Thursday, 21 May 2015

A Chance Encounter Returning from the Hospital, Rugby, A Powerful Storm, The Mac Wizard Strikes Again, A Wild Fistfight and an Earthquake!

Hello again everyone! The last two weeks have flown by and it is starting to hit me that my time here is beginning to grow short, which is a sad feeling. My workload has picked up in these last weeks and my last day of classes is only 8 days away. I was talking to my friend Justin and we agreed that the time on the south island felt like two of the longest weeks of our lives but in an incredibly positive way. We were experiencing and doing so much, which had each day feeling full. Each moment was saturated with beauty and incredibly vivid expressions of life. I have been back for over a month but it feels like only a week or two. My guess is because there is routine, familiar places and experiences and even though it feels like I haven’t done much the truth of the matter is I have still done quite a bit in the last few weeks.

A Chance Encounter
Today 05/05/15 I went to the hospital where I was quickly seen and told my hand was healing exactly how it should be and that all was well. That however is not exciting part of this story. On my way back from Newtown I walked around Countdown and took a shortcut to avoid the main road by turning down a little residential back street full of small houses. I passed little yards with small feijoa trees with little feijoas bobbing in the wind. I passed the first block and decided to cross over the street I turned and looked to see only a lone cyclist riding up the road. He was on an old red mountain bike, wearing a black helmet with a red and gray sporty looking jacket. He was peddling quite hard and seemed to be struggling to keep the bike moving. He passed about one meter in front of me and turned and looked me dead in the face… It was Bret McKenzie. My eyes widened and my heart skipped a beat with excitement. He road up and turned at the next street. I followed, my eyes searching each driveway in hopes that I might be able to say hello. I got to the end of the little street and turned back onto the main road. I searched in the distance for a red bike and then ahead I saw him reemerge from a corner dairy and mount his steed once more before disappearing over the crest of the next hill. This is my first true celebrity sighting and it happened to be one of the few celebrities that I would actually be excited to see. I only wish he had been walking so that I could have said hello. Perhaps the future has this in store but for now I am thrilled to have seen Bret in his natural habitat.

Rugby Game
I was lucky enough to experience my first rugby game a few weekends ago! Tean (the study abroad network) provided tickets in the second row to a wellington hurricanes game. The atmosphere was alive and the game was wildly exciting. The players run out and immediately start playing. It is a running clock and there are almost no dead balls. It is constant action for 80 minutes separated by a 10-minute half time. I wont go into detail but Wellington won by a try with the crusaders knocking on their doorstep as time expired. This experience has me wishing rugby were a bigger sport in the US!

Paquiao Mayweather Fight
The next day was the Manny Paquiao Floyd Mayweather fight. A few friends and I went to a nearby sports bar to watch. We got there early and had some food while the opening fights took place. As we sat and watched the fights a silver balloon slowly floated into the room hovering perfectly in space only two meters from the floor. It seemed to be meandering and checking everything out. It felt incredibly surreal watching this silver balloon float through a wooden sports bar, between bar stools and tables effortlessly moving with seemingly no breeze or anything to propel it. After a minute or so it very slowly began its way up to the apex of the wooden rafters. The whole experience felt otherworldly. About midway through the second fight the bar began to fill with people. When it was time for the main event there were hundreds of people packed all around us cheering wildly for Paquiao. About halfway through the fight the balloon decided to gently float above the massive screen. It then gracefully moved directly in front of the projection causing violent boos from the crowd. It then bobbed off to the side shifting the crowd’s reaction to cheers before floating back in front of the screen as though playing with the crowd trying to bring people into the physical moment. It then hovered up and disappeared back into the rafters. Much to the chagrin of the crowd Mayweather stayed undefeated by unanimous decision. The fight wasn’t particularly memorable but this balloon has stayed in my mind. It snapped me out of the illusion of entertainment and back into a stark appreciation of life and the magic it has to offer.

The Mac Wizard Strikes Again
A few days ago a friend of mine tried to sign on to Netflix on my computer and it froze for a very long time. I force rebooted it and was met with a blinking question mark on an off white screen. This didn’t seem to like the best sign. The next day I decided to pay the Mac Wizard another visit. He clicked around for a second and then with a disheartened look told me that this usually means the hard drive has moved on to the big apple store in the sky. He decided to take it apart and check. And to his surprise and my relief my hard drive was in perfect condition, but the cable that connected it to my logic board was broken and apple’s estimate to replace this $25 part was … drummrolll… $532. But have no fear the wizard had yet another trick up his sleeve. I purchased an external hard drive case and he put my hard drive in it and showed me how to boot my computer through an external drive. So I am good to go at least until I make it back to the states!

A Night of Inspiration
I had been working for hours and needed to get out of the cube and let my body move so I decided to walk down to the waterfront. The night was wild and stormy with an electricity in the air. The wind funneled through the empty streets giving my body something to push against as I walked. When I got to the waterfront I sat against a street lamp on a 5 or 6-meter wall above the main walkway with the bay directly in front of me. It is an amazing feeling being almost completely alone in such a large city. The night was incredibly alive. The water was a deep inky black with choppy waves sweeping across the bay before forcefully crashing onto the rocks, launching water high into the air. Every few moments I could hear something that felt directionless and haunting. It sounded as though hundreds of giants where exhaling in unison. The sound would grow louder seeming to come from all directions the trees around me would start to whip violently around excitedly adding their loud whispers to the wild cacophony. Then in an instant I would be struck by blast of cold enlivening wind. These gusts would come quickly and unexpectedly from any direction and were so powerful that I had to cling to the lamppost for support so as not to be cast from my perch. Each rush of wind perfectly encapsulated both the power and energy of fear and inspiration. The trees in front of me would at times bend completely sideways as though they were bows being drawn by a hunter. They would stay flexed for what seemed like an eternity creating a moment of stillness in the madness before releasing their stored energy and pushing through the gusts. The clouds above were a deep ominous gray and moved at a blistering speed and with powerful purpose. Every now and then a patch of sky could be seen with a few stars piercing through before the next cloud would devour it. Every few minutes it would rain for 15 seconds or so before the cloud blew over. When the rain came the raindrops would appear to dance in slow motion, hovering above my head like little amorphous vibrating gems illuminated by the radiant silvery white light cast from the lamp above me. With each far off whisper growing louder I could feel my body tensing and my heart rate quickening in anticipation, and as each squall engulfed me it brought a wild smile to my face and had me feeling profoundly alive!

Surreal Fist Fight
Just a couple of nights ago I went out with a few friends to a nearby bar called the Southern Cross. This bar has an incredible atmosphere. When you first enter it has a coffee shop feel, with small tables that invite intimate conversations. Just beyond, there is a beautiful bar with a hardwood dance floor behind and pool tables off to the side. Behind that there are massive windows and glass doors that lead out to the patio where there are padded U-shaped bench seats that line the exterior, each with dozens of colorful Chinese lanterns hanging from the tin roof awnings above. In the middle there is a small bar with Christmas lights above, surrounded by a brick patio with tables and chairs. There is also a freestanding chimney with an elevated fireplace at waist level. On this night we pulled a table right up to the fireplace and looked out over the whimsical patio sipping our tasty beers and watching a group play giant Jenga. We sat soaking up the lovely vibes and the warmth from the fire when a beer bottle came skidding across the bricks past our table. We saw bouncers break up what seemed to be a small fight and then everything went back to the chill amazing vibe and no one seemed to think anything of it. As we sat enjoying each others company “Oh What A Night” by the Four Seasons ( came on adding to the fun feeling of the night. As the chorus kicked in we saw a small group of people form in front of the bar about 8 meters in front of us. Then as though in slow motion 25 to 35 men and women all flooded this group and everyone began throwing unwieldy haymakers at seemingly anyone around them. Everyone was punching everyone. We sat calmly watching as a bar tender tried to pull two apart before getting nailed in the face with a powerful blow. Another man was bleeding from his eye and had his shirt ripped off. A team of bouncers rushed in ripping people apart while punches continued to rain down from all directions. All the while “what a lady what a night” floated down through the crisp night air over the beautiful dappled light cast by the Christmas lights. After a few minutes of this the bouncers finally managed to separated everyone. The din returned to a calm chatter and all was peaceful once more. We didn’t see anybody removed from the bar and there was almost no mention of it afterword. Only minutes later it felt as though we had dreamt the whole thing. The only thing that had me believing it did in fact happen was the large bag of ice the bartender held to his face.  This was one of the most surreal things I have ever seen. It truly felt like a movie where incredible violence takes place in slow motion and is juxtaposed with fun music and beautiful lighting. We all sat in disbelief chatting by the fire until closing.

I felt my first earthquake! I was in my flat on the seventh floor when suddenly the walls started to move like slightly undercooked noodles wiggling in a light breeze. It felt as though I was tipsy and couldn’t focus on my surroundings. It was less shaky than I expected and more like a slow s curve wobble. It lasted for maybe 5 to 10 seconds and then tapered off so slowly that it was hard to tell when it was actually over. It left me grinning as it was something I have always wanted to experience.

All right I think that does it for my last few weeks. I am going to sign off for now but before I go I have attached a few images, thank you for reading!

Sculpture at Waterfront Taken On One of My Night Walks
Sculpture at Waterfront Taken On One of My Night Walks

Sunset from My Living Room Window

Sunset from My Living Room Window

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