Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The new job - my first two days

Wellington is great. Just walking around the city gives me a buzz. But it's still New Zealand, which means that things tend to be closed in the evenings. I don't have internet access in my apartment so I've been searching frantically for an internet café that's open after six and to my surprise found this one on Manners Mall that never closes.

I'd been staying with my cousin in Wadestown until Sunday. Very nice people though she and her husband are, I didn't find it easy living with them, mainly because if I don't have my own space I'll gradually go round the bend. They're both highly successful and knowledgeable people, especially my cousin who's a real go-getter, and they're bringing their three boys up to be highly successful and knowledgeable too. At the dinner table one of the boys wanted to know what cholesterol was. If I'd asked my mum that at that age, she'd have told me it was bad fat or something along those lines, but my cousin gave a full-on diatribe. They do so much for the kids and themselves but still go to bed before ten - heaven knows how. I marvel at people who seemingly pack 25 hours into each day; they manage about 32.

My uncle, who turned 70 last week, was also there; I've always got on well with him - he's a bit of a misfit just like me. On Saturday we watched a fascinating programme together called Mind Over Money, all about financial bubbles and the irrationality of human behaviour when money is involved. It was on TVNZ 7, a channel which is unfortunately facing the axe. I've been encouraged to enter the housing market, and might still do so, but buying a house might just be one big decision too many at the moment.

On Sunday I felt pretty terrible and I had thoughts going round in my head at a hundred miles an hour. Starting a new job the next morning was the last thing I wanted to do. I felt better when I moved into my apartment which is a stone's throw from work. My company are generously putting me up there while I find something more permanent. It's a very nice, clean, spacious apartment with everything I could possibly want - it's a shame I can't stay there for good.

The next morning the alarm woke me up but I couldn't face getting out of bed (the horrible weather didn't help) so I hit what I thought was the snooze button. I awoke again half an hour later. Right, so I guess that button isn't snooze. I was worried I might be late on my first day but as it happened I still arrived in plenty of time.

My office is on the 25th floor, and being Wellington there are civil defence cabinets dotted around so we can hopefully all survive if (or rather when) the big one hits. We get great views from there when weather allows which it did today, unlike on day one. As for the work itself, it won't be easy for me. My colleagues all seem friendly, more so than in my first "big" job, and the whole outfit seems refreshingly lacking in ra-ra-ra (that's a technical term) but I'm still likely to find it hard. A lot of things that might be obvious to some people are less obvious to me. Do you want this report finished by lunchtime, by next Friday or some time in late August? You seem very busy there - is it OK to interrupt you? Maybe I have Asperger's after all.

The other difficulty I face is that it's still life insurance. Unlike the recent earthquake work, or the flood-risk mapping work I did in the UK, I might find it hard to care about all the life-insurance-based figures and spreadsheets I'll have to negotiate. I can't ever imagine buying life insurance myself, because nobody depends on me financially and my history of depression would force my premiums up. In the back of my mind (or maybe the front) I'll know I'd rather be doing something else with my life. And then there's the exams - eek.

Lunchtime is the highlight of my work day. Central Wellington is food heaven. I asked one of my colleagues what she does for lunch. She said she either brought her own (which is what I've mostly done in my previous jobs) or went to Subway, then she told me where Subway was. Subway? C'mon! I mean there's nothing wrong with Subway, in fact I've been there more often in my life than any other fast food joint by some margin, but there are so many other eateries in the city to try that eating at Subway seemed frankly daft. I'm working my way through the nearby food court, trying not to turn into a fatty.

Adding to my state of panic over the weekend, the two biggest poker websites - Poker Stars and Full Tilt - were seized by the FBI and closed to American players. I've got US$3800 sitting on those two sites. I shouldn't lose the money, especially as I'm outside the States, but the whole thing is all a bit scary. I'd like to cash out but I've got no permanent address so I'll have to wait.

We've got a late Easter this year (who keeps moving Easter?) which gives me a very handy long weekend. There's a lot to do - finding a doctor and a support group are top priorities. Then I face the small matter of finding a flat or a house.

Tomorrow is my birthday. It's my second since last Easter so I'm getting old quickly. I'll pop over to my cousin's place tomorrow but there won't be a big birthday celebration. I'll be turning 31 but after a month of birthdays you can pretty much stop counting.

I'll give Richard a call tomorrow. I certainly haven't forgotten everybody in Auckland and I'll book a flight up there before too long.

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