September 29, 2010

Thanks for coming, Mom.

For some reason, my husband and I always seem to make the cross-Pacific journey separately. In this case, his work contract did not finish until after I was expected to be at uni starting my PhD program. So my mom saw an opportunity: accompany me to New Zealand and help me get settled. Without James around, it seemed like a good time for her to stay for 3 weeks, a little longer than she might otherwise. Personally, I think she could stay as long as she’d like regardless, but she values being what she thinks is a considerate mother-in-law. In addition to helping me cart all my things from North America to New Zealand, and the opportunity to watch reruns of the Gilmore Girls without annoying my husband, what my mom perhaps didn’t realize was that by coming with me, she was also my little piece of continuity, a thread to sew my two worlds together.

September 13, 2010

A Warm Welcome

From the minute we boarded the Air New Zealand plane we noticed a different attitude. The flight attendants were happy! They gave us a genuine welcome, made small talk with passengers and generally paced the aisles with a smile. A far cry of difference from the US Airways flight attendants on our previous flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles. Those flight attendants were fine; Nothing better or worse than what I would expect on a jam-packed domestic flight. They looked tired and slightly grumpy and I didn’t blame them. They are most likely underpaid and overworked. Most American airlines have been financially struggling for years, as manifested in their repeated staff cutbacks, pay cuts and increasing surcharges for everything from baggage to bathrooms. Many internationally based airlines, however, are partially subsidized by their government. Less pressure to make a profit means better working conditions which in turn lead to happier flight attendants. It also means more perks on board which leads to happier passengers. Freshly settled into our seats, slightly disoriented by the pleasant optimism of these accented flight attendants, my mom and I looked at each other with an “Is this dude for real?” expression when the “onboard concierge,” Mark, announced that he was available to advise passengers on navigating the Auckland Airport or on what to see and do in New Zealand. I mean seriously, that’s a little unsettling.

Another glass of wine, please. Thank you.

September 3, 2010

How To Pack Like Molly and James Do

How to pack like Molly and James do when moving from Alaska to New Zealand:

Step 1 – About one month before your departure, get your unsuspecting New Zealand-based family members to come for a "great time in Alaska!" Show them glaciers and bears and then send them home with 120 pounds of your stuff, crammed into 2 suitcases and 2 extra carry-ons. Convince them they don't need their own pair of old shoes anymore. Throw them away and jam a pair of your own into their suitcase instead. Never mind that they will be stopping to visit Vancouver for a couple of days along the way and now have an insurmountable amount of your crap to carry on their tour.