Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Raindrops on Roses

I'm not going to lie to you. It's been a rough week.

Nothing bad has happened, exactly. It's just a severe case of the blahs and my insomnia is acting up and I've been really homesick and missing my devoted readers. I can't blame it on my new job, since the work promises to be interesting, everyone treats me well, and I can pretty much come and go as I please. Maybe it's that I'm still coming down from the vacation high. Maybe it's that there's no end in sight to this dreary grey winter (though we did get another little glimmer of sun today ...). Maybe it's simply that after three months in a foreign country, you tend to stop marveling at how delightful and interesting everything is and start noticing everything that bugs you.

Whatever the cause, I am determined to beat the negative voices into submission. Let's take a cue from Julie Andrews twirling around in the drapes and make a list of a few of my favorite (Kiwi) things:

  • Unlocked doors. I never thought I felt particularly unsafe at home (even though, at times, we lived in a "transitional" neighborhood), but it astounds me how much safer and more relaxed I feel here. Half the time I forget to lock the car doors, just because I'm not thinking about it. When I hear things that go bump in the night, my automatic response is, "Gee, our rental house makes some weird noises," and not, "Agh! A meth-head is breaking in with a gun to murder us in our sleep!" Another American couple here in Dunedin tell us how their 12-year-old daughter is allowed to walk or ride the bus pretty much anywhere she wants around the city centre -- something the family would not have considered anywhere else they have lived. This is not to say that New Zealand is crime-free -- like any place, it's got it's share of wackos -- but for one reason or another there is not the same culture of fear.
  • Scarfies. This is the long-running nickname for the university students here in Dunedin, because of their penchant for scarves. Especially now that I'm working on campus, I get the biggest kick out of observing their antics and especially their often extremely questionable sense of fashion. The girls seem to favor black leggings or the tightest jeans they can possibly squeeze themselves into,* paired with some sort of hoodie and/or elaborate scarf arrangement. But the most amazing thing is the total disregard for matching footwear to an outfit. Brown cowgirl boots and black leggings? Check. White Ked-like sneakers and black jeans? You're good to go. As for the guys, about 90% of Dunedin men under the age of 25 have unapologetically horrible hair, which I find endearing. Lots and lots and lots of hair gel. White guys with dreadlocks. Faux hawks galore. Reading this, I realize I'm sounding kind of mean about the Scarfies, but I truly think they are adorable and fun and in the prime of their lives. I'm slightly jealous I can't rock the faux hawk, myself.
  • Commuting is awesome. It's a five minute drive (or 30 minute walk) from our front door to the campus and downtown. I can drive to the other side of town in 15 minutes. Aside from some congestion on the main road in Christchurch, I have yet to see anything that resembles heavy traffic anywhere on the South Island. Bite me, I-85!
Okay, I think I really am feeling better. I actually have more to add, but this is getting kind of long and I may need to save a few more for another rainy day. When the dog bites ...

* An aside to the 99% of Scarfie girls who have hips or any body fat whatsoever: Buy bigger jeans. I'm saying this as a friend.


elizabeth said...

awww... buck up, buttercup! perhaps the latest Fox mishap will cheer you up. while we were on vacation last week, a 45 minute high-speed police chase ended with the police forcing the suspect into the brick wall around our house.

Jenny said...

Hugs! weird snacks are good too as long as you can either find what you really like sometimes or an acceptable substitute....