IN THE MEANTIME HERE'S A STOCK PHOTO OF A MAN WITH A TASTEFUL WATCHSTRAP.
Let him inspire you.
To colour-coordinate your eyewear with your plant saucers.
What a guy.
No update of substance today, but breathe easy knowing that stuff is happening. In the background. Whirring and whipping and whittling away. All the stuff. In the background.
IN THE MEANTIME HERE'S A STOCK PHOTO OF A MAN WITH A TASTEFUL WATCHSTRAP.
Let him inspire you.
To colour-coordinate your eyewear with your plant saucers.
What a guy.
SUPER FRESH CONTENT NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY RECYCLED IMAGES YUP TOTALLY NEW AND WOW OH BOY DOES IT EVER CONVEY A SENSE OF PROGRESS AND THINGS HAPPENING. Please prepare to desist reading words, and kindly yield to oncoming images [of dead tree birds].
More on insta @yeahbutnah_
I'm working on a few things for the site - a new logo and a set of origami instructions - which unlike this blog, have had a constant stream of updates and changes, so I thought it well overdue I shared a post conveying a vague sense of stuff happening BTS (it's creative lingo for BEHIND THE SCENES, because I simply don't have time to write out full words TBH).
So this is how it be:
Yup, I updated the logo... again! I evened up the proportions to make it work better as a 500x500 avatar. I've maintained the bold outline and sparse shadows, while stripping and cleaning the linework back to basics,.
One key decision was whether to aggressively bombard you with a spectrum of colour in your face or keep it simple in black and white. Colours are tempting because they grab your eye and throttle your retina, and our eyes, cones, neurons etc. are really neat in the way they perceive a specific range of electromagnetic waves which we call the visible spectrum, so why not make the most of that, right?
Especially given that cranes in nature look great with the addition of colour, like this East African grey crowned crane:
But they also look a little bit fucked up, and there's a lot to be said for a simple white crane.
Origami paper too is often beautifully designed with a great many patterns and colours, but again, the simplicity of white paper on its own is striking enough as it is.
Notice the new design has got that peak thing going on in the middle of its body. Admittedly, this isn't a perfect anatomical representation, as most birds in the wild do not have this peak, but then again actual birds aren't made from slices of dead tree, so you know, you can't get too caught up in these things.
Also it looks like it's lifting its wings like Rocky, so that's cool too.
This change from chunky to skinny was all very purposeful. The old crane shows the middle part of the body kinda squashed down and puffed out and this is how I usually make my cranes, and how I first started showing it in sets of instructions. The problem with this is it's an additional step that isn't really necessary for the completed bird, and if anything it's detrimental because I want first-timers to walk through the instructions step by step without tripping on any difficult details, so it's important I make it all as free of obstacles as possible. "Puff out and squash down" is rather difficult to convey in pictures and words, so in future designs I'll leave this "squashed body" step out of the instructions. I've thus opted for a site logo with the skinnier flatter crane to reflect this.
Speaking of the instructions, I finally have a set of steps that are actually working and workable.
The instructions are on the piece of origami paper itself, where each step leads you to the next, and it progresses along in a fun interactive way, far more so than traditional instructions. In creating this, I've designed it to be as intuitive as possible. There are 16 steps overall, each with its own diagrams, words, arrows and symbols:
Friends and strangers alike have offered themselves as guinea pigs to attempt these instructions (read: had it forced upon them) and with their input the whole thing is slowly but surely getting better and easier to follow. When I first started out there were MANY teething problems. Like old Edison learning 999 ways how NOT to make a lightbulb, I'm figuring out what does and doesn't work. I have to put myself in the shoes of someone who has never done origami and emulate a pair of fresh eyes to the whole thing, but having the input of actual legitimate fresh eyes has been of the highest value.
What this all means is people are now solving the "puzzle" of putting a crane together with relatively few (and hopefully heading towards zero) hiccups or outside instructions, which is really awesome, and vaguely fulfilling. I get a kick out of watching people's faces alight as they solve each step, and I hope they get a kick out of it too, spurred by words of encouragement written after each step e.g. "nice one!" "rad!" and "neato!"
I couldn't tell you how many hours I've put into this, it's been a hugely iterative process and any small change in a single step has a flow on effect for all the other instructions, since they're all competing in a very tight space for visible real estate on both sides of the paper. There's still a few iterations to go but I'm much closer to the final thang.
Worth noting is that with space in high demand, the colour coding for each step is rather critical, and so I need to find a palette where each step has;
It's not pretty. But I'm gonna get a Round Tuit for xmas, which means I'll fix up the colours with a progressive spectrum to more instinctively match the steps.
In creating this pool of unicorn vomit, I've also been learning heaps about colour theory, composition, and general design principles, which is a huge boon for bolstering my visual skills in general which has a flow-on effect for my actual 9-5 day-to-day job, particularly with concept / presentation plans. I seem to be finding a niche in the office as the go to guy for visual communication, which in turn helps me learn more about the subject and feeds back into the skills needed for this project. It's a all a bit recursive, and it's a great offshoot bonus. I realise I still have heaps to learn, but that's all part of the fun.
Work, by the way, is maddeningly busy. The bosses have picked up some big projects which is keeping our noses to the grindstone and ought to continue to do so for the coming months/years/decades so long as the "wheels don't fall off the world" (and the grind off the stone). There's nary a quiet moment and the work is cooking along like a good hearty bolognese, the kind that has many chunks in it that would probably choke you if it weren't for your steadfast masticating skills, keeping you perpetually chewing and swallowing, chewing and swallowing, though ultimately it's good for you. I think. I dunno, I just ran with the first metaphor that came to mind.
Point is, the work is keeping me on the level and I'm putting plans to travel on the back burner. In fact, this would probably be a good time for me to sit down and look at putting some projects together for professional cadastral licensing but I dunno, that all sounds a bit career-y. We'll see. Between that and this origami project, and hobbies in general, and reminding myself to be social every 8 months or so, I tend to bite off more than I can chewbacca so that's the main reason updates are slow.
And that's how it be!
There's one or two other things in the works, but rather than go into explaining it all right now, I'll just show a vague screenshot of potential radness. So this is all you get suckas!
Progress is slow lately, so I took some pictures of snow instead...
I can do the social medias!
Look at all the social medias you can choose from! There's a twitblr and an instabirdface and you can use any or all of them to keep up to date with yeahbutnah and watch developments AS THEY HAPPEN IN REAL TIME. Sort of.
If you don't know what the social medias are, it's basically the new email. If you don't know what email is, make sure you rent out You've Got Mail on VHS because it's a really great film.
In any case, there's been a couple of tweaks around here.
How about that fresh log-oh and font? I'm pretty stoked with how it's turned out.
It's gone through a few iterations, starting out loosely based on the Apple Dictionary image for origami...
Mixed with this scribble on a hostel receipt...
Which turned into this cheeky fellah via sketchup:
And now this, which is a bit tidier:
Also working on banner-type things for facebook/twitter/tumblr backgrounds. I'm getting a little more savvy with Sketchup and Photoshop - still got loads to learn but a lot less guesswork now, and means I get to have some fun:
Meanwhile, working some changes into the fold template in AutoCAD, which again, mightn't make much sense right now, but will become clear in due course.
The final change I made is investing in a new phone and laptop. Both older devices were from last decade, super clunky and the laptop sounded like it was about to go into orbit every time it started up - so it's a complete relief to work with devices that work fluidly. Add to that I've now synchronised photoshop, sketchup and autocad on both home and work computers via dropbox which means I can actually chip away at this wee project bit by bit without raging over cross-platform glitches. This is a good thing.
And that's progress!
So go on, click and follow yeahbutnah on one of the social media links above - they're effectively glorified RSS feeds but the important thing is you'll stay up to date with all the wholesome happenings on this site and each follow/subscribe/like is another tasty morsel of encouragement for me, and sets off all kinds of gooey receptors in my brain like Pavlov's dog, so it's win-win really.
Wanaka is the Shelbyville of Queenstown, or at least that what I thought growing up. Slightly snobbier, always stealing our lemon trees, possibly into intermarriage of cousins. As it turns out Wanaka is rather lovely and more like Queenstown's smaller, better-behaved sibling, with no obvious signs of incest to speak of so far. While both towns boast themselves as meccas of jetboat/skydive/heliski tourism, the main point of difference is Wanaka is far more relaxed about it and less likely to give you a permanent nosebleed from a high-octane adrenaline overdose.
I live here now. I don't think I mentioned that? I've been here over a year now. Probably should have said something.
As I was saying, Wanaka is a tourist town - and highly seasonal at that. The streets are plagued by gangs of tumbleweed in the shoulder seasons before going absolutely bananas busy in peak winter with ski-tourists - and again in peak summer with lake lovers looking for something on which to kayak/sail/windsurf/fish/jetski/waterski/row/wakeboard. The Lakes District has seen unprecedented growth in the last two decades, and things are booming harder then ever right now, more so than since before the recession.
Which is why I'm here - where there's development, there's surveyors. The work leans almost solely on residential development (as opposed to quake-response in my previous Chch job), and so I'm actually sinking my teeth into the sorts of projects that drove me to do surveying in the first place. This is a good thing. Being boom-time, it's balls to the floor busy, and has it's challenges, but on the whole it's alright for a day job. The 5 minute walking commute means I have a newfound love in my life: daily toasted sammies at home for lunch, with an epic dining landscape to boot. Wanaka boasts itself as the "world's first lifestyle reserve" which is very sloganny and mawkish but it rings some truth - the lifestyle is a huge drawcard. And now with a car, bike, kayak and tramping boots I've found a thing or two to keep myself busy.
It caters to a certain crowd, note. You'll find throngs of multisport junkies throwing themselves all too eagerly at water, snow and dirt. As such, I've yet to see an fat person in this town. In their stead you find spindly and sprightly retired folk who spend their extra hours getting swole calves and flooding their brains with endorphins. And in no way do I harbour ill-will towards them unless they spread themselves laterally across our skinny roads on squadrons of pushbikes, four abreast, because, you know who needs two-way traffic in a 100km zone?
Speaking of older people, I spent the first month living with a gardening, meditating, semi-retired conspiracy nut. He's got an open mind, and possibly doesn't know when to shut it (intergalactic pyramids in Antarctica, oh my!) but hey, he's a nice guy. His bookshelf is wide in both variety and physical dimensions, packed with Eckhart Tolle and books of the like, you know, ones that make you concentrate really hard on breathing. There's no past, no future, only the present, that sort of thing. So he was chill as fuck.
But I needed to be with folk of similar age, interests and levels of sanity, so I moved in with a couple of girls in what I'm convinced is New Zealand's tidiest home, save for the thick carpeting of dog hair courtesy of one resident Siberian Husky. That was literally neat for a good six months but an opportunity popped up to share a flat with a mate from high school in a spot closer to work and play.
What follows is is straight from our couchsurfing profile in which I gloat about our vast and opulent living quarters on offer:
...a rad lad pad within stumbling distance of the lake, bars, and the fabled Four Square (it's like a supermarket but smaller (so really just a regular market (but instead of real farmer food stalls with artisanal chutneys you get a pyramid of Powerades and a Jimmy's Pie warmer))), and not to mention New Zealand's fourth best Frolf course, all within a 3 min walk of our letterbox.
It's a neat 50s holiday rental full of guitars, plants, coffee machines (and couchsurfers). Not to mention a fridge permanently stocked with pale ales, a piano and a movie projector. Which makes it seem we've an exceptionally large fridge, but the truth of the matter has more to do with poor sentence structure than advances in refrigerative engineering. To sum up, it's been rather awesome living here and shit-a-brick, it's just good, you know?
That's the skinny on life at the mo. Forgive me if this comes across as a self-involved xmas letter vaguely addressed to the ether, but hey I felt the need to give something resembling an update on this sparsely word-populated interwebpage for whatever reason I've decided to upkeep the domain fees. It sounds vague saying that, "for whatever reason" but it will become clear in due course!
That's it for now, I'm out yakking. Laters on the menjay!
In a rare moment of forethought, I booked time off work to wrangle myself a four day weekend and with it a chance to explore the upper bounds of my new home turf. I've long wanted to do the Motatapu, a wee slice of alpine goodness connecting Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown. With Mr Hickey promising some scorchers on the way, I was on it like sandflies on an exposed upper thigh.
The Motatapu went public when Shania Twain and her then-husband Mutt Lange bought two unfathomably large pastoral leases from the Crown, the Motatapu and Mt Soho Stations. The only catch was they had to give up a portion for public access and enjoyment. So we owe them thanks, for where these mountains once held a sea of tussock and lizards in the middle of goat-fuck nowhere, they now hold a sea of tussock and lizards in the middle of goat-fuck nowhere, but with 52km of something resembling a track running through it. And DOC signposts with time estimates catering for people with no legs.
The vistas are breathtaking, but hard-earned. It's noted as one of the most difficult legs of Te Araroa — the 3000km track spanning New Zealand toe to tip — and for good reason. The track is rarely stacked, which means instead of nice flat compacted earth to plant your feet on, you have to sidle steep awkward terrain that literally keeps you on your toes. The trail braids into a dozen goat tracks, before converging as a half-passable path at the next orange-capped warratah. In places you're forced to use the tussock as a hand rail, flailing your arms to regain balance, and doing your best to sidestep the speargrass to save your calves from certain-impalement. The net result is a weird sort of dance number.
So, I hear you asking, what more can you tell me of this magical fun-filled track of fun and magic? Well I'm glad you asked, anonymous internet reader, so here's a lowdown of what to expect of the Motatapu, replete with photos, anecdotes and groan inducing Dave-isms to boot!
Day 1 - Glendhu Bay to Highland Creek via Fern Burn
It's a bright and breezy start along the Fern Burn river through beech forest. The beach soon gives way to tussock country and it's a steep ascent to Fern Burn hut.
My first human contact was with an old man holding his todger. To be clear, it was him holding his todger, not me. He was relieving himself on the side of the track and I'd caught him off guard. Once the mouse was back in the house though, we got chatting and all awkwardness evaporated faster than his piss-fumes. Turns out he and his wife - who I met up the track a few minutes later, though thankfully not under the same circumstances - had escaped the gloomy Cornish winter to explore our fair antipodean isles. They were heading to the first hut and back. So good for them.
At Fern Burn Hut I demolished some ham-ocado sammies before the next wee stint to Highland Creek. It was here I realised attempting such an exposed track in New Zealand's hottest month was either very brave or very stupid (little of column A, little of column B). I stopped for photos. Often.
More cloud cover would have been welcome, but the shadows were few and rays were many. I slogged and sweltered my way up the hill and felt the pack get heavier from soaking up my lather of back sweat. Gross. But despite my woeful state of fitness I kept a good pace on, one foot after the other, and before long I'd made the ascent over Jack Hall's saddle and my lodgings were in sight.
At Highland Creek Hut I lay myself bare on the deck and suckled from the rain tank like a lamb to its mother's teat.
The hut was a hot house, and empty, so I took that as leave to get nakie and take a skinny dip in the creek. I sat in a spot where I could sink mid-torso and lie against a warm rock, bask in the setting sun and wash away my dirt and troubles. All was right in the world until I saw my bits had shrivelled up like sultanas, so I scurried back to the hut to get some hot food on.
I dumped my cooking gear onto the bench, and got everything prepared only to find that I was one lighter short of a fire. So dinner was salami on crackers and bread, with a side of bumper bar and apricots.
I'd packed as light as possible, which meant jettisoning all forms of entertainment - iPod, book, pad and paper. Having read the DOC intentions book 3 times, I found a scrap mag called the Australian Spectator. It's basically the letters to the editor page in the newspaper, basically pages and pages of unmitigated opinions and somehow the authors get paid to do it. Climate change denial, casual homophobia, that sort of thing. Strange mag to find in the mountains. I always assumed tramping folk were fairly sound-minded? Anyway, The Spectator is like a horror story, both frightening and entertaining. And it made for good toilet paper.
Speaking of horror stories, late in the night I heard something scuttling on the roof. Possibly a possum, except possums have a trademark "cackle" and this thing was silent, save for the claws on corrugated iron. The creature knew I was inside, and I've seen Signs too many times to take that shit lightly. It slid off the roof a few times only to resurface minutes later. It was doing it for fun, like a child at the park. Curiosity bested my fear so I wormed my way outside to investigate, staying in the sleeping bag for warmth. By the time I emerged the creature was either gone or watching from the shadows.
Then I noticed the stars. Holy shit, I'd never seen them so bright, so far removed from civilisation and light pollution. It was too awesome to pass up the opportunity on such a warm night, so I splayed out on the mown grass by the deck (don't ask me how the grass was mown), and spent the rest of the night drinking in the moonless sky and counting the shooting stars. Wonderful in the truest sense of the word.
Day 2 - Highland Creek to Roses Hut
An hour into the day my nipples started to hurt. The constant walking movement turned my shirt fabric into sandpaper, and if not properly attended to, I knew it would tear my tits to shreds and make me milk blood. I've mentioned weird things about my nipples before but this was no laughing matter. So I taped them up and that was that. The more you knowwww.
It was a hot steady climb with some spectacular views.
Water stops are hard to come by on this leg, so when you meet a crucial river at the bottom of beech-filled gully, you might want to take respite from the heat and fill your bottle up. If you have any sense.
Thing is, I read the map wrong and thought I was a valley or two ahead of schedule. I shrugged it off as a combo of me being super speedy and the DOC times being notoriously lenient to gout-ridden pensioners in rusty wheelchairs. Having assumed the hut was just round the bend, I gave no thought to filling up the bottle at the river. I took a picture of it and frolicked on like a muppet.
The track soared upwards out of the creek. "Hurrr durrr, why is there so much climbing before the hut?" I pondered ponderingly. After 30 minutes of constant uphill and no end in sight, I knew something was amiss.
I checked the topo map and realised my mistake. If this was a movie¹, this is the part where the camera would Hitchcock zoom on my reaction, then Hitchcock zoom on the climb ahead with a bonus zoom on the near-empty water bottle.
The bottle has less than a mouthful of now very hot water left. I'd sweated that much from my taint in the last 10 seconds alone. In any case, I guzzled it down as quickly as possible (the water, not the taint sweat) but in my eagerness I poured half of it directly into my lungs. I spluttered and gasped for a full minute and briefly considered the possibility I might die.
At that moment a man ran up behind me with dual bottles of water hitched to his day pack. This was possibly a hallucination because nobody could possibly be running in this heat. But he was. He gave me a pep-talk à la George Clooney in Gravity. And just like that he was gone.
The heat turned the rest of the day into an ordeal, sapping me of energy and wringing me of moisture. Each breath was raspy and hay-feverish. My appetite disappeared, and even my Choco-Nut Scroggin Megamix™ didn't look so appealing.
When you're in the elements, the popped collar is more about melanoma prevention than it is a fashion statement. Seriously kids, slip slop slap and wrap. Even so, triple applications of SPF 30+ did little to prevent the backs of my chalky calves turning the same shade as a medium rare steak.
¹ By the way, I'm not saying they would make a movie out of this. Imagine the tagline: "One man fights for survival on a notably warmer-than-usual day. He goes without water for TWO HOURS. And he gets SLIGHTLY SUNBURNT. And his scroggin DOESN'T EVEN LOOK THAT TASTY ANYMORE. Shocking and unbelievable. This is his story."
I just had to grin and bear it. It was 5 minutes up, 5 minutes rest. With each step I could hear my heart thrumming through my windpipe - which was howling for oxygen. Moments like these remind you that you're alive.
I sang Cool Me Down by The Black Seeds under my breath, followed by a medley of Stairway to Heaven and the intro to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy... you know... the bit that goes, 'can we get much higher...so hiiiiigh.' Trust me, it helped.
I finally hit the top and the tension eased off. From there it was a simple matter of crossing a scree-sloped ridge for a final bone-breaking decent to the hut. Normally I love the downhill and I hop around like a medicated gazelle, but my knees had swollen up like a couple of bowling balls, and it was extremely hard-going. I know, I know, call the waaambulance, geez.
At the hut I drank from the raintank til I was in danger of water-intoxication (a real thing btw). I knocked back some painkillers and powernapped for an hour. When I woke, the world had a bit more colour, as did my legs.
That's when I met Xana from the Czech Republic. He looked and spoke like a mountain yak - I couldn't tell where the beard finished and the chest hair started. He'd come from Arrowtown over Big Hill carrying with him a giant pack - 30 mountain-yakking kilograms worth. Mine was half that and I was struggling. He'd packed a camera the size of a toaster, along with tripod, a laptop and more camera accessories than is safe or reasonable. He was nutty.
His English was limited but he shared pictures of his travels around the South Island and in return I attempted to animate a story about my travels around the Czech Republic. And by around the Czech Republic I mean the streets of Prague. And by the streets of Prague I mean the pub.
The important thing is he had a lighter. And with that I was able to cook up a massive risotto feast and it was glorious.
The evening saw me swimming in another river, reading more right-wing nut mags, hitting the goose-down early and putting up with some almighty yak snores.
Day 3 - Roses Hut to Arrowtown via Macetown
I bade farewell to Xana and headed up over Roses Saddle and into a new catchment. The path takes a logical dip into the Arrow River, and once in the water you can just wade through to Macetown. The wet weather track weaves in and out of the side-gullies 100m above the track, which is a bit awkward. So if the water's low you might as well jump right in; it's only ever up to your knee. There is one stretch where it gets waist deep, the alternative to which is a maze through the gorse-infested river banks. I weighed my options and favoured a couple of scratches over nut chaffage, but hey each to their own.
In Macetown there's a bunch of gold-mining relics: decrepit huts, old schist walls and rusty sluicing gear. Further along you emerge like Dorothy out of 1930s Kansas into the modern age: 4WDs, motorbikes, cyclists, runners, swimmers, and picnickers. At one point there was a helicopter taking off from the riverbank. You can arrange a 4WD pickup but I chose the extra 15km slog through to Arrowtown. The track meanders in and out of the river like a double helix, and the water and vegetation keep the sun from beating you down so it's a nice wind-down to the previous few days.
I met my parents along the track, about 8km from the finish. They biked in and brought some cheese scones (thanks Mum!). We had a good catch up and they gave me the car keys and said meet you at home. Sweet. The last hour and a bit was easy as. It follows an old irrigation pipeline and you just have to watch out for the occasional off-roader hooning around.
The entire tramp I'd mentally prepared myself for some Off-Piste Pizza in Arrowtown. I arrived at the door ready to offload my drool only to find the place was shut between 2-5pm. Gutted. But there were beers and burgers waiting for me at home, which I gorged upon and promptly fell comatose for the next 15 hours. The End.
So uhhh yeah... that's the Motatapu!
While stargazing, I tracked the path of a dim satellite and got annoyed that it kept fading from view. It would reappear clear as day if I offset my gaze slightly. I've always wondered why that happens. My google-fu tells me it's because your night-vision rod cells conglomerate around the periphery of your retina, leaving only a sliver of light sensitivity in the middle i.e. the least light reception when you're looking directly at the object. The more you knowwww.
The identity of the scuttling roof creature remains a mystery, but in all likelihood it was a possum. It reminded me of staying at the Caples DOC hut with a group from Otago where two mates, James and Brad were intent on catching a possum. They left some bait on the deck while prepping dinner, and had all forgotten about it once we got playing drinking games with cards and spilled yarns. Until we heard James yelling outside.
We all and scrambled to see what was going on. In the commotion, I grabbed a broom from the fireplace, Brad grabbed an axe, and out on the deck we found James with something attached to his hip: a possum gripping to his side for grim death. What happened next was straight out of a Benny Hill video - James side-thrusting his hip into the verandah post trying to squash the possum as it clawed and circled its way around his torso, me brandishing the broom with wild and indiscriminate swings, and then there was Brad, axe in hand, slightly deranged and definitely drunk on both alcohol and thirst for possum blood, looking for his opportunity to strike.
The possum made a dash for it, bush-hopping and dodging various projectiles, with a pack of humans chasing it as if it were the Holy Grail on legs. Brad kept up the hunt well into the night, leaving the card-game long forgotten, while James tended his wounds and highly-probable case rabies.
If you're doing the Motatapu, you want to go in with some fundamental experience and preparation under your belt. It's remote as balls so don't injure yourself, and if you do, have some people around to help you out of a tight spot. I did a stupid thing going alone, and I knew it was stupid, but I did it anyway. Just be aware it takes only one quick and dirty slip to turn your happy ankle into a broken one - so go for power in numbers.
You won't need a tent. Even over Waitangi weekend the huts were empty, and there's 12 bunks per hut so you can assume there's room. Take a light roll if you're unsure - there's floorspace galore as a back-up. Tickets are $5 a pop (bargain!) and it's first in first served.
Motatapu Track information from DOC here: (PDF, 1MB)
Topo map I pieced together from nztopomaps.com: (PDF, 15.5MB)
Confession time: I gave in. I sold out. I threw in the bar towel, got a haircut and came crawling back to the professional world to feel its cold sterile embrace once again.
And I only had to travel halfway around the world to do it. I'm now in Wanaka, New Zealand (yeah that Zealand) and feeling a a bit sheepish ticking off only 14 months on a 5 year visa, so it's home bittersweet home. But I'm stoked to be making some coin again and stoked to have evenings back in a town I love.
Years ago the whole notion of having a routine and a salary used to make me shudder - the very thought of time-sheets and prioritised to-do lists would make me seethe and would cause black phlegmy liquid to bubble from my temples. Now thing are different - and I realise that without routine I can't organise myself out of a paper bag. I still can't for that matter, but the inside of the bag is definitely more navigable, so that's cool.
The not-so-fun part about coming home, the part I'm struggling to rationalise, is that it flies in the face of leaving in the first place. The whole point of going overseas was to eschew the professional career path, forge a new identity and try something different for a while. Which I did. I got a bar job, grew my hair long and got to know UK bar culture in the most excellent city in the world - and trust me, I've been to a lot of cities. At least seven.
But it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. There were times where I got really stuck and found myself pining for something... Pining for mountains and lakes and rivers and I probably should have just gone to Scotland.
Truth be told I was struggling to save anything. I was dead skint for months on end, barely able to leave the house, let alone the country to sate my lust for travel. First world problems, I know, and in spite of this rant I did manage a trip to Turkey and Portugal, plus you know, a good 10 weeks around Central Europe prior to all this. But it was a resolute goal of mine that once based in the UK I would have enough spare dosh that regular weekend getaways would be breezy and easy. The fact I could barely rub two coins together to save for a half decent pair of work shoes was pretty stink.
I guess it's all about managing expectations:
Expectations of working in a bar in Brighton
To cut things short I applied for work back home, threw a few lures into the job pond and something must've worked because I'm back in gainful employment. Yay.
I realise I'm selling my soul to do it, but shit, it's something I know. I've got debts to settle and hobbies to pursue, and as I tick away these moments I realise I'm now closer in age to 30 than 20 and now there's something weirdly attractive about having a steady income, career development and a routine again. It's not my lifelong calling, and I'm okay with that. I used to think money was just the worst thing. Just the worst. Like worse than Crocs. But that was a time before I had to deal with rent and taxes and bills and the sorts of basic things that you need to, you know, live and plan ahead.
When not hoarded excessively, money is actually not a terrible thing. It provides opportunities to do more of the things you love.
So I'ma do 'em!
This is no ordinary pizza. This is a life-event that will permanently cleave your tenure on this earth into two distinct categories: Time Before Pizza and Time After Pizza. To describe such an experience with mere words is an affront to justice. You must seek to undertake it yourself, but reckon this choice with great care, for your pre-pizza self is someone you will recall with a tense mixture of fondness and envy for having lived in such jejune bliss.
Off Piste Pizza Arrowtown meets you with warm smokey tones, first from Neil Young's Gold Rush on vinyl, and second from the wood fires about to serve as blazing temples of epicurean delight. The staff greet you like an old friend and offer drinks while you explore the menu of meat and veg pizzas, each named for local landmarks and celebrities of Arrowtown's illustrious gold mining past. You eye up the Fox's Catch (apricot chicken) and the Bush Creek (venison w/roast kumara), while releasing bucket-loads of viscous drool on the floor before placing your order.
Josh, a fresh addition to the Off Piste team, serves up a double shot flat white. The beans, you discover, are roasted locally by the folk at ReFuel @ Octane on Gorge Rd. You also discover, just quietly, that it's the best goddamn coffee you've had in years.
Pizza Chef Emmanuel cooks in plain view and within peel swinging distance. He stokes the embers and with it your anticipation. Soon, it is ready, and in a flurry of movements he transfers the pizza form peel to board, carving it into eight slices of heaven.
The first bite is something your post-pizza self will forever attempt to rationalise. Sure, you can interpret it as a set of physical processes in action: taste receptors lighting up electrochemical pathways to the reward centre of your brain. But there is something far greater going on, something intangible: you are sinking your teeth not into a pizza, but a portal through which great celestial figures reach into your mouth and disrobe your taste buds of all innocence, fondling them with doughy strokes of ambrosia. In this moment - though "moment" is redundant here, for time itself loses all meaning - you are absolved of suffering, desire, and sense of self as you surf the waves of transcendence and pluck the strings of eternity. It is nirvana, manifested in your mouth.
You bathe in the afterglow of the pizza and resign yourself to the fact that you will never again taste something so pure. Your life beyond this is an afterthought, an epilogue, a testament to something that once was. This does not trouble you. For Off Piste is open 6 days a week. There will always be more pizza.
Disclaimer: Eat responsibly. Know your limits. If problem-pizza consumption has an adverse affect on your life or the lives of those around you, please seek independent professional advice.