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Saturday, December 31, 2011

the year in review

I really don't feel like writing a "Yay 2011!" blog post because it just wasn't that kind of year. I am fervently wishing for a better 2012 and happy to see this year slide into history in about 28 minutes, NZ time.

The year for me was dominated by the earthquakes.

February 22 was a horrible, dark day, one of the worst days of my life, and it threw everything into its shadow for a while. I couldn't even imagine feeling happy or carefree again for quite some time. I've always been a let's-fix-things-quickly kind of person, and it's been a hard adjustment to start thinking in terms of the years it will take before things come right in Christchurch. And then there's the fact that, whenever it feels like things are starting to be happier and more positive, another large-ish earthquake comes and knocks us over again and we're all Over It with a capital O and I.

So this year has been pretty sucky, to use the technical term.

And yet ....

1. I (finally) finished my thesis. Now that I've had a chance to sit back, breathe, consider it - I'm proud of what I produced. I was so dazed and confused by it all by the end of my part in the process - it shows in my face, in the photo above - that I'm amazed, looking back, that the thesis made sense at all.

I don't know if I mentioned this before but the process still continues. You may remember I wasn't particularly over the moon with my results... and it turned out in the end, after I inquired further into the rationale behind the grade, that I may have grounds to appeal it. The university's academic committee will be considering the issue in January, but it may mean another marker is appointed and my grade will be reconsidered. So I feel happier about the situation.

2. It took me some months to find a job after uni. It was difficult to see if everything was going to work out, but I'm glad I hung in there. I got to do some short-term work that was very interesting and very different, for me, and I even got to be published for my work on a book about a robot language as a result!! It was hard work making ends meet with no long-term solutions in sight, but it was truly an exercise in learning to trust God, trying my hand at new and random things, and learning to live simply and frugally.

3. I got my first "proper" job and am now a member of the public service, working in the recovery effort for Christchurch and its surrounds. I absolutely love my job and this has been the true highlight of 2011. I am so grateful for a job that allows me to use the skills I've been trained in, challenges me, and allows me to help in the recovery from the earthquakes - this is something I'm passionate about. I can't believe I've been so lucky.
With the career came the car, which I can finally afford to keep, and independence!

4. 2011 gave me a new niece who is now six months old, incredibly cute, and a blessing to our family.

5. 2011 also gave me new flatmates who became some of my best and closest friends, and consolidated my strong friendships with the flatmates I had lived with previously. Something about going through the earthquakes together brought us closer than ever before, and I am so grateful for the lifelong friendships I believe we have formed. It's so great living with people with whom you can laugh, cry, support, be supported, philosophize, play the clown, understand. Again, I've been very lucky.
Here we are, above, at my flatmate A.'s wedding, earlier this month, which was another highlight of 2011. R. and I have seen the whole story of A.'s romance with J. unfold, and it was so special to be at the wedding and celebrate with them, if also slightly bittersweet because it is the end of three jampacked years of flatting with A. who is a wonderful, crazy friend!

6. The final highlight of the year for me was escaping to Dunedin with the family for Christmas and to Mt Cook, above, for a few days afterwards. More on this later. Suffice it to say it was a healing and happy time!

And as I finish this blog post it is two minutes past midnight. Happy new year! Please, 2012, be good to us.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

suddenly I am an outdoors person

I write from a camping ground in Mt Cook National Park where, for the first time in my life, I have successfully put up a tent all by myself and am planning to spend two whole nights in a row sleeping outdoors, by myself.

The weather is surprisingly warm and I am looking forward to a few days of walking, kayaking, exploring, adventuring, relaxing...

I came from a jampacked family Christmas in Dunedin - four days, three of which were spent at the beach, all of which almost seemed clichéd in their perfection, spent with my entire family which now numbers 25 including my parent, my siblings and their spouses, my nieces and nephews, and me.

More on this later. I plan to fill you in on all the details of my summer holiday, along with copious photos.

The day I left Christchurch (December 23) there were more earthquakes - a 5.8 followed by a 5.3 and a 6.0. I was in a little old secondhand book shop when the first one hit, kneeling at the bottom of a tall bookcase. The whole store wobbled around me and I could feel the earth rocking and all around me books were falling down and narrowly missing me. It wasn't pleasant, and was probably the least safe I have ever felt during any of the earthquakes. I was supposed to be leaving the next day but I ended up going home, packing my things in about half an hour, and driving to Dunedin.

I think I'm a little shell-shocked by it because for the last few days I have constantly, inexplicably, felt like bursting into tears at odd moments, even though I've been having a great time. It's not rational at all and I don't understand it so I'm putting it down to shock, and to frustration that just as everything seemed to be improving the quakes have hit us again.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

lightning and rain

I was on a trip with my music group when I was 13. It was one of those surreally cinematic moments, and the first time I'd ever seen a REAL lightning storm like fireworks across the sky. It was also probably quite dangerous, but who cares? I'm here to tell the tale.

I am glad I did this because it's the sort of thing I would totally put on my "Things To Do Before I Die" list if I had not in fact already done it. It's going on my "Things To Do Again" list now.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Our December issue of Halfway Down the Stairs is now out!

As usual, I get all giggly and proud of it and keep sneaking online to look at it.

If you like writing or reading or both, you should also sneak online and look at it. And if you like writing in particular, you should submit your work to us - we love to receive submissions. Check out our submissions page for information.

Some of my personal favourites this time around:

Salt Stain, by Zoe F. Gilbert

Hades Landing, by Rebecca Burns

Dominion, by Cristina Vega

Her Story, by Marjorie S. Thomsen

and 1941, by Kyle Hemmings

But really we wouldn't publish anything if it didn't come with a "Recommended" stamped across it. I hope you enjoy "Farewell" too!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

western australia

Honestly, is there nowhere I can escape the constant horde of men pursuing me? ;)