This is my last post for Greater Auckland. After several years, I think the time has come for me to stop chewing ears.
If I recall correctly, I was originally involved circa 2010-11 when the founder, Joshua Arbury, asked me to help write a few guest posts at a time when he was otherwise occupied. Back then, I assumed few people read the Blog and that fewer still would read my random concoctions, which usually focused on wherever in Europe I was travelling at the time. I only ever started blogging in a temporary/part-time capacity to help generate content, and to a large extent that’s still how I feel about my involvement now, that is, as someone who watches from the sidelines and pipes up every now and then to fill a gap.
What’s changed, obviously, is that GA’s readership is now rather large. So why cut-off my ear-chewing at this point? One important reason was that I wanted to use this (hopefully uncontroversial) Gotye/Van Gogh mash-up meme (source).
More seriously though, I feel like I’ve had enough time on the soapbox and I’d now prefer to focus on helping other people’s perspectives come to light. While I will no longer be blogging myself, I will be out there eliciting posts from people on topics that I think are important and under-represented. For example, I am currently in discussions with an organisation about having them write a series of guest posts on issues relating to homelessness/sleeping rough. Another topic on my radar includes documenting experiences of younger-than-average Aucklanders.
Of course, part of the reason I am stepping back is that I want to devote my time and energy to other things. For me, each post takes about 8-16 hours of thinking, research, writing, and editing. I know, I know: I’m not the most productive blogger. Right now, however, I really need to spend those hours doing other things. In addition to working as a consultant and studying towards a PhD, I am also trying to be a decent partner and a doting parent. Yes, a few weeks ago my partner and I were fortunate enough to be joined by not-so-wee baby Alexandra, a.k.a. Xanda Panda. Here’s Alexandra in a lactose comatose.
Indeed, becoming a parent is the primary reason I am stepping back from the Blog. There is just so much to do, I don’t know where the days go. On the bright side, our experience thus far doesn’t align with research finding that kittens are better than babies. Last week, in between feeding, sleeping, and changing nappies, we took Alex on her first-ever train ride from Graceville to Indooroopilly, and then onto Central. While Alex was keen to roll early to avoid the summer heat, I explained to her that we should wait until after 8.30am so that her parents would qualify for the 20% off-peak discount.
Our first stop in Indooroopilly took us to the community health centre for a check-up, where Xanda Panda smashed her previous personal best weight and height measurements, hitting a hefty 4.54kg and 56cm. After tipping the scales, we then boarded the train again (sufficiently quickly to qualify for a continuation of our initial journey, saving us from paying another fare) to travel onwards to the city. Here’s a video of one of Alex’s doting parents pushing her pram off the train at Central, en route to the Registry of Births, Deaths, and non-political Partnerships.
Apart from cladding Alex in a pink outfit (due — I must add — to a lack of unsoiled alternatives), my main parental failure was when Alex decided to suckle on her fingers rather than open her eyes for a passport photo. While I’m prepared to wait a few days to allow Alex’s eyes to adjust to light outside of the womb, I’m keen to secure dual Australian / New Zealand citizenship as soon as possible to render her ineligible to stand for parliament in Australia. Given the rate at which Australian’s politicians are standing-down, I’m genuinely worried that Alex may soon be asked to re-start the “Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party” (NB: Incidentally I believe the latter’s demise reflected their inability to adopt motor-neutral policies. So sad.).
On the train home to Graceville, Alex and I did come quite close to another parenting failure when she started to chew my ear about risks facing the global economy, especially in relation to the potential fall-out from a property collapse in China. The problem I had was not her take on these complex and important issues, but the fact she decided to start this conversation while we were in the silent carriage. I know, right? Even after a full 2 weeks of life outside of the pregnancy detention centre, Alex is yet to learn that Queenslanders like to keep quiet when in the quiet carriage. Stone-cold, air-conditioned silence.
Evidence suggests that Queensland Rail’s quiet carriages are possibly the only place in the whole state where you can gather your thoughts in peace. Yes, they are a rather chatty bunch.
In all seriousness, though, my time with GA has been a pleasure and a great learning experience, so thanks to you. And you. And you. It’s certainly been a privilege watching GA (nee TransportBlog) evolve and grow over time. In the future, I hope to continue to contribute to Auckland’s development, albeit more indirectly, perhaps in different (more research-oriented) ways, and from a greater distance. Go well.