Thursday, July 31, 2008

The boy who cried wolf a.k.a. Auckland U.

Fire Wardens a.k.a. Christene and Rixanne
(Tamaki Front Desk Staff)

This Tuesday while supervising students in our satellite clinic (Tamaki), the alarms went off, so we all shuffled outside and stood in the wind and rain, waiting for all the Fire Wardens report their staff out alive and well. Fortunately, I wasn't worried it was an real alarm, as we'd had one the previous day in the city campus where it's a whole other experience, trudging down five flights of stairs with elderly patients in tow. It could be a welcome interruption in the two hour eye examination process, if the patient didn't have to worry about their parking meters running over and prospect of tickets.

Since we have a drill every two weeks, (YES, EVERY TWO WEEKS), I can't help but wonder how many fires there could really be. I tried looking up the fire stats for Auckland or New Zealand, but didn't find anything satisfactory online. I must assume with our rigorous fire drill schedule that the risk of dying in a fire here is either frighteningly high or fantastically low.

Yours in safety,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching

If you realize that all things change,
there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren't afraid of dying,
there is nothing you can't achieve.

Trying to control the future
is like trying to take the master carpenter's place.
When you handle the master carpenter's tools,
chances are that you'll cut your hand.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Honor your age and your elders

Although we identify creative genius with child prodigies such as Mozart, researchers in creativitity point out that the careers that last the longest are those that began late in life. So don't be afraid to try something new!

Why is it that...
In social settings, it's considered rude to ask someone their age and if a person is asked, they might consider removing a year or two. (Whereas in places like China, where old age is respected, a person may add a year or two to their age.)

Senility Prayer:
"God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
and the eyesight to tell the difference."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rain + darkness = overactive contemplation!

My favorite things at this moment in life:
The peacefulness of my flat in Parnell, especially when there’s light rain on the roof. (Not so much when it’s downpouring!)
Lying under my down comforter, enjoying the view when I have time to spare before getting up.
Reading a great book where I have to look up a lot of words. (I don't think I'll stop loving learning.)
Running without music, just listening to my feet hit the sidewalk, my breath in and out and my thoughts as they wander through my head.
Meeting friends for coffee.

My wishes for the world:
We all live with peace in our hearts and at the forefront of our consciousness.
We look into each others eyes and realize that we’re all are the same underneath.
We treat everyone we meet with love and kindness.
We give graciously and through our generosity, we’ll receive.
We remove ourselves from consumerism, and return to idealism.

Man does not weave the web of life;
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web;
He does to himself.
-Chief Seattle 1854

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mid Winter Reflections

There is someone who looks after us
From behind the curtain.
In truth, we are not here.
This is our shadow.

Reflection Assignment: The most glorious moments in your life:

When I rode my magenta bike on two wheels for the first time down the gravel hill next to our house in Alexandria after my dad took the training wheels off. I think I was five. I felt like I was flying.

During sprint races in sixth grade when I discovered that I could run faster than some of fairly athletic the boys in my class. Most were not too keen to be beaten by a girl. I was shocked myself. Always do your best, you never know what you might accomplish!

Flying by myself to meet my cousin Jenny and my aunt Deverle in England after my first year at UND. I was blown away by the different cultures, castles, and languages! It was the true beginning of my travel addiction.

Finding out in my senior year that I’d managed graduate first in my high school class even though I hadn’t been planning anything like that. I’d just been doing what I knew I could do and that’s where I ended up.

When my physics professor at UND asked me if I could help him fix his computer during my last year. He was the same person who doubted my abilities to get an A in physics and to take several science classes concurrently. I’ve always had a thing for doing what people thought I could not do.

Our winter as intermediate ski-bunnies on the slopes of Mount Hood Meadows, where Shanta and I even got so daring as to take (albeit small) ski jumps! Massive laugh and swear attacks ensued when a landing was less than graceful. Kept the abs in shape.

Having a colleague who I greatly respected at Kaiser tell me that I was “darn good” and to trust my diagnoses because I was always on (not that that’s entirely true). She was someone who I’d always admired and greatly respected. I never expected to hear that. I was just doing my best at my job.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I fear I'm still in the "grin & bear it stage'!

Thanks to Susan Schriever for sending me the normal stages in adjustment to other cultures. I don't feel so bad about myself now. I'm just normal! Praise the lord! I think these could be applied to other life changes as well.

"Cross Cultural Adjustment"

The first stage is "the honeymoon/tourist stage". During this stage everything is new and fun and exciting.

The second stage is "the critical stage". During this stage the student begins to look at everything critically and begins to be very annoyed by the things they don't really like.

The third stage is "the grin and bear it stage". During this stage the student decides they can cope with the things they don't like.

And the last stage is "the well adjusted stage". During this stage the differences are just accepted as a fact of life and don't bother the student that much.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Channeling the peregrine

I'd like to be a witty, wacky journalist here. And I am, in my head. But the words that show up on the page are rather serious. Is it that I've been trained to be like that? All those years of being the orthopedic, oldest child are hard to shake off. Reconciling myself as seen by others (predictable planner) with my own inner image (free-floating fairy) is a feat of no small effort.

So I'm wondering, does everyone go through this? Is it something I should've done ten years ago? Am I a late bloomer?

Today I came across a coin-phrase depicting a new trend, "Flashpackers:" 30-something backpackers with more money to spend than traditional backpackers. So apparently my travel disease is nothing unique. Perhaps it's the idealism of a generation of children raised by the babyboomers, who've suddenly realised that money and status may not be the gateway to happiness and life meaning.

Or maybe we're all just a bunch of lost souls with loose feet and loose minds. Wandering about, delivering cash to nations who need it more than our own.

Who else would like to take up the golden bicycle and raid the world's streets, searching for creative social encounters and life enhancement? Any takers? Next year, I'll meetcha anywhere!
Any tips, any crazy ideas that you'd like someone else to carry out before you try it yourself? Submit it here and I may just take you up on it! I'm serious, now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Life Philosophy

On living:
"Not somewhere - anywhere. One should just live anywhere - not have a definite place. As soon as you get a room and it is complete, you want to run from it."

"You have to be like Rodin, Michelangelo, and leave a piece of raw rock unfinished to your figure. You must leave your surroundings sketchy, unfinished, so that you are never contained, never confined, never dominated from the outside."

On love:
"He wanted so much to be free, not under the compulsion of any need for unification, or tortured by unsatisfied desire. Desire and aspiration should find their object without all this torture, as now, in a world of plenty of water, simple thirst is inconsiderable, satisfied almost unconsciously. And he wanted to be with Ursula as free as with himself, single and clear and cool, yet balanced, polarised with her. The merging, the clutching, the mingling of love was madly abhorrent to him."

"Why should we consider ourselves, men and women, as broken fragments of one whole? It is not true. We are not broken fragments of one whole. Rather we are the singling away into purity and clear being, of things that were mixed. Rather the sex is that which remains in us of the mixed, the unresolved."

-From Women in Love by DH Lawrence

Monday, July 14, 2008

Good Morning

She checked her watch as she passed through the automatic double doors. 8:31. That meant she was five minutes early since she always had it set a little ahead. She reached into her bag for her orange Caribou Coffee moosehead key ring with her Auckland University ID badge attached. No matter how few things in her bag, it always seemed to be buried underneath everything. After a minute or so of standing and digging before security, to whom she’d given up on morning greetings months ago (they don’t seem to be into that hello thing here), she located her keys and pressed them against the black strip on the front of the automatic gates. Beep and open. She was in the building.

Stairs or elevator? Stairs. Better for the environment and better for the body. To the left she headed, pushing open the heavy wooden slatted door with a small center window and up four flights of cement stairs. On the landings, there were bulletin boards posted with studies, parties, events, items for sale. Once she’d thought about buying a bike posted, but decided that she’d probably be too scared to ride it in Auckland traffic anyway.

She had her ipod on as she trudged up the steps. Singing out loud if there didn’t appear to be anyone else in there with her. The acoustics were lovely in the stairwell and few others really seemed to admire the stair route, so she took advantage, whistling and singing as she plunked up, trying to remain in her own little world and delay the start to her day as long as possible. She watched for the top step with the plastic repair in the cement, signifying that she only had one flight to go. Ground, first, second, third, fourth, jackpot.

She opened the door and looked around the empty and dimly hallway and headed left. On the wall was a sign posted, “Follow the blue line to the optometry clinic.” She passed through the window-lined connector to the second building and depressed a red button to open another old wooden door before heading down the hall past the student computer lab and various offices.

Another red button and she made her entrance into the main clinic. What would it be today? Front desk attack or friendliness? She never knew which to expect. One day, they’d be all smiles and greetings, the next it would be some sort of anger for a chart unsigned.

“You have to fail Anne! She had a chart in her bag. She didn’t get her letters written in time.” The woman behind the front desk was charging at her already at only half past eight. So early for anger, in her mind.

She kept a flat face and calm demeanour as the attack began. Later, she’d think, It’s really my call whether or not I fail the student, not the other staff's. But she didn’t say much at the moment. She was too caught off guard by their unusual communication antics in this country. Or was it just this department? It was a strange aggressiveness to which she was unaccustomed. Her response was silence mostly and delayed reaction.

Patients sat in their chairs in the waiting area. Students were coming and going as the onslaught continued. She waited for the woman to finish with her, then picked up her sheet with the student roster on it for the day and headed through another set of double doors.

"Morning!" "Hi, Dr. Schultz!"

"Morning!" She smiled. "How are you guys today?"

"Good!" They chimed, charts in hand, milling about in their short white student coats, as they prepared for the first patient of the day.

She continued down the corridor to her office, unlocked the sliding door and pushed her bag underneath her desk.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dream revelations

"You succeed in making me think," I told him, a little surprised myself.

He had an impish glint in his eye as he looked back. Like he already knew.

It was then I realised that is all I need.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A week of entertainment

*Drove to work after bus escapade of last week. This was the second time I drove in 6 months. The first was the day Molly and Josh arrived.
*Ate Mexican food for the first time in NZ. Brea, a Colorado girl who I met in a coffee shop, who was friends with Julie, a Canadian I met randomly, was turning 25 and made everyone enchiladas. Interestingly, Brea's dad and uncle graduated from BRHS in '65 and '67, where my mom graduated in '66. Very small world indeed.

*Usually keen student (Alphy) shows up in my doorway at 12:15pm stating that she has a "problem." I get up to assist and discover that a chart has somehow gotten into the door frame. Inside the pocket door. I didn't fall down with laughter, but was close. At this juncture, the chart remains entombed in the door.

*Decided to solo attend live music and poetry on Queen Street in Auckland where I'd taken Molly and Josh. Sat down. After a few songs, was poked in the back. I turned around to see Nadine, the poet mother of three who I'd met at the bookstore event with CK Stead months ago.

*Went to "Women in Science"event with Ursula (speaker: scientist Jilly Evans from San Diego) and discovered I've made ALL the mistakes she advised women not to make in their careers. Befriended the Dean of Science and discovered that other depts have morning and afternoon tea every day. Mild jealousy ensued.
*Attended premiere of Auckland film, "Apron Strings" with fellow tutors. Film introduction was 45 minutes, by various folks including the prime minister, Helen Clark. Following the screening, the entire cast bowed on stage.

*That would be today. Going out dancing on K Rd. With Ursula. Goal is to return to my house by dawn! :) TGIF.


I am horrified.

George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan.

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

-Excerpted from an article in the Telegraph

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quotes from my self-appointed readings

"Better a thousand times take one's chance with death, than accept a life one did not want. But best of all to persist and persist and persist for ever, till one were satisfied with life."

"But better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions."

-D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Saving time

Last night after work, I decided I'd save some time getting home by paying $4.80 and taking the public bus, which would drop me off just a few blocks from my house, rather than taking the free staff shuttle to the Auckland city campus and then walking thirty minutes home from there.

One of my students pointed out the bus stop earlier, so I booked it over there after work and patiently waited with Mr. D.H. Lawrence. The patience wore out sometime after 45 minutes.

Finally the 655 bus pulled up, though it was hard to tell if it really was the 655- all the lights were wacked up on the front. I got on and asked the driver, "Does this go to Parnell?"

"No." He says.

"But I've been waiting for an hour and 20 minutes!" Desperation was setting in. Am I ever going to get home? I'd already be home if I had taken the staff shuttle but now I've missed the last one. Regrets, regrets. Not helping.

He's pulled out a small laminated white paper and donned glasses. "Yeah, I do go to Parnell!"

Oh God. Isn't their job to know their route? This does not inspire confidence.

He offers, "I was late because I got out of school late." Or something.

I soften. Maybe he's trying to further himself. That's nice.

The bus moves forward. Very slowly. I wonder if he always drives this slow. Maybe that's why the bus is so late.

We appear to be pulling into a driveway. Is this a home stop?

No, a u-turn.

Ok, we're backtracking. This is a first. A lost, late busdriver doing u-turns.

Moving again, through the residential areas. I'm the only rider. Perhaps this is a special route.

I don't see any bus stops on the side of the road.

Seem to be sitting a long time at this stop sign.

Driver mumbles something with, "Lost" in it. White laminated sheet is out again. (It's not really a map, just a diagram/schematic thing.)

I don't want to know!

I start to text people, in case I never turn up again after this time-saving bus ride.

Finally out of residential! Hope returns. I may get home just yet.

Only two hours later, I get off at my stop.

Gotta love Auckland public transport...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fridge humming
Face tight
Full belly of beans and bread
Feet swish back and forth
Finding comfort