Here we are. America. But we're still trying to hold onto those things that we love about New Zealand.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
All because of a cabin door our flight to the USA was miserable. I am easy going. I can handle long haul flights, inconveniences, slow airport security lines, and the general stress that is international travel.
However, I am still recovering from the worst travel experience I have had yet. I will just share the lowlights and spare the details. We departed from Auckland 2 1/2 hours late due to a cabin door not closing properly. It was clear, even before departure, that we would not make our connecting flight to Phoenix upon arrival in San Francisco.
The concierge on board assured us all would be well and we would be rebooked on the next flight to Phoenix. I chose to believe her and tried to rest on the 13 hour flight. For some odd reason they did not have my meal selection on the plane so I got to eat leftover fruit from First Class for dinner and breakfast. That made me starving and grouchy on the plane.
When we arrived in San Francisco we waited for over 2 1/2 hours to receive confirmation of a new flight booking to leave Phoenix. Have you ever waited in an airport line for more than 30 minutes? It is torture. The next flight to Phoenix was at 9pm so we were given a hotel room to rest in until the departure 8 hours later. Our taxi driver got lost on the way the hotel and tried to make me pay for the whole fare even though he got lost. Dang American.
This is where we said goodbye to Jason's family at the Auckland Airport
After a much needed shower, restful nap, and first taste of American cuisine, Jason and I felt like our troubles were behind us. False. When we got to the San Fran airport to check in for our flight they said there was never a booking for us. Air New Zealand screwed up again. I was crushed when I heard this. The airline agent could see I was distraught and assured me it would all workout. It did all work out but not before our baggage was lost, and our flight to Phoenix was delayed. As you can see, the little cabin door put us out so much!
The best part about our actual air travel was the immigration line. The immigration agent was very helpful and offered a warm welcome and congratulations to Jason. We were not treated like terrorists this time.
The first thing we saw at Baggage Claim in Phoenix was a group of tall people holding red, white, and blue balloons, American signs, and patriotic clothing. They also held up a sign saying, "Kia Ora Kiwis." It was glorious. I have never been more happy to see my family.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
On Wednesday we went to the temple as a family. Peace of mind. That's what I am feeling as a result of our temple session. It was so nice to be gathered as a family in the House of the Lord and to take a moment to remember what is most important of all. All in all it reminds me of how the distance that will be between us does not mean anything in the long run. I am grateful for Jason's family. I know that Jason is the good guy that he is because of his hard-working parents. I know that he is so kind and caring because of his brothers and sisters.
Jason and I went to the Hamilton temple once every month while we were here. It has no doubt been a source of strength.
Jason and I went to the Hamilton temple once every month while we were here. It has no doubt been a source of strength.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I have loved working for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I will always be grateful for the perfect timing of not getting a teaching job and stumbling onto this role during that first year we were here.
I am dying to return to the classroom but my time working for the Church was not spent in vain. I worked in the administration office for the Church Schools in the Pacific. Basically, I got an inside look at the running and function of schools on a district/administration level. It would bore virtually anyone but I thrive on this stuff. You see, my dream in life is to be a principal and eventually a superintendent. Combine this with the church environment and you see why it was a very good fit for me.
I loved how work meetings were always opened with a prayer and that we openly spoke of Christ in our work roles (reminiscent of my BYU days). I will miss associating with co-workers from South Africa, Fiji, Britain, Aussie, Raro, Tonga, Samoa, Brazil, and a few other islands. It is quite a blessing to know that I got to help in the Lord's Work, even if it was only a small contribution.
I learnt much about the presence and function of the Church in the Pacific Area. All priesthood direction, and department policy comes from the Pacific Area Office under the direction of the Area Presidency. It truly is a miraculous work. Specifically in the Church Schools, there are many Saints being blessed in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, and Tonga because of the education they are receiving. I have seen amazing things happen in these islands.
I go away from this role with much gained. My testimony of my Saviour and His Work has been strengthened. My resolve to continue on with my education to become a principal has been affirmed along with my resolve to fulfill my role as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I will miss the wonderful working environment. Not even a classroom can compete with that! I will also miss the more insignificant things like, the fact that the beach is 2 minutes from my office, the sushi restaurant that I ate at way too much, and the gym that I worked out in twice a day. Takapuna knows what is up.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Moving overseas is hard. Compacting whole lives into 4 suitcases, saying goodbye, dropping everything, starting over, being both happy and sad at the very same time-hard. At times I am so excited I can hardly wait another day to board the plane. Other times I am so incredibly sad to say goodbye to Jason's family and the beautiful paradise they call home. How exactly do you say goodbye to one life and start over in an entirely new one?
This is how I feel right now.
When I was dating Jason and weighing the decision of marriage carefully in my mind, I did consider these very obstacles. Though it is notable that I really did not know how these obstacles would affect me. Would I be able to live away from home permanently or temporarily, as in 10,000 miles away, 13 hour plane ride, and another country away? Would I be willing to take on board a whole new culture? Would I be prepared to say goodbye to my family, and in this case, Jason's family, not knowing the next time I would see them? Whether here or there, did I really understand that one of us would ALWAYS be so far away from our family?
I had a very clear answer back then, and now. In the grand scheme of things, it is nothing more than geography. We can build a righteous family here in the South Pacific, or in the high desert of Arizona. I also knew in my heart that a commitment of that degree would strengthen our marriage relationship. There have been plenty of occasions where I have needed my mom, my sisters (especially my sisters), my friends, an American... but, I didn't have any of these people. I had Jason. I learned to turn to him. It has been wonderful. I can say with surety that I could live anywhere on this blue green earth thanks to him.
This map gives a good impression of just how far our lives/hearts/cultures are being stretched. New Zealand barely even makes the map in the right hand corner.
Immigration is a paragraph all its own. Who would have thought how painstaking immigration can be? I certainly did not think of that one back then. I ended up turning down New Zealand permanent residency after too many months and too many dollars. Jason did get his green card and though the process was a bust, it was nothing compared to my New Zealand experience.
The only good thing I can say about immigration is that we will be standing in the same line for the first time on this trip. U.S. citizens are ushered through relatively quick lines while an immigration officer offers a "Welcome Home" to all us Americans. While I am loving life in the American fast lane, Jason is being prodded and pushed through the cattle corral that is the "All Other Passport Holders" line. Everyone is holding different coloured passports from places that I may or may not be able to point to on a map. Jason tells me that the immigration officers pretty much assume everyone is a terrorist and act as such. Accordingly, Jason's first impressions on American soil will ever remain negative.
However, this time he will walk side by side with his American wife and hear the "Welcome Home" in the U.S. Citizen line. It should be noted that when we travel to New Zealand I am the one in the "All Other Passport Holders" line being pushed and prodded while Jason hears a pleasant "Cheers Mate" from a fellow Kiwi. Again, parts of our lives that we never foresaw.
I guess what I am trying to convey is that the obstacles I have faced in the last 2 Kiwi years were profound for me in many ways. I have learned to not waste my time worrying about little things in our marriage. I have learned a completely new culture-different from pretty much everything I ever experienced. I have learned that socialised medicine is actually awesome. I have learned that drying laundry outside is actually a really smart idea. I have learned that big family get togethers every week makes for a really strong extended family. I have learned how America is viewed for an outsider looking in (a whole story in and of itself). I have learned to rely on my husband, solely and truly.
I am nervous. I admit it. We have been living like Kiwis and now we are going to be eating Lucky Charms, using private insurance, and standing for the National Anthem at T-ball games. Is it weird that I think it is weird that we will be doing that now?
as long as I'm with this guy
Saturday, May 7, 2011
I am pretty kiwi-fied. However, there are a few things that I never quite caught onto.
the ultimate NZ man ride-never caught on
station wagons are cool-never caught on
pedestrians never have the right of way-never caught on
meat pies galore but virtually no dessert pies-never caught on
potatoes in some form every night-never caught on
men wearing stubbies-never caught on
All good, I love New Zealand. The list of things I took on board is far more lengthy.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
It is real now. We have packed and crammed our lives into the suitcases pictured above. I have to admit, I am nervous. This is a huge move and we are starting over in virtually every way. I chose to ignore my nervous feelings until after the marathon. But the marathon has come and gone so I am a bit scared. I am lying on the floor, our bed is long gone, and am about to sleep for the last time in our little flat.
Everything about our lives has been in chapters. There was the New Zealand dating chapter, the Arizona break up chapter, the Reunited New Zealand Christmas chapter, the Engagement chapter, the Arizona wedding chapter, Newlywed in New Zealand chapter, and now, the Settle down in Arizona chapter. I hope I am ready for this new chapter. In hindsight, I realize how incredibly different my life outlook is. Basically, the New Zealand chapters have strengthened me in too many ways to name.
I packed up and left Arizona the second I got married. Jason and I have really only known a life together in New Zealand. Well, it is USA time. Hopefully he can learn to live with a bunch of nerds who are obsessed with Ohio State and El Rancho.
17 more days.
P.S. I had a Proud to be an American moment when we heard the news about Bin Laden. It was nice to hear some positive media coverage about the USA. I was grinning ear to ear and feeling proud about everything that my country stands for as the New Zealand nightly news reported the good news. From the other side of the world, I can tell you that we are all happy about justice being served.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
14 miles into the race.
My race synopsis-minutes after crossing the line.
3 hours and 44 minutes.
I did it. I did more than accomplish my goal.
5K mark-I ran the first 5K in 25 minutes and felt very good. I was holding back somewhat but wanted to conserve for the first half of the race.
10K mark-I came through the 10K mark at 53 minutes. It was very motivating to see that my time was faster than what I had planned for and that my legs, breathing, feet, arms, and mind felt fantastic.
10 mile mark-the Black Eyed Peas song, Just Can't Get Enough, helped me get through the first hilly section of the course. I put in on repeat.
1/2 Marathon mark-I got nervous at this point. My legs were really starting to feel it. I started to feel pain in my quads and feet mainly. I also had a major mind game dillema about when I should consume my first gel shot. I didn't feel like I needed it by the 1/2 way point but knew that I would regret it later. I had this conversation in my head for a good 5 miles until I finally made myself eat it.
20 mile mark-Jason said he would meet me somewhere along the racecourse at 20 miles. By the time I hit 20 miles I needed any type of motivation from somewhere other than my mind. Jason drove right past me going about 2mph frantically trying to spot me amongst all the runners. It was heartbreaking to see him drive by and not see me. I wanted to see him yell something funny at me and maybe even give me a drink of Powerade or something. I was mentally crushed but trucked on.
22 mile mark-Jason found me! All he did was honk and drive by but it was enough to make me feel like a million and four dollars.
23 mile mark-I saved my last gel shot for the final 5K of the race. When I took my first sip of the gooey gel I instantly started gagging. I'm sure the spectators didn't love my gagging and spitting. I thought I would feel the mental hell that is The Wall at this point. I was actually a little bit excited for The Wall because everyone makes a big huge deal about it. No Wall for me this year. I never hit it.
24 mile mark-By this point no song on my marathon playlist seemed to do the trick. I was spent. My legs felt beyond horrible. Think of the worst soreness you have felt and times that by 99. We had to run through an awkward intersection that was poorly manned by a lone teenage girl who clearly had better things to do. Traffic was not yielding to runners and you kinda had to just go for it. I basically almost got hit by a car that was going about 2mph. I blame it on the delirious state of the latter half of a marathon.
25 mile mark-The only thing keeping me going at this point was my constant reminder to myself that I had less then one mile left. I said it over and over in my head. It worked. I also heard the 3 hr 45 minute pacer on my back. I picked it up so I could come in under his pace.
26 mile mark-I sprinted across that line feeling so good. I was really pleased with my performance. I also love that Jason was right there waiting for me. He was really nice to help me walk and drink among other things. I struggled to walk for the rest of the day.
so close to the finish. I am seriously giving it all I have.
What I did right:
- sipped water and electrolyte supplement at every single water station-I never felt thirsty
- poured water on myself when I was really struggling
- stayed positive by celebrating little things along the race
- ran way ahead of the 4 hour pace because I realised that the pace was way too slow for me
- ran in Thorlos socks and successfully prevented blisters, cut my toenails extra short so they wouldn't fall off
- consumed 3 gel shots at optimal times in the latter half of the race
- I can easily think between km's and miles now. The course was marked in km's and I was able to comprehend it this year!!
FINISHED and still alive.
What I did wrong:
- ate a little too much for breakfast (museli with berries, 2 English muffins, dried fruits) I could feel my breakfast for the first 10K of the race-not good
- I should have started with the 3hr 30min pace group. I doubted my abilities before the race but realized early on that I was prepared to run a fast race. Next year I'll start with the above group.
- I did not warm up at all this year. I should have done strides before so that I did not go out so cold.
What I learned:
- Whenever I run for a really, really long time I always have life epiphanies. That is partly why I keep coming back for more. I had 2 epiphanies this year when I was out on the lonely road around Lake Rotorua.
- Epiphany 1: I need to stop being so hard on myself. I never give myself enough credit for the good things I do. I constantly feel guilty-to try harder, be faster, skinnier, smarter, etc... I need to be more grateful for the talents I am blessed with. Because I am very blessed. I'll keep the 2nd epiphany to myself for now. It is a work in progress.
- I am amazed at how much more relaxed I was this year. I chalk that up to not being a first timer this year. Knowing what to expect and how to help yourself out on the course is half the battle.
Simple Pleasures that helped me out big time:
- The "Alan" portion of this youtube clip. Watch it, the Alan part is the best part. Seriously, I would just say it in my head and laugh. It got me through some tough miles. Thank you BBC.
- The yellow Auckland 10K shirt search. Jason and I completed a 10K in Auckland 6 months ago. To this day, we see the yellow shirts that were handed out EVERYWHERE. We started counting them and continued the count during the race since they were obviously EVERYWHERE for this big running event. I counted 8 and Jason got up into the teens! To the right, Yellow Auckland shirt in all its glory; thanks to random google search with random ladies.
- Royal Wedding Party Water Station. The drink station at mile 12 was themed as the royal wedding. The lady volunteers were wearing party hats and fancy schmancy dresses while the guy volunteers had top hats and white gloves. The Union Jack was all over the place. It made me smile and took my mind off the race for a few seconds.
Checking in for the race--and loving the running expo
loving the Maori designs as a backdrop
a photo finish at the Government Gardens in Rotorua