So now I feel stupid and wasteful and American.

And angry at the supermarket.

Note to supermarket. Please do not put fresh items on the shelf until that older shit is gone.

Because maybe I’m not the only stupid wasteful person in the world.

4.8.09

On being (sort of) green.

The village is full of hardcore greens. I’m more of a moderate. Or lazy. I will do what is green if it is not too inconvenient.

At Wellington Road, we recycle. We compost. We use energy-saving light bulbs. I try to think about packaging before I buy. I use cloth bags. I almost always buy local and what is in season. When I can, I buy organic, free-range. We try to grow some of our own vegetables.

And for the last two school terms, we have scaled back to just one car. My husband drives the car to work, and the child and I walk or carpool or take the train.

At first, I missed doing errands whenever I felt like it. I balked at having to do three or more errands at once if I had the car. And it is a pain to ask for rides when the weather (or the child) craps out.

But I have started feeling like we could save the expense of having a second car, that we really don’t need it.

Then again, a 2km walk to the train, the dairy or the playcentre, and back again can seem like a long, long, long way. Even on a good day.

There are no major hills in the village. Hallelujah.

2.8.09

Dairy-free, egg-free pancakes.

These pancakes are often on the weekend menu at Wellington Road. Maple syrup is my favourite topping, but in NZ, it is incredibly expensive.

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ¼ cups rice milk
1 tsp salt
1-2 bananas, mashed
2 Tbsp dairy-free margarine, melted
½ cup frozen blueberries, optional

Mix all the ingredients together, except the margarine and the blueberries. Then add the margarine and then the blueberries. Grease your favourite skillet and cook a ladle of batter at a time over medium heat. Flip when cooked on one side. Makes four large pancakes, or lots of small pancakes for the child.

The child eats the blueberries first.