What Jacq did next

May 2, 2011

I have a new blog!  This means that I will no longer update here, so please find me at What Jacq did next.



April 29, 2011

I did a stupid thing today: I visited my ex-firm’s website.  When I got there, I checked out the Community section and realised that I had been erased; unsurprisingly, all references to me have been removed.  And the Community News page, which provides short updates about recent projects and activities, featured several initiatives that I had dreamt up.  It’s really true: that isn’t my job anymore.  The world keeps turning.

It sounds daft, but I almost feel like I’m in mourning for my lovely job.  I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to work there and develop the community affairs strategy into something that is now a source of great pride for the firm.  It was wonderful to do something that ticked so many boxes that are important to me: it made me happy; it gave me the chance to use a wide range of my skills; it enabled me to spend every day dealing with fantastic people, both in the firm and externally; and it made a positive difference to the world, helping the schools and charities that we supported and, by extension, the people that they were set up to support.

I am going to set up a community engagement initiative of some kind in New Zealand, and I know that it will be amazing to be able to use my expertise to help people in my own country.  However, this will take time – the kind of things that I want to do are likely to be different to what is already happening here and I will need to get myself organised.  For now, I’m left missing the day-to-day ritual of my job.  I honestly don’t know how people can choose not to work.  I can understand it if you’re at home with little kids or something (far busier than any job, from what I’ve seen), but aside from that… no.  What do people who don’t work talk about when their spouses come home in the evening?  I miss talking to people all day.  I guess that I could fill my day with coffee dates and the like, but I fear that I would discover that I only shared a surfeit of leisure time with my fellow coffee-drinkers and had little else in common.  I guess that I could go to the gym every day and fill my hours with exercise classes.  Actually, I should do something like that – this enforced idleness is a good opportunity to get in shape once again.

Essentially, I miss having that sense of shared purpose with my colleagues.  I went to work every day feeling fortunate to have that job and I was never sad when holidays ended: there weren’t enough hours in the day to get through my wish-list of new projects.  Now, I miss contributing to something more meaningful than cleaning this shoebox of a serviced apartment, or making dinner.

It isn’t a surprise to me that I’m feeling this way.  In a couple of weeks we should have our rental house organised, and then I will start making my plans.  For now, I think I should call time on the whole ‘exilednzer’ thing and stop thinking about my old life and, by extension, what I am missing about it.  Time to hit the reset button and focus more fully on my new life – after all, it’s going to be awesome!

Royal wedding madness

April 28, 2011

I haven’t posted any examples of royal wedding madness for a while, primarily because there have been hundreds and hundreds of example to choose from, so I figured that you were probably seeing them yourselves.  I must say, though, that I’ve been astonished by the degree to which the New Zealand media is obsessed with this wedding.  It would seem that the Commonwealth ties are as strong as ever.  Even our Prime Minister is at it, going to the event himself and buying wedding memorabilia.

I will definitely watch the wedding tonight.  I have such vivid memories of watching Charles and Diana getting hitched when I was six – like the Royals or not, these events are milestones.  However, I have one issue: Tristan’s getting back from Christchurch this evening and I have to collect him from the airport, a couple of hours before the ceremony starts.  Please join me in hoping that there is no hideous mid-evening motorway traffic, eating into my watching time!

The Happiness Project

April 28, 2011

I’ve been aware of the book (and blog) The Happiness Project for ages, and I’ve finally got around to buying the book.  I am blessed with time to read at the moment, after all!  So far I’m four chapters in, which equates to three months of Gretchen Rubin’s year-long experiment, and I’m absolutely loving it.  It helps that Rubin is a really good writer: her use of language is great and she’s so honest that it makes me feel far more inclined to reflect upon my own negative habits and how I might address them.

If you haven’t heard of The Happiness Project, start by checking out the blog.  It offers bite-sized ways to make life happier.  What could be better than that?

And on a happy note, I wanted to give you a recap of my achievements since yesterday, when I wrote:

Today’s plan: view the house at midday; drop Tristan off at his work; be brave and drive around until I find my way back to the shops at Takapuna; buy a sat nav; get a new SIM card and reactivate my iPhone.

We viewed the house and really liked it: it’s quite small (and quite expensive), but it’s nice and in a good area, and I think that it will suit us well until we’re ready to buy a house of our own.  We’ve submitted our rental application form and are just waiting for the landlord to confirm everything.

I did drop Tristan off at work yesterday, but the weather was filthy (so far, it rains A LOT in Auckland), so I didn’t explore.  However, I’ve got the car to myself today and tomorrow because Tristan’s in Christchurch for meetings, so I drove to Takapuna and back this morning, and I didn’t get lost or have any motor disasters.  I really don’t understand why I’m a fairly nervous driver: I’ve been driving for six years and have never had a moment of drama.  It’s stupid to be worried.  I should just drive more.  And I did buy a sat nav today, so I will be able to explore with no hassles.  Hurrah!

And I spent half an hour in the Telecom shop and have got a new SIM card and account for my phone, so I will unlock my iPhone later today and get it all organised.  And that will make me happier.

In Auckland

April 26, 2011

I’ve been in Auckland since Monday night and I’m going to be honest with you: I’m a little freaked out.  I’m finding it very disconcerting to be in a strange city, not knowing where anything is, not recognising any of the street or suburb names, having no job to go to and nothing much to do.  We have one car between the two of us and, so far, I haven’t driven anywhere. I hate not knowing the way.

Actually, that’s not true – I do have to find somewhere to live.  At present we’re staying in a motel unit, kindly funded by Tristan’s new employer for his first three weeks in the country.  It’s fairly basic, but I guess that it has everything we need.  And the lack of space provides an excellent incentive to find a house.

The complicating factor is the need to find a dog-friendly rental property.  We saw a place yesterday that would house a dog – and had done so recently, judging by the state of the carpet – but the house itself was tucked away on a back section and in a fairly dreary neighbourhood.  We’re seeing a place today that seems more promising; we liked what we saw when we did a drive-by last night, and the landlady sounded decent when I telephoned her last night.

At the moment I’m breaking down my life into manageable chunks.  First job: find a rental property.  Next: organise our move and get our meagre collection of possessions (a bed, a book shelf, some bedside tables, a coffee table, some kitchen stuff) shifted up from my parents’ house in Feilding.  After that: wait for our container of furniture and belongings to arrive and get the house sorted out properly.  When that’s all done: start figuring out what to do with the rest of my life.  I also need to organise a trip to Sydney, but I’m delaying even thinking about that until we’ve found somewhere to live.  One step at a time.  And I need to get in touch with my Auckland friends.  I think it will do me good to see some familiar faces.

When we arrived in Auckland on Monday night it was in the midst of a huge rain storm, after a very slow car trip from Taupo.  Tristan had come down to Feilding for Easter and we’d travelled up during the whole day, visiting Kate and Stephen in Taupo on the way.  The weather continues to be fairly damp and gloomy, and the humidity has made my hair go stark raving mad: I’m going to have to grow it long again, to ensure that I can tie it back and forget about it.

It isn’t a surprise to me that I’m feeling slightly out of sorts: my whole life has changed.  Let’s be honest; anybody who knows me will have anticipated that the recent changes and current uncertainty would send me into a bit of a tail-spin.  I’m fine, though. I know that I just need to get things sorted and then I can start getting to grips with life in Auckland.  It was easy when I was in Feilding for a couple of weeks, safe in the bosom of the family.  It just felt like a holiday.  Being in Auckland, it feels more like the start of our new life.  EEK.

Today’s plan: view the house at midday; drop Tristan off at his work; be brave and drive around until I find my way back to the shops at Takapuna; buy a sat nav; get a new SIM card and reactivate my iPhone.

Anzac Day

April 25, 2011

It was New Zealand and Australia’s version of Remembrance Sunday yesterday: Anzac Day.  The day – a public holiday – remembers the contribution of past and current members of the armed forces.  The name ‘Anzac’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and dates back to when troops from both countries fought and died together at Gallipoli.

For the first time we went to the dawn service.  Feilding, my home town, was also the home town of Tim O’Connell, the first New Zealand soldier to be killed in Afghanistan last year and, yesterday, members of his family laid a wreath in his memory.  His was the first name to be added to the war memorial since the Second World War: a sad honour to hold.

Hundreds of people attended the dawn service at Feilding’s war memorial and I was pleased to be one of them.  And as we drove north to Auckland yesterday we passed through several small towns; each one had its own war memorial and each memorial was covered in wreaths, showing that dawn services had been held everywhere.  I like that.

Anyway, Pip has posted a couple of times about Anzac Day and my grandfather, Pat.  Read here and here.


April 25, 2011

My Nanna is dying and it is horrible.  I am so glad that I made it back to NZ to visit her in November, as she was still able to receive visitors then and hold a conversation.  Now, she’s barely able to talk and she is so weak and shrunken; it’s as if she’s vanishing in front of us.

My father and I visited her when I headed down to Wellington a couple of weeks ago, and we saw her again on Good Friday.  My parents visited her once again yesterday, but only stayed for ten minutes.  When we see her it’s as though she’s distracted and waiting for something to happen.

I haven’t been around a dying person before – by being abroad, I’ve been spared this experience when my other grandmother and my Grandad died.  My Nanna turned 96 on Good Friday: she’s done enough and, as my sister Pip put it in this lovely post about her, I hope that she will fall asleep soon, dream about her young life of parties and friends, and just drift away.