Beginning at the end.

There are a few reasons I’ve decided to start a blog.

In July 2004 I left my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand, for Sydney, Australia.  I had itchy feet and wanted to travel-yet-also return to tertiary education; studying in Australia could achieve both, I thought.  

I returned to Aotearoa at the end of 2005 and, give or take (forgive the poetics), have lived at opposite ends of the country since: four-years in Ōtepoti Dunedin; nine-years in Aukilani. I’ve completed the education I sought out – an education that ended up being four-years more than the three I had anticipated, and ended with a PhD graduation rather than the Bachelors I originally intended – got engaged and then married, and established an academic career of five-years.

A whirling pool of descriptive terms could be applied to the last five-years: challenging, rewarding, frustrating, exhilarating, stressful, joyful, despairing, angry.  There are others, many others.

I’ve experienced the very real highs and the crushing lows of higher education in the twenty-first century.  My fellow tertiary educators know well that that which drew me to the idea of academia – the purist ideals of education as common good, knowledge creation and sharing, critical engagement and thought, active citizenry, complete and utter nerdom as acceptable state-of-being – has been gazumped by some kind of garish hybrid of that but also ‘market forces’ and its array of intended and unintended impacts; a gaudy and brazen parody of the dedication and life-altering experience I had had only years before. 

You could say I’m guessing but I feel like I know it as fact.  It’s the topic of conversation: at meetings, in staff rooms, at conferences, across schools, faculties, countries.  No one is immune.

So – and I’ll no doubt reflect on this in a later musing – an announced faculty restructure a few months ago became the final nudge towards a decision that had probably been brewing for a while.  I made the decision to step away from a secure, tenured academic role (well, as secure as secure academic positions are in this ‘gig economy’ day and age) and leap into the unknown.  To end this chapter.

But, actually, it’s more than that.

My husband has likewise quit his secure and safe job for a leap into the unknown; less unknown for sure – the paving for his next career path has been well designed and laid out already – but still requiring of that metaphorical jump off from a base that was once grounding now constraining.  It’s always hard to do. The energy required to leap against gravitational currents is much; it’s always easier to not.

But do it we are.

And not only leaving our jobs, but leaving the lives/life we created in Auckland; first as two individuals, than as a dyadic duo (yes, I know that doesn’t make sense; I’m playing with words).

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With huge sacrifice but also recognising our privilege, we were able to spend the year of 2013 backpacking.  We’ve decided to do it again.  Not as long this time, about 6-7 months all up, taking us on a slow meander through Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Fiji on the way home to visit the in-laws, who have reverse-migrated home for a well-deserved gin-and-tonic retirement.

And once we get back, almost fifteen-years to the day, I’m finally going home: we’re moving to Wellington.  And this time it’ll be me doing the showing around (and being the driver).

The next year is going to be an immense period of change, whatever happens.

So, yes, there are a few reasons to start this blog.  

It’s partly practical; a place to put out into the ether information that others crossing or following the paths we’ll put down might find helpful; a way to repay and add to the wealth of practical information I have and will use to guide our journey (once a researcher always the researcher!!).  

It’s partly documentary; recording and reflecting on what this next twelve-months brings; what ‘seachange’ means for a couple of lads moving homes, changing jobs, starting again. 

It’s partly catharsis, as should be fairly obvious, as I in particular take time out to disconnect, to reflect on and to think about ‘what next?’,  to explore new ways to look upon our changing world. 

And it’s about writing; a love of writing.  A way to continue writing – in a different style, for a different audience – playing with adjectives and verbs, labouring over sentences, creating new words.

This next year – maybe beyond – will be one of motion, of change, transition, and newness.  And as for the food-centric focus…? Well, I’ll leave Instagram to do the talking on that front.

Let’s go!

– JMC

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