June 30, 2011


I’m about 2.5 weeks into a 3 week stay in Auckland.  I came up to do my fieldwork for the research associated with my PhD dissertation.  My research has to do with multicultural interactions in New Zealand and Auckland is indeed a “super-diverse” city!  I’ve been pounding the pavement all over Auckland and many of its suburbs.  By the time my 3 week stay is up, I’ll know this city pretty well.  I’ll have another stay in Auckland for a month in summer – all in all totaling about 2 months in Auckland.  It’s nice to be getting to know a different side of New Zealand. We're not in Dunedin or the South Island anymore, Toto. 

I'm spending a lot of time on buses.  Most are crowded - this one was not, and the view was nice too!
The bus map of Auckland and its central suburbs. (I have 4 more maps of outer suburbs - it's an incredibly spread out city!)  The pink arrow is a sticker I move around to reflect where I'm trying to get to at a glance.

I was awarded some research funding by my uni dept, but I have to stretch it a long way. I’m keeping it simple.  I’m staying in a private room at a backpackers in a central city location – it’s basic, no frills here, but clean, safe and friendly.  So I’m living a little bit like a budget traveler – peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and city maps in my backpack, and a lot like an anthropologist – observing and taking notes everywhere I go, doing interviews, talking to lots of strangers, meeting other researchers and connecting with some key-informants!   

The Front Door of Freeman's Lodge.

My tiny room is all I need! There's a kitchen, bathroom, lounge and laundry facilities too.
It’s great to be in a bigger city with some energy, variety, novelty and things open past 6pm!! I love some good city life and I can jump right into it when chance or necessity dictates. I’ve been to some markets, had some great food, taken countless buses, trains and ferries. Downtown Auckland is full of life, thanks largely to its immigrant population. And many suburbs boast active centres of their own with plenty of cafes, shops, museums and parks. I haven’t had much time to be a tourist, work has kept me more than busy. It seems to take me about an hour every night mapping out my route for the next day with a combination of the internet, a good map and a bus schedule.  Then it seems to take me about an hour to get between meetings and interviews, especially during busy traffic times and in the pouring rain (which both seem to happen a lot in Auckland).   During the rest of my day, I like to find a place with good coffee and atmosphere so I can caffeinate myself, watch people, write up my notes, do some reading and research, and send the countless emails that will set up the next days' activities.  Without James around or other errands to do, I’m getting a ton of reading and writing done too.  

A market in the Sandringham suburb. It's been my favourite market so far.

Set up to study at Cezanne's Cafe in Ponsonby. This had been my favourite cafe so far.  It's neighbors are quite fancy places with rushing, urban types.  Here, however, I feel I can set up amidst the other non-fancy types and study for a while without being in anyone's way.
I’m also pleasantly surprised to realize that Auckland is also making me appreciate Dunedin more.  I don’t feel like the restaurants, cafes or even shops are necessarily better here than down in little old Dunners (though there is a bigger variety and they are actually open more often!)  And Dunners has a lot less traffic and a lot more cyclists – I think I’d take my life in my hands biking around here the way I do in Dunedin.  By the end of three weeks, I’ll be more than ready to go ‘home’ to Dunedin.  And seeing that Dunedin and I have hardly been an example of “Love at first sight,” this is a very nice feeling.

June 6, 2011

My Kitchen Aid, a Chocolate Cake and James' Birthday

At one point, a Kitchen Aid symbolized everything I thought I'd miss and sacrifice by migrating across the world. 
The frosting, almost done.
I never owned a Kitchen Aid back in the States, nor did my mom have one in the house when I grew up.  But at some point I began to covet a Kitchen Aid. I knew that one day, when I had a lifestyle that didn't involve fitting everything into a backpack on a regular basis, I would get one and bake beautiful goodies in the kitchen with flair.  Just like Martha, I would effortlessly create baked goods that were at once delicious and pretty.

Over the years, I have learned a lot about cooking and baking and do enjoy doing it.  Semi-settled into our Dunedin, New Zealand home, now with far more than I could fit in a backpack, I started looking for a Kitchen Aid. They didn't seem to be available in New Zealand at all, but then I did find some. For the bargain basement price of about $1000.  Just $850 on sale!!! I thought about bringing one back from America (where they are about $250) but they, 1-weigh a ton and 2-can't be plugged in here.  Over time, I became a bit devastated about the stupid Kitchen Aid. I quietly, steadily over-reacted, internalizing this as a sign that my life was never going to look quite like I imagined; it was going to be different in a million little ways just like this -- and sometimes it's the little things that seem to matter so much.

June 2, 2011

Till It Be Morrow

Life moves in circles.  It loops around back on itself all the time - leaving us to find ourselves in an old familiar place again, or seeing an old familiar face again.  I really believe that people's paths always cross again.  I find it comforting that the world really can be small.

Last week I saw a poster around Uni advertising a presentation about Shakespeare and The Globe Theatre. There's always dozens of posters advertising dozens of talks around a Uni with 20,000+ students. But this one caught my eye. It caught my eye because I LOVE Shakespeare.  I'm no expert, I haven't read all the plays or memorized the sonnets, but I have a great appreciation for Shakespeare and I've enjoyed every experience I've had with him (via his plays, of course).  My mom thinks perhaps my grandmother always wanted to be an actress. She loved Shakespeare. She quoted him here and there at the perfect moment and we often recalls Gram's moments of Shakespearean wisdom. Come the 15th of March, I remember her as I say, "Beware the Ides of March" all day.  She had two huge golden-leafed volumes of Shakespeare plays and sonnets that my mom now has.