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!)

Home is Where … Well, Where is Home Exactly?

I’m making my New Zealand residency application tomorrow.

I specifically chose Tuesday, 24 May 2011, to make the application. It’s not a particularly significant day, except that it’s approximately 3 weeks until my work visa runs out, and more than 11 months since T and I have been living together (a critical aspect of the residence application). I found it to be the King Solomon choice of days (though no theoretical babies were theoretically harmed in the choosing of this date).

It’s important that you know that it’s not a date than anyone has mandated but me. So, the obsessiveness with which I have required friends, family, and power companies to comply with my deadline is, perhaps, a bit over-wrought.

But then, I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t slightly obsessive and over-wrought. For instance, I’ve penned the date in Outlook and invited T to attend with me through his Outlook. (We’ve even booked lunch afterward. Also through Outlook.) I’ve made sticky notes and posted them in various places, like on my jewellery box, my desk at work, and on Georgina, my Apostrophe Police giraffe. I’ve made check lists and tick boxes. I’m on version four of my Summary of Information. My black binder of supplemental material (complete with tabbed sections and a half-page bullet point outline, followed by a 4 page comprehensive outline, detailing why I meet all of the qualifications for residency) is two inches thick.

I could probably have gone into Immigration New Zealand with a shoe box of papers in complete disarray, but no. That’s not my style. Over-preparation and a critical eye for apostrophe use (or misuse) is my style. It simply wouldn’t do to mark this kind of Major Life Event with anything but my own special punctuation.

And yes, I would classify applying for residency in a foreign country as a Major Life Event.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been so neurotic. I’m, of course, not giving anything up by applying for residency here, but it has a sense of permanency to it. A sense of, “Savannah is no longer my home.” But Wellington doesn’t quite feel like home yet, either.
At times, I feel like I’m living in between two worlds. Or maybe a better description is that I feel like I’m sailing in a beautiful sailboat, but I have nowhere to land. I have no anchor. Admittedly, that last bit gets into some very deep water, suitable only for 2 am conversations when soused on good wine or bourbon. But I think you can understand where I’m coming from. No one wants to feel, oh I don’t know, unnecessary, I guess. Or like you don’t belong. (Any more.)

It is an irrational fear, I know, but one that bubbles up at times when I long for the ease and comfort of front porches, cheap wine, and the kinds of conversations you can only have with your closest girlfriends—the ones who really know you and to whom you never have to explain or justify why you are the way you are.

But then, I’m reminded of a new friend. A work colleague who has lived a life as heart-breaking as it has been amazing. She’d commented several times on my silver charm bracelet from my Savannah friends, loving the sentiment behind it.

At Christmas, she gave me a greenstone necklace, a pounamu, if you’re in the know. These are very special gifts, ones that you cannot buy for yourself (bad luck).

When she gave it to me, she said, “This is so you always know that you’re a daughter of New Zealand. That Aotearoa has claimed you. It’s so you know that you whether you’re pointed North (Savannah) or South (New Zealand), you’re always looking at home.”