Resolving to Resolve

New Year’s resolutions.  Yes, I made them.  Why am I only sharing them with you now?  Because I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with them.  Sharing your resolutions can be like asking someone to marry you on national television, only to be turned down.  Okay, that may be a tad overdramatic.  But they do have the potential to work as anti-fulfilling prophesies.  By their mere mention, they are set to never be achieved.

So far, I have been working towards achievement of mine.  Here they are:

  1.  Writing original fiction
  2.  More ballroom dancing
  3.   The DIET

WRITING

I used to write lots of stories.  I loved writing.  I still do.  But several years ago, for many reasons, I stopped writing.  I told someone recently that I’d stopped in part because I wasn’t sure who I was anymore, and if I felt that way, how could I write with an authentic voice?  That, and I was lazy.  Okay.  Mostly I was lazy (but the first part sounded better).

So I made a commitment.  I gave myself a deadline—the Georgia Bar Journal’s annual fiction contest.  The deadline was 20 January.  I had a lot going on in January (and a complete lack of a story) so, I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off.  I’ll save you the “did she or didn’t she???” artificially created plot tension and just tell you that I did.  I made the deadline with hours to spare.  My primary character?  A pygmy goat.  If only I were joking.

But seriously, the best part of the whole exercise was that completely real fear that I wouldn’t be able to tie the threads of my story together in any believable fashion and the unbridled joy and excitement when I did.  Writing feels like magic.

DANCE FEVER!

I used to dance most Thursday nights with my friends in the Savannah Swing Cats group.  We took over the corner of an occasionally smoky bar at a seen-better-days hotel on Abercorn Street.  It was fun.  Great, great fun.  We danced swing, foxtrot, salsa, you name it.  (Well, those were the only dances I knew, so I’ll just name those, okay?)  Like writing, I missed dancing.  I wasn’t  very good at it, but I enjoyed it.  I figured a year and a half in Wellington was enough time to have gotten my feet under me.

The thing about dancing in Wellington is that it’s not quite like Savannah.  There aren’t advertised groups or communities who—for a few bucks, or none at all—organize great dance events.  The closest thing I could find was sequence dancing.  Without going into a complicated description, let’s just say that it’s choreographed ballroom.  If you don’t know the choreography, you’re basically screwed.  Oh, and it’s a hit with the over 80 crowd.

Last night, I attended my first Wellington sequence dance event.  Every Monday night from 7:30 to 10, you can dance, dance, dance the night away.  If you know the patterns, that is.

I was the youngest person in the room by a good 25 years, I am American, and I’m a girl.  Basically, this meant that I didn’t lack for dance partners.  It also meant that I was a good source of kind-spirited gossip.  By the time Roma, the designated teacart lady for the night, came around to collect my cup, she knew I was that “Young American girl with the delightful accent.”

Gary was my primary partner.  Gary was good fun.  He has a thing for jam cake, I could tell, and he’s travelled all over the world.  Gary is also 90.  Albert was another dance partner.  He was very concerned that I was going to miss out on the jam cake, has also travelled all over the world, and is serious about dental hygiene.  We talked about dental hygiene for a good while.  Albert is about 85.

Yes this was all very amusing, but you know what?  These people could dance.  I, on the other hand, looked like a cartoon character wiping out on a banana peel.  “Youth” (come on, everything is relative) is irrelevant in the face of experience.  It was fun.  I will definitely go back.

DUKAN ME THIN

I’m also staring a sincere effort to lose the rest of the weight I’d like to.  I did a lot of research and decided to use the Dukan diet.  There are many merits to the Dukan diet, but let me say this: I cannot credibly endorse a program which (a) means I cannot eat popcorn for a year; and (b) requires a sincere, life-long commitment to meaty protein.

I came.  I saw.  I ate the chicken.  Now I will modify and stick to what worked the first time.  A crap load of exercise and very few treats.  (But popcorn is a necessity.)  I promise not to keep you updated on my efforts.  Just know that I have great intent to stick with this one.  But now it’s time to go, the microwave just dinged.  My popcorn is ready.

A Kiwi Thanksgiving

What do you do when you live in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and doesn’t have turkeys, cranberries, and all other “Thankgsiving-ish” foods available in late November?  You improvise.

Yesterday, T and I had our second annual “Kiwi Thanksgiving”, which consists of Chinese takeaway and homemade desserts.  Why Chinese takeaway?  Because I was so over trying to make things from home in a place that doesn’t have things from home, that I just gave up.  Chinese it was, and it was delicious.  It all started with the dessert, you see.

Last year, I made gingerbread pumpkin trifle.  It’s a thirty minute recipe, assuming you have gingerbread mix, Cool-whip, Libby’s canned pumpkin, and Jello vanilla pudding mix.  When you have none of these things, it’s a five day recipe.  Between roasting pumpkin, whipping cream, researching how to make pudding mix (this could be the subject of a blog post all on its own!), and paying $10 for a bottle of molasses to make real gingerbread, this became the most expensive and time-consuming dessert in history.  To make matters worse, when I was finished, I was universally confronted with the following questions:

“Pumpkin for dessert?  Really?  Why would you ever do that to a pumpkin?”

These questions were usually followed by slight shivers and vaguely green cast to the skin of the questioner.

This year, though, I was prepared.  Not only did I make sure I had vanilla pudding mix from home, I used crushed gingersnaps instead of gingerbread.  And I made sure to make two other desserts–chocolate pecan pie and cranberry orange apple pie.  That, plus some creative papermaking ideas from this blog, and I was set.  We had sixteen guests this year, and plenty of orange beef and egg foo young to go around.  Here are some pictures from the event.

To all of my friends at home, happy, happiest of Thanksgivings to you.  Know that I thankful that all of you are in my life.

Our buffet table. (I spent an hour ironing that sheet. I'm not very good at ironing...)

My Thanksgiving "fast facts". Did you know that Thanksgiving used to last for 3 days

The thankfulness basket--anonymous and read aloud after dinner. This is always fun. Especially when you can tell who wrote what! We got a lot of thoughts of thankfulness for good friends and family, but a few thoughts for bare-chested, very fit men running in the summer.

Banners! (We, perhaps, went overboard)

Dessert!

What says Thanksgiving like Chinese takeaway!?

why not have some fun with the descriptions?

Yes, one more banner....

And finally…

The Thanksgiving Smurfs are courtesy of our good friends Anna and Paddy, who found them in a second-hand shop last year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all I know and love!  To my friends at home, eat some pumpkin pie, cornbread dressing, and cranberry sauce for me.  (And some turkey, too!)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt-Like-Thing

I am not a fashionista.  My wardrobe sits comfortably in the range of “mainstream safety” with occasional forays into “mainstream quirk”.  But, above all else, I do not mix and match.  My blacks go with my blacks.  Sometimes, I add something red, just to be controversial. 

Moving to Wellington meant throwing all of that out of the window.  Suddenly, stripes and plaids mixed together; vintage looks were popular (to the point that I thought someone was a historical re-enactor.  No.  She was just on her way to work); and things I considered very racy (fishnet tights, stiletto heels), were daytime de rigour

I have become a bit more experimental with what I wear, but I wanted to take it a step further.  I wanted to find something that was uniquely New Zealand fashion that I could take home with me for my upcoming visit.  Something that would totally up my “cool” factor. 

So I decided to go to DeNada.  I love DeNada.  It’s a lovely boutique full of strange and interesting clothing options that are ridiculously expensive for what they are but intrinsically lovely all the same. 

I have to confess that, heretofore, I’d never actually purchased anything from DeNada.  There are three reasons for this.  One, the price.  Two, the fit (I’m a bit more ample than the target customer).  Three, my complete befuddlement at how some of the garments are meant to be worn.  Or even gotten into.  But I had this moment of capriciousness and decided that I wasn’t leaving until I had a new, lovely, tres chic garment.

Now, had this occurred at home, at least three of my friends would have stopped me.  Or they would have at least gone with me to make sure that I wasn’t going to be a walking fashion disaster.  SL, with her critical eye, could say—without malice—“No, that’s not you.”  She saved me from a very awkward sweater purchase once.  LA would encourage me to branch out, but would also politely tell me when something worked or didn’t.  LA convinced me to buy a pair of shoes that have since become my favourites.  TM would tell me to “work it,” and convince to buy something that showed a peek of shoulder. 

LG, CS, IN, and TP–in their own ways—will tell me when something makes the best of my assets and when it doesn’t.  And they are tough.  Really tough.  And I love it. 

I trust these women with my lives.  Therefore, it was a suicide mission to walk into DeNada without them.

An hour later, I came skipping out of DeNada with a skirt-like-thing.  I say skirt-like-thing, because it wasn’t a skirt at all.  It was this odd tube of fabric with large, pointy panels in two colours draping down my front and rear with a large slit going up the side of the leg.  According to the sales clerk, it was a skirt meant to be worn over pants.  Or another skirt.  It was not, apparently, a skirt by itself. 

That seemed edgy.  Cool. Fashion forward.  And I liked it.  I happily handed over my credit card for the skirt-like-thing. 

The infamous skirt-like-thing, on it's way back to the store

Then I got home. 

I was so excited, I rushed upstairs to put it on, telling T that I wanted to show him my new skirt-like-thing. 

But what happened next was like waking up in the middle of the night to discover you really shouldn’t have eaten that second burrito. 

The skirt-like-thing looked very, VERY different in the far more judgmental mirror of my bathroom, than in the one in the shop.  Oh no!  What had I done?  How could my skirt-like-thing have forsaken me so quickly??

Sure that I was just being overly critical, I sloped downstairs intent on getting T’s honest appraisal.

I said to him, “I want your honest appraisal of this.  You won’t hurt my feelings, I promise.” 

T winced and an expression passed across his face that reminded me of the time that he ate some bad fish. 

“I don’t like these kinds of games,” he said warily. 

“I’m serious.  You won’t hurt my feelings.  Well, I mean, don’t say I look like a two-thousand pound hippo, or something.  Be constructive.  Non-emotive.  Tell it to me straight.”

The bad fish expression passed across his face again.  He opened his mouth and then closed it.  He motioned for me to twirl.  I did.  He opened his mouth again, blinked, and closed it shut.  He asked me to twirl again.

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” I asked.  “That’s why you’re not saying anything.  Because it’s bad. I knew it was bad!”

“I didn’t say it was bad!” he rushed to say.  “I just … I mean … what is it?  Is it a skirt?  Is it missing some fabric?  I mean, it’s hard to really give you an opinion when you’re wearing it over your jeans.”

“You’re supposed to wear it over your jeans.”

T’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline, the universal symbol for, “You’re shitting me.”

“Really,” he asked. “Oh.  Okay.  Well … wait, so it is a skirt or is it … what is it?”

“It’s a skirt-like-thing.”

“Okay.”

“They said to wear it over pants.  Or another skirt.”

“Uh, huh.” 

“So what do you think,” I asked, sure he was stalling.

He did the mouth flapping thing again.  Cleared his throat.  Asked me twirl once more.  And then he stuttered, “I … well … I mean … it’s … I’m not sure … That is, I don’t know if …”

I sighed.  “It’s bad, right?”

“It just looks … complicated.”  Encouraged, he continued, “And I don’t know if that … well, I mean I love your—but I don’t think it plays to your best assets.  I mean—oh hell!  Why can’t you ask your girlfriends about this?”

I put him out of his misery and agreed that the skirt-like-thing was indeed a bit too complicated for my much more simple style and that it did, in fact, make my ass look like it was the size of an airplane hanger. 

I just know that if any of my girlfriends had been with me, they would have told me to step away from the skirt-like-thing and would have encouraged me to look at something else. 

I caution to add that it’s not as if I don’t have girlfriends here.  I do.  And they are amazing, lovely, wonderful women.  But history is important.  I have an insane amount of history with SL, LA, TP, CS,LG,IN, and TM.  I have barreled through more than one pint of ice cream with several of them—one or both of us crying our eyes out at the time.  I have rushed over to one’s house at 2 am when she needed me, and vice-versa.

We have been through the wars together.  We have talked and lived love, death, and taxes.  We have seen each other naked.  I don’t mean in the physical sense (though, yes, obviously we have had occasion to witness this).  I mean in the, “Oh, dear God, please don’t ever tell anyone that I {insert embarrassing/vulnerable moment}”.  That (among many things) keeps my defences low when I ask these women leading questions like, “Does this make me look fat?” 

We’re honest with each other and we don’t have to explain our motivations.  We know that whether it’s a skirt-like-thing, a relationship, or a work problem, we’re going to be straight with each other.  Why?  Because we love each other and we only want to see each other blossom.  Sometimes, to blossom, you have to step away from the skirt-like-thing. And sometimes, it takes someone you trust more than yourself to tell you. 

It’s like having seven sisters, really.  That’s the way I think of them.  It’s nice knowing that, even at 8,000 miles a way, I can still count on these women to keep me grounded, and to remind me that I’m loved.  And tell me if the skirt-like-thing makes me look fat. 

 

 

Your Junk is My Precious!

I am loathe to pay full-price for anything.  There are few exceptions to this, beauty products being most notable.  Otherwise, I wait for things to go on sale.  Sales were fine, but I drew the line at buying something that was “preloved”.  Purchasing a dress someone else wore?  Surely not!

But then I moved to New Zealand where everything feels three times as expensive as at home.  And I discovered TradeMe.

TradeMe is like a combination of Ebay and Craig’s List (minus the unsavoury shenanigans).  It is a glorious cornucopia of nostalgia, free trade, real estate, and sparkly earrings. I can buy roofing nails, plants, plane tickets, and fingernail polish all on one easy to navigate website.  We found our flashy new apartment on the wharf on TradeMe.  T bought his car—Hans—on TradeMe, too.

Speaking of said flashy new apartment, the problem with moving somewhere new is making all of your stuff look like it’s been there for a hundred years (minus the dust and obvious environmental damage that would have occurred).  We didn’t have the problem of too much stuff.  No, we so clearly didn’t have enough that it was painful.  A TV, sofa and side table do not a lounge and dining room make.

We thought we’d start slowly.  We made lists.  We prioritised.  We considered where we spent most of our time at home and what we really needed.  A chair, we determined.  Let’s start with a chair!  Man cannot live by a single sofa alone.

We thought we were clever by going to a mid-range furniture store’s big sale.   We searched high and low; we bickered loudly and softly.  Finally, we found a chair we could both agree on.  Only, the chair—a single, small armchair—was $800.00.  On sale.  And it didn’t even have gold plating.  Needless to say, we did not buy the chair.

Then I remembered my trusty friend, TradeMe.  It had given me a roof over my head and provided us with transportation. Surely it could kit out our apartment too?

I gave myself a budget of $700, which had to buy the following:

  • One lounge chair
  •  One coffee table
  • One dining table and chairs, suitable for six people
  • One coat rack
  • One set of filing drawers

These were the essentials.  Could I do it?  Could I really?

Like that annoying, “Let’s Build a House in Seven Days and Still Remain Relentlessly Cheerful” TV Show, Yes. I Could.

And, I got a new handbag, a pair of sandals, and a dress to boot.  I only went over budget by $10.00.

Only $300, and that included delivery. Best bargain of the lot, I think.

The best purchase was by far the lounge chair: gorgeous brown leather from a boutique furniture shop in Paris.  We paid less than 10% of what the man paid (I sleuthed on line!) when he was writing his memoires while living in the South of France.  That was great, of course, but the story of the chair was even better.

At only $200, this got a definite, "Ooh, la la!"

Our worst purchase was the coffee table.  T had to pick it up under the cover of night and had to schlep it from the carport (where it had been left) into Hans and back home.  In the light of day, “minor scratches” were huge gouges, and “good condition” was “leans slightly to the left.”  I should mention that the coffee table man offered to take it back and refund our money, but I had already grown attached to it and felt like a protective mother.

Looks good from afar, but hardly a "bargain" at $50.

Even better still was the endless of parade of stuff that people put up for sale: There were the flame red, patent leather chairs that looked like lips; the “munted” recliner that was held together by tape; the table that had a deep gouge all the way the down the center with the mysterious explanation for how it got there.

Looking through these listings was like seeing the curtains drawn back from these people’s lives.  I’m pretty sure the guy selling the recliner really didn’t want to part with it, but “no longer fits our décor” is code for, “my partner said it’s me or the recliner and I really like her buttered potatoes.”  And the flame red leather chairs?  Either a very good salesman was involved, or some sinister, dark force.

And then there are the people who just tell you.  You don’t even get to guess.  “I’m only selling this chair as it’s too comfy.  I can’t seem to get out of it and my wife said that if I didn’t get off my arse and do the yard work she’d divorce me.  Please won’t you buy my chair?”

I’m now on the hunt for a hall table that will have places for our shoes underneath, drawers or cubbies for the endless pieces of paper that T brings home, and a shelf for all of the stuff that we seem to carry around in our pockets on a daily basis.  Oh.  And it can only be a certain width and depth.  And it needs to be dark brown or black.  If I can find it anywhere, it will be TradeMe.

Off to the hunt I go…

The hangbag is already in operation; the sandals will come home to Savannah with me!

I wish I may, I wish I might, have the mantra I wish tonight

“What’s my mantra?”

T looked up briefly from his dog-eared film festival program with a quizzical expression.  In a delayed reaction—as if trying to process if I had, in fact, asked him what my mantra was—he finally asked, “What?”

“My mantra.  What’s my mantra?”

His mouth opened and then snapped shut again—his jaw clearly thinking better of whatever it was his brain had considered saying.  We remained in silence for a few moments, engaged in some weird staring contest, me waiting expectantly for an answer.  Him, considering responses and discarding them based on an his astute risk analysis.

“Mantra?  I don’t know.  Does anyone have a mantra?” he mused aloud.

I had to admire his deflection.  It was a classic, safe move.  But I was undeterred.  “I should have one.  Well.  Actually, Izzie’s asked me what mine is.  She’s doing something mysterious and needs to know.”

T snorted.  ‘Mysterious?  You make it sound like some weird voodoo ritual.”

“Okay, Mr Funny Man, it’s not voodoo.  It’s a sincere question and I’m giving it sincere thought.  You know me.”

“Yeah, that I do,” T muttered.  He paused and scratched his head.  His eyes flicked longingly to the film program.  He closed it with a sigh and turned to me fully.  “Okay.  A mantra.  Your mantra.  Well … what about—” and then he stopped.  “Hang on.  Isn’t this supposed to be your mantra?”

“:Yes.”

“Well … I mean … it’s yours.  Don’t you think it’s—I mean—shouldn’t YOU be figuring it out?”

“Well, yes, but I thought you might be able to point me in the right direction.”

“For figuring out what you should be meditating on? How about, ‘Universe, help me be decisive,’” he said with a chuckle that, admittedly, got me chuckling too.

“It’s hard!” I said through the tittering.  “I mean, picking one phrase that sums up the essence of your being and is the kernel of truth that defines and guides your path?”

“Are you serious?  You’re serious.  Not everything has to be so serious, you know.  Oh!  There’s your mantra.  ‘Stop taking life so seriously!’”

And with that, T went back to studying the film festival program to see if he could squeeze in one more film to round out his list to 35.

The problem was, “Don’t take life so seriously” could have been my mantra.  T was right about that.  A dozen other phrases would have been good choices, too.  Ones like, “Take risks, but be prepared.”  Or, “Life is what you make it.” Or, in a nod to Sally Field, “They like me.  They really like me.”  So it was less of an issue of finding one, as it was picking among the many, many, many good choices.

That’s the thing about being profoundly neurotic.  You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to mantra shopping.

But I was serious when I said I was taking this task seriously (which—as T so pointedly said—is no shock to anyone who knows or has met me).  So, I approached the task as I would any new, confounding topic.  Research.

In a past life, I’m quite sure I was a research librarian.  For a long time, I wore librarian glasses.  I continue to have a penchant for wool skirts and twinsets.  I’m generally regarded as harmless, and while lively, never one to cause a stir.  And I love exploring new topics and figuring things out.  I was probably the only person in law school who wished it had been four years instead of three.

I began my research with my trusty friend, Google.  Google lead me to a number of interesting topics on mantras: what mantras are, what they’re meant to be, what you should be aiming for in a mantra.  Armed with the basics, I started consulting learned sources for ideas on what a good mantra should be.   Sources like “quotegarden.com” and “inspirationalquotes.com”.  It’s amazing the things people say.

About two weeks into this process, T came home one evening and asked what I was doing.

“Looking for a mantra.”

“On the Internet?”

“It could happen.  I found the world’s most perfect pair of shoes on the Internet.”

“But shouldn’t this be something that YOU think?  Not what someone else thinks?”

“Yes, but my mantra will be stronger if someone else said it first.  It gives it validity.  It’s like stare decisis.  You know, precedent.”

T rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath about bloody lawyers and bloody Latin and bloody mantras before turning on the sports news and going into a rugby-induced stupor.

I did eventually settle on a mantra, and yes, it did come from the Internet, and yes, someone else said it first.  But it really summed up so much in my life, and so much about the choices that I’ve made at times.  The guilt I’ve felt at putting myself first or the resentment when I didn’t.

So, my mantra is “Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.”  Some French guy said it in 15somethingorother.  Precedent, indeed.

As for giving myself to myself, I almost never do that.  And I should.  I’m not comfortable saying, “This is what I want.”  I’m much more comfortable asking, “What do you want?  How can I give that to you?”

There’s a real freedom in deciding to put yourself first.  I’m not advocating that on a full-time basis, because then you tip dangerously toward becoming a self-absorbed narcissist.  But for people whose default is “What can I do for you?” it’s not a bad idea to occasionally ask (even of yourself), “What can you do for me?”

It almost feels naughty to ask that.  Shameful.  And I wonder how many of my girlfriends feel the same way.  Is it a gender issue?  A social issue?  A generational issue?  Or maybe, it’s just a Jenn issue.  I haven’t figured that part out yet, but I’m pleased to have at least solved the mantra puzzle.

Now.  To figure out why I have a profound but irrational dislike of eggplant….

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: Day time TV in Kiwi-land

Instead of spending the Fourth of July foisting American barbecue standbys on my Kiwi and other ex-pat friends (in the middle of winter, no less), I’ve spent the last two days in bed with a horrible case of the flu.

Today was the first day that I felt human, so I migrated to the couch and turned on the TV.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  But here is what I do know: daytime TV is terrible, no mater what country you live in.

Here are my musings on daytime TV, Kiwistyle.

First of all, from what I can tell, there is no Kiwi daytime programming (aside from the news).  Instead, it’s mostly American and British programs, with a few Aussie shows thrown in.  This is sad, because I’ve really fallen for Kiwi programming.  “Outrageous Fortune” is an absolute gem.  It tells the story of a West Auckland family (wrong side of the tracks, location wise) trying to rise above their low-level crime roots and make an honest go in the world.  Well, at least that’s what the matriarch of the family would like.   It was raw, foul-mouthed, racy, and not something that would have ever flown on American TV (from the naked body parts and preference for dropping the F-bomb at least 10 times per episode).  But it was full of the real stuff that people—all people—grapple with: love, redemption, grief, mercy, and greed.

I watched all six seasons over the course of several weekends a few months ago.  Too bad it finished its run last year.  It really was an amazingly good show.

Then there’s the hysterical “7 Days” comedy show on Friday nights.  Two teams of irreverent, politically incorrect comics commenting on the last seven days of Kiwi news through a series of challenges.  These guys (and gals) are sharp, smart, and seriously funny.  There’s a unique brand of Kiwi humor that is hard to describe.  Dry and incisive, like the Brits, but broad, like the Americans.  Well, if you’ve seen “Flight of the Concords”, you probably know what I’m talking about.  It’s an intriguing mix and one that I really like. If you can youtube Ben Hurley, do so.  At his best, he will have you in absolute hysterics.

I’ve even gotten hooked on a show called “Go Girls”, a show (from what I can tell) about five 30-somethings trying to make meaningful lives in Auckland. (Apparently, the only people who live in New Zealand live in Auckland.  We Wellington folk—the capital of the country, by the way—merit little more than the Parliament channel.)  Again, while some of the women are just so beyond my reality, I know women like them.  Mostly, though—like a good, forgettable pop song—it has a good beat, and I can dance to it.  Kiwi comfort TV at it’s finest.

I even find the curious and somewhat provincial “Country Calendar” enjoyable.  I’ve learned a lot about organic, sustainable farming and bee keeping.  You know, essential skills for my day job.

But back to daytime TV.

Where are my Frasier reruns?  Friends?  No.  No, instead, I get some show called Emmerdale, which is apparently a British soap opera set in the Yorkshire Dales. There’s really nothing more I can say about that.  Mostly because I didn’t understand anything that was going on, or what anyone was saying.

Then there’s The Fashion Show, a terrible knock-off of the far superior Project Runway. I’m sorry, Kelly Rowland, I love your music, but you cannot match the power of Heidi Klum’s austere frown and her definitive “You’re Out!”  And Isaac Mizrahi?  I love your designs, but you’re no Tim Gunn, either.

T and I are addicted to Project Runway.  Admittedly, we’re about a year behind from when the current series originally aired, but if Mondo doesn’t win, we’re both going to be screaming: “He was robbed!”  (The utterance of this phrase usually only occurs when we watch the rugby).  The final is this Thursday.  I’m away for work, but we’ve vowed to internet chat with each other throughout the episode.  We’ve only ever done that once before–the “Outrageous Fortune” finale.

Switching back to the daytime TV issue (sorry, I’m easily sidetracked.  I blame it on the flu). Mildly enjoyable from the accident-on-the-highway perspective is a show called the Jeremy Kyle show.  Imagine Jerry Springer with bad British accents and in which every story involves a DNA test.  However, after too many of the “Is he or isn’t he the daddy” stories, you start making a game of it.  Yes-yes-no-yes-no-no-yes.

One show I actually liked was a British show called “Come Dine with Me.”  The premise was a group of 5 people who eat at each other’s homes every night, scoring each host as they go.  Catty!  Fraught with kitchen disaster!  Terrible décor!  What more could you want?  This was like the prime rib of daytime TV. So of course, it was nowhere to be found today.

Rachel Ray rounds out the day.  I didn’t like her at home, I don’t like her here. Like The Fashion Show, she ain’t no Oprah.

Fortunately, the day is almost over and watchable TV will soon be on.  In fact, I should go.  Coronation Street starts in an hour.

Pardon me, but do you know how to get to Downward Dog?

“Hello, my name is Jenn.

It’s been 11 months since my last yoga class.”

It’s a bit embarrassing admitting that.  I went from an average of 2 yoga classes a week to zero classes a year.  I’ve wanted to remedy it, but things always got in the way—a shocking lack of discipline chief among them.

It’s not as if I haven’t gotten exercise since I’ve been here.  Just walking home from the train sometimes required specialised mountaineering equipment.  (Okay, I made that part up, but there are some seriously steep ‘hills’ around here!)  But it isn’t the same as flowing through your vinyasas and really going for it in your Warrior poses.

Truth be told, I miss it.  I loved yoga.  I loved the way it made me feel.  I loved the mind/body connection.  I loved that I felt energized, strong, and centered all at the same time.  I haven’t ever found anything comparable.

Maybe that’s why I hadn’t found anything here.  I was used to my classes at home.  I liked them.  I didn’t want to have to do practice differently.  Or with different people.  Or in an upside-down hemisphere.  (Again, that’s just a bit of dramatic flair for storytelling purposes.  I’ve never been seriously affected by the different hemisphere.  Though, T would disagree with that.  Something to do with the time I fell into the car…)

At the end of the day, yoga was challenging enough.  I didn’t want the extra challenge of having to start over again.

Yes, yes, yes.  This is a big, deep, thinky metaphor for other stuff in my life, too.  Some days, I feel a bit too old to start over, to prove myself and what I can do. Sometimes I get frustrated and just want to shout, “Can’t you see who I am?  What I did?  What I accomplished??”  (Which, when you think about it, is waaaaay more embarrassing and shameful that admitting my fall off of the yoga wagon.)

I get over myself pretty quickly.   (Cheese helps the process immensely.)  Mostly because I realise that I’m framing my frustration in the past—what I did, what I accomplished, who I was.  None of that matters now.  And neither does the fact that it’s been 11 months since my last yoga class.

I think I found the answer.  Healium.

It was Healium’s bright, Robin’s Egg blue sign that caught my attention.  The fact that two lovely people from Philly moved to New Zealand and opened a studio clinched it for me.  Well, that and that the classes are convenient, close, and cheap. Regardless, there’s just something about this place that feels right.

I booked my first class for next Monday afternoon.  I forewarned the instructor that I hadn’t forward-folded in almost a year.  She smiled and said, “That’s okay.  We all lose and find our way again.  It’s just the way it works.”

I’m pretty sure she was talking about more than downward dog.

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