Friday, February 24, 2012

Time to get Messy

4 hours of sleep last night.  We were up till 5am last night.  They were mostly drinking, cooking & eating.  After coming home from a wicked injection of live music, I stayed up to talk to a good friend from back home about school & statistics & listen to her 2 year old son giggle at the Hindi voices in the background.  Bliss.

I am sitting on the floor of my apartment in my dirtiest clothes on Saturday morning.  My flatmates are all comatose.  I am waiting for a ride from someone I've never met to a big paint fight in an Auckland suburb.

It is Holi - the Indian festival of colours.  My stained white shirt will never have looked better!

In fact, I might just bring all my clothes & roll around a bit.  A new wardrobe might be nice.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Festival Carnage - Splore

Splore, Tapapakanga National Park, NZ

NZ summer is chokka (chalk full) of festivals.  I am a knob & only realized the ones I was supposed to be at too late.  The few weeks of holidays surrounding christmas were a wash for weather, & New Years was practically cancelled for rain.  Auckland shot 10,000$ worth of fireworks off the Skytower, into the clouds, where no one could see them, because they're brilliant.  There were about a dozen NYE festivals - ALL mud fests & flooded.  The famous 'World's First Sunrise' in Gizzy (Gisbourne) on the east was overcast, & there is nothing more depressing than an overcast sunrise.  Mudslides & washed out roads everywhere.  Outran it all & parked myself between a barby, music venue & the surf, sipping on Headless Mexicans & may have even had stars & fireworks.  Choice.

*As an unrelated point of interest, did you know Kiwis actually get stoned & watch this video, which is what 90% of the internet thinks all the time?  (also they love Flight of the Conchords.)*
I digress.

What the f was I talking about?

Ah yeah so the one festival I honed in on was Splore.  Don't know why.  Something to do with the melody of horns on their homepage.  My ears perked up.  I have a way with these things.  Nobody was un-costumed all weekend.  Except me, the square.  Also, I didn't know the "no alcohol" policy means they pretend to search us & we just hide it more cleverly.  So I was also the only sober one all weekend.  Woohoo.  Let the party begin.

Hitched to the show with no worries & met some cool folk.  Popped my tent & dashed in the see The Yoots, said blissful 8-piece horn roots ensemble.  A warm sunny singalong welcome to this beautiful festie!  Dancing in a straw bed, lazing on the hillside, or in the ocean by some sleepy curious yachts.

Erykah Badu was the only act I had even heard of & it seems this was the overwhelming case.  I am alone however, with the overwhelming feeling can I describe it?  Dissatisfaction?  Inadequacy?  Disappointment?  (Can you feel that way about someone you've never heard before?)  A general bad taste in my mouth.  R&B Diva.  Jesus f-king christ.  She thought she was top shit.  She was ordering the lighting crew around in the middle of songs & making this stupid superhero pose after every song.  The backstage crew told me she was really cold, with an air of superiority, & uber-late throwing everything off kilter.  I thought it was quite obvious she was a stuck-up bitch.  It showed in her performance, which is never good.  But I suppose everyone else was fooled so...

Plus it rained, full-on, right at the end of her set.  Suddenly my body hates me.  'Hate. Being. Wet.' it says.  Every inch of shelter occupied by bodies, called for retreat to the tent.  Strategy meeting.  Huddled in the corner of the "wet side" of the inside of the tent never works.  Fun night!

Everything Saturday was great!  Artists, food, atmosphere, weather, music: Latin Aotearoa were hot & spicy with latino flavour.  Grit teeth into a sugar skull smile.  Pinche madre!  Dios mio!  Cuban Brothers were full-on & hilarious!  The Barons of Tang delivered their so-called "gypsy folk with a twist of deathcore" brilliantly.  In fact I'd throw jazzy into that description as well.  Touché.  An ethreal circus with mannequin parts, poetry, a stripshow & people eating off other people.  Sat there thinking "I wish I had good enough friends I could eat off of...."

Got in as a volunteer with the exception I enjoy the festival & stick around to work cleanup Monday.  Instead I lucratively got in with the main stage backstage crew.  Even though we felt so lame dressing in simple black (if you could imagine the costumes!) a few slack hours tearing down drumkits here & watching the bands from sidestage there beats the hard labour of sorting recycling from rubbish we avoided.  :-)

**Note: Watching a band from side stage - crossed off the Bucket List!**

My Splore was great!  Monday however...

Monday was understatement messy, following the volunteer afterparty.  All the confiscated liquor that went through my system demanded an intense detox.  Met too many people & as always a little too trusting.  Lost my shoulder bag with my cellphone & rainjacket inside & found my shoes in a bush.  Woke up thinking I had been kidnapped only to realize I was with my friends the whole time.  Really bad.  Found a flashlight, re-oriented myself & somewhere safe to crash, alone outside the festival grounds & three sheets to the wind.  When it comes down to it, I remember how not panicked I was.  My survival skills are pretty sharp.  Still, not a good way to end a festival.  Once again, I am glad I have friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bikey Sparky

It wouldn't be uncommon to catch me zipping around on piers in the marina on my bike in oversized overalls.  Sometimes I'd catch myself strutting between boats, owning the pier, toolkit in hand.  These moments allow a pause for reflection.  The only thing that's strange is how none of it feels strange.  I am Bikey Sparky.

I am working at a marine electrical workshop in downtown Auckland. The marina we work in is the biggest in the Southern hemisphere with around 2000 boats.

Getting the job was the easy part.  People ask how hard it is to find work in Auckland & it's impossible to give an accurate statement.  I was invited for drinks wandering by the marina on my 3rd day in town.  Shook hands with my boss at the bar & started work 2 days later.  After a brief introduction, my friend Jim (that I met that day) turns to me & says "I'm sorry, I don't even know if you're interested in this sort of work, I just figured you're the kind of person where I could put you in a paddock & say 'Herd these sheep' & you'd sorta figure out how to do it."  I've never had such an astounding reference.  Jack-of-all-trades?  Sure, why not!

It's so nice to be back at work!  Relieving even!  When I started, I worked 2 weeks straight without flinching.  Feels like it's been ages since I've had something I could pour myself into & see some reward from.  Being busy, working with my hands, being around boats & the water & learning something new.

My boss is a Bosnian army vet with a crew cut, bottlecap glasses, sharp tongue for swearing & wit, & a full belly laugh.  (Sometimes I feel like new immigrants get a free pass for rude or vulgar comments, because people play it off as a cultural difference.  Very cunning!)  He wears his overalls permenantly & with pride.  He also is the kind of guy you think would walk into the woods emptyhanded & come out carrying the body of a bear.  All this for some reason makes me think he'd be great to talk to my dad; not only would my family appreciate his fantastic stories, but he seems to hold me in high regard & is probably in deep with the local Croatian mafia.

I am essentially his personal assistant or a gopher for the other boys.  Helping carry batteries, fetching tools, or diving into the dashboard, bilge & other tight spots.  (It's a job that requires surprising agility.)  The best jobs were the ones I could get really dirty in the engine room re-wiring or something else I am limited to.  No, no sparks for me.  Dang.  Where's the fun in that?

Isobel is the (other) backbone of the office, working the front desk, phones, payroll & just about everything else.  We are the only 2 women in the electical world; Ivica's princesses, not to be fucked with in any way.  The law has been laid.  Ha - princess my ass!  Isobel at least has a shield of girliness she's protected by.  I've always been one of the guys, hanging back for a beer or a game of pool after work.  He treats us as such though, & on one particularly special Wednesday, took us to the beach at midday & bought us ice cream.  Who has bosses like that?

When we joked about the day I would leave, which was supposed to be just after the new year, Isobel would say with a hint of desperation "please don't leave me here".  No worries darling!  I'd be a fool to leave something so great!

The guys are alright.  One's a cool pommie who likes his live music & has got a great tongue-in-cheek sense of humour - maybe the Brits were born with it.  The other can be a bit of a sleaze, but stood up for me once when he thought I was in trouble.  He has his moments, for better or worse.  Easily handled, I'd say.

Turns out their wives are more the issue, & have a few with my close proximity to their betrothed.  Pish posh, how absurd.  It's a man's world I suppose.  My full-days were becoming half-days when the holidays ended & I'd rather be busy than standing around, so I had my plans for leaving set.

I am accutely aware that in a couple months time I'll have an opportunity to do some amateur electrical work, jump at the opportunity & probably burn someone's house down.  Bad, bad.  It's been 3 months & even though I feel like I was just getting good at being an "electrical apprentice", it's time to take an offstep & hit the road again.

, Livewire!

Friday, February 10, 2012

This weekend has potential.

There are 4x concerts, 2x outdoor movies, 2x bike polo.  There are a half dozen markets - Polynesian, French, local farmers' markets & vintage clothes markets.  I was invited fishing, sailing, shooting, clubbing with CSers, & surfing down in Piha.  I can go watch cricket, to a parkour workshop, go to a bike shop, go to a travel exposition, go to the museum, go to a Croatian wine festival, or go watch some free music at a park.

All of these events are free.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Curse of Comfort

Auckland, New Zealand

Breathing.  Calm.  The feeling of sitting crosslegged, a warm wind glimpsing your skin, on a mountain near the ocean.  (Or, more appropriately, a volcano.)  Peering over the edge at a granite cliff.  Comfortable.  The curse of comfort.

Settling in one place is a new feeling for me.  I get to buy groceries, credit for my phone.  Weekly salary, pay weekly rent, bills, laundry, flatmates & co-workers.  Names to remember.  Together my apartment & workplace make a pint-sized community to weave through.  Lucky for me they are all flawed, but mostly happy in spite of it.  Easy to get along with.  Chill.

Being in a city is a luxury, never mind a city of 1.5million.  Internet is a disease in it's own right, but communication is a blessing (in moderation).  There is no way to explain how delicious the food was when I arrived.  I sculled a 1L of fresh cold milk as soon as I landed.  It's been almost 9 months drinking uht, an unfitting substitute.  Pastries exploded my tastebuds & apples were like icing sugar.  I am still amazed at my delight of toast!  (Our apartment doesn't have a toaster.)  Food here is awesome, heaps fresh, organic & free range, & you can get any type of food you can think of.  Except apparently pumpkin pie & perogies.  I can drink my favourite Mexican beer they only sell on the West coast, but couldn't have pumpkin pie for christmas.  Insanity.

Living at the top of a hill, it takes about 15 minutes to bike downhill to work, to sea level at the marina.  My parents were accurate in their concern that I'd step out of a pub after a long night & forget which side of the road they drive on.  As soon as I got my hands on some handlebars though, there was no issue. She'll be right.

At the top of this hill is a particularily frustrating intersection, at the beginning of Karangahape Road; K Rd to everyone always.  New Zealand is great for mixing familiar English names, like Wellington, Hamilton, Queenstown, & Christchurch, with seemingly silly & similar sounding Maori names; Mangonui is a small fishing village in the far North, Maunganui is a beach hotspot on the East coast; Whangaparaoa is a penninsula North of Auckland, but Whakapapa are ski fields in Central North Island; Papakura is one of the southernmost suburbs, right beside Papatoetoe.  It takes getting used to.  The buses still never take me anywhere near the direction I had hoped for, but I always understand the one-way trains out of town!

K Rd is a refreshing bit of grit, nestled nicely between 2 major shopping districts & Ponsonby, that defies the thought that opening 5 cafes side-by-side would be counter-intuitive.  Sex shops, burlesque bars, instrument shops (I wonder if there's any cross-over?), & my favourite music venues.  Kings Arms wide open with a large patio for touring acts; The Thirsty Dog's unassuming facade has an attitude at night; & Wine Cellar/Whammy Bar an always reliable one-two punch that opens their cavernous underbelly to hungry cretins when there is nowhere else to run.  When it comes to Whammy, there is nowhere else to be...

Outside these corners, Lucha Lounge is the outdoor mutt of prissy Newmarket that has us howling all night.  We light up as soon as it goes to sleep.

Night stalking, tongue wagging, ear to the ground.  Handshakes & headrushes.
It took me a couple weeks to find the pulse, & I'm squeezing every drop out of it.
This is what I'm here for.  Fill the void.  Intensify the craving.

It's nice to sit still & get a grasp of things.  I am acutely aware of the curse of comfort & the comfort in routine, & have no intention on leaning back too much.  Simple enjoyment in being able to take directions & understand them.  Taking it in slowly, so there's always something to do.  Somehow life is a constant deja vu.

But the restlessness hasn't gone away, it just feels more focused.  I'm excited to see my beautiful friends all around & to taste Tania's amazing cupcakes at bike polo if I get there on time!  I'm excited to keep practicing my upside down & underneath skills at acrobatics on Tuesdays & maybe go out for 10$ curry after.  I'm excited to see my new CouchSurfing friends at the weekly meetup since we all went tramping & camping last weekend & one of these weekends I'm finally going to get to a Polynesian market & surfing & hiking in West Auckland, if I don't leave town to do something else again!  I'm excited for forethought, watching festivals, concerts & events coming up like waves.

(Evidently I don't know how to use a thesaurus.  Excited: enthralled, eager, spark, invigorate, breathless, on tenterhooks [???])

The learning opportunities are endless.  Since submersion I currently have the possibility of learning Croatian, Hindi, acrobatics, self-defense, belly-dancing, cricket, whale rescue, waka ama paddling, acting, race sailing, cooking, parkour, target shooting, stock trading & wine-making.  If I could learn 2 of these, I'd be sweet.

Did I mention I'm an electrician's apprentice?  That's another story.

Everything not forbidden is compuslory, and even then...
What's stopping us?