Ralph Waldo Emerson

The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Gatherer

Despite my urban surroundings, I have been learning very primal lessons as I embark on a life of financial independence.

Always before my grocery allowance held quite a comfortable sum, making for a diet of brilliant organic veggies, fruit and staples that I could purchase without a moments' hesitation. But now, out on my own, I suddenly had the overwhelming realization that I'm poor as dirt and have no income to speak of--oh except for the 30 bucks I got for cleaning the hostel yesterday, my what 15 girls can do to a restroom. The rest of my funds have been making a hasty exit out of my bank account to lord knows where.

So rather than pilfer away my money on food that I "want" to eat, I have instead emerged as an avid hunter/gatherer. The office fridge has become my prime hunting grounds, full of leftovers from various functions from this last week. At first the game was plentiful, sandwiches and apples plus the odd juice box. Now, however, the reserves are dwindling, leaving me with Ritz crackers (onion flavor), week and half old hummus, a cookie assortment and 2 year old jelly beans. Though I sometimes give in and buy a random soup or alcoholic beverage, I make up for those splurges by swallowing down yet another breakfast of cookies dipped in tea and patting myself on the back for not spending on such extravagences as nutritious food.

Despite my creativity, I know these gathering grounds will not hold me much longer--nor the waist of my pants. Luckily I will be migrating on Wednesday and hopefully will find a bounty of leftover salads and fruits at Pepe's Pizza, the site of my waitressing gig for the next few months. That is if I don't have a heart attack first.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

22 going on 5

I had my best night thus far last night.

After the last film of the day I was in a bit of a mood and so slipped out of the cinema for a walk. Like a good brooding artist, I stopped in a bar for a G&T and proceeded to scare off any potential company by hunching over my journal and writing inspired phrases...or at least doodling with a very serious looking black pen. Once I'd downed the last bit of my drink I disappeared into the night, imagining myself to be independent and mysterious as opposed to lonely and in a bad mood. Under the full moon I charged through the streets with a million a-typical metaphors running through my head...when suddenly I came across the playground.

Not just a playground, but the playground. The one that I'd walked past a dozen times over the last couple of weeks. It was only finished a week ago and it's not just a playground, it's a masterpiece. It's got an obstacle course full of ropes and pullies and ladders and equipment like you've never seen before. It even has cushy undergirding so that when you do a face plant, which you're bound to do, you are met with a forgiving, pliable pillow as opposed to a mouthful of loose gravel. Makes the wood chips and splintered beams I got as a kid look like an outdoor torture chamber.

The place is always packed full of little cretins exhausting themselves through a series of spins and cables and it never seemed quite appropriate for me to chuck one of them off so I could have a go. But now the playground was empty, the moon was full and my G&T had set about dampening what little will power I possess. And so for the next hour I romped about a playground in the midst of downtown Auckland all by myself.

Well almost by myself. There were the cars that slowed and pedestrians that gawked as an apparently fully grown woman set about spinning herself silly on the merry go round, but I didn't really care. I was having a blast. By the end of it my pulse was racing and whatever foul mood had been festering must have been launched off the other side of the see saw.

So yes, I can travel half way across the world and trek about mountains and sip mixed drinks and go out for fancy dinners, but by far the best time I've had in a long time is to play on the playground of all playgrounds. Hurrah for cheap thrills.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

And now for something completely different.

I've either made a really good decision or a rather hasty one.

So I've come to find a nice rhythm to my life in Auckland. Despite working hours on end in the office, I cut out each night around 7 or 8 and meet up with Carly Ann and do a bit of wandering. Our m.o. has been to find restuarants where we cannot read the menu and see what happens. There's a thriving Asian population in Auckland, so from Korean food to Japanese to Malyasian, this has proven quite an entertaining experience. So far the point at something on the menu and see what comes out method has proven successful, but then again I hear there a lot of strange things that taste like chicken...so let's just hope that was chicken. Then we set to crisscrossing up and down the city streets, popping in and out of the bars and such. We've met some really awesome people, but of course there are always the jerks, like the guys that were yelling disgusting cat calls at poor Carly Ann as we walked down one street. Luckily I was there to protect her from the onslaught; I threw her behind me and with every ounce of righteous anger I could muster I flipped them the bird and directed her down another street. It was quite haughty and intimidating, I assure you. I know I might not come off as a bad ass in normal circumstance, but when Mama Kari gets angry there is hell is to pay.

So in between working and fighting the objectification of women I have decided on that escape route that I told you I was cooking up in the last post.

I'm moving to the South Island. Yeehaw! Turns out there's a little town on Lake Tekapo that needs a waitress asap. It's a gorgeous place, here' the link if you feel like checking it out http://www.laketekapountouched.co.nz (you'll have to copy paste because I don't know how to make it a link). So I'm heading down on Oct. 3 to Christchurch and then bussing out to the place where I'll be spending the next three months. Though the town's population ebbs and flows with tourists, there area about 250 locals. Yup. 250. That was about the size of my humanities class at Pepperdine. So hopefully they'll like their 251st member, or else my 3 months of frolicking through glacial fields may turn into my own personal hell. We shall see! But despite a bit of wariness, I can hardly wait to hop on a plane and see me some mountains. Good or bad, this experience should be quite entertaining.

Before that happens, I'm going to have a week full of documentaries. From welcoming filmmakers to hosting a q&a session to seeing as many films as I possibly can, I'm quite looking forward to the week ahead. And hopefully it will be fodder for some good blog posts. Carly Ann's leaving for Wellington tonight, so we're spending our Sunday soaking up sunshine and hunting down a tasty brunch. Hope all's well on the homefront!

Monday, September 17, 2007


I wish I could tell you how exciting I'm being, how I'm kicking ass and taking names, and yet it seems my epic Kiwi romp has stalled out before I even got out of the driveway.

Yup, as I sat with my butt bound to a chair editing video for the 4th straight 10 hour work day, I realized that the cool job that I was all excited about in the last post is actually the very desk job that I was running from back at home...not only that, I'm volunteering to do it. Certainly it's ideal as far as desk jobs go; I have great coworkers, I get to work with documentary films all day, I'm in a cool part of the city. In all practical terms, I should contentedly be plugging away and thanking my lucky stars at the opportunity I have to establish contacts and have a routine...but a comfortable, urbane lifestyle is not why I came here.

I came to breathe fresh air, to run around in rugged, exotic wilderness, to get grimy and dirty and exhaust myself in the effort. Hell, if I'm going to be working for free I may as well do it in a place with a view.

So here's what I'm thinking--I'm going to finish out this documentary film festival because 1) I said I would and 2) it'll be cool to see the films and meet the filmmakers--but then I'm cutting lose and wandering free.

So what's the escape plan? Well I've spent the morning applying to various short term jobs that include cool people and beautiful places and less than 1.5 million neighbors. Even if I don't get those jobs, my plan b is to just throw on my backpack and bike about north island until I get somewhere cool and stay for a bit. No matter what, I'm saying no thank you to 10 hours a day at a computer and hello to doing what I want with my life.

I've just gotta wait a month to do it. humph.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Auckland=Hells yes

In recent news:
1) I arrived.
2) I met up with my buddy, Carly Ann. Just for a little context, you'll see her pictured to the right.
3) I got a job...make that jobs. As in two.
4) I have an agent
5) I am learning...emphasis on learning...to love rugby
6) I have yet to figure out how to get a plain cup o' joe

Yup, nearly 48 hours after landing in Auckland it looks like I may actually survive.

First of all, the people here are incredibly, genuinely nice. Here I am in the largest city in the country, the economic capital of commerce, and it seems no one's in a big rush. They all have time to chat and joke and they don't even mug you. From the dude that sold me my Vodafone minutes to the coffee shop workers at the mall this morning, everyone seems to take a genuine interest in others' well being. It's weird.

As for me getting a job, I personally use that term very loosely. I know most people think of a job as an entity in which you "make money" and/or receive a "paycheck", but you see, most of my experience with working has involved free labor, scholarships or under the table cash benefits. In fact, thinking back on the jobs I've held, only one has officially led to government taxation. So this whole going out and finding a place that will actually pay me under governmental standards is a bit of a new concept for me.

So new, in fact, that my two "jobs" don't really involve a pay check.

But wait, they're still cool, so I had an appointment yesterday at 11am to meet with one of the co-directors of the DocsNZ international documentary film festival. The festival starts at the end of the month and I just lucked out by arriving in the midst of all the preparation and planning...in other words they needed a willing slave and I don't have a lot else going on, scratch that, nothing else going on, so it seemed a perfect fit.

So I walk into the office and right away the boss guy seemed cool. I come to find out that this office is an entertainment-one-stop-shop. All family run, he's an entertainment lawyer/documentary film dude/actor/producer/etc. whose sister (two doors down) is a talent agent and other sister does some kind of film development. It was all explained to me, but between jet lag and pure information overload, I just nodded my head a lot as I was pulled from one office to the next.

7 hours later I stumbled out of my interview with acting representation, an internship with the immensely well connected boss man (that hopefully will turn into a paying job very soon) and an afternoon spent crawling beneath computer monitors and editing equipment in an attempt to prove my technical abilities (which are, admittedly, wanting).

So fighting through jet lag I wandered into downtown Auckland, a typical big city downtown except for 1) it's kinda small and pretty friendly and 2) you can base jump from their tallest building, the Sky Tower.

Soon I had a resume submitted to "job" #2: working as a receptionist at a chill downtown hostel in exchange for accommodation, free laundry and internet. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me, plus as receptionist I'll get to meet everyone coming and going from the place and therefore scope out who'd be fun to hang out with. Yup, I'm that much of a nerd that I got a job partly so that I can make friends. I'd be ashamed if I weren't convinced that it's damn brilliant.

But that job won't start for a couple days, so I trundled the 45 minutes back to my current lodge that's definitely more oriented to an older crowd...you know...people in their 30s. Eek. This morning I woke up at jet-lag-o'clock and wandered into the common room to watch the tube. By 6:45 I was joined by Brandon and Roy, a tiler and a retiree who were up early to watch rugby. Yup, turns out I'm here just in time for the Rugby World Cup, but of course you already knew that, I'm sure.

I am pretty ignorant when it comes to sports. Okay, half the time I'm not sure which way the team should be running or if the ball was a home run or out of bounds or whatever, but lets face it; there's little better than experiencing a game with someone who really loves it. If their team kicks ass, it's great, if they get slaughtered, it's hilarious, but in that kind of internalized I-probably-shouldn't-say-anything-right-now kind of way.

And so with great anticipation and much fan fare, the game commenced...for 20+ minutes. Lots of slow-mos and fast action replays, countless flags waved from all different angles, and of course those money shots of burly, beautiful men destroying one another on the field. That poor man who does the lawn must live in his own personal hell...grow the lawn, trim the lawn, Miracle-grow the lawn, love the lawn, have a bunch of oversized dudes pummel and destroy the lawn...repeat.

So we're watching rugby and it's the match between Britain and South Africa. Before the game even starts I realize I really like rugby, but mostly due to the aesthetic nature of the players. But once it started, try as I might, I could not grasp what, if any, rules there are to this incredibly full-contact sport. Honestly, it seemed that it was a free for all: grab the ball and run until someone destroys you, then chuck it to the next poor soul who will inevitably also be pummeled...leading me to wonder why the hell you'd ever want to pick up the ball. But they do it, again and again, and once in a while the ref will tweet his little whistle and say some guy didn't pummel correctly. I mean really, who comes up with the rules for destroying another human being? But no matter how little I understood of this testosterone riddled game, it was a good deal of fun to watch Roy shout at the players as he sipped his chamomile tea. Good morning.

(New Zealand's rugby team: the All Blacks. A docile bunch)

Well, I've bombarded you with quite enough vignettes and updates for the time being, but all in all I've been having a good deal of fun here with the Kiwis. Hopefully I'll soon be able to make a break from the city for a bit of nature. With how much there is to see and do, I'm quite glad that I have a whole year to explore.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Rip Roaring and Ready to GO!!!!!

Alright people, this is it. I'm headed for New Zealand in 0-2 days. 10:53pm Tuesday, September 11 I'm flying quite a bit west and a whole lot south over the Pacific, to a land where sheep outnumber people and wild, uncultivated land is in vast supply. I've got my work visa that's good for a whole year, my camera, some editing equipment and absolutely no plans. Certainly I have some vague concept of things I'd like to do while I'm there, but honestly I'm hopping on the ride wherever it may take me...yeehaw and all that.

So, this blog is half forum where I can regale you with stories of New Zealand's treasures and half a way for you to make sure I haven't gotten eaten by a shark or frozen on some glacier or something. If that happens, I'll be sure to write all about it...just you sit tight.

Seeing as I've just graduated from University, I'm still in the philosophical, introspective mode. But don't you worry, even in my youth I am exceedingly aware of my ignorance, so instead of piddling around with my own trite philosophical ponderings, I'll be reading the Grandfather of Badass: Ralph Waldo Emerson. I've got the Penguin Classics Selected Essays, so if you feel like reading it along with me please do. If not, don't you worry, I'll pepper in some of the best quotes along the way so you can at least pretend that you've read his work.

So that's that. I really love hearing from you guys, so please, if you feel like dropping me a line at any point along the way, feel free. And while you shiver in the snow/and/or the Southern California slight dip in temperatures, you can warm up with thoughts of me basking in the rays of My Endless Summer...or laugh at me while I attempt to navigate through my first year of true independence. We shall see.