I haven’t been very good at keeping up with this blog over the last few months. I considered scrapping the whole thing all together and focusing on my Vegan Blog instead but decided at the last minute to keep it up and running. I’ve broken up with so many online journals over the years and have always regretted not keeping them going so I’m going to work through the lack of motivation and see where we end up.

We had some visitors from Perth here with us this week and it’s been really lovely. It’s really nice to live somewhere that people actually want to come and visit, we are so lucky to live in this glorious holiday destination, it’s so easy to forget. Anyway, Amy and Conrad arrived on Tuesday afternoon in Queenstown and we had dinner and coffees and caught up after over a year of not seeing one another. It was fabulous to sit in my favourite coffee shop with actual people, instead of just sitting with my head in a book like I usually do. They slept in town and explored the city for a couple of nights before heading out to our little house by the lake.

They stayed here two nights, and didn’t once complain about the smorgasbord of vegan food we had organised for them.. which was a relief, it can be a little intimidating inviting omnivores to stay! After two days here we headed off on a little road trip together to explore some parts of the South Island. Last night we stayed at a great little place in Te Anau. We explored Milford Sound by day and by night we ate Italian food and watched dodgy old bond movies on telly. This morning we ate breakfast in a local bakery and then they drove off into the sunset, continuing on their adventure and leaving me here, waving frantically from my deck as they sailed away.

The house feels strangely quiet now that they are gone, but it makes me even more excited for our next set of guests who are arriving in May! Anyone else want to visit us? While I will feed you vegan food, I promise not to attempt a conversion of your meat eating ways (although Amy and Conrad DID depart as new recruits to the vegetarian lifestyle, I promise, I had nothing to do with it!).

Here are some pics of the mini adventure:







I’m very excited today, I am IN FLOW, totally focussed on researching and planning my upcoming trip to India. My very wonderful friend Phi has once again astounded us with his generosity and, as an early 30th birthday present for the two of us, has funded (with his frequent flyer points) a very fabulous trip to India in April of next year. I think everyone needs a friend like Phi.. and not just because he’ll fly you to India for your 30th birthday!

I’m very very super excited about it, especially since I have had an imaginary India itinerary in my head since 2005 when our backpacking trip came to shuttering halt in Vietnam when we realised that we had run out of money and had to come home (I am way too much of a sucker to have ever learned how to successfully barter, and I kept giving all our money away to grubby children and poverty stricken schools!).

I am also excited because it means I will be able to cross two very big things off my list:

#29. Visit at least one new country
and
#65. Celebrate my 30th birthday by doing something fabulous

Technically my birthday is at the end of March, and we aren’t flying out until April 7th, but I’m still going to count it because it IS a birthday present, and we would have been in India for my actual birthday, except Luke has to work over the Easter long weekend.

So, now I am in the zone planning and researching and getting all excited about all the things we will see. I think I actually enjoy the planning of our holidays as much as I enjoy the actual holidays, I’m strange like that I guess. I’m very excited to be dusting off our backpacks and money wallets and heading back out into the big bad world. I only wish it could be longer than 3 weeks!

So, who among my beloved readers has been to India? Any?
If so, tell me all about it! Where should I go? What should I avoid? What did you love? Tell me everything!

 

PHOTO CREDITS TO LONELY PLANET

I haven’t been posting much of late. With my replacement being trained up at work, I don’t really have a lot of free work time to be updating during the day and the last week my Mum was visiting from QLD and I have a friend in town from Amsterdam so most of my ‘home’ time is taken up catching up with the two of them. We also have 9 days left in the country so we are frantically trying to sell the last of our belongings and organise ourselves before next Monday.. eep is all I have to say about that though, because if I start going into it my head could just explode!

In 101/1001 news, I am a little bit closer to completion on a few of my tasks which is nice. I am almost half way through # 69 (Get rid of 101 things that I don’t use or need) It’s been surprisingly easy considering we are moving house. My favourite part of that challenge was giving my boss’ son one of our old guitars. He has been coming into the office after school once or twice a week for the last couple of years so we have spent many an afternoon chatting to each other about the world. He is 14 and absolutely in love with all things musical so when we were talking about getting rid of one our electric guitars he seemed like the perfect choice. The day after I had given the guitar to his Mum to give to him that night I came to work to find this:

flower

He had picked the flowers himself at a reserve where he likes to walk sometimes, and the note was so beautiful that I almost started my Friday morning crying at my desk. He talked about how he couldn’t believe I had even wanted to talk him all those times and how I was so nice and friendly and how lucky he thought was just to know me *sob* he said that he had really mixed feelings about me moving to NZ but that he was really excited for all the great things that were going to happy to me in the future. What a wonderful kid! I wish I could bundle him up and take him with me!

I have managed to cross off two things on my list completely this week:

#90. (Sell/Give away clothes that don’t fit anymore); I have sold a few of them on a forum I frequent (making about $400 which was nice!) and the rest are all packed up ready to be taken to the Salvos next time hubby has a day off work.

#62. (Say yes to more social situations); while technically this is an ongoing challenge which I will keep at for the duration of the challenge (and my life) I feel like I have done well enough at it so far that I can justify crossing it off. Last week was a big week for me, I had dinner planned with someone every single night of the week, so when Friday night came around I was really looking forward to settling in at home with a movie and some chocolate. When my old friend called in the morning asking me to come to a super indie movie opening with him I almost declined, but remembered my list item and said okay. I ended up in a strange suburb in Western Sydney watching a premiere indie thriller movie in a ramshackle theatre with 30 super cool bohemian film students (or ex film students), I ate free popcorn and got to watch the newest short film project from this years Tropfest winner – on her personal mac, in her office, with headphones, while everyone else downstairs played movie soundtrack trivia – I drove the streets of Sydney with my old friend for hours laughing and chatting and talking and ate a midnight dinner with him in the front seat of his car before getting home a little after 1am.

car

All in all it was a wonderful night, and although I could barely keep my eyes open when I got home, it was well worth it!

And, since it’s something I would normally say no to, and since I had been out for dinner with someone every night last week, I’m counting that as a successful cross off.. I will continue to work at it though, and will report on any other significant progress as it comes up.

Yesterday, while at lunch with my family, there was some contention about the ‘meals outside’ issue. We ate at a beach side restaurant, with walls so open that I thought it could almost count as a meal outside (#99) There were five of us at lunch so I took a vote, two considered the seat to be outside while the other two said it was inside (darn it) I was supposed to be the tie breaker, but I figured I wasn’t a reliable unbiased source so I took the tie to count as a no, which means my tally still sits at 5/101. It was still a great lunch though, and it was a spectacular day in Cronulla yeasterday, almost beautiful enough to make me not want to head to chilly Queenstown next week.. almost.. but not quite!

outside

After family lunch I spent the afternoon with my Mother. She flew back home this morning and it was the last time we’d get a chance to spend time together for quite a while (what with me moving to another country and all). We saw a movie and spent hours in Nulla Nulla cafe downing coffees and chatting away. It was so great, except that spending time with her just makes me miss her even more once she goes home again.

Anyway, that is the update from me. Back to packing and cleaning and organising our lives…

I realised today that i am 38 days closer to day zero and that progress on my list hasn’t been going so well. It hasn’t stalled completely either which is good but things aren’t moving along as nicely as I would like. I suspect it’s because I kind of feel like my whole life is on hold at the moment until the move. Anyway I decided this morning to take a bit of a look at the list and see if there was anything I could do today and I found two things that I could at least get started on. #47 (make a list of 101 things that make me happy) and #41 (Write a list of 101 places you want to see before you die). I started both lists and have managed to complete one. The other will stay safely in my drafts until it’s ready to be unveiled but for now here is:

#47. Make a list of 101 things that make me happy

1. Brunch with my husband in the sunshine
2. Starting a new book by a favourite author
3. Waking up without the alarm/sleeping in
4. Hot chocolate by the fire
5. Being able to see the stars
stargazing2
6. The sound of waves crashing on the beach
waves
7. Photo of the day with my Mum
8. Holidays
9. Laughing until I cry
laughinglaughing
10. Friends visiting from interstate/overseas
11. Long emails from friends/family
12. Catching up with friends for coffee
13. Sitting on the grass in the sunshine having a sandwich and reading a book
books sunshine
14. Freddie (my lovesac beanbag)
15. Planning my next holiday
16. Putting “pins” in my Places I’ve Been Trip Advisor map
17. Having a clean house
18. Reading through my travel journals
19. Visiting a new country
20. Seeing something in person that I’ve read about
21. When my husband’s wedding ring catching in the sun
22. Home made dumplings
23. Taking photographs of beautiful things
camera
24. Talking to friends on the phone
25. Making lists
26. Having savings in the bank
27. Buying plane tickets
28. Being a vegetarian
29. When my dreadlocks are neat and tidy
30. Writing
writing
31. A new episode of a favourite TV show
32. Hearing my husband laugh
33. Roadtrips
roadtrips
34. Using my imagination
35. Hugging people hello who I haven’t seen in a while
36. Going out for meals with friends
37. Walking around and listening to my ipod
headphones
38. Waking up in the middle of the night and realising I still have hours to sleep
39. Dancing around my house when there is noone else around
40. People watching
41. That feeling when I’ve just had a really incredible dream
42. Doing nice things for the people I love
43. Buying books
44. Massages
45. Making it home just before it starts to rain
46. Listening to the sound of rain on the roof as I’m falling asleep
47. Re-watching a favourite movie
48. Planning future adventures
49. Christmas at Mum’s place
50. Having my four besties in the same place at the same time (rare!)
51. Seeing old people holding hands
old-couple
52. Finding the perfect present for someone I love
53. Making mixed cds for people
54. The smell of fresh babies and puppies
55. Getting money back when I do my tax return
56. Reminiscing about happy times
57. Walking with a friend
58. Watching people who are in love
59. Finding a really great song
60. Freshly cleaned sheets on my bed
sheets
61. Finding a restaurant with great vegetarian food
62. Getting mail
63. The smell of really great coffee
64. Crossing things off to do lists
65. When people ask me for travel advice
66. Naps
naps
67. Getting a new high score in Bejewelled Blitz
68. Having a seat free seat next to me when I travel
69. When my husband picks me up from work and opens the door for me from inside the car
70. The smell of wood fires
71. Being snuggled in bed when it’s cold outside
72. Putting clothes on straight out of the dryer
73. Visiting art galleries
74. Feeling inspired
75. Feeling the vibe when everyone is happy and having a good time
76. Having the solution to someones problem/question/need
77. Getting lost in a daydream
daydream
78. Making a difference
79. The feeling of anticipation before a good night out or a holiday or a visit from a friend
80. The smell of jasmine at dusk
81. Summertime, when the sun sets really late
82. The smell of vegetables stir fried in sesame oil
83. Feeling connected to the people in my life
connected
84. Being able to inspire people
85. Finding little ways to show friends and family that I love them
86. When people trust me enough to confide in me
87. Saying I love you at the end of a phone call
88. Having a really great word in Scrabble
89. The smell of my knotty boy dreadlock wax
dreadlocks
90. Tasting the food on someone elses plate when we go out for dinner
91. Dessert
92. Lying on the floor in the dark and listening to music
93. Making other people laugh
94. When my backpack is right there on the baggage carousel when I get off a plane
95. Getting new stamps in my passport
96. Remembering past adventures
97. Seeing my friends happy
98. Feeling passionate about world issues (although the picture is of tears it really does make me happy)
sad
99. Learning new things
100. Unexpectedly hearing a song I love
101. The fact that I have so many things that make me happy!

The end!
I really enjoyed making this list, in fact I challenge you to do the same if you can. It’s heartwarming and kind of exhilarating to realise that our happiness (well mine, anyway) depends on so little. Not lots of money or extravangant things.. just simple every day stuff.

picturecredits

It’s Monday morning and I’m back at work, though the countdown has begun (5 weeks!) which makes it easier to bear. I had a really wonderful weekend, Saturday in particular was one of those perfect kind of days where everything seems right with the world.

On Friday night I met M & B for dinner in the city, we ate vegetarian food at Gopals on Swanston Street, saucy Kofta balls and rice with loads of salad. One of the nicest things about it was the fact that when we hugged goodbye at the end of the night, I wasn’t actually saying goodbye, which is usually the case after dinner with these two, usually I’m in town for a day or two, or they are in Sydney for the weekend, we eat a meal, fall in love with our friendship all over again, plan to change the world, or move into a commune together, and then go our separate ways. This time we said goodbye with a carefree hug and kiss on the cheek because we would be seeing each other the following day. What a wonderful feeling that was.

Friday night I spent some time of the phone with my lovely husband who was at home in our furnitureless house (what a lonely image), watched a movie on my laptop (Swing Vote – surprisingly enjoyable), and finished off ‘The Reader’ which I loved – and which was also one of the books on #60 of my 101/1001 list (1o1 books I own that I haven’t yet read) so I was able to cross another thing off there, then I fell asleep

I slept well in the hotel bed, especially in comparison to my previous night on the floor at home, and woke up to an sms from the lovely Chris telling me he’d meet me at ‘the clocks’ at midday.

We met under the clocks – he was early, I love that about him – and we hugged hello, tightly, like old friends, he grabbed my dreadlocks and flapped them around “they look great!” he said and I basked in the thrill of seeing him again. We walked to Degraves Street and he bought us some take away coffees, and then we walked. We walked most of the day, through the streets in the sunshine, talking and laughing and smoking (well he smoked). We went to the Eureka Tower, which was still being built when I left Melbourne. He took me to the viewing deck and we wandered around drinking it all in, he pointed out landmarks as we wandered and talked. He took me out onto The Edge – a glass viewing booth 88 floors up which creaks and groans and shakes as if at any moment you will fall into the streets below, it was scary and thrilling at once. After The Edge, we had coffee in the sun and looked out over Melbourne – one of our shared loves. Once we were back on solid ground, we caught a tram to St Kilda and had lunch, minestrone and gnocchi, a table for two, we ate outside – another tick off my list for #99 – and then walked along the beach (another one for numbers 9 + 42). We caught a tram back to the city, walked through the streets in search of more coffee and ended up back in my hotel room. Totally innocent of course. Five hours we spent together and it was really just perfect. We laughed so much, we shared some secrets and sad news, we confided in each other and joked at each others expense. Sometimes we stood close enough that his arm rested against mine. We took photos of our various reflections, in the windows at Eureka so it looked like we were floating through the air outside, in domed mirrors designed to save cars from precarious corners. We laughed at our differences, me with my impulsive moves and hairbrained schemes, him with his order and neatness and control. When we said goodbye he hugged me tightly and then he was gone, him back to his world and me back to mine.

That night I met with the gang for dumplings and beers. We ate at Camy’s where the waiters yelled at us for taking too long to order and refused to bring us menus. It used to be my favourite spot, but the service was just atrocious! It was kind of hilarious though too, when we were being scolded by the waiter like kindergarten children, or when one of us ordered a beer and they walked away in a huff and then came back and slammed a beer on the table and stalked off without waiting for anyone else to order, which just meant they had to keep coming back. The dumplings were as good as I remember though, and there was a queue out the door and into the alleyway beyond, so I guess they can afford to be rude. We ended up getting kicked out the second the last dumpling past our lips, “we need the table!” they shouted at us and shooed us out the door.

From there we went to Section 8, a funky little bar/carpark next door to Camy’s which is a newish edition to the Melbourne scene (this just means it arrived since I moved away). It is basically a fenced off parking lot with a bar in the corner (nice way to get around the non smoking laws), filled with stacked pallets (for seats) and graffitti and trees. The music was excellent, the seats were surprisingly comfortable and I felt surprisingly in my element there despite the fact that I’m essentially just a loved up housewife these days and rarely go out. We spent hours there huddled in our little corner booth under the gas heaters, smoking and drinking and bopping and laughing at the world. It was lovely and wonderful and excellent. I cuddled with the gay boys, laughed with old friends about the ridiculousness of our youth, planned future weddings, pep talked a friend going overseas for the first time, encouraged illicit lesbian affairs, discussed the effects of ‘teeny weenie willies’ and other such humiliating sexual experiences, the list goes on. One by one my friends slowly trickled away and soon it was just D and I bopping along to Michael Jackson tunes and having deep and meaningfuls until the early hours of the morning. Later on, once it was ‘that’ time of night when the boys in the start hitting on everything that moved we left our cozy little booth and wandered into the alleyway and walked home (one married woman and one funky little lesbian does not make a good pick up opportunity make). She dropped me off at my hotel and wandered on home and that was that. I couldn’t sleep for a long time after I got home – most likely all those coffee’s I’d consumed with Chris since I am normally a coffee non drinker. I called my husband, waking him from his sleep, and rambled to him for a while about our friends and the day I’d had, but eventually he went back to sleep and I was left in my hotel room on my own to ponder my day.

Sunday wasn’t such a wonderful day, in fact after only getting a couple of hours of sleep I woke up with a nasty headache (though I only had half of one alcoholic drink so who knows why!). I packed my things and trudged my way to the airport where I spent the day reading my book (The White Tiger – very good, but unfortunately not on any of my lists so I can’t cross it off!) and waiting for my flight. Eventually, after 6 hours at the airport, I got on a flight and headed on home. My favourite thing to do on a plane is watch the other travellers as they file in and pick the people I’d like to be friends with; the boy with the top hat and the sparkly red shoes, the girl with the purple dreadlocks almost to her knees, the man with the swirly tattoos all down his arms and the backs of his hands, the woman who is lost in her own thoughts and has a secret little smile in the corner of her mouth. Last night though there were suprisingly few, perhaps I was just too tired.

There is something really wonderful about coming to Melbourne. I find it so empowering to return here year after year. Though I only lived here for 5 years, it feels like home. Right now I’m holed up in my hotel room, a little seedy, with a view of another persons window less than a metre from mine, but just a few steps from degraves street – the hip coffee hub of town – and just a few minutes walk from ‘the clocks’ at Flinders Street Station, the ‘meeting place’ for friends and lovers alike.

Although I lived here for such a short time, those years were so filled with life. My Melbourne years were very much my ‘coming of age’ years and I will always treasure them. Most of my current day friends are friends I met through my first Melbourne job where I was receptionist in an international student accommodation building for 2.5 years. I still have friends all over the world from that job, not to mention that I met my 3 closest friends in those walls (room 519!). Of the 20 guests at my wedding, all but seven of them could be traced back to that job, and the people I met there.. in fact if I had never met them, I wouldn’t have met my husband. How different life would have been without that job.

When I first moved here I was running away from my small town upbringing, I craved the anonymity of a big city, the freedom to discover myself without a whole town watching. I moved here with my friend K and her 3 year old son D. I’ve no idea why they agreed to come with me but I’m so thrilled that they did. We shared a house in the suburbs our first year here, when I wasn’t working nights, or studying at TAFE, I would come home and read bedtime stories to D and he would fall asleep in my arms. But I was working in the city, and studying full time as well and making new friends in town and K was feeling abandoned. When our lease came up for renewal K decided to move in with her folks and so I moved out on my own in Richmond into a tiny flat in a crumbly old building. I loved that flat and it became the scene for many a party over the next few years. What started out as just my little place turned into the crash pad for a cast of thousands, soon there were three of us living there full time (the two gals from 519 and I) and various boyfriends and friends and interstate visitors pulling up a patch of floor whenever they needed to. There was always people, and music, and drinking and love in those four walls. The three of us – three girls, all out of towners and the very best of friends – were inseparable, we did almost everything together, and the times that we weren’t together we would be texting each other frantically about whatever it was we were doing. We were so close that when they went home to Perth for summer holidays, I would go with them, meeting their parents, partying with their school friends. It was heaven.

These days the three of us live in three different states. We see each other once or twice a year if we are lucky, though I still consider them my very best friends. One of us is married with two young daughters, it’s incredible to believe that we were once these three young girls, so lost and trusting and full of life, living at full speed every single day, drunk on freedom and passion and $5 bottles of pink ‘champagne’.

So coming into Melbourne – the skybus trip from the airport to Spencer St station specifically – brings back so much of that for me. Not to mention the years that came after, the early years before my husband was my husband and was just the cute boy I had a crush on, Melbourne was the scene for the first couple of dizzying years of our relationship when we were so desperately in love and lust and totally intoxicated with each other. Our first home together was a high rise apartment with city views which we shared with various people from the big hearted pommie boy stoner turned marathon runner to the crazy but lovable psycho girl and her equally crazy (but remarkably less lovable) boyfriend who would scream at each other in massive arguements long into the night. The parties we had there, with countless people smoking and drinking on our ginormous balcony – almost as big as and running for the entire length of the apartment, New Years parties, Australia Day parties, Orphan Christmasses for the people we knew whos families were a world away, or not worth visiting; Birthday parties and farewell parties and ‘oh look, I got a great deal on ecstacy’ parties.

My life here was always so varied and interesting, from drinking competitions with the USA frat boys to dancing up a storm in a dark and smoky goth club, my Melbourne years shaped me in a way that no other phase of my life has to date and I think that no matter where I go, no matter how many cities I live in or countries I move to, I will always think of Melbourne as my true home.

And what better place to do number 12 on my list “take a trip by myself”. I have left hubby at home for this little holiday, choosing to explore the Melbourne of my past without him. I’m here to eat at my favourite restaurants, meet with old friends, and wander the streets and I reminisce about my history here. It feels good to be here on my own, free to do as I please, and free too, to miss him a little as I go about my day, I think that’s so important in a marriage, to long for each other a little, it makes going home to him something to be treasure just a little bit more.

I saw this meme over at Carly_Grace’s blog today and thought I’d give it a go.. with 26 minutes left at work today it seems like the perfect thing to fill out my afternoon.

8 Things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Spending the weekend in Melbourne
  2. Moving to New Zealand
  3. New Moon *blush* (how embarrassing!)
  4. Seeing my husband
  5. Meeting Ben
  6. Having friends visit our new house
  7. Having a baby
  8. Working through my 101/1001 Day Zero Project list

8 Things I wish I could do:

  1. Travel to every country
  2. Win lotto
  3. Change the world
  4. Get a puppy
  5. See my friends more often
  6. Make everyone happy
  7. Get a BFP
  8. Write a really great novel

8 Things I love:

  1. My husband
  2. My friends
  3. My family
  4. Freedom
  5. Adventures
  6. Chocolate
  7. Learning
  8. Being an activist

8 Things I did Yesterday:

  1. Had an afternoon nap
  2. Bleached a few of my dreadlocks
  3. Procrastinated
  4. Tweeted
  5. Watched ‘Before Sunrise’ (love that movie)
  6. Had lunch with my little sister
  7. Bought some erotic fiction from book depository
  8. Looked at a friend’s photos of the Ferret races on the weekend

8 Shows I watch:

  1. Mythbusters
  2. Serial Killer Sunday
  3. Pushing Daisies
  4. Grey’s Anatomy
  5. The Gruen Transfer
  6. The L Word
  7. True Blood
  8. Media Watch

8 People I tag:

everyone who reads my blog (that probably isn’t even 8 people haha)