Updated: Oct 17, 2020
It's been mentioned that we didn't settle for a little while (2 - 3) months. That also means I wasn't working during that time. I am not a workaholic. I enjoy not working very deeply, but there's also some concern galavanting around the globe with no income for someone that tells other people how to make sense of their money. Before coming to New Zealand, I started job hunting well in advance, about 5 months in advance to be specific. We arrived on Christmas day, which is in the middle of the holiday season on any side of the globe. The difference between NZ holidays and America's is that the Financial Industry shuts down in NZ. REALLY shuts down... like 2 months of next-to-no activity. I was warned that finding a job during December - January would be unrealistic and just focus on February. I didn't believe it, but I learned that it really was difficult to get hired then. This is a roundabout way of saying, I did finally come across gainful employment. So I've gone back to being a corporate man.
Back in the workplace
Now, I'm working as a financial planner. I think it's time that studying for all those licenses and designation paid off, though truthfully, most of them don't apply overseas, and so much of what I had previously learned is specific to the US, so... ya know. But hey, if nothing else, they helped get me a job. At one point, I calculated the amount of time I spent studying for all those qualifications and it clocked in at around 1000 hours, which isn't the biggest amount, but also is the equivalent of 6 months' worth of work full-time. There are some things I learned about myself while studying that much though. Ironically, I sort of like studying.
I was fortunate enough to get hired at a firm in early March, and was not cut, given the COVID lock-down I worked for my new employer for 2 weeks in the office and then got sent home, and I began feeling a 'wittle bit nervous' and wondering if I had just gone through getting hired only to be laid off after 80 working hours. I was lucky though. We had lots of fortune so that I was sent home and worked from there for the next 6 weeks. During that time, I had some fun revelations I had:
1 - I am American. Horribly American. This isn't a good or bad thing by itself. Here's what it does mean though: I am loud, in fact I'm probably the loudest person in the room. Which room? Doesn't matter. My voice carries and I probably use 3-4 times as many words as the Kiwi. I am the stereotype. I was afraid of it, and thought to myself before starting at a new job in NZ, "Now Cam, remember, these people are more soft-spoken and you don't know them, so be aware of your surroundings." Then, like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, in walked Cam. I can't help it. I'm just a loud dude.
2 - Kiwis know Kiwi-lingo. This is obvious, and I've had the privilege of hearing it directly from them. It's just a lot of fun for me to hear how they speak and try to incorporate it into my own idiolect. I'm also lucky to work with a pretty high number of foreigners, so we can share cross-cultural experiences with each other.
A) My office probably has about 30 people in it, yet I work with 4 South Africans, 5 English, A Scot, an Irish, a Papua New Guinea, and many others.
3 - NZ is on a different time line: I've talked about this before, but it is truly fascinating to me. In terms of so many things, NZ is behind by a matter of 2 weeks, to 20 years. 2 weeks behind watching pandemics spread across the world, as we sit down here like, "What's going on guys?" 20 years behind in terms of some trends or fads that we experience in the US (like internet things, investing concepts, etc). There are also a number of things NZ is far more advanced at, mostly pertaining to social issues, so it's not like it's a country of 2 islands that is populated with just cave-people.
Christchurch smells like toast. There, I said it. I have 0 explanation for this, but over the 4-odd months we've lived here I have been walking around and gotten a strong whiff of toast of toast no less than 15 times. It smells like a dark, wheaty, whole-grain toast and it's always an amazing surprise. I brought this to the attention of some locals and enquired if they ever picked up on the delicious and unusual scent for a city-scape. They all looked at each other and then looked back at me as if I had just told them, "Have you ever considered your butt is where all your decisions are made and the brain is just fooling everyone in an evolutionary practical joke?" - translation was: "no, we don't smell toast everywhere."
I'm just going to chalk this up to a perk of living here and hopefully I'm not experiencing a series of minor strokes. Time will tell, but this is now how I view Christchurch on a map:
Getting Older (and older) (and older)
Time goes forward, at least how most of us experience it. As such, I'm getting older, and I am not going to say anything in this section that most people haven't already, learned, accepted, retold, and written about, but then again, you aren't reading anything Cam writes for my originality originality so... 'grain of salt'. In an effort to be healthier, roughly 12 months ago, I started running.
I have to be very careful about what I explain here because I am not a runner. I played soccer my whole life, and always hated running then. I was ALWAYS the slowest person on the team. I sort-of work out a few times a week, but I hate that too. I really just started running for a few reasons:
1) people say it's good for you
2) because people say it's good for you, it must burn calories
3) if it burns calories, this will allow me to continue to eat sweets and offset a poor diet
So my running journey began. At a snail's pace, I have increased how much I run and was doing 20-25 miles a week a few months ago, until Father Time sat me down in a make-believe, metaphorical discussion. Father Time said to me, "Cam, Bro, you're not a young-buck no mo'. You're getting older. You need to care for your body, and treat it like a temple."
I replied in some sense, "Nah way man. You're just old and don't know what you're talking about. Much like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, 'I'm king of the world'." But... as it turns out, this entirely made up conversation with a figment of my imagination (Father Time) was totally right. So I've been battling injury after injury at this point, trying to run, then my ankles swell up, so I stop, then slowly start again, until my body lodges some complaint that I'm not treating it well, so my ankles swell again. It seems awfully cruel how twisted my life has become: I hated running but did it anyway, I learned to kind of like running, I run more, my body aches so I have to stop running temporarily, I wait, then I run again, and the cycle repeats itself. I'd love to write a strongly worded letter to the manager of my body, but that's me, so instead I'll write about it in a blog post I guess.
Getting older is a reeeaallll big bummer. I recommend avoiding it.
--There is a car manufacturer here called Holden. Holden makes a truck called the Colorado. The Colorado that Holden makes looks identical to the version of Chevy's Colorado Truck made in the US. This seems like a copyright infringement to me, and I'm pretty familiar with copyright infringement having lived in Asia for a year (there's a LOT of infringement there if you didn't know). I used to see all kinds of designs and brands that were ripped off. For example, buying a pair of sunglasses that have written on the side of the rim "Lay-Ban" - it became a game to find as many fakes as we could. Let's just say that in that game, we frequently 'won'.
Back to the car thing, - this is like a version of "Spot the Differences" here are both trucks mentioned.
It turns out both of these trucks fall under the same international umbrella company, but it was still weird to see at first. Now that you're bored, let's look at some other odd New Zealandish things.
-- There are unnatural but natural looking forests here. That may sound confusing at first, but let me essplain. When you drive through many places in New Zealand, you'll see lots of pine forests everywhere. As it turns out though, the pine isn't native to NZ, it was brought here by English settlers. Most of the natural landscape ('scrub' or 'bush') was made of shrubbery type trees and things, much of which we call Tea Tree, but Maori called Manuka. Typically, when you see the name Manuka it's attached to 'honey' because it's being upheld as one of the superfoods. Back to the main point, many pine forests here were planted by settlers, so they aren't natural even though they look like it, unless you pay close attention. If you are observant, you will notice these forests are lined with even rows of trees, because the settlers wanted things to be 'tidy' and organised. It's a weird quirk of the landscapes here, but it still makes them entirely beautiful to look at. Here's a peak:
-- Eggs of all sizes: I think of the US as having the greatest degree of consumer freedom. By this I mean, in America, you can probably find a wider selection of goods and services than probably anywhere else in the world. That being said, for some inexplicable reason, the country of NZ has one-upped the US when it comes to eggs. You can find eggs in pretty much any count here. In the US, you will find the occasional 6 count, 1 dozen, maybe 18 and if you shop as Costco you can get a pallet of 60. Here, in a basic grocery store (supermarket) you'll find you can buy 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24, 25 and 30 eggs in a pack. Why you ask? Me too. I've also asked 'Why?' I still don't know. It's just one of life's little mysteries.
-- Mullets: I would expect to see SOME mullets anywhere in the world. Some, but, only some. There is a shockingly high number here. Again, I have no explanation as to why this is. I can definitely tell you every time I see one, my body has a visceral reaction that is such a weird split between excitement like I've found a unicorn, some disgust, and a fair amount of confusion. If I'm being totally honest, I should also confess that I gave myself a mullet once around age 16. If you are looking for a good reason why, then keep on looking. It was a flowy mess of fur on the back of my head. What a magical hair style (no pictures at this time, but a future post may contain some of these glories in their natural states). Viva la mullet.
Experiencing the Outside World (Pre-Lockdown)
Before society collapsed in on itself we took a day trip to Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is not unlike the Kiwi version of Lake Tahoe, which is why they sound similar (that's entirely made up, but it was fun to write). Taupo is big, and has an influx of tourists during summer, but is a really beautiful and scenic place. It's fairly central in the North Island, so we took a day trip there, walked around and spent a goodly few hours on a boat tour. The boat went to some Maori rock carvings, which have been made by a guy that's still living. These carvings take up one giant mural and several other rocks that jetty out from the main land and take the form of giant lizards, faces and other creatures:
Taupo is also interesting because it has some good hiking trails around it (every where is a good hike in NZ), but Mount Tauhara is viewable from the lake and makes a good view both ways. If you hike the trail up Mount Tauhara, you get a great very of the lake, but if you go to the lake and look up at the mountain you can see where the Maori legend of Mount Tauhara comes from:
If you look at the mountain, you may notice it looks like a pregnant woman. From right to left, the mountain ridges make up a head, breasts, stomach and legs. There may be a joke hidden somewhere in this, but I'm not clever enough to conjure anything up so, you'll have to think one up yourself.
One more note about Taupo - beer. As is often the case, 'ma compagne' and myself were eager to try some of the local drink. We looked online and found a place that well... is still a mystery. Long story, short, we went there and had a beer and it was fun, yatta yatta yatta. So why mention this? Because the world needs to know about BierKAFE @ Crafty TROUT Brewery. I suggest, when you have a moment to lose on the internet, and are willing to go to read some interesting content, look up reviews. Here's what you do, check Google Reviews, find the 1 star reviews, read those, then read the replies from owner about those 1 star reviews. I won't spoil too much, but this guy calls customers poo pants. I think I've said enough...
Lake Taupo also has Huka Falls right next to it. Huka Falls is quite famous and a major tourist attraction. It is worth seeing, although, I did find it underwhelming. Normally, I'm a total yokel where as soon as I see something even slightly impressive, my jaw drops and I look like a rube, but not so with Huka. I'm no one to poopoo some beautiful nature scene that took millions of years to develop and form a very unusual geographical feature that moves water with an impressive efficiency, so the fact that it wasn't my "favourite" thing shouldn't really tell you too much - you'll just have to see it for yourself. The nice thing about the falls is that it's free to just walk right over to them and have a view, so if you're looking for something to do while in Lake Taupo, it's probably worth your time.
Cam's VoKiwibulary Corner
Kiwi Lingo first. American Lingo Second.
Kumara = Yams
Gherkin = Pickle
Pickled = Drunk
Pissed = Drunk
Capsicum = Bell Pepper
Scrumpy = Apples (but only in the sense of a cheap cider)
Pudding = Dessert
My wife is much smarter, more capable and wiser than I - She frequently restructures her syntax to avoid ending a sentence on a preposition. She taught herself how to knit, and knit very well. She reads an indeterminable words per minute and can inhale books. The height of my intelligence is recognizing that she is more intelligent. Because her brain works so well, she brought up an idea that made me think more deeply than I had in a while. She asked me if I could observe all lives throughout humanity, how would I live my life? She phrased it as I would have to watch each life on VHS, but I think her question was valid and it started turning the gears in my brain as to how I would feel, think and behave differently. I'm now passing this question on to you - if you saw all humanity's lives, how would you live your life?
Until the future,
New Zealand was ranked as the number 1 the least corrupt country in the world - tied with Denmark, in 2020. It's also the 3rd most under insured country of the 36 OECD nations.