• I don’t get it

    I haven’t had the luxury of a summer off since high school. I doubt I’ll ever have another one, come to think of it, which is a bit sad, but c’est la vie. It got me thinking though. Why don’t more people work full summers? Do they just not get how large their student loans are gonna be and what a huge amount they’re saddled with? By the time they come out and start accruing interest – well. I make over 2k a month full time – one summer would easily pay for a year’s tuition (unless I was a med student. Still, all the more reason to work). Of course I have a relatively well paying job, so let’s go with minimum wage. Should be about $1500 take home a month. That’s $4500 in three months, and if you have exams early on you can have up to a four month summer. Again, that’s a hefty amount of money, and not something  to sniff at. It might not cover tuition for everyone, but would you rather owe $9000 or $4500? And if you don’t want to give up your ENTIRE holiday, then work half time, or for three quarters of the summer, you know, find an in between balance!

    I understand money really isn’t as important to most people my age. That’s cool. They’ll learn. But even stepping up and working a day or two a week could be put towards those monster loans – you have months of free time and if you’re sticking around close to home, why on earth not make some extra money to save or get started attacking your loans with?

    Engineering students also have to do a truckload of work exp to graduate – like 400 hours or so. My mum was asking me why my friends are bumming around, doing nothing and working at Countdown instead of doing time at an engineering firm? I didn’t have a suitable reply. Really. I still don’t.

  • Close to death

    I was at the lantern festival on Friday night, which involved a hell of a lot of walking, cursing my phone’s crappy camera (there were so many amazing lanterns I wanted to capture!) and seeing two eight year old kids get up and do karaoke. And I can’t forget the puppeteers – they’re not like normal puppets, instead these ones are held up over the head and controlled by one hand with a pole type thing. It’s amazing how much control they have, and how much they do with just one hand – considering the other one is busy holding the puppet aloft. The most intense part was when they did something and made the puppets’ faces change; how, I have no idea! A quick flick of the wrist, a wave of the hand…I don’t know, but somehow a new face swept across the puppets, and it was INSANE. Especially considering there were three of them and they did it in sync. (May not sound that cool, but I guess you had to be there). They also managed to light a flame in each puppet’s hand. Seriously.

    As well as the usual lion dances they had a supercalifragilistic contraption – looked like a …can’t remember the name….old fashioned wooden things you launch stones and rocks from? There were about a million strings all over the thing, connected to nine little lions. Ever seen a lion dance? Well, there were NINE of these suckers, and they went hard. I was afraid the whole machine was going to break. And you should have seen how much work it was for the people working it. But it was awesome – the lions jumped, darted, swung out to the sides and the front, things I never thought were possible with string control.

    Asians, honestly – do some of the weirdest things, but they’re freakishly cool at the same time.

    When we left, there were a few cops out on the street. As we got down to the corner, an ambulance came screaming around and up where we’d come from. Didn’t think much of it, thought maybe there was a minor ding somewhere amid the traffic. Didn’t hear any screaming, see blood, or people panicking. I haven’t even been to the festival for a couple of years so thought maybe the police were just there to make sure things were running okay, crowd control – that sort of thing.

    Sunday news: someone died there, that night. Got stuck under a bus and dragged all the way up the road.

    Just as we were probably a hundred metres away.

    And we didn’t even know.

    That freaked me out more than Austin Hemmings being killed around the back from work. I mean, it was on the street our building backs onto, but I wasn’t at work that day.

    This time, I was actually not very far from someone innocent who died on the road.

  • Life after graduation

    I love checking out my stats on the wordpress dashboard. It’s really eye opening! My random little post on nineties music got my most views ever. And I like seeing the different searches that people are using and getting to my blog from. Up till now, my faves were “can’t wear my contacts” and “flatmates won’t take out bin.” I think that’s hilarious. Really, seriously, do people google phrases like that?

    But I think the current top search is more telling than funny. “is it easy to find jobs after graduation in Auckland?”

    Well, I don’t know. Not too much different than any other city, I’d imagine. But of course it’s impossible to say, too much depends on your field and your contacts and experience.

    I’m incredibly lucky I think, to have the job I do, a fairly professional, respectable job for my age. I’d never have had some of the opportunities I’ve had otherwise. I think it’s also given me the confidence I need in other areas of my life, and probably helped me decide to accept that freelance writing last year (some of which I haven’t been paid for yet!).

    I’ll be graduating next year, one of the few in my group to do so. I’ll be out earning, out in the workforce before almost everyone else. Now I’m finding it a little scary after meeting a intern here who’s just finished her degree in journalism. What do we do after it all, where do we go? What if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be?
    I have a few friends who’ve graduated now. I don’t think they are necessarily totally prepared for the real world, or at least the working world. Even at the best of times it’s not easy being a fresh grad with no experience, even more so if you don’t know exactly what you want to do. I mean, it could lead you into a number of areas, but at the same time you may think ‘no that’s not quite right’ and end up looking forever and do nothing at all.

    Even at the best of times, you have to apply to tens or hundreds of roles, far and wide, as many as you can. Because you’re only going to hear back from a very small percentage of them. And go further, to interviews and second interviews, to even less. And today, well, things are really tough – there are way too many people out there and even fewer jobs. No wonder people are going back to school for another year or two.

    My point is, even during the good times you have to work and work and wait to score yourself a job. It’s really about the numbers. Applying to three or four positions won’t get you anywhere. And you need to be so well prepared for interviews, you’ve got to prep, dress the part, act the part, practice answers and anticipate questions. Otherwise you have no chance at all. And that’s something I don’t think everyone understands. They think they’ll just waltz in somewhere, impress the pants of the bosses and be offered a job. Or they’ve had fairly low level studenty jobs and don’t understand the processes of applying for professional roles. Or even worse, their tutors and lecturers assure them they’ll get jobs after graduation, and companies will be coming TO THEM!

    I think that’s just plain irresponsible. How can you say that to your students? The economy’s tanked, you have way too many engineering and business students, you have no way of knowing what the market will be like when they graduate. And certainly companies will not be chasing them. Maybe the very best, that’s true. But telling EVERYONE to not worry, well, that’s just encouraging laziness and a false sense of security. I’m not jealous of my friends who are constantly reassured. I just don’t believe it, and I hope they don’t either. You’ve got to do the hard work yourself.

  • The strangest auction ever?

    Anyone else read about that American (or Canadian?) chick auctioning off her virginity? Apparently bidding’s up to almost 7 million.

    Now, morality aside – she was inspired by her hooker sister after all, and well however you choose to fund your education is up to you, but seriously? BA in women’s studies and Masters in marriage therapy? Is that a degree field? Sorry, there I go – i don’t get auctions like these. Dates, sure. “Experiences”, sure. But a night of cherry popping?

    Let’s think about this. How can anyone ever really know whether she is a virgin or nor? It’s not like the olden days where if brides didn’t bleed on Wedding Night then men wanted a full refund. There’s no outward indicator and no physical signs that scream virgin. And like she said, she didn’t think virginity was worth that much anymore, even in times like ours.

    I’m really curious as to whether those seven figure bids are genuine??

  • All in the family

    I’m not close to my family. I guess I used to be when I was very young, up till say 8 or 9. (I got all emo and depressed and lame after that.)
    I would like to be now, now the bad blood has gone. But I’m enjoying life, its busy, its good, and it’s kind of exciting knowing I’m going to be finishing uni at the end of 2009, and I have a good job, and possibly plans after graduation to travel…it’s like I’m on the brink of something BIG. So I almost compartmentalise them out (family, I mean) mentally. It’s like, one of those things you have to attend to every so often (shave, self tan, water plants, take out bins, clean bathroom, go for a run, PARENTS)

    We’re almost like strangers. I always do look forward to seeing them, as it’s not often we do, and catching up, but too often silence ends up dominating. I just don’t know what to say to them! Our lives are so different. I don’t really have much I feel I can share with them…they don’t know about BF, at least I haven’t told them, I have to watch I don’t accidentally swear in front of them, they were very anti drinking (perhaps less so now I’m legal), and yadda yadda.

    I still occasionally think, on the bus or whatever, about the bad things that were said and done. But I think I have forgiven, though possibly not forgotten (obviously!). But the older you get, the more you come to realise that these things don’t really matter anymore. They fade over time. I wasn’t beaten or molested, and now that we’re all adults the dynamic is different – in a good way.

    I don’t think we’ll ever be close. We’re very different, and we inhabit quite different worlds, and have totally different tastes and interests. My parents aren’t that close to their families either, particularly my dad.

    Blood will always be important to me, though. I would help them however I could if needed. But it makes me sad to think my kids probably won’t be as close to them as I’d like. Sad that they won’t have close cousins to play with and go on holidays with. But they will have great relations on their dad’s side, well, maybe… at least three of their cousins will be a fair bit older! They already have three waiting for them, and I don’t plan on having kids for maybe 10 years….so they’ll be 10-17 years behind!

  • Globetrotting

    800px-globesvgHappy New Year!!!

    Now that everyone is off overseas I’m feeling really left out!

    But I know in a year or so I’ll be free to start making my own plans. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do it alone. I guess if I had tons and tons of money I might not feel so bad, because in that case if anything went wrong I’d still be okay even if I had no one for support.

    I don’t know if it would hurt me career wise to go travelling so soon…I mean obviously I’d work overseas, but not necessarily in a professional field, if I couldn’t get work at some sort of media company.

    I’m the kind of person who would find it way more fun to go with someone else, to bitch to and rub my feet and share the highs and lows. And keep me down to earth and stop me getting scammed….and help me organise the practicals, seeing as I’ve never travelled alone (have barely travelled anywhere NOT alone for that matter, all my travelling was done under the age of about 5). Visas? Plane tickets? Passports? Accommodation? Jobs? Urrghhhh, not a clue. Well, I know a little about visas and permits from my past job, if only that there are vast amounts of paperwork and it’s best to travel in top health, with lots of money and a job lined up… Tackling all that alone and making it in a strange country by myself is kind of a terrifying thought. I really should have done a semester overseas, but cest la vie.

    Anyway, places to go! Me and the boy wanna see Europe, for sure. No definite plans. I don’t even know where we’d base ourselves, wherever I guess. Scandinavia sounds lovely and the people are great, but I suppose our main criteria would be somewhere affordable, English speaking and where we could work.

    I have no definite countries to visit, actually. Maybe Italy, France, Greece, Germany…maybe Sweden, or somewhere up there? Wouldn’t mind going to Ireland. And Spain. Hmmm…

    Maybe we should save some places for our honeymoon. Like Venice.

    I asked myself, why exactly is it I want to travel? A coworker mentioned awhile ago that she didn’t really get the whole travel bug thing and had no desire to see the world. Fair enough. To be honest I’m kind of a homebody myself. I know it’s hideously boring to admit, but I like my life fairly ordered. I like to get to bed at a decent hour, I like to have my spending under control, have something in place for dinner, go food shopping every week and make it to the butchery before it closes on Sunday evening. I like to catch up on everything in my Google reader (I’m an addict), read the news online, deal with my emails and stop in at Facebook.

    But I’ve always wanted to travel. I wanna see NYC, maybe some of the mountain states, I want to see Europe and maybe Hong Kong and Singapore again. I want the chance to make some good money (probably highly unlikely), see how others live and experience it for myself (which presumably will make me realise how good we have it here, relatively), take photos, see places I’ve only read about, meet new people….and try their food! Because really sightseeing is only a small part of it; I mean, what are you gonna do, pop over to Stonehenge, take some pix, do a little dance around one of the pieces, then leave?

    I do, however, really want to be able to mark down tons of little red pins on those virtual maps that show ‘all the places in the world I’ve visited’.

  • My Laid-Off Life

    Seven NYers share their stories of redundancy.
    Check this one out: http://nymag.com/news/business/53153/index1.html

    He’s 24, still on his parents’ phone plan, had a car lease which his parents are paying for, expects they’ll also cover his rent, is worried what his GF will say about him staying at his parents’ if he gets a job out that way, “tries” to go job hunting but often decides to get out his Les Paul and pretend he’s John Mayer.

    Boy, when times are hard, the hard get going! Cars and guitars are luxuries you can’t afford. Sell the LP for whatever you can get. Maybe he can’t break the car lease but hopefully he’ll think twice before leasing in the future. While his GF has two jobs, he’s all: I’m applying for blue collar manufacturing jobs. What’s a tig welder anyway?

    Well I’ll tell you, it’s not something you can just step into. It takes time to get good at. There are apprenticeships in welding. You actually get qualified in welding; whether it’s specifically welding or general engineering. You can’t expect to walk in and start working. I know this because this is what my partner does. And it’s not as easy as some white collar professionals might think.

    It always bugs me that people automatically assume “manual” work is poorly paid and guys should get educated and get desk jobs and wear suits. I admit I still have vestiges of that stereotype in my head. But I’m learning. It takes years to gain the skills needed for many trade jobs. And they’re not always easy to come by. To get qualified takes years, and you have to find a place to get trained in, which is much, much harder than simply enrolling at uni. Good tradespeople make more than I will probably ever make in journalism, although they’ll probably have a shorter working life (and a harder life along the way). But I say, if you’re making a good honest living and you enjoy it, well everyone else can STFU.

    I cannot imagine the boy working a desk job or wearing shirts and ties, or even worse, SUITS to work! Frankly, some people were made to work inside an office (me) and some weren’t. He likes to be out and about, doesn’t like to be cooped up. He likes variety. And he’s good with his hands. He’s strong, coordinated, good at making things. He overheats far too easily and would not feel at home in a job where it’s really important to maintain an image. He’s too honest, too earthy, and would probably spend his days sweating it out under a collared shirt and loafers.

    Me on the other hand, I have a hankering to wear pencil skirts and tailored suit jackets to work.

  • Bleeding heart

    I cried my eyes out last night at Forrest Gump. I absolutely love that movie. I have a pretty terrible memory, so everytime I watch it it seems fresh and I see new things that I didn’t notice or simply forgot over time. I have to admit I got annoyed a couple of times at the sheer improbability of all the things Forrest was responsible for (busting Watergate, making the famous smiley face logo), but I got over that, because really, isn’t that what it’s all about? Overcoming the odds and doing extraordinary things, despite being an ordinary, somewhat hindered person? I WANT to see Forrest doing well, I WANT to see him succeed, because he’s such a sweet, innocent, kind hearted person, and he deserves everything in the world.

    Some of my fave moments of the movie:

    “My favourite book!” – Pulling out a book from his son’s bag
    “Is he…smart? Or he is like….(me)” – Asking about his son
    “He’s just so…smart! He wrote you a letter….I can’t read it, so I’ll just leave it here for you” – Oh, how I cried at this one. Talking to his wife’s grave
    “Why don’t you love me? I’m not a smart man…but I know what love is”
    “It was the happiest moment of my life” Jenny wading through that gigantic pond thing in Washington to get to him….Incidentally, I am dying to know what the “one thing he had to say” about the war was. Would it be about Bubba? Shrimping? Lieutenant Daim? Ping Pong?
    “New legs!” To Lieutenant Daim, at his wedding, followed by “This is my Jenny” – finally, she is!
    Naming his boat Jenny, “The most beautiful name in the whole wide world”
    “Momma said it was just a little white lie, and wouldn’t hurt nobody” About being sponsored by that ping pong bat company
    “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” says his mum, to which he tells her she’s so good at explaining things so he understands

    Okay…that’s probably enough!

    I think I’m just feeling hormonal. I was teary eyed on the bus home, reading the paper and came across this column. Not normally a Colin James fan, but his short yet poignant description of the boy in questions left me damp eyed. Then a few pages on was a feature on the Congo atrocities, where 2 out of 3 women have been raped and the situation is still deteriorating, impossibly enough. Plus a full Africa map with arrows and boxes detailing the humanitarian crises in places like Zimbabwe. It’s all too much. I think about how much needless bloodshed and suffering us humans are inflicting on each other for NO good reason and it’s way too overwhelming. It makes me think how can we celebrate Christmas when this is going on? How can we keep grinding away in our capitalist economies, complaining about traffic and the weather – how can fat cat corporations in all good conscience keep turning massive profits while ignoring the plight of Africa?

    What can I do? I’m never going to be one of those souls who devotes their lives to bettering the children of Africa and go over there to live and teach and offer aid, but surely there is something I can do.

  • Work to live, live to work…

    It seems to me there are two distinctly different attitudes toward work. Either you enjoy work and really make a career for yourself, or you’re just working a job – any job, doesn’t make too much difference what. I’ve always been in the first category.

    Musing about what I was going to be when I grew up, being really driven to do something big (oh, idealism).

    The boy doesn’t really know what he wants to do (you know, IN LIFE) and I don’t think he was really pushed to think about a career much when he was younger, just concentrating on his sports. A different kind of culture really (I mean in terms of values, not ethnicity). More of a live for the present thing, rather than looking ahead.

    We both assumed he’d stay in this field but depending on how it does next year we may rethink that. I told him now’s a good time to retrain, maybe in IT or something.

    That was a few weeks ago…now he’s looking at taking another job next year (closer to home, Avondale) – no training/qualification prospects, but actually steady work, and the kind of place you tend to stay all your life and move on up. Old school. I don’t know how I feel about that. Education has always been so important to me, and in this case, getting qualified was really important to him. The plan was we’d pay for it ourselves if needed and take out a student loan for him. But I guess things change. In the end what really matters is if he’d be happy. And if he’d enjoy working there, not just doing it for the money, well then it’s the right choice. I’m just not sure that it is.

  • On becoming a better person

    I was thinking the other day about how odd it is that there are some people I
    just can never be jealous of. Whether it’s getting generous gifts from
    parents/family/significant others, getting paid ridiculous amounts, getting
    straight As, whatever. I might sound like a witch saying this, but when I hear
    about great things happening to some (a few – not very many) I can’t help but
    begrudge them a little. Don’t I work hard enough? Don’t I deserve good luck? AM
    I not a good person? But for most of my friends I really am happy for their good
    fortune; I might wish for a second that I was as lucky or blessed, but in no way
    do I want to detract from their achievements.

    What is it that makes the difference? How close we are? How often we see each
    other? How genuinely nice they are as a person? Whether they’ve worked really
    hard to get to where they are?

    The biggest surprise for me was the last time I saw my family. My brother,
    though he doesn’t have everything he wants (I don’t think) gets a hell of a lot
    from my parents. iPod, camera, special edition Strat which cost over a grand (or
    was it two grand? Does it make a difference when the numbers are that high?) My
    guitar and amp cost less than that combined, and I paid for it all myself
    working two jobs in fifth form. I never got given anything like what he gets
    now.

    And yet I really do not care. I’m glad for him, I’m glad my parents are
    loosening up a little and maybe learning to appreciate what they have. I don’t
    even feel a little pang that I missed out on all that stuff. Everything I have
    now I earned myself.

    Maybe I’m not as selfish as I thought I was.

    Being the oldest and the guinea pig for growing up in a new country, and female,
    and the “smart” one who was pushed to excel was kinda hard. It was never good
    enough – didn’t matter how many people I was beating, I was still supposed to
    look up to the freaky top 1%ers and strive to be just like them. Unfortunately
    what my parents wanted was vastly different from what I wanted. And neither of
    us dealt with that in the best possible way, hence the whole leaving home in
    sixth form thing.

    Since then I think I’ve received more from the folks than in my whole life. We
    never really did Christmas. I never believed in Santa. I probably didn’t even
    hear of him till I was about seven. We went shopping for our presents on
    Boxing Day, occasionally. We didn’t get birthday presents (though granted we
    didn’t really give them either). Sometimes I feel like I missed out on a lot
    but I have to remind myself they’re just material things. Now I get birthday
    and Christmas gifts, which although is nice I find it ironic, and a little sad.

    I see in my brother a lot of what I was like at that age. He lives a little bit
    in his own world, like I did, but in a different way. I lost myself in books,
    where he spends his time on the computer/watching Tv and now playing guitar, I
    guess. He’s gawky, awkward and a little socially inept, a bit defensive, a bit
    aggro, and sometimes the way he talks phases me a bit because that’s exactly
    something I would’ve said when I was 13. I’ve come a long way from there, and I
    can only hope that in time he’ll grow into himself too.