Tui Song

And so, this morning, for the first time in a year and a half, I was woken up not by screaming and jumping kids, not by the sound of a piano being practiced or a drum kit being pounded on. Or even by the sound of the landlord’s car leaving for work.  This morning was different. There was the gentle light of the new morning sun, the distant cockle-doodle-doo of a neighbor’s rooster, and the jingle-belled walking motorboat alarm clock of one of the new kittens.

 

So let me back up a bit and explain how all of this has come to be.  My partner (now fiance!) E’s parents live predominantly in Taiwan.  But they like to come to new Zealand on their holidays. And they wish to retire down here.  And so they not too long ago purchased their dream retirement home up on the bluffs looking out over Lucas Creek.

 

The only downside for them is, they are not retired yet! And they won’t be for some time!  So they needed somebody to stay in the house and keep an eye on it for them while they are in Taiwan.  And this is where we come in.  So for the next four years or so, we will be living in this ginormous house for the year, and only sharing it with others when his parents come for visits, holidays, or conferences.

 

Pretty sweet, yeah?  It’s a 5 bedroom house with 3.5 baths, a rumpus room, two car garage, extensive gardens (well extensive by my standards), surrounded by native bush and looking out over some amazing views.  We can see parts of Albany, Lucas Creek, and the Waitakeres.  And off in the far distance I am still able to see the Sky Tower peeking out above the tree line.

 

Last night was our first night sleeping here, and the nighttime views were just as amazing.  Off in the distance you could see the glow of the Sky Tower, with the white fuzzy haze of the light pollution of the CBD all around it.  And then the sparkling orange lights of all the street lamps littering that part of the shore, like a thousand and ten stationery fireflies.  The moon barely glowing on the Creek, and even with all that civilization seemingly so very close, there was still enough darkness to look up into the sky and count the stars, to cuddle on the top balcony and feel the wind and listen to the hoot owl in the night.

 

And then to lay down on our mattress (we were too tired to be bothered putting the bed together yet) and listen to the absolute silence of the house.  The large echoing house. and the gentle sound of the wind chimes that hang just outside of our bedroom window. I don’t think I ever had a more peaceful night’s sleep.

 

Of course that was disturbed at 6am by the walking alarm clocks. Because we live out in the bush, E’s mom has decide that mice might be a problem.  And as such, we need cats. So we have two cats. They are ginger stripes and so cute! One of them is 5 months, the other is 4 months.  Their names are Happy and Lucky, although I could not at this instance tell you which is which.  We seem to be referring to them as “Cat 1″ or “Red Cat” and “Cat 2″ or “Blue Cat”, due to their size, age, and the color of their collars.

 

Blue cat was the one who came and woke me up this morning.  With his jingle bells around his neck (so that he can scare off any native birds that he might decide to hunt), and his walking motorboat of a purr.  I have never met a cat with such a loud purr who is able to sustain that purr while moving. But he is!

 

So this is just a taste of what is going on!  I think there might be a new section added to the blog called “Tales of May” all about living with E’s mom for the next few months and how our different language skills may come to play.  But I’ll have to think about that one still.  In the meantime, I will give you this picture, and say to you, “Good Morning, World”

 

And So I Said “Yes!”

Have a seat.  make yourself a nice cuppa.  Get comfortable. I’m going to tell you a modern love story.

Four years ago I got involved in a message board at a rather famous webcomic’s website.  I was playing games and posting about politics and generally being a typical citizen of the internet.  I made some friends and we all started hanging out together in an online chat room.  And it was there that I first started talking to my E.

 

I had just finished a long term relationship and was not looking for anything more serious than friendship.  He was still finishing up his Doctorate Thesis and wasn’t looking for anything past the end of school.  But we spent the nights and evenings talking about everything and anything.

 

Ideal vacations on a train through the outback, having dinner beneath the shadow of Uluru and counting the stars.  Singing songs from Broadway musicals and laughing when one of us (him) got the lyrics so horribly wrong.  This was all about three years ago. And then one night, something strange happened.  As we were saying out good nights so that I could sleep and he could make dinner, he slipped. And the words “I love you” came out of his mouth.

 

He panicked. I panicked. We both ignored it.  But then time passed and the words just seemed to be so very natural.  He slipped and said it again.  And then I slipped and said it back.  And then the whirlwind of absolute insanity happened.  Within months he was flying to the States from New Zealand to spend a week with me in DC. That time went far too quickly and we arranged to see one another in Seattle later that year.

 

And once that trip was over, my fate was sealed. It was only five months after having only spent three weeks total with him that I shoved my belongings into two suitcases and got onto the airplane to come to New Zealand.  I have been here for over 19 months and it’s like the time has both flown and stood still.  So much is happening in life that I could never have imagined.

 

Our happiness has only grown, our comfort is immeasurable, and our certainty unshakable.  So when we took the trip to the States this summer/winter it was not a surprise that he asked my father’s permission for my hand.  When we came back from the trip things continued as always.  But there was now an anticipatory excitement happening.

 

Then, about a month ago, I was daydreaming over rings online and E said to me, ‘let’s go out this saturday to look!’  So I found a few local jewelers that I liked their websites and found their addresses.  We went and spoke with a couple but the one gentleman in Devonport was astounding.  He was polite, professional, educational, and overall excited.  We left his store and looked around a bit more, but by the time that we got home, we knew that he was going to be the one.

 

So I started to tell E just what I wanted so hat he could call the jeweler, at which point E just told me to do it because I knew what I was talking about and he was clueless.  So I called and emailed the jeweler and we set up an appointment to come back and see him on the next saturday.

 

We got to his shop and he had spent his week searching for the stones for my ring.  I fell in love with them immediately.  E nodded and smiled and we decided on the ring and the setting. E and the jeweler settled on a two week period of time for the ring to be finished.

 

And so time passed. one week and then another. the days moved so slowly.  But then we got the emails from the jeweler.  Our ring was ready!  So this past saturday, October 20, we drove back to Devonport.  And my ring was there and it was gorgeous.  I tried it on and it fit absolutely perfectly.

 

And here is the next modern part.

 

I went to put the ring back into the box, so that E would be able to hide it and propose in his own time.  But he told me that I could keep wearing it, so I did.  We went and spent the afternoon with some friends at a campsite up north and then spent the rest of the weekend packing.  I kept offering for him to take it so that he could propose, but he kept telling me to leave it on. So I did.

 

And then, last night, after a particularly long night of playing Civilization 5 on the computer, we were getting ready to go to bed.  As we’re climbing tinto bed and settling into our customised cuddling positions, E said to me, “So I can’t think of how to make it a romantic surprise. I’ve been trying, but I just come up blank. So, do you want to get married?”

 

And so I said, “Yes!”

 

Life Lesson Learned: Laundry Edition

So here I am, hanging out on my porch, well in the carport, hanging up my laundry.  See, I’d normally be on the porch, but it’s a touch windy today and the last thing I need is to have the laundry topple over (again!) onto the landlord’s daughters new flower bed.  Not good.  So instead, I’m going to take advantage of the carport’s wind-tunnel nature and put the laundry to hang in there, relying upon the not-quite gale force winds to dry my clothing.  Sure, they don’t get sunshine this way, but I also don’t spend most of my afternoon going out to pick them up off the deck and pick dried leaves and dirt from what were clean clothes.  And yeah, I could tuck them in the little space where E’s motorbike is parked, we get some sunlight there in the afternoons.  But the last time I did that and a big gust of wind came through, I was chasing the laundry down the driveway as the towels acted as sails for the Good Ship Clothing Drive that was careening towards the road.   Not a particularly fun way to spend twenty minutes.

 

So there I was, in the carport, hanging up the clothes when I came to this one shirt of mine in particular.  Now this shirt I’ve had for several years and it has seen it’s fair share of ups and downs.  It’s a gray shirt with an orange collar and orange sleeves and I got it from Old Navy, who knows how long ago.  It’s a comfortable shirt, well worn and well loved.  I use it mainly for around the house now and lazy weekends with nothing to do but relax with my man.  But today, something about this shirt made me stop as I was hanging it up.

 

I’m not sure if it was the voluminous amounts of fabric that were just not agreeing with me or the hangers.  Or if it was the somewhat stubborn seeming insistence that it would quite simply not stay on the hanger at all, thank you kindly.  But once I finally hung it up, I paused in my usual chore doing and looked at it.  Really stopped and looked at it.

 

“This shirt is huge!” I thought to myself, and half said aloud.  I turned it this way and that and then this way again, looking it over.  Now true, it was wet and it had just gone through a bit of a battle with me and the washer and a pair of pants that decided it was a great time to turn into an octopus, so it was slightly stretched out.  But no. Even accounting for that, the shirt was huge. Enormous. And that thought, of course, got me thinking other thoughts.

 

The shirt was a 3XL.  I bought it because it was comfortable to fit in.  It was nice and light, gave me room to breathe, but also room to hide. I never quite filled it all the way out, and I’m very glad for that, but I fit into it comfortably.  It was a nice second skin for me. The shirt allowed me to get service in almost every establishment I went into without really letting on just how fat I was. We were secret companions in an ongoing battle with reality.  And dammit, we were winning, my shirt and I.

 

But now, here and now, on this day, I am hanging up this shirt and it is huge. Giant. I could swallow a small child and not even notice it had eaten.  I remembered thinking the other night when I was wearing it, that it was almost like a nightgown, only a little shorter.  I looked down at the shirt that I was wearing today.  A black t-shirt. Nothing special, nothing amazing. Just one that came from those three packs of t-shirts from the Men’s department at WalMart.  it’s comfortable, not too snug, but also not too loose.  I could do my workout in this shirt if I needed to.  I can also do my dishes and still feel comfortable.  Just to make sure, I turned the shirt sideways slightly and I peeked a look at the tag.

 

XL.

 

Talk about your mind being blown.  It’s hard, sometimes, when you’re so close to everything happening, to really see the progress being made.  But I was standing there, obsessively staring at this old shirt of mine, not quite realizing that I was looking at the progress I had made.  I used to fit into that. Now, I fit into this.

 

I used to hide behind that fabric, now I’m starting to own this fabric. I used to wrap myself in security in that shirt, now I’m becoming more outgoing in this one. I did that. I beat that. I beat that old shirt.  And I’m starting to beat this new shirt as well.

 

I have a size large t-shirt hanging up in my bedroom.  It’s my Nanowrimo shirt that I bought last year.  It was way too small for me then, it’s still slightly too small for me now.  Next year, next year, It will be too big for me.  I have come so far, but I have still further to go.  But for the moment, I’m going to finish my laundry, and then have a cuppa tea.

 

Thank you, Grey and Orange shirt. Thank you.

Browns Bay

photo found here:  http://widescreenstuff.vndv.com/new_zealand/default.html

A view from the grass at Browns Bay

 

Today I spent a lovely day in Browns Bay.  The reason for my trip was quite mundane.  I had to get my fingerprints done in order to send in my FBI request for my background check for my next round of Visa applications!  Hooray! It’s that time again!  We are all so joyous, can’t you feel it?

 

Anyway.

 

After getting my prints done up I had the afternoon to wander around and enjoy the town.  And while I did not get into the residential areas of town, it’s still lovely.  It’s actually what I think of now when I think of small towns on the coast in New Zealand.

 

There’s a main street that has all of the shops and cafes, the little bakeries and chemists.  There’s the housewares store and the book store.  The camera shop and the pet shop.  And there’s the jewelry store and the cafes.  About half dozen cafes in all, not including the obligatory Starbucks.   There are offshoot roads that lead to more shops, including a wool shop with very friendly staff!

 

But just behind the row of shops is exactly what I think of when my brain ponders the East Coast of New Zealand.  An expanse of green grass, not too long, and a smattering of trees that leads right to a small drop of and poof, you’re in sand. And just there, a ways from the green grass, is the water.

 

The tide was out while I was there, sitting on the grassy knoll and looking out across the bay.  The sand stretches quite a ways when the tide is out, you could probably easily walk thirty or forty, or even fifty feet, out from ‘shore’ and still not be in too deep of water that you could not get back.  Since this was the first sustained ‘nice’ day in a while, everybody was out along the water with their kids and their dogs.  And tourists and visitors as well.   You could watch the dogs race along the beach, happily chasing one another, or a ball, or a stick three times their own size.  Or squawking unhappy seagulls.  Or you could lift your eyes a bit and marvel at how the light hitting the water changed the color so dramatically.

 

For most of the bay the water seemed to be that typical dark blue that most people associate with a large body of water.  Blue, not brown.  This is so far from the Atlantic Ocean and the East Coast of the US that the two are not even comparable. the only place that I’ve seen a coastline similar is Maine, and the water there is dark blue and brown and bitterly cold.  The sand in Maine is more like fresh rocks, and not quite sand.  Although the Beaches that I’ve visited so far here have been  full of their own rocks as well, and seashells too.  not the fragments of shells that we see in Delaware, but full shells, and gorgeous.

 

But I’m digressing.

 

The water changed to a brilliant cyan, almost aqua color as the light hit and played on it.  I think some of that also had to do with depth, because there were some areas within the turquoise beauty that held onto the deep blue of the wider water.  You could almost look and see just how far you could walk out, simply by the colors in front of you.  A bit further out, was the bright orange and red and yellow of somebody’s sailboat, enjoying this weather and the water.

 

And then further east still there is more land, you could look across and see the homes of those that lived high on the cliffs, and the shiny walls of a big business.  And ever present in the slightly southerly distance is Rangitoto.  That large volcanic island’s presence ever looming over the East Coast Bays Region (Kiwis are so awesome at naming things. Seriously), with a mix of magnanimous permanency and that subtle reminder that it’s still a volcano, and capable of just about anything.

 

But those are thoughts for the back of your mind, not the forefront.  No in the foremost part of your mind you’re sitting there, enjoying your tea or coffee, and the shade of the large pine tree, watching a small pit bull drag a stick three times his weight after his owners.  You’re looking out over the sand and the rocks and the waves and not thinking much at all.   Other than just how beautiful this place is.  And just how New Zealand this place is.

 

And how so very lucky I am to live here.

Seasons Change

Wow.  Not since April.  Huh.

 

I guess this is where everybody expects a big info dump of my life in the last 5 months.  Truth to be told, there’s not much to tell.  I’m still in New Zealand, I’m still madly in love, and I’m still unemployed!

 

There, my life summed up.  Well, ok there’s more to it than that.  I’m still going to the gym, and I’m still losing the weight.  Slowly, but it’s happening. It’s steady, and I’m looking more at a lifestyle change than rapid “ohgod get it off me before summer!!!!!”.  Because even when summer hits, and even after I hit my goal weight, I’m still probably not going to wander around in a bikini.  It would just be weird.
And blinding.  My skin’s a bit… pale. Light would reflect from the surface of my skin and blind everybody.

 

Hmm.  maybe this could be the start of a new trend.  Nobody minds wearing bathing suits because nobody can see anybody else due to blinding skin whiteness.

 

Anyway, what else is happening?  Well E and I went back to the states to visit my parents and go to PAX again.  I suppose I could do a post all on those once I get my head straightened back out.  Pax was awesome, just saying.  Even if I didn’t go anywhere near the expo hall or do anything overtly geeky (although I suppose spending two entire days playing board games is a bit geeky.  But i got to be a pirate in one and the other I killed zombies! Totally not geeky!).

 

And now, I’m back home, getting back into the fitness swing of things, back into the crocheting swing of things, and back into the packing swing of things.

 

Packing?

 

Why yes, packing.  Because in about two months we’ll be living in a new place.  And so when that happens, people pack! it’s a natural thing, no need to be afraid of it.

 

So yes, I am back.  I will do what I can to keep you all updated with the absolutely mundane things that make up my life.  Even if all they are revolve around the gym, my crochet, and tea.

 

Tea can be entertaining, right?

 

 

Today’s Brew:  Twining’s Earl Grey

Total cups so far: 5

Getting Back Up

Hi!

 

Have you missed me?

 

Well life has been a series of busy lately, and while all of it has been fantastic, none of it really lends itself to being ‘blog-worthy’.  Or at least, not in a way that I can think of just yet.  So what has been happening in life down here in kiwiland?  Well, let me tell you.

 

A couple weekends ago two of our really close friends got married.  It was an absolutely fantastic day, the ceremony went off just as was planned and the Bride and Groom had a great time.  I was so very happy to be not only invited but to also be a part in helping them plan and get ready for their day.  Having only known them for a few months, it’s truly amazing just how close we’ve become.  I can’t express enough or in the proper words just how humbled and grateful I am to the pair of them for allowing me to spend time with them and share in their joy on that day.  Love you both R&K!

 

This past weekend, another pair of our friends moved into their new house! And we, of course, helped them move!  Now, I know that does not necessarily sound like a barrel of laughs, and it was some hard work, but it was also absolutely great.  We got to spend time with friends, help them move onto their next big step, and generally just enjoy everybody’s company.  And while helping them move, unpack, and settle into their new place, I had time to look back, reflect, and focus on just how far this life that I’m living now is to the ones that I’ve lived before.  Doing physical labor, but laughing and joking at the same time. Everybody coming together collectively to help out, and then sitting around a table (which is gorgeous!) for a well deserved dinner.  I am struggling to figure out if life gets better than that.   The house is gorgeous, the couple fantastic, and our time spent together equally precious.  Congrats R&E!

 

What else, what else.

 

The job hunt is not so much a hunt as it is shooting arrows wildly into the forest in every direction, only to have them shot back at you with no points and no fletching. Not helpful.  But! perseverance will prevail!  Employment will be gained! Somehow.

 

Now, the biggest new thing happening to me personally is that I’ve committed to a Personal Trainer. Tom is going to be kicking my butt left, right, and sideways twice a week for 45 minutes.  After 7 months at the gym, and a significant amount of body tightening up, It was time to get even more serious.  I’ve got weight I want to, must, lose and it’s not going to come off on it’s own.  And while I’ve stuck with going to the gym at least twice a week for 7 months, I need something more. I need to keep pushing myself even more, harder than before.  I must lose this weight.  The rest of my life depends upon hitting that healthy moment and then keeping going.  And that’s not an exaggeration.

 

Today was my second session with Tom and everything went well.  Really well, actually.  But it was the last ‘exercise’ that got me into a contemplative mood.  Essentially all I had to do was lay down on the ground on my chest and then stand back up again five times, and then lay on my back and get up again five times.  Sounds simple, right? Wrong.  It was definitely not easy.  There was so much involved, just so much energy and movement and muscles.  It was by far the hardest exercise that I did.

 

Just like life.  It’s fairly easy to get knocked down time and time again.  It’s the getting back up that’s the hardest part.  And all of this, the man who is supporting me, the friends that I’ve found and love, and the gym, this is all part of me getting back up off the ground.

 

And this time, I’m going to remain standing. And then, start running.

Round the Bays 2012

What an absolute crap day.

 

Oh the race itself was great, the company a blast, and being able to cross something off my list highly fantastic!  But I was just not quite in the mood. I woke up grumpy and it stayed with me pretty much all through the day.

 

I went to bed early the night before, but having been awake for far too long by that point I was not able to make up my sleep quota in just 7 hours, so I woke up at 7am on sunday morning, and I was grumpy. Cranky, and a few other words that end in -y and are not pleasant things to be.  But i was awake and there was no way I was going to back out of this now.  I made myself some oatmeal, had a mug of tea, and then our friends arrived for the carpool caravan!

 

We drove with them towards the end of the race track (because you see, you walk the 8.4km and then you have to get back to your car, which is likely at the start of the course.  So really, if you’re unlucky, it’s actually 16.8km walk. but only half of it counts!  But we were smart this year!  We carpooled with some friends and we each parked our cars at one end of the course!  Huzzah!  So after dropping their car off at the finish line, we drove back towards the start of the race and parked ours.

 

And here is where my day started to go bad.  I had to use the bathroom.  I know I probably could have held it a bit longer, but that seemed to be utterly foolish.  So while scouting for a place I finally gave up and went into a petrol station with a line.  I was still standing in line when the race officially started, with cannon blast and everything.  I didn’t actually get to the starting line of the race until about 20 minutes after the race started.  Which was actually not too bad since we were still with a bunch of people at that time.  There were over 70,000 participants in this event.  That’s a lot of humanity.

 

 

So you see, we started in central Aucklan, right along the waterfront.  Walked up past the Port of Auckland, where the Portworker’s Union were standing out with signs about keeping the Port public.  And then all along the walkway that’s just been finished .  Up and around all of the bays. Mission bay, where I’ve spent some time, and others that I haven’t yet.  The views were quite pretty, but I did not bring my camera.  My big cannon just would not have worked well.

 

So, now that you know the route, let’s get back to me and my bad day.  Somehow I started off putting my left foot down wrong. Or at least that’s how it felt.  I tried to adjust my gait over the course of the day, but it just was not working well for me.  My big toe was hurting and I was getting cramps down the outside of my leg, along my knee.  I stopped a few time to try and stretch the offending muscle, but to no real avail.  It was just not a good day.My pace was not consistent as a result and by the last kilometer of the race I was barely moving.  I was running on absolute dregs of the dregs of fumes.  My tiredness from the day/night before plus the exertion of the race seemed to have caught up with me and I was just plain wasted.

 

I made it to the finish line though, and the official times haven’t been posted yet online, but shortly after I crossed the line, they announced it had been 2 hours and 28 minutes since the start.  So a little over 2 hours if we want to be technical and not count my being in line for the toilet.

 

Now there were some fun things along the route.  One radio station was apparently handing out sausages, and another was giving out/selling slushies.  They had packed up by the time we reached their trucks, but we were told that they had been awesome.  Cadbury chocolates had set up a giant water sprinkler at just about the halfway point for people to run under and cool off a bit.  Luckily, or not I guess, the weather was actually overcast and cool so there was no real need for the sprinkler, but it was really cool either way. And there were some folks from the Ice bar company (a new icy pop business) giving out samples of their lemonade icy bar.  Which was really welcome at that point in the race.

 

Overall, the race was good, and had I been in a better mood, less tired, and better prepared mentally I probably would have enjoyed myself even more.  But my mind was just not in it, and my body certainly was not quite ready for it.  Next year, I will be more prepared, and I will conquer it again.

 

had a good time with walking the race with E though, he decided to not run it, but instead hang back with me and our friends and do the course at a leisurely pace.  Which was greatly appreciated.

 

There were some good bits, like the sprinkler and the icy bar, and the army guys and their perfect jogging technique. Oh, and the firetruck that got stuck on the Start banner. And it did feel good to finish the race, walk to the bbq that his work put on and have some post race food.

 

But It was just not my best day, and not my best race.  It’s left a tiny bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but i’ll get over that soon.

 

Soon up!  Crochet projects galore!

Knotty Knotty

I’m a tangled up Puppet…

 

I’ve been humming that song for a few days now, while sitting on my couch, surrounded by my new stash of yarns, while my Finished Projects pile up more and more on a shelf in the bookcase.

 

I’ve taken up Crochet again, and this time, it feels serious. I’ve learned new stitches, I’m finding it a bit easier to read patterns, and I’ve finished probably as many projects in two weeks time than I think I’ve started in three times as many years.  It’s finally all making sense in my head!  It is seriously quite exciting!

 

So if anybody was wondering just where I have been, and why I have not been posting as much as I was, it’s probably due to the fact that I’m on the couch, West Wing playing in the background (or Mad Men), buried under a pile of wool and acrylic yarn twisting and knotting my way to new and exciting objects.

 

I’ve been working on hats, I’ve finished up a small bowl, I’ve even got a trivet!  two shawls, a scarf, 4 headbands (two with flowers), and an evening bag!  A baby blanket and a baby hat, and an adorable stuffed snake!  I’ve got one more hat underway at the moment, and a new shawl in the making.  And after this, who knows?

 

I am getting good at this!  And I am enjoying it so much!

 

Oh and on top of the crochet, I’ve got a garden underway on my porch! Mainly herbs, but I’m also growing lettuce and spinach as well!  But that is a post for a later time.

 

I have to get back to my crochet! There’s a deadline for the shawl that I’m working on right now! I want it to be done in time for a wedding that’s in 2 weeks! Yikes! So it needs to be finished soon.  So that if I don’t like it, I have enough time to find another pattern!  I’ve done this once already.

 

This is possibly turning into a serious obsession for me.  Which is dangerous!  But oh so much fun!

MIA

I know, right? It’s been forever.

 

Well, there really hasn’t been much happening to me.  I’ve been applying for jobs, being rejected from jobs, and doing housework.  I’ve planted a pot garden, though. And I successfully made some pumpernickel bread. 

 

But really, that’s about the extent of my adventures.  I’ve really just been enjoying being home with E, or having dinner with friends.  Life is not all that outrageous or amazing, but it’s been good.  So very good.

 

I suppose I could show you pictures of my garden, or my pumpernickel.  Or maybe even my Crochet projects that I’ve been working on.  But really, at the moment, I’m just so content to just sit out on the porch with a book, watch the wind tip over the laundry, and enjoy the rays of sunshine, I just can’t be bothered to lay all the projects out and take the photos.

 

I think Autumn anywhere is a favorite season for me, but down here?  It’s absolutely stunning!

Botany 10k Walk

Yeah.  You read that right.

 

10k.

 

Just about 6 miles.

 

And I did it. I set myself the goal and I completed it. Smashed it. Demolished and obliterated it.  I looked my goal in the face and I scared it into the atmosphere.

 

After crying, and whimpering and almost quitting, of course.

 

The day started out cloudy and overcast.  When we got to the race venue (which is really just a large mall/shopping center) we could see that a huge amount of rain had already come through earlier, and the sky looked to be promising more.  It was a bit brisk for a summer morning and the air was damp and humid.  So not the best thing to be walking in, but better than clear blue skies and sweltering heat.

 

The race started at 9am on the dot, there were just over 600 people there men, women, and children.  There were folks with their babies in strollers, a gentleman in a wheelchair and a father and his special needs son in a stroller.  And me.  I started off strong, matching my pace with a pair of older ladies and just keeping up.  but they soon passed me, and then more and more people passed me.  But that was alright, I was fine.  I knew that there were still people behind me.  I made it through the first 3k without any problems.

 

It was around the 3.5k mark that things got difficult.  My feet were hurting, my back was aching my knees wanted to give up.  I started to cry. I could not believe what I was doing to myself. What in the world had seeped into my brain to make me think that I had anywhere close to a chance to doing a 10k walk?  I hadn’t even hit the halfway point and I was ready to die.  How could I go around and do it again?  And then, just as I was hitting the absolute bottom of depression, the knowledge in my mind that I just could not do this thing anymore, E was there.  He had found the 4k point of the race and was waiting for me with fresh cold drinks (powerade) and encouragement.  I stopped my crying, picked my head up, and instead of turning into the finish line, I kept on going straight to start the next lap.

 

I was alone.  Completely and utterly alone.  There were no more walkers in front of me that I could see and try to match with them.  And turning around I was completely by myself.  I could see nobody.  It was just me and this course.  And the cones.  And the cars.  And so I turned up my music and I walked. And I walked. And I walked some more.  I cursed and I yelled and I chided myself.  I hated my life and everything that I was doing but I kept on moving.  Had to keep moving.

 

Got to the water station and looked at the kid behind the table, I jokingly told him that I thought I was last.  He confirmed that I was.  He told me to take a break, take a rest, have some water.  But I had to keep going, I had to keep moving.  I couldn’t stop, not even for a brief breath and some water. If I stopped moving then, I would have stopped completely.  And so I moved on.  Full of the knowledge that I was the very last person out of 600+ to be out on the course.  The very last.  Everybody was waiting on me.

 

And even that knowledge, and the fact that I knew that I would show up last and everybody would know that I was completely incapable of doing this, did not slow me down. I kept going, kept moving. Singing and dancing and walking and cursing and crying.  I was soon joined by one of the race helpers, those blessed people who get up early to stand along the route of the race and cheer you on in their bright orange vests.  She joined me to ostensibly keep me company, but also to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn’t collapse.  Also, my own personal traffic cop.  Because there were still intersections to get through and cars to avoid.  Let me tell you a personal traffic cop is a handy thing to have when all you can do is concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

 

One kilometer to go and there was my E again, waiting with yet another cold drink and more encouragement.  So for the last kilometer of the race I walked with E and this orange-vested race lady.  It was quite something.  And as I got closer to the finish line I was greeted by more race personnel and they all offered congratulations and adulation on my continued effort. I was last.  But I had still made it that far.

 

I turned down the roadway towards the finish line and as soon as I appeared in that area the remaining racers and their friends and family all erupted into cheers and applause.  The MC of the event, a guy from the local radio station, announced to everybody that I was coming down the home stretch.  He announced me by name.  And the applause and congratulations and approval got even louder as I crossed the finish line and the clock stopped.

 

2:00:41

 

I was hurried over to a chair where the race workers took off my bib and put it into the box for the spot prizes and they removed the timing chip from my shoe for me.  I was then allowed to move into the crowd, where even more people offered personal congratulations on completing the race, and they decided to do the spot prizes and the big prize drawings.  Oddly enough, we were joined by some friends.  They had done the 5k run and had no idea that I was even there, but they heard my name over the speakers and were surprised and happy.  The prizes were awarded and then we left to go home.

 

I hurt. My entire body was aching and I could barely form complete sentences. But I had finished my goal, beaten it to the ground.  I had told myself that if I could finish this race in under 2.5 hours, I would be happy.  I blew that expectation out of the water.  And I was still alive and still breathing.

 

The applause from the other participants was the biggest mix of emotions that I have felt in some time. Pride in my accomplishment. Shame in how long it took me. Embarrassment at the attention. Guilt that it took me so long and everybody was waiting for me before the event could move on.  But mostly just relief that it was over. And then pain.

 

It’s two days later and I can say that even though I have blisters on both feet and my ribs ache as though I’ve been dry-heaving for days, I am glad that I did it.  I set myself a goal and I achieved that goal.

 

Now, I rest a bit, get my feet healed, and then back at the training.  I’ve got another big race coming up next month!

 

This one’s only 8.5k though.  Only. Hah!