Tag Archives: Kiwis

Fort Minor

So, there’s a song by this group called Fort Minor and I enjoy it a bit.  The chorus begins with ‘where’d you go?’ and I figure that’s a question that I should be answering.  The long and the short of it is, I’ve been working.  And then sleeping.  And then working.  The original 4 week assignment has turned into almost 3 months, and we finish up on July 29.  Although that feels so very far away.

 

Also, I’ve been sick.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m back in a call center and still getting my body used to being bombarded with germs from every direction, so that when one person gets sick, everybody gets sick. Or if it’s because of the weather change down here and it being Winter but not really a winter that I would call a winter so I don’t get as bundled up as I should.  Or if it’s because of the humidity and moisture in the apartment having finally settled into my lungs and refusing to go away.  Or, if it’s a combination of them all.  Suffice to say, I’ve been sick.  Stuffed nose, chesty cough, I even lost my voice the other day.  I start to feel better during the day and then the night hits and my body feels like giving up all over again.  I’ve been eating right and drinking plenty of fluids, so maybe all I need is rest. I’m not in work today simple because I could not find the strength or the energy or even the desire to move or do anything but hide in the bed.  Headache, nausea, and some light other intestinal problems along the way as well.

 

So today is for resting, and medicating, so that I can go back to work tomorrow, finish this week off strong and use the weekend to complete my journey back to healthiness so that I can stop feeling so damned miserable.  Being miserable is not a fun thing.

 

What new adventures am I having?  Well, we went out about two weekends ago and I bought myself a big monitor.  my little netbook is still running everything, but I can now see more than I thought possible.  the screen is about twice the size of my netbooks screen.  Awesome.  I have bought myself some early birthday presents as well.  A new bento box and lunchbag, and some video games for the computer.    Last weekend we went out and bought a dehumidifier.  To try and get rid of the excess moisture problem.  It’s a 20L tank and thank god for that.  We turned it on after we brought it home, around 5pm and left it to run over night.  When we got up the next morning, around 7am, the thing had sucks about 17-18L out of the air.  And I wonder why I’ve been feeling sick and chesty?  We’ve run it on and off again since then, but haven’t gotten the amount out again, thank goodness.

 

I’ve been exploring the goodness of a wok.  I finally got around to seasoning the wok that we bought back in february (God bless Youtube!) and we’ve been making some tasty stir-frys ever since.  And I’ve been investigating Tofu.  and the many different ways to make tofu. We’ve marinated it and eaten it just like that.  We’ve marinated it and baked it in the oven.  And we’ve added it to the stir-frys.  I think that I am starting to not only get the hang of tofu, but also to liking it.  I am not, however, going to be giving up my meat.  Tofu is just another alternative at the moment.

 

But mostly, I’ve just been working.  And I love the work. I love the people and the company and I even enjoy the customers.  Hard to believe, but it’s true.  Unlike American customers, it seems like Kiwis will readily tell you that they’re not really mad at you personally, but they are going to yell anyways, but please don’t take any personal offense.  And some of them, most of them, are quite easy to turn around and calm down after they’ve been allowed their moments of yelling.  It’s amazing.  I’ve been cursed at once by a customer.  And when I informed that customer to not curse at me, she immediately apologized and was calm from there on out.  I do enjoy the work.  And were it work that I could continue to enjoy in the manner that I have been (M-F 9-530) then I would most happily continue there.  But, it is a call center, and that means working rotating hours with rotating shifts and rotating days off.  It would mean never getting a normal sleep schedule, or a normal day off with Ee.  And that’s really not anything….

 

I came down here to start a new life, and go in a new direction.  And right now, in my mind, that new direction includes weekends with my partner and nights curled up on the couch watching a dvd.  Not days off in the middle of the week and coming home from work just as he is going to bed.  I’ve done that life before, it ruined the relationship.  And I didn’t come halfway around the world for that.  No.  As much as I love the office, I think it really is in my best interests to keep searching, to keep looking.  To explore more options and grow more as an adult.

 

But as a first experience working for a New Zealand company? I couldn’t have asked for more.  I think, however, I may want to look into the public sector.  Maybe a government job, if possible.  Eventually.  But for now, I’m going to go back to resting as I am feeling rather worn down, and I want to get better, faster.

 

So that is where I went, and where I’ll be.  Next update will probably be before Rotorua and after Orcon.

JWO

Or, Job Week One.

Let me just say this, it was a bit of a rocky start, but I am absolutely loving this job.  Monday was difficult with getting lost for a bit, getting locked out of the building, not having anything but paper to stare at and try to absorb.  Tuesday was almost as bad, but we got through it all and then wednesday morning was going to be the big test.

We headed to the actual office and spent the day sitting with a buddy, listening and watching as they took their calls and performed their duties.  Some of us got the chance to do some calls as well, just to try and get us used to it.  Then, we were going to be pulled off to do our own training on the side.  Which almost happened.  Until the computers that were set aside for us weren’t on the network.  Oops.

And then came Thursday.  We were going to be ‘on our own’.  Luckily, nobody is really ever on their own.  We were sequestered in a small area, had one of the team leaders with us to help us through the day (lord bless Michael).  Halfway through the day some of us got put on calls, while the rest of us stayed doing emails.

Talk about overwhelming.  It was a lot to take in and try to absorb.  We were being trained with about half of what we should have been given and then being tossed to the wolves. The lions were going to feast upon our flesh.  And then, slowly, sometime in the lat afternoon, it started to make sense.  And then, as part of the bribery deal made earlier, Michael came around with his bag of chocolate goodies and gave us all one.  I tried to bargain him up to two, but he stood firm that I only got one.  He did, however, tell me that I was his star for the day.  And that was the confidence booster that I needed.

of course, over night I started to wonder if he had been joking, so when i went in today I asked him and he informed me that he was very serious about it.  I had been the top performer out of the temps and I was the star.  Good way to start the morning.

We did emails for the first few bits. and then the call queue went up so they put us on the phones.  And it only got better.  The more I did, the more confident I felt, the less I had to call for help.  I think I may have even saved an account for the company today, which is killer awesome if that’s the case.  I feel good about what I’m doing and I’m actually starting to enjoy it.

Now, the fun part.  The office itself.  It’s set up like most any other call center you would expect, but there is nothing wrong with talking with your neighbors or surfing the internet, so long as you are also still getting your work done.  The customers really aren’t even as bad as you would imagine.  They’re friendly, polite, and very understanding.  Even when angry.

There’s a lunch room with a big flat screen tv, complete with skytv (cable basically), and xbox, an air hockey table (it’s broken) computer with internet.  That’s the fun side, the food side is awesome.  Two microwaves, two refrigerators (one is for food, the other one seems to be primarily for milk. Lots of milk), a sink with a regular tap and a tap for filtered cold drinking water, and a 3rd tap that spits out boiling water. Yes. Boiling water from a tap.  What do you need the boiling water for? Oh to make cup-a-soups, the the instant coffee granules, or the hot tea that is also provided.  Two dishwasher drawers.  And, an espresso/cappuccino machine.  Kiwis are apparently notorious for their coffee snobbery.

There are windows everywhere and you can look out of the lunchroom, straight across the marshland next to the bay and you can see the sky tower and the harbor bridge.  It’s really quite lovely.  The office is not dark and dingy at all, it is surrounded by windows (like almost everything else down here) and the desks are colorful and fairly up to date.

There is a sore lacking in chairs, the one that I was in today had like no padding on the seat at all.  I would have been better off sitting in the lunch chairs all day for comfort.  But, that was my own fault for not grabbing a more comfy chair.

So that’s the environment (oh and a cafe downstairs at reception. pastries, mini-pizzas, hot drinks, all kinds of things. and on Fridays whatever food is leftover downstairs becomes free food) that I’m working, and it only gets better when you focus on the people.

Everybody has been super kind, super understanding and very welcoming.  Nobody has declined to help us out when we needed it, some have even come over and volunteered their help when we were looking panicked.  And they’re just fun guys to be around. There is plenty of joking and conversation to be had, and it’s really just a high energy place to work.  I actually walked out today with my head held high, back straight, and a huge smile on my face.

I can’t remember the last time I could ever say that about a job.  As of right now, I am happy.  This is only for 4 weeks as of right now, but maybe it could turn into something more.  I hope that it does.  My next job is going to suffer in comparison, I’m afraid.

But now, it’s the weekend.  And as much as I would love to stay up late tonight and sleep in tomorrow, i think i’m going to sleep tonight and sleep in tomorrow.

Keep sending the good thoughts!  I need them still!

Home Comfort

There are some things that you begin to miss when you’re away from home.  I remember growing up and going to the week of 4-H camp down at Camp Barnes.  By the end of the week, I missed my bed and a nice long shower more than anything.  That, and not being covered with bites from mosquitoes head to toe and not sleeping in a bed filled with sand.

 

On vacations, you would miss your pets, and your bed.  Not having to sleep in the same room as your brother, or be in the back seat of the rental car and being near your sibling.  Lemme tell you, those could be some long car rides.

 

But the things that you miss on the casual excursion, the family vacation, are nothing really like what you miss when you move so far from home that you can’t quite drive back.  University saw me only 2 hours away, Maine I was only 13 hours in straight driving.  I could always go back home if I missed something.  Like making apple butter with mom.  Or going to synagogue on friday nights.

 

It’s a bit different on this side of the world.  I can’t just hop in my car and drive home.  Not just because of being an ocean and a continent away, but also because I don’t have my car.   And man, I miss my car.  I miss having that freedom of (if I wanted to) getting in the car and going out for a drive.  I don’t have that here.  Not yet.  I will work on getting wheels, but I can’t yet.

 

I love asian food.  Sushi, pho, hot pot (i’m guessing, haven’t tried this yet.), curries.  I love it.  I could probably be happy with sushi at least once if not twice a week.  I could live off bowls of white rice with just enough of the starch to stick together in tasty and easy to pick up clumps.  Apparently I even hold my chopsticks the proper way, not the cheating way.  And I’m fairly good with them, although I am having to get used to the rounded ends as opposed to the tapered to a point that I got used to.

 

Where was I?  Right.  I love asian food.  And I am sure that I will love ‘Kiwi’ food, if I find any.  the dinner that we had out with S & H was probably close to what some would call ‘normal’ food for a former British colony.  But it’s still not quite right.  For one thing, if you say the word ‘pie’ down here, most people assume you’re talking about the savory kind.  Meat pies, of varying flavors and sizes.  E loves his steak and kidney pies.  I have yet to try a savory pie.

 

I have, however, been lamenting the loss of sweet pies.  Fruit pies.  The one I’ve been fixated on the most, and I have no idea why, has been the cherry pie.  Short pastry tender and flaky and the ruby red, sweet and disastrous filling, topped with either more pastry or if you’re really lucky topped with crumbled topping.  A forkful would garnish you that sweet juice of the cherry, the tartness of summer in your mouth, and that crumbly goodness to lick it all up with.

 

I have hunted.  I have searched. I have peeked into the different cafes and restaurants that we have passed by.  None, none of them have cherry pie.  I’m lucky if they have a lemon tart (the marvel grill and the tapas bar both had this choice).  So I am still hunting for that piece of home.

 

Another thing that I have been missing is pasta.  Good italian pasta.  with red sauce and parmesan cheese.  I have Udon, and that’s good in the soups that I’ve been making, but it’s not quite the same thing.  So tonight, while I have the house to myself, I made myself a bowl of penne.  I topped it with some spaghetti sauce that E bought me and with the parmesan cheese.  I will probably regret the amount of cheese that I used, but the taste of the pasta, the feeling of absolute comfort and happiness that went through me as I nibbled and chewed and felt the red sauce and the cheese and the bite of the aldente penne.  It was warm, it was comfortable.  It was fairly close to home.

 

Still not quite doing it for you?  Still not quite there, not hitting that button for making you feel better about being so far from just about everything that you know but still being able to understand everybody around you? Very well, my friends.  For the cure to this, I bring you, Denny’s.

 

Yes, that Denny’s.  The breakfast slams, the tuna melt, the oreo shake.  All of it, right here in downtown Auckland.  Now, the menu looks familiar, but don’t be too placated right off the bat.  There are some things missing, like the cherry pie filling that you could put on your pancakes or french toast.  Or the huge ‘Slams’ that could probably feed a small African family but feed one very hungry American adult male.  There are some new things!  Like chicken satay, or a chicken curry with rice.  Or the almost dessert option, the Banana Fritter.  Which is a banana, dipped in batter, and fried.  I say almost because I would have ordered it had I had enough room in my stomach for it.  But after an appetizer of chili fries, and a short stack of pancakes with two eggs, I had no room for dessert.

 

The food was exactly what you expected.  Freezer and prefab food, thawed and tossed onto the large grill or into the ovens and served up with consistent quality from New Jersey to Maine to Auckland.  So at least I know that between the big bowls of pasta swimming in red sauce that I can make myself and the pancakes I can get at Denny’s, swimming in butter and maple syrup, I can still find some of the comforts of home.

 

I will find cherry pie filling.  I will make cherry pie. I will make Hamantaschen next week.  I will bring sweet fruit pies to New Zealand!  Ok, maybe not the last one.  But I will at least introduce them to my new circle of friends.  And from those few mouths, I will ignite a revolution!

 

Cherry Pie for Kiwis!

 

What?  A bit much?  Just watch me.

Silence

A beautiful thing happened the other day. The morning was normal, woke up shortly after E was on his way to work. Had a good day.  But we were going out for lunch, to activate our bank cards and get something to eat.

 

We got to the bank, got the pins activated and then everything stopped.  The entirety of New Zealand stopped.  For two minutes the entire world around us shut down.  Well except for the muzack in the mall playing some Paul McCartney song.  But other than that, everybody stopped.

 

Even the kid who had been screaming holy bloody murder moments before, even that unruly child stopped its selfish screams of discontent for two minutes. And you knew, you knew that even from your small corner of the country, that the entire country had stopped as well.  Radio and television broadcasts ceased, transactions of any kind halted, and silence was held.

 

The number has been put at 160 people who as of right now will not be coming home.  These are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles, and children, babies who will not be coming back from lunch out in the city.

 

I have been in New Zealand for twenty days now, and even being here for so sort a time, my life has not been untouched by what has happened on the South island.  I have friends who are not working, who are trying to escape from the endless shaking and the memories.  I have a friend who has lost somebody, who knows personally one of those 160.

 

I can not even begin to express my sorrow, the pain that I feel even as an outsider as I am for this tragedy and this country and these people that I am quickly coming to love.  As a foreigner in this land, I can only begin to scratch the edges of how this feels to those who have lived and loved here their entire lives.

 

But from the ashes of the purging flame leaps the phoenix burning bright upon the wing.

 

The kiwi spirit lives on.  In the student army, volunteers from secondary schools and universities grabbing their shovels and their boots and tramping out by the thousands into neighborhoods to help those who as of yet cannot quite help themselves.

 

In the man who has put the several ton boulder that came through his wall from the quake up for auction on the local ebay site.  He has named the boulder Rocky, and insists that Rocky makes for fantastic indoor/outdoor flow.

 

In the mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker who has shown up to every camera and press conference in whatever clothing he could find, has been honest, forthcoming, and at times brutally so, but with the true touch of heartfelt pain that it’s obvious he loves his city, and her residents, very much.

 

In the faces of those who are fleeing Christchurch, and those who are heading into the battle against nature and time.  In the silent tears of the spoiled brat who stopped screaming its displeasure for those two minutes of silence the other day, there is one thing that has not been shaken, and I doubt will ever be shaken.

 

The Kiwi Spirit continues on.

 

I love this place, and these people.

Heart Kiwis

I’ve been in this country for just under a fortnight, and I can already say with definite truth, that I love Kiwis.

 

Love them.

 

Not a single person has been rude to me, insulting, or even given me a dirty look.  Not one shopkeeper or bystander on a corner has said one thing crosswise to me, or been anything but endearingly helpful.

 

To my very limited access of people and my small interactions with them, I can gladly say that I am happy to be here in this country, and I doubt I could have found a more pleasant place to move to.

 

Even with the earthquake this week and all the horrible devastation that has brought and the national sorrow that is palpable and felt even by myself, the Kiwis I’ve interacted with have had nothing but this undercurrent of good humor.

 

There is an overall attitude of inevitability that seems to be innate in Kiwis.  Yes, this tragedy happened.  Yes, it was a tragedy.  But we’ll move on, we’ll fix it, we’ll make it better.  I was watching the new reports yesterday when one of the Australian Urban Rescue teams showed up, and the Kiwi reporter seemed to be so amazingly overwhelmed at the kindness of the Aussies for being here, so astounded that they responded so quickly, it was catching in his throat that this realization that everything would be alright, that the Kiwis had friends.

 

There’s a bit of, self deprecation that seems inherent in nearly all communications with Kiwis.  There’s an underlying current in the tone and diction that says “Yes, we know we’re not from Australia, but we’re really just a likable”.    It’s a black humor, dark and sometimes misleading, but it’s there.  This feeling of being not quite the best, but the best at what they do.

 

I love it.  That sense of humor, the sense of knowing that they might not be considered top notch by the world, or even be remembered by the world farther than Australasia, but they know what they are good at, they know what they have to offer, and they’re more than happy to offer it.

 

I hope I’m being clear.  I’m not trying to poke fun at the Kiwis, especially not now.  But their ability to poke fun at themselves, even if they don’t know that they’re doing it, even if they don’t see the little tendencies of appearing as the younger children that I seem to be picking up on, it’s there.

 

And it makes this place even more delightful than before.  Especially for me.  I seem to have found a nation full of people with the same self-deprecating humor that I have found in myself.

 

I love it here.  And the I love the Kiwis.