Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Zealand Odds and Ends

When I was 14 years old, my orthodontist installed a permanent retainer behind my front bottom teeth. It was about an inch and a half of braided cable that was cemented to the canines on my lower jaw. I remember the day I got it, I happened to see my cousin Eric, who coincidentally had just had his permanent retainer fall off. After having it for 10+ years, the cement had weakened, and eventually it just came off. So on Tuesday night this week, I was flossing and my permanent retainer fell off. I’m not sure which was more off-putting: having gobs of cement floating around my mouth, or realizing that I am nearly as old as Eric was back then. Here are some other odds and ends from this week:
  • In Samoa, this Monday is Independence Day. I’m a little bummed to miss it, but I’m also a little relieved to be somewhere else. Although, in New Zealand, Monday is the day the country commemorates the Queen’s birthday. So I guess I’ll be celebrating something wherever I am.
  • The anonymous commenter was right: there’s no obligatory tipping in New Zealand. How great is that?
  • Moving to Samoa last October, the hot weather made it feel like life was just one long Indian summer. And coming to Auckland in their equivalent of late Autumn/early Winter only furthers the image of one extremely slow season. It’s weird.
  • On one hand it’s been bizarre realizing how much I’ve adapted to life in Samoa and how disorienting it is to be back in a big city. On the other hand, it’s a little surprising how quickly I’ve fallen back into the routine of western civilization. On one hand nothing here is familiar; on the other hand, it nearly feels like my 7 months in Samoa never happened.
  • My session with the dentist here was my first brush with health/dental care outside the United States. The entire experience was amazingly genteel and efficient. I assumed they would just clean up the tartar and cement left from the old retainer, but they were able to install a completely new retainer. The new one is specially engineered to go up and down teeth to allow for easy flossing. Super.
  • Staying in hotels, watching premium channels, I’ve been able to re-watch “Gone Baby, Gone” and “Zodiac” while I’ve been here. The former was okay—as depressing and unnerving as a movie based on a Dennis Lehane book can be; the latter was a little bit more memorable the second time around. Brian Cox is so great. “Totty?”
  • Right now I’m watching “1408,” starring John Cusack. It’s a throw-away horror movie. It’s totally ridiculous, although I admit I’m enthralled. “The Shining” was better.
  • Another great quote of Ken’s yesterday: “There’s been a lot of Chinese immigration to New Zealand over the past 10 years. The greatest part about it is they’ve got much better food. Before it was all British food, and all they do is boil, bake, or fry anything worth tasting. Thank God for the Chinese.”
  • This crappy John Cusack movie now has a wall that’s leaking blood; a little too similar to the elevator in “The Shining.” Lame.
  • My parents talked a lot about how Auckland is just like Seattle. Luisa keeps talking about how it’s like Sydney. But I think it seems a lot like San Francisco—the rain, the bay, the people. We were trying to figure out whether Auckland or San Francisco is nearer to the equator, and no one knew for sure. Telling, I think.
  • Finding internet here has been surprisingly expensive. The hostel was $3 for 30 MB. The hotels have a deal where you get 2 hours for $10, and every MB after 20 MB is $0.10. By far, the best deal has been at a local coffee franchise, Esquires, where you get 1 hour of free internet (or 60 MB) with any purchase.
  • Back to Samoa on Tuesday. I expect it to be weird.
That’s all I got for now. I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

Taking the Auckland metropolitan bus to the zoo today.

Luisa freaking out about her proximity to the emus.




I broke the rules and took a picture of the kiwi with my camera's flash on. Rebel rebel.

Afternoon snack at KFC. Hooray for American fast food!

Hanging out in Ponsonby this evening... with a good view of the Auckland skyline under the stoplight.


Jennifer said...

that kiwi picture is fantastical! I've seen the San Diego Zoo kiwi twice and the National Zoo kiwi once and they've always been hiding under a rock or something. Even if I had done a flash picture it never would have come out like that! I <3 kiwis (fruit, then bird, and i'm sure the people are nice, too)!

NiuZila said...

Hey Matt

It's funny reading your blog. Before you were back in our homeland, now your down the road somewhere in Auckland. Amusing to follow a persons travels even when they're in the same city.

By the way, us Samoans living here in NZ (over 100,000 of us) celebrate independence day on Monday. Here in Auckland the biggest event is at Malaeola Catholic Samoan Community Centre in Mangere South Auckland. Come down if you're free! It'll be like you've never left Samoa (not sure if that's what your looking for though on your holiday hehehe)


Barb Carusillo said...

On the plane from Aukland to Las Angleles, I saw a movie called "Sione's Wedding" about first generation Samoans in Aukland, who used to be part of a rap group(?) called the Duckrockers, now approaching their 30th birthday.
It was a really interesting combination of the Samoan and New Zealand cultures, and really shows the extent of the Samoan community there. Plus it's should check it out maybe.