November 26, 2010

Let the Pictures Do the Talking

My last few posts haven't involved any photographs.  And who doesn't love photos?  I do. So this entry uses several recent photos to depict a bit of my life here in New Zealand. Some of the pictures I took deliberately with this project in mind.  For others, I realized after taking them, that they say a lot...

So here it goes.

I get to enjoy this view, from the Staff Club at the U of Otago, several times a week.  It's a quintessential Dunedin, NZ view. The oldest buildings on "campus" (a word that I rarely hear NZ'ers use but am seemingly unable to delete from my vocabulary!) are local icons, the green hills are good representatives of the landscape and the "tussocks" (the plants on the deck) are common both in the wild hills and in urban landscaping. Sun makes sitting outside the club particularly enticing and I realized it is one of my favorite spots in all of Dunedin.

November 2, 2010

"Hello, Molly!"

I moved to Alaska in summer, 2001. I left when winter rolled around, unsure if I’d ever go back, but before I knew it I was working on an assembly line in a paper factory in rural Missouri saving up the money to return. From then on, it slowly but surely, wonderfully, became the place I call home. To steal the descriptive phrase an immigrant used to describe her homeland to me, returning to Alaska after a short vacation or a year in New Zealand, soon felt like “entering a warm bath.” Ahhhhhhhh.

But of course, though I loved it there right away, it took a little time to feel that good. I remember thinking, in the early days, that when I had a particular experience, I could officially be considered, and consider myself, an Alaskan local. What was that experience? Seeing someone I knew while waiting for a flight to Juneau in the Seattle airport.

One airline flies into Juneau – Alaska Airlines. Note: after landing at the Juneau Airport, the flight attendants do not say, “We know you have a choice when considering airlines and we thank you for choosing Alaska Air.” No, they don’t say that. Or if they do, the entire plane snickers. There is no choice, and believe me, the cost of flying into Juneau will make you believe in capitalist competition.

In addition, if you want to fly into Juneau, you will not only be on Alaska Airlines, but, with the exception of a few options that go through Anchorage, you will be routed through Seattle. For this reason, after spending the majority of the last 10 years in Juneau, I have joined the ranks of locals who view the Seattle Airport as an extension of our town. I know which restaurant will give me an extra taco for only $2.50. I know which hot chocolate is the best. And, after months of shopping only at Juneau’s Fred Meyer for everything I could possibly need, I get freaking excited about the Seattle Airport’s shopping opportunities. I choose itineraries with long lay-overs so I can get lost in Borders, check out the clearance rack at Ex Officio and be simultaneously disgusted and intrigued with the expanding variations of Crocs.