New York baby! A long overdue update

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Manhattan from Governor’s Island

In a twist I did not see coming, Ashby and I now call New York home. From an epic road tripping honeymoon, to a short job search and an incredible opportunity for Ashby, we found ourselves living in one of the most amazing cities in the world. It is a long way from where the year started in Paraparaumu, that’s for sure!

I am still planning on going back and writing about the rest of our trip (and also sharing some photos from our wedding and NZ holiday earlier this year), but I thought it was better to jump right in to where things are at today.

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Filming the next Spiderman movie in our neighbourhood.

We are living in a place called Sunnyside in Queens (if you are from Christchurch, I am sure you can appreciate just how much I giggle about the fact I have ended up in Sunnyside!). Our apartment is a lovely wee one bedroom place on the ground floor of our building. It is about a two minute walk to the subway station, and we can be at Grand Central in about fifteen minutes. Ashby’s office is in Manhattan, but he spends a good amount of time on different sites around the city. It is a bit of a change of pace for him, moving to a consultancy, and he seems to be enjoying the new challenge.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I have started to adjust quite nicely to being a housewife! While I am in a holding pattern for immigration, I cannot work. What this has led to is a new enjoyment of cooking, and some time to start digging into my own writing. After feeling rather weird not working, having consistently been studying or working since high school, I am enjoying the luxury of having time to dig into some of my passions.

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Night out in Manhattan

New York itself is all the madness that one expects from a big city, and only increasing in my estimation as the weather cools! The summer was long and sticky, but the crispness of Autumn has been lovely so far. We have been warned on numerous occasions that it gets really cold in winter, so I am intrigued as to just how bad that is. Having experienced an Indiana winter, I feel I am at least a little prepared! The central heating has been kicking in over the last few weeks as the temperature dips, so as a preview to what is coming, at least we know home is comfortable and warm.

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Sunset from Long Island City

Expect a few updates to start popping up in the next few weeks. Need to get it all written down while I still remember it! Feel free to follow me on instagram, where I am a little better and adding photographs.

 

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Christchurch: A City in Evolution

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Street art and life out of the rubble – Christchurch, January 2016
Colour bursts through the city. It is hidden around corners, brightening walls and walkways. Between the grey of rubble and steel, new life is evident throughout.

There is no hiding the dramatic consequences of a multitude of earthquakes hitting Christchurch. Nearly five years on, the city still has the open wounds. Where buildings once stood, gaping holes are now blocks of rubble to navigate. The roads can be challenging to navigate with roadworks and traffic cones aplenty. On first glance, the city is scarred.

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Letting go of the past – the Christchurch Cathedral, January 2016
But by lifting one’s gaze just a smidge, it becomes clear that to write off this city is too simplistic. It is a city in a state of beautiful evolution. A giant art gallery of street art, peppered with exciting, new food options. The Avon River still gracefully snakes through the city centre, and new steel structures continue to grow out of the footprint of what has gone before. Wandering the central city, there is a life to Christchurch that is extraordinary. Observing a city evolving like this is a special moment; it will never again look quite like it does today. Tomorrow, there will be a little more built, it will grow and settle into itself once again. Eventually, this evolution will reach its natural end. It will become the new normal and people will tell stories of this time of change.

The earthquakes of 2011 destroyed a city, but the people of Christchurch have led that in a new direction. One of New Zealand’s largest cities, it is becoming a vibrant and exciting city – one I am proud to call my hometown.

Still alive

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New Zealand v Australia, Wellington, 6 February 2016

Apologies for sorely neglecting the updates. Just a quick one today. The past few weeks have been filled with family catch ups and the all important wedding. It was a beautiful day, but I will write more once we get our photographs back. Yesterday, my husband and I went to watch New Zealand play Australia in the cricket. The photograph above is from the innings break. It was a great day, and a wonderful outing with my husband! Loads to write about, and the updates will start coming again soon.

Quitting time

I handed in my notice of resignation today. It has been the plan for the last six weeks or so, and today it played out. I was only in the job since the middle of last year, moving first into a secondment role, then securing a permanent position. It was a move in the direction I wanted to go, provided a new challenge and looked to put skills into action that I had refined during my recent studies.

So why quit? The driving reason was a sense of adventure that I have always had. Travel has been something I have craved for as long as I can remember. It’s an odd rite of passage for many in New Zealand. Given how far we are away from the rest of the world, we are drawn to travel somewhat inexplicably. The cost is huge, so we save up and really do it properly – often for months at a time. That is what we are going to do. In April we head to the United States for a three month road trip, the first time I’ve been back since 2011. We are going to explore the country, starting from San Francisco and meandering our way east. As an American politics geek, I’m excited to be in the country as decisions are made about the Presidential candidates, moving through different parts of the country and understanding what politics means in the local context. Then there’s the food… Oh, I know some of it is soo bad, but I am hanging out for a Chipotle burrito, or a PotBelly sandwich!

There’s another reason for quitting. It’s about being brave and acknowledging that my job is not the one for me. The technical nature of it just pains me at times, and I feel uninspired. I know I’m in a privileged position, as I can actually take some time out this year and reflect on what I want to do with the rest of my life. Writing is how I best express myself, and I love to play with words and see how they form sentences, paragraphs, and pages of thoughts. Painting a picture through a character in voice, or a story in action. It’s fun and I want to take some time to see where I can go with it. Can I create a story and explore it in depth? Actually write more than a short story, perhaps find my voice in a novel. Everyone thinks they have a book in them, perhaps I really do? So, this is my first outlet for those words. I am going to use this blog to explore my thoughts and record my year.

Here’s to another adventure. Quitting my job, packing my bags and escaping life for a few months. Where will it lead, and what will I do next – who knows?

Downsizing and letting go

There is something oddly appealing about homewares. I can spend many an hour wandering through stores, looking at beautiful objects I could fill my home with.

What I do not normally do, is buy these things. I like to think I live sensibly and do not have much more than I need. There are a few items of clothes that hang in my wardrobe, not worn for many years but holding such strong memories. My bookshelf is filled, an accumulation over years of study and enthusiastic reading. There are a pile of platters in my pantry, and plenty of baking gear for numerous occasions. I do enjoy these items, however, and I am happy to have them in my home.

Things are about to change through, and reading another blog the other day inspired me to think a little more about what is coming. The big downsize. Following our wedding, my new husband and I are going to get rid of a large pile of stuff, pack our life back down to the bare necessities, then head off on a bit of an adventure. The idea of the end result excites me, the getting there does not.

It is going to be a tough challenge selling and giving away so many of my possessions. In the end, I think it’s going to be a good move and I will enjoy the results of being mobile for a little longer. My intention is to blog about the process, and maybe what I learn about letting go may just help someone else.

Credit to Curiously, Wes for the inspiration for this blog.

A new decade

Yesterday I turned 30 and celebrated by eating cake for breakfast. There is something both monumental and mundane about birthdays – especially ones we view as milestones. For me, turning 30 feels in many ways just the same. I do not see a new face staring back from the mirror, and my sense of self is still that of a kid who is trying to make a real go of this being an adult business. Yet, there is a sense of who I am being fundamentally changed. I have reached a decade which feels enticing. I am lucky to be entering this next stage with a stable base. That solid footing makes it a little easier to contemplate launching forward, as there is a softer place to land. There are a long list of things to pursue, but ultimately I am hoping that the next decade is one where we really carve out our own little niche in the world.

Happy New Year

I’ve always been a goals person. Oddly, it never seems to work when it comes to exercise (I still have never maintained any great routine, and am staring at my 31st year with a horrid realisation it’s not going to get any easier now). In work though, I set goals and come what may, I achieve those suckers.

To that end, today I am starting my latest project. I have a big year coming up, and I want to remember how it plays out. So begins my latest foray into blogging. In the past, I have kept a short travel blog. This time, I want to keep track of what my life looked like as a whole in 2016. There are wider objectives than this, however. I need to write more, and have missed it greatly in the last year. Creating a routine of regular writing allows me to develop and find my voice again. It is also an opportunity to develop an online portfolio and explore finding a writing niche for myself again.

A new year, a new goal, a new project. Happy 2016!