Well, my last blog entry was a little depressing, so I just thought I'd start this one off by saying that I'm doing much better now. Good people like Courtney, TJ, Joel, Joel's parents, and of course support from home definitely help. Thank you so much.
My first week and a half back in NZ has been wonderful. Joel and I are staying with his parents to the west of Auckland -- and it's absolutely beautiful out here. Their dog, Stacks, is a crazy un-controllable puppy... but he listens to me now! We are staying in the 2-story "sleep-out" that Joel lived in when he was growing up, and it's such a cool little building. It's tiny, with a spiral staircase that you have to duck to get up, and vaulted ceilings. We've been working towards improving it a bit: Joel and his girls put chicken wire over the wooden/stone steps down to the sleep-out because they get really slippery when it rains (which is all the time right now), and today I installed a wardrobe rod in between the ceiling banisters on the upper level so we could hang some clothes.
Winter here sucks. It's not like Canadian winters with beautiful white blankets of snow covering all the dead stuff (okay, maybe I'm idealizing it a little bit because I'm homesick). It's cold and wet. And because of the humidity, it's the kind of cold that gets right to your bones. I'm just sleeping on an air mattress as well, so the cold comes from underneath. I'll survive. Joel bought me a hot water bottle the other day, so that's helping! (No microwave, so I can't use my wheatbag bear I got for Christmas.)
I've spent the last while diligently applying for jobs (sometimes in cute little cafes, of course). There's been a few interviews, and jobs keep popping up online, so I haven't lost hope yet... But Joel on the other hand just had a trial for a Head Chef position for a beautiful little gourmet cafe in Auckland called Jones the Grocer. It's an international franchise with cafes in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Quatar, etc. I hope he gets it. It seems like the perfect job for him, and he deserves a Head Chef position. Plus the wage is good, the owner is really nice and honest, and it comes with a car park (it's usually really expensive to park in the city)! I'll update more once we know for sure that Joel's got the job, but he's pretty confident.
And of course I've forced myself to wait until the end of this entry to post the best part of my week so far: my car!!!! Mostly as a present from my parents for grad, partially from me, I bought myself a beautiful 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid! (And don't worry, did all the research to go with it.) Joel and I spent a lot of time visiting auction lots and car dealers to find the perfect car. I almost bought a used Smart ForFour, but the mechanical inspection revealed water leaking into the engine oil. :S Eventually we found the hybrid at a lot about 3 hours drive from Auckland. We had been using a rental car, so we drove down to check it out, and then drove down a few days later for the auction... and I got it, after a bit of a bidding war. Still, my new hybrid has only one previous owner: a city council, which means that it has had regular maintenance and is in near perfect condition. In the end, I only paid about 60% of what that car is worth. Plus, with the price of gas being so high here (209.9 per L) a hybrid is totally worth it. I'm so happy! She's smooth to drive, fuel efficient, reliable, and pretty. A worthy graduation present.