How to move to New Zealand from the US

Sometimes when people in positions of power do things I find absurd and infuriating, I get depressed, cranky, angry, and/or despondent. Other times, I’m more productive, getting all academic, or trying to draw personal connections so people might understand that these decisions will affect real people. Last Friday, I channelled my frustration into making this video guide to various visa options for Americans wanting to move to New Zealand:

To be abundantly clear: you can’t actually move away from climate change. Nor do I believe that anyone, Americans abroad or citizens from any other country, can escape the responsibility to be part of the solution to this or any other political absurdity.

But this was still a super fun opportunity to learn how to edit video on my iPhone using iMovie (I’d only ever used that program once before, four years ago, and the full version rather than the mobile version). And I can’t believe how many people have already watched it! Fun times.

I’m not planning to make any more videos any time soon. Of course, it’s entirely possible that news from the White House will drive me to new heights of creativity sooner than I expect.

Kiwi Californiana: Arthur Ahbez

We’ve been enjoying Arthur Ahbez’s album Gold. His aesthetic strikes me as decidedly NorCal folk psych pop, not something I was expecting from a Kiwi! Either way, I was excited to see his band open for the mesmerizing Julia Jacklin last Saturday at the Tuning Fork. Alas, he played solo, and was quite nervous (he said so several times) without his band. Definitely rocking a Devendra-esque look. And that voice!

But tell me Arthur’s song Gold:


…was not inspired by this:

It had to be. Right?!

Reflections on a first Spring and Summer in New Zealand

It’s been exactly six months since Scott and I moved to Auckland from San Francisco, so it seems like a good time to write up a few more quick reflections on the differences between life in those two places:

  • Farmers markets are few and far between.
  • Storms actually affect the price of veggies; after one of the recent tropical cyclones hit, cauliflower and lettuce went up from ~$3 to ~$7 a head (all costs in this post in NZD).
  • Thanks to its Mediterranean climate (not to mention the drought), I’m totally used to California’s hills being crispy and golden for most of the year. It really felt odd to me that New Zealand’s bright green grassy hills stayed that way all through Spring AND Summer, even though it does make sense given the regular rains.
  • Leaving the house without a layer is usually OK. Really. Even in the evening. But you never know when it might rain, so keep the umbrella handy.
  • You can actually swim in the ocean(s) here! Without a wetsuit! And there are so many beaches right in the city that we haven’t even come close to checking all of them out. Ditto all the beaches within an hour’s drive of our place.

Continue reading

The personal is the political

My older brother died before I was born due to a heart condition that doctors can now successfully treat with advanced surgeries like the one Jimmy Kimmel describes here:

So, with tissues out and proverbial protest signs up, a few Thank Yous:

  • Thank You mom and dad for going through what must have been a horribly traumatic process and still deciding to have me and Adam;
  • Thank You scientific research for helping prevent similar grief; thank you US Congress for increasing, rather than decreasing funding for science despite the proposed budget (keep up the good work!);
  • Thank You Affordable Care Act for insuring me and everyone else who has pre-existing conditions when nobody else would; and finally,
  • Thank You everyone in countries where socialized health care exists for being a bit more compassionate and recognizing that most Americans did NOT vote for Trump before responding with something like “you voted him in, now deal with it” whenever someone expresses their grief about what is going on in the US right now.

Connected circles

Last night we braved (former) Cyclone Debbie’s downpour to visit the Auckland Gallery during one of their Open Late events. One of the pieces in the current exhibit (The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from Tate) is this, Men Shall Know Nothing of This, from Max Ernst:

I was immediately reminded of the circles in Hilma af Klint‘s Swan series:

As usual, I can find no evidence that she influenced him, but what are facts, anyway… I’m convinced. Continue reading

Some longer reflections after four months in New Zealand

Here are a few more remarkable things about life in Auckland, longer-format this time, with some links for good measure:

This is NOT a litigious society. It doesn’t need to be, because the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) “provides comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand.” It’s funded by levies collected from motor vehicle operators (through licensing fees and petrol sales), wage earners (via income tax), and the government (via general taxes). Thanks to the ACC, your medical costs and even most of your lost wages (the latter only if you work in New Zealand) due to accidents are covered, even if an injury happens while you’re at work or playing a dangerous sport or on the premises of a business. How this actually feels different on the ground is that we regularly encounter all sorts of things that you simply would not find in the US, like massive public play structures that kids could actually fall off of, cliffs at lookouts without fences to prevent falls, people walking around everywhere (inside and outside) with bare feet, absurd pits of unmitigated mud at music festivals (I’m still somewhat traumatized by last weekend’s Splore experience), uneven stairways without hand rails, and the like. So much lost revenue opportunity for the poor insurance companies, ambulance-chasing attorneys, and safety device manufacturers, to name but a few! But it sure seems a lot more efficient to handle things this way.  Continue reading

On privilege, intersectionality, and how a Trump presidency could affect New Zealanders

While I chose not to join my friends and hundreds of others in Auckland who marched in solidarity today with the Women’s March on DC, I was very much there in spirit. Rather than marching, I spent the day researching this essay; consider it my contribution to the very important work that is currently happening around the world.

***

Last night as my yoga class was closing, the topic of the March came up. Another student, a white woman in her early 40s, asked if it was an “anti-Trump March.” I tried my best to offer a different perspective, in the spirit of “When they go low, we go high:”

“I prefer to think of it as a march FOR women’s rights, and for the rights of people of color and immigrants and people of all sexual orientations and–”

That’s as far as I got before she interrupted, “so, it’s an anti-Trump march.”

Her interest in simplifying this for herself only started to get under my skin (consciously, at least) after my post-yoga bliss wore off.

Today's #ActivistAday features myself, ShiShi Rose (@shishi.rose) and I am one of the admins here. . For some people, their outlook of this country deeply changed on November 9th. For the rest of us, this is how it has always looked. I want to remind you that that is a privilege. It's a privilege that white supremacy wasn't at the forefront of your reality, because you benefit from it. I want to remind you that no ally ever got very far, in any movement, without acknowledgement of their own privilege daily. You do not just get to join the efforts that people of color have been working for their entire lives to both teach and survive, without doing work, too. You don't just get to join because now you're scared, too. I was born scared. Now is the time for you to be listening more, talking less, spend time observing, taking in media and art created by people of color, researching, and unlearning the things you have been taught about this country. You should be reading our books and understanding the roots of racism and white supremacy. Listening to our speeches. You should be drowning yourselves in our poetry. Now is the time that you should be exposed to more than just the horrors of this country, but also the beauty that has always existed within communities of color. Beauty that was covered over because the need to see white faces depicted was more important. Now is the time to teach your children, to call out your family, to finally speak up. You have been silent for long enough. Now is the time to realize that you should have joined us sooner. But since you're here now, it's time to get to work. #WhyIMarch

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I’m going to give my yoga classmate, and most other Kiwis I’ve spoken with about Trump’s election, the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are inherently good, well-intentioned people. Indeed, the average Kiwi that I have encountered thus far seems to be FAR more politically aware and progressive than the average Americans I encountered at home.

But there’s something about their flip dismissal of what the election (and now, inauguration) of Trump actually means that has really been bothering me. Continue reading

The perfect waffle recipe

img_7527When we were still living in San Francisco, Scott asked if we could get a waffle iron once we got to Auckland. Of course, especially if he would use it?! And so long before we had records or instruments or bikes or crafty stuff or anything else we’d shipped, we had a waffle iron to play with.

After weeks of experimenting, I’m pretty sure we’ve worked out the perfect waffle recipe. The following results in a magic combination of light, crispy, chewy, and just sweet enough that they stand on their own without maple syrup:

Prep:
– Warm up the waffle iron
– Melt a bit more than 1/3 cup salted butter (low heat on the stove or microwave) Continue reading

All the ways I appreciate music

Haven’t been able to get this video out of my mind since discovering it last week. Such a moving example of the power of visual storytelling, as the video doesn’t actually match the lyrics to the song, except for a pretty brilliant bit of overlap at the climax:

Trying to explain why I like Pup so much — in a nutshell, because listening to them makes me want to *play* music like this! — has got me thinking about the very complicated Venn diagram that might illustrate the various ways that music affects me.

There would need to be circles to represent: Continue reading