Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Latest

Us at the Native Maori Hangi dinner in Rotorua on Jon's birthday

It's been so long since I last wrote, that I don't know where to start.

Lilly's grandparents (Jon's parents) came to visit for 10 days, and it was nice having people in the same country as us who actually know us, and who we could do things with. Jon took most of the time off, and they had a great time touring Auckland each day. (I had to work.) We did take off for the weekend to Rotorua, which is a little town 3 hours south of Auckland, with great views, lots of touristy things to do, and a horrible smell from the natural hot springs. We celebrated Jon's birthday on the Sunday that we were there, and Jon and I went to the Polynesian Spa, relaxed in the hot springs there, and got massages, while Lilly hung out with Jon's parents. Lilly had a great time with her grandparents, and we were all sad to see them leave last week.

When we arrived in Auckland in June, the resident & his wife from Jon's program who lived here before us, showed us around town. One of the places we stopped by was the local library in St Heliers. I had been in the Charlottesville library less than 5 times in 5 years, so I really wasn't that interested. Typically, in the US, my reading consisted of US Weekly, Working Mother Magazine (thanks Deb!), the latest Danielle Steel or John Grisham book, any new book related to Down syndrome or raising a baby, and most importantly, my bi-weekly subscription to ABC Soaps In Depth Magazine.

However, since Jon's not always around at night, and TV here isn't very good, I've been reading a lot since we arrived. I can see why I got the tour of the library - books here are much more expensive than in the states. And I've been reading anything I can get my hands on. There were a few books that came with the house, so I started with those. One book, the Doctor's Wife, I thought would be a cute little novel; however, it turned out to be a story about a bunch of crazy messed up people. But I still finished it in a few days. There were also a couple little novels about husbands and wives, and families, and at the end of each book, the couple ended up breaking up, or something was left unresolved or unsatisfactory. But I kept on reading, although missing the perfect endings of my Danielle Steel books.

Another book on the shelf was called April 1865. It turned out to be a book about the month the Civil War ended - but with all the history behind it, and information about all the key players that I just didn't learn in history class. It was an incredible book, and I highly recommend it - it's kind of like the story behind the story. Which got me interested in history, so I ordered a book about Abraham Lincoln (trust me, very interesting), and the next book from the same author who wrote April 1865, which was a book about the world from 1788 to 1800. Yes, very uninteresting to most people - but you have to remember, I'm living on the other side of the world, away from family and friends, without quality tv (and without even tivo!), and it is somehow holding my interest. It's mostly about the American Revolution, the French Revolution, Russia during that time period, and everything in-between. It's actually fascinating (or maybe I should give credit to it's author who makes it seem fascinating by painting vivid pictures of all the leaders of the time, and going into descriptive interesting details about the events); but it's much slower reading than my Danielle Steel books. It also puts things into perspective - when reading about some of the French citizens, just going about their day, when all of a sudden for no real reason they are murdered in the most horrible ways (beheaded, or "quartered", or stabbed, or stoned), all because of a "revolution" that went out of control. And reading about the men and women who left their homes in Europe, got on small disgusting boats for months (where many died because of the conditions), getting off in a new country and starting from scratch with a new life. Building a house without a Home Depot or a general contractor - just going out into the woods and chopping trees and building their own house. Crazy. I think of how scared I am sometimes in a new country (it seems more dangerous here, and probably isn't, but it feels that way just because it is a different country), or how lonely we sometimes feel (and yet how easy is it for us to get on the internet phone and call home, or send an email to friends and family); yet we are probably the luckiest generation ever born. The things that are "hard" for us are nothing compared to the people of the past - literally fighting for freedom, fighting oppression, fighting for food or for religious freedom or one's life. And here I am in a beautiful city, with my wonderful husband and amazing daughter, complaining that I don't have a Target or Panera nearby. And complaining that it takes 2 weeks for my Soap Opera Weekly to arrive in the international mail. Perspective.

So there are definitely things about life that I take for granted (and we all do); however, we do miss home a lot. I think it's a credit to our great family and friends that we are so homesick. And it's a credit to the USA that we miss things so much back home. What a wonderful country, that has a CVS and Starbucks on every corner, a Target and Walmart across the street from each other in each town, and a Disney theme park on each coast. And internet shopping is so easy in the US. (It really doesn't exist here, from what I can tell.) Dancing with the Stars, Big Brother, and my soaps - I really do miss the American way of life. So it's ironic that I'm reading this book now about the American Revolution, and how all these people a couple hundred years ago fought so hard for all these ideals - I wonder what they would think of life in America now. If Thomas Jefferson would have Tivo and an iPhone (didn't he always have the latest inventions?), or if George Washington would shop at Banana Republic, or if Benjamin Franklin would love Disney World. I'd like to think so. Because in my mind, my home country truely is the best place in the world to live.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two book recommendations; The Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follet and The Condition by Jennifer Haigh. And if you haven't read Eat, Pray, Love yet, you must! Elizabeth Gilbert is the author.