A couple of weeks ago, as part of my ‘say yes to more social situations’ resolution and after the amazingly wonderful success of our visit with some internet friends who came to stay with us, I signed up for a couch surfer account.

What the hell is a couch surfer account? I hear you say.. well! Funny you should ask because I have a whole lot of information right here ready for you:

What is CouchSurfing?

CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding.

Our mission as an organization is to create inspiring experiences: cross-cultural encounters that are fun, engaging, and illuminating. These experiences take many forms. CouchSurfing’s initial focus was on hosting and ‘surfing’ (staying with a local as a guest in their home). Alongside these core experiences, we now also facilitate a growing array of activities and events.

We have a vision of a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Each CouchSurfing experience shared by our members brings us closer to that vision.

How does CouchSurfing work?

CouchSurfing members share hospitality with one another. These exchanges are a uniquely rich form of cultural interaction. Hosts have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world without leaving home. ‘Surfers,’ or travelers, are able to participate in the local life of the places they visit. We also give more people the chance to become travelers, because ‘surfing’ lowers the financial cost of exploration.

The CouchSurfing community continues to expand its horizons. Members are always finding more ways to connect and learn about each other. Every day, people across the world share coffee, camping trips, meetings, language exchanges, discussions and all sorts of other experiences.

So, basically their are two sets of people on couch surfer, people with houses (spare room/couch/hammock, whatever) and people who are travelling and need somewhere to sleep. Signing up for something like this is a pretty big deal for me, I’m pretty shy, and kind of weird about sharing my space. Anyway, today I got an email from a 26 year old French guy named Joel who is currently travelling around New Zealand on his bicycle and he wanted to know if he could stay with us for a night or two in a couple of weeks.

I have to say, I kind of panicked when I first got the email. My (self diagnosed) Avoidant Personality Disorder means that EVERY single time someone asks me to do something social, my first instinct is to say no. There are no exceptions to this, my mother, my best friend, my boss, it doesn’t matter, I always have to really work myself up to saying yes to things which require me to interact with other people. It’s really stupid and kind of strange, especially since I really LOVE the times that I do get out and interact with other people, especially my dear darling friends who I never see. Anyway, so I got this email through and my first instinct was to say no, to lie and say we would be out of town or make up some phony story, but instead of doing that I walked away from my desk for a couple of minutes and let the feeling pass and then I sat down at my computer and sent off an email telling him he could come and stay. Yay me! It’s progress, a breakthrough! Without having to see a therapist or leave the house!

I’m looking forward to it, but as the day looms closer and closer, I’m sure that I will start to dread it more and more until he arrives, at which point I’ll be really happy I said yes. Will you all remind me of that as the day is approaching and I am freaking out about how I can’t possibly do it? Thanks bloggers!

The strangest thing happened to me the last 18 hours or so.. last night, a little after midnight I realised that my internet connection wasn’t working anymore. I did all the things I usually do: restart my wireless router, restart my computer, check Luke’s computer etc etc and nothing worked, I figured it was an outage and went to bed not really thinking any more about it. When I woke up this morning our broadband was still down, fair enough, I figured it was good motivation to get some more of my NaNoWriMo story done. BUT, here is the weird part, literally THE SECOND that I hit 50,000 words I hear my “You’ve Got Mail” ding and suddenly my internet is working again!! How amazingly bizarre is that??

Anyway!! Happy dance for me!! I’m off to validate my wordcount and become an official ‘Wrimo winner 😀

ETA: Oh phooey, I just realised I can’t officially become a ‘Wrimo winner until Nov 25 *stamps foot*
Oh well, I’m still going to cross it off my 101/1001 list today!

48. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo

I’m supposed to be writing, I’m supposed to be dashing toward the 50K NaNoWriMo finish line, but instead I’m procrastinating. I haven’t written a thing in two days and I’m really annoyed at myself about it. Not really annoyed enough to actually sit down and write though.

Yesterday, in true responsibility-avoiding style, I slept late and then I just had to watch the 6 episodes of Mythbusters and 6 Episodes of Grey’s Anatomy that had been sitting on my hard drive for weeks, and today I cleared out and stored 15gig of old music off the laptop (which took hours!) for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. I don’t even really know why I’m being such a procrastinating fool, I’m LOVING my story and my characters, I know what’s going to happen next so it’s not like I’m struggling with writers block or anything like that – which would at least be a good reason for the lack of words.

Okay, well now that I have that whinge out of my system, I’m going to go and try to write. I would just like to get to 40K today.. that’s not so much to ask is it?

I was thinking yesterday about my 101/1001 list and how unmotivated I’ve been lately with crossing things off. Admittedly I have been working pretty hard on my NaNoWrimo – which is number 48 – and that definitely counts for something, but I thought it was about time that I took a stab at something else on the list. So, early this morning, just before 2am, which is about the time that Luke and I are starting to think about going to bed, we decided to take a drive to Dunedin and watch the sunrise at the beach.

Watching a sunrise was one of the things on the list but I also had to visit the beach one more time before I could cross number 42 (visit the ocean at least four times) so we decided we may as well cross both of them off in one go. I frantically made up some roadtrip CDs, grabbed T’s work in progress CD, a picnic blanket, some water, and my book, and off we went.

For those of you who don’t know New Zealand, I’ve attached a map so you can see just how much of the country we covered. We got home about an hour ago, so we actually covered this distance twice today:

Picture 1

The sunrise itself was pretty disappointing, after driving all through the night, chugging down Red-bulls and singing (badly) to keep ourselves awake we arrived at the beach to discover POURING rain and freezing cold gale force winds. It was so cold that my feet are STILL thawing out 10 hours later. So, we snapped some photos to prove we were there and watched the sunrise from the warmth of the car. We explored the city for a couple of hours, then had some breakfast at a local vegan cafe (Why don’t we have one of those in Queenstown?) did some op shopping, and then drove home again. We had beautiful weather on the way home which was nice after the freezing rain in the morning. It was a really great day, but now I am exhausted, so instead of telling you about it, I’m just going to post some pictures!





















This one’s for you Sharni!!


And home sweet home


So, that is two more things crossed off my 101/1001 list, even though technically we didn’t see the sun actually rise, because it was behind clouds, I’m still counting it, because we did watch the night turn into day, so I think that counts!

I’ve also crossed off number 13 on the list, which was to have 101 vegan meals, because as of three days ago I’m officially 100% vegan. I’ve been vegetarian for a few years now, but I have been eating vegan 95% of the time, it got to the point last week where I realised that I was hanging onto cheese and chocolate as a bit of a crutch, so I’ve eliminated them from my diet completely (except dark vegan chocolate!) and from here on in I won’t be eating any animal products whatsoever. It’s quite a feat! You never really realise how many things have animal products in them, today on the way home I picked up a packet of Salt and Vinegar chips only to realise they had milk in them! I looked through every single chip flavour in the place, and in the end the only one that was vegan was the plain salt.. very strange!

Anyway, that’s news from me. I haven’t slept in 30 hours so I’m going to bed!!


that is all I have to say..
I’ve used up my word quota for today..
brain hurts…

Well it’s been 41 hours since the start of NaNoWrimo this year and so far so good. I’ve managed to stay super motivated and have churned out a lovely 6590 words so far. I credit my super successful start to Freedom, which has severely curtailed my procrastination impulses.. thank goodness for that! And, while writing 6590 words I’ve also managed to make a vegan soup, bake a walnut loaf, update my “other” blog with said recipes, watch 2 movies and get more than 16 hours sleep! All in all, things are coming along very nicely! Perhaps it’s the view that’s contributing to my super creative vibe at the moment..

IMG_0286(I know, I know, I keep putting up photos of the same thing, but I just love looking at this view so much that I figure you will too!)

Lets hope I can keep the momentum going with the word count and that my story continues to inspire me, instead of making me want to bang my head repeatedly on my desk, which is what happened when I got to about 8000 words in last years story.

In other news, I had my first ever trick-or-treater on halloween which was very exciting. I was so shocked when someone knocked on my door that I almost fell off my chair! It’s only the second time someone has knocked on our door in 3 months so you can understand my confusion! I answered the door to find this little guy:


I was so happy to have a trick-or-treater that I asked him if I could take a photo. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything to give him which I felt pretty bad about, I would have offered him an orange but I figure that is probably worse than getting nothing at all! He took it pretty well though, and I promised him that I would have lollies for him next year.

In rodent related news, I finally worked up the courage to come out of the bedroom for a whole half a day until my Mum sent me a nasty email about how mice can chew through walls and are probably climbing up the legs of my bed and crawling on me while I sleep and then I had a mini nervous breakdown and went back in to the bedroom (though, even the bedroom didn’t feel very safe thanks to her!). I’ve managed to coax myself out today, and so far so good, although I’m really hoping that my super electromagnetic mouse scarer-awayer arrives tomorrow.. I just don’t know if I can take much more of this!

Anyway, it’s 5:30 which means, it’s time to re-activate Freedom for the next 2 hours and see if I can churn out another 2000 words before the end of the day. Wish me luck!


I have just signed up for NaNoWrimo 2009. Last year was my first attempt, and I managed to get to just over 13000 words before declaring defeat, this year I’m hoping to “win”. There’s a good chance I’ll be able to do it. Last year I was working full time and this year I am enjoying a sabbatical so that should work in my favour!

Anyone with me? T? J?

Interestingly November is also the month I start my BA through Macquarie Uni, and is also when we’ll be heading North for our Pearl Jam road trip (Not to mention the excitement that is the New Moon release – oh dear me how embarrassing!) so it looks like it’s going to be a pretty great month!

I’m not really a fan of the mirror shot.. I never quite understood the appeal. In the past I’ve only ever really used the mirror shot as a way to get photos of the progress of my dreadlocks to share with my fellow dreadheaded hippies over at JB. As a result I’m sure that I’m missing some of the finer points of posing or positioning, but I quite like this one anyway. Mainly because it looks like there are two of me, and when I was a kid I always wished I had a twin sister to hang out with.


Number 66 on my day zero list is “Participate in a photo scavenger hunt” and while searching online for a suitable web challenge, I came across sh1ft.org. Turns out, it’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve been looking for. Some of you will know that I’ve quite recently bought myself a little beauty of a camera and I haven’t the slightest idea how to use it property yet. I’m hoping that participating in the sh1ft.org challenges will help me learn how to use the camera better. Anyway without any further ado, here is this month’s challenge:

Q&A : The Photographic Interview is running during September 2009

To play, take 1 photograph as your answer to each of the questions below. The aim is to get to know you better, through your photographs :)

Upload to your blog, flickr account or anywhere else on the net, then come back and share your photographic interview.

1. What is the first thing you see in the morning?
2. The biggest thing to happen to you recently/soon?
3. Your best mirror shot
4. The person that you see the most in a week
5. Your favourite shoes
6. Your favourite meal
7. The colour of your eyes
8. Your favourite place to be on a Friday night

I’m off to brainstorm. Anyone else in?

So our stuff finally arrived in Kingston on Friday.. 8 weeks and one day since it was picked up in Sydney. I’ve made some good progress with the unpacking, and this is finally starting to feel like home. I’m especially thrilled to be sleeping in my own bed again, I have really missed that darn bed, which I think is an indication that I am getting old – I remember backpacking through Asia and sleeping in some terrible places without a second thought, these days all I can think about is that crick in my neck and how I want my bed.

I am enjoying being here but I am having some trouble feeling motivated on the 101/1001 front, so I thought I would do something a little different and instead of focussing on what needs to be done on my day zero list, I thought I would make another list, a list of 101 things that I have seen or done or which I am proud of or happy about.. things that were great adventures or I have wonderful memories of. I’m hoping that seeing that list will make me more motivated to work on the things that still need to be done on the other list.. make sense?

Here we go:

  1. Moved to Melbourne and made a whole new life for myself.
  2. Went skydiving – twice!
  3. Married Luke (even though it terrified me)
  4. Had very close friendships with my inner circle
  5. Hosted an ongoing weekly dinner party (Sunday Night Dinners!)
  6. Did a Melbourne – Perth road trip and lived in a tent.
  7. Scuba Dived in the Great Barrier Reef
  8. Visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia
  9. Did a motorcycle tour around rural Vietnam
  10. Moved to New Zealand
  11. Went Bungee Jumping – twice!
  12. Went to the Fire Ball Festival in Thailand
  13. Became a Feminist!
  14. Saw the Plain of Jars in Laos
  15. Went back to TAFE and did my VCE
  16. Did a UniPrep course at UNSW
  17. Got dreadlocks
  18. Pierced my nipples (lol)
  19. Went whale watching
  20. Went to an AFL football game
  21. Rode an elephant in Thailand
  22. Did a Great Ocean Road road trip
  23. Experienced the killing fields in Cambodia
  24. Went snorkelling in Mexico
  25. Got matching tattoos with my best friends
  26. Got matching tattoos with my husband
  27. Saw my godson be born
  28. Watched Rachel and Nick be married
  29. Participated in A&C’s secret wedding
  30. Lived in a crazy party house (twice!)
  31. Participated in a drinking competition (well many, but shhh)
  32. Went horseriding on the beach
  33. Went skinny dipping
  34. Had a surfing lesson
  35. Became a vegetarian
  36. Saw Pearl Jam live
  37. Went to The Big Day Out (a few times)
  38. Saw Ani Di Franco live
  39. Stood up to Elias and left PE when I was being bullied
  40. Saw Counting Crows live
  41. Went on an international business trip
  42. Camped in the rainforest
  43. Mended things with Theresa
  44. Supported Ashleigh when the rest of the family wouldn’t
  45. Gave money so that the SA group could buy a birthing pool
  46. Donated blankets and Mosquito nets to the kids at Umphang school
  47. Wrote to the Talsico sponsor child
  48. Sponsored 2 children at the Umphang school in Thailand
  49. Kept a travel blog when we were backpacking
  50. Sang Karaoke
  51. Took a chance on L
  52. Danced in public
  53. Saw VNV Nation Live
  54. Went to a Grand Silent System Concert
  55. Went to Cirque Du Soleil 3 times
  56. Saw the Phantom of the Opera
  57. Took Mum to see Mamma Mia the show in Melbourne
  58. Saw Priscilla Queen of the Desert in Sydney
  59. Went to the Ballet
  60. Went to an underground film premiere
  61. Saw the Dalai Lama
  62. Camped out for tickets
  63. Went to a Metallica concert
  64. Saw A Perfect Circle Live
  65. Won a sports trophy (first place!)
  66. Stayed up all night
  67. Saw the Franz Josef Glacier
  68. Went to the Baxter Detention Centre protest in 2003
  69. Went to an Anti war protest
  70. Bought organic fruit and veg every week from a farmers market
  71. Submitted an article to Susie Orbach
  72. Wrote letters to the health minister about the Maternity services review
  73. Helped get a pedestrian island built on a dangerous road in Sydney
  74. Made a submission to the marriage equality review in favor of marriage rights for same sex couples
  75. Took my grandmother skydiving for her 61st birthday
  76. Sent Chris care packages when his Dad got sick
  77. Gave up smoking
  78. Photo of the day with my Mum
  79. Went kayaking on the Mekong river in Laos
  80. Volunteering at the Oxfam store
  81. Went caving in Thailand
  82. Supported R during her secret B.A.
  83. Gave anonymously to the homeless person in S.C.C
  84. Took care of my Big Issue Man
  85. Took Mum to John Edward – Twice
  86. The whole Beautiful girl with the long blonde hair story
  87. Painted our car with peace signs and funky designs
  88. Road trips with Mum and Debi
  89. Visiting the Blue Mountains
  90. Paddle Pops in Port Douglas
  91. Started the friend book with Rachel
  92. Floated down a river in an inner tube in a National Park in Thailand
  93. Lived out of a backpack for 6 months
  94. Kayaked through the South China Sea for Outward Bound Singapore
  95. Pulled Nasifah out of the pool when she had been pushed in and couldn’t swim
  96. Made a wish on a shooting star in the desert
  97. Drove across the Nullabor
  98. Made a speech at uni even though I was terrified
  99. Giving out care packages to the homeless kids in Cambodia instead of money
  100. Volunteering at the Youth Refuge for a year
  101. Started 101/1001 and continue to challenge myself

Wow, that was much harder than expected! (I started this list days ago!) But definitely gives me motivation to get back on track with 101/1001 so that next time I try and do a list like this I have a lot more to work with!

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