Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year - New Words

I want to write a little something today.  Nearly everyday I feel guilt for not doing a little bit of writing.  So what better way to start the new year off than spend ten minutes writing.  I’d like to do a little bit of writing everyday to kind of “keep my hand in”.  I wouldn’t really call this a New Year’s resolution, but mostly just because I hate New Year’s resolutions.  I should be writing my memoirs of New Zealand, but I can’t tell you how hard that is!  I’ve done a good bit of writing on the topics I wanted to cover, but now comes the editing and research that needs to be done.  I love to edit.  I just don’t like editing my own work.  Or maybe it’s the research I hate more.  I’ve done most of the editing of my New Zealand writing, but whenever I edit it I realize there’s a lot of research I need to do to back up what I’m saying.  Maybe I should hire a researcher. . . 
On a completely other topic, but somewhat related, I’ve chosen the top three words that I’ve learned and incorporated into my vocabulary in 2011.  Two of them are very Kiwi-ish to me: reckon and cheers.  
Every time I say “I reckon” I think of my friend Richard.  He was the first person that I really noticed used this phrase a lot.  Every time I say “I reckon” I think of him.  I must be thinking of him a lot because I say it several times a day.  Even to my ears it still sounds weird and I wonder how it sounds to my friends and family.  Although, recently I’ve noticed some of my family members picking up on it.
Cheers.  Not as in let’s make a toast, “cheers”, but as in “thank you”.  I used to have an Australian guest at my hotel in Seattle who always said “cheers” at the end of our encounters.  It drove me nuts.  I had no frame of reference for it.  Whenever he said it it always made me feel a bit awkward.  What do you say in response to “cheers”?  You’re welcome?  That just never seemed right to me.  I even had a conversation with him just to discover exactly what he meant when he said it.  Then I went to New Zealand and everyone says “cheers” or “cheers for that”.  I had to get used to it.  With about 2 or 3 months left in my stay, I started using cheers too.  But I still can hardly say it without tacking a “thank you” on at the end.  “Cheers.  Thank you.”  Has become a standard in my lexicon of language.  I love to say it especially to sales girls just to watch them squirm at it like I used to.  I’m cruel.  I know it.
The third new word I’ve begun to use often is “honestly”.  I have no clue where I picked this up from!  Well, that’s not entirely true.  My friend Emily says “honestly” quite often, but I’ve known her forever.  How can I have just now picked up this word from her?  But somehow it is a major player in my speaking life.  Nearly every time I say it I wonder where that it from!  I’ve never felt like an “honestly” person, but apparently I am.
Have you picked up any new words or phrases that you didn’t use a year ago?  Anything sneaking into your conversations you don’t recognize?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Going Home

August 4, 2011
Tonight’s my last night in New Zealand.  In a lot of ways I feel like I’ve left already.  I try not to focus on the fact that I’m leaving this country that I love, but on the fact that I’m going home to my family and friends that I love.
When I opened up my Bible tonight I went to Mark.  I’ve been reading in Mark every other night or so for the last couple of weeks.  I read in the Message about Jesus.  It said, “He left there and returned to his hometown.”
I’m leaving here and returning to my hometown.  
Jesus impressed everyone.  But then they were upset that he was so good because they thought he should just be a carpenter.  Jesus didn’t do much there because they were stubborn.  They put him into the box that they thought he belonged in.
I hope this doesn’t happen to me when I return to my hometown.  I want to impress people, but I don’t want them to stick me in a box.  I don’t want them to say, “She’s always been this so now she can’t possibly be this.”  
I can’t believe this dream is over.  I dreamed for months and months of coming to New Zealand.  I wanted it so badly.  And for the first two or three months here I still pinched myself to see if it was true.  And now I’m leaving.  
Honestly, I’m so grateful for the experience.  I’m so grateful that I came here and for the amazing experiences and people!  My life wouldn’t be the same without this.  Most of all I think I’m grateful that such a huge, impossible-seeming dream came true.  And now it’s over.  
It’s a little sad.  I haven’t let myself think about it too much.  I don’t want to be sad. I guess what I need is another dream.  A bigger dream.  I got such a high out of realizing this dream that it’s like I am an addict and I need another dream and I need this new dream to come true too.
Every now and then my life seems surreal.  I remember when I went to college.  The first few years of college felt surreal.  I think it was because I had thought about college for so long.  I’d worked toward it and dreamed about it.  So when it actually happened it didn’t seem like it was really happening.  
That’s how my time in New Zealand has felt from time to time.  Now it feels surreal that it’s all coming to an end.  In some ways I’m more than ready.  And in others I’m so sad.  I don’t want it to be over.  
Now I have to face the harsh reality of returning to my hometown.  Going home is always a good thing, but it’s not always good.  I’ve left and come home so many times now that I think I’m beginning to learn this.  
I guess I’m not going home with rose-colored glasses on.  My life won’t be perfect.  It will just be normal.  I reckon, that for a while, that will be okay.  But before I know it I’ll probably be ready to leave again.  Maybe it’s a similar experience to Jesus’ return home.  Definitely not on the same scale, but maybe a similar experience.  Eventually he left again too and he went to other villages and taught.  As much as I love home, I can’t stay there forever.  It’s sad, but it seems to be a part of my life.  As much as I want to stay and be in one spot among my family, friends, mountains, familiar scenery.  I can’t do it.  I just can’t.  I want to go home, but I can’t stay there forever.  I seem doomed to come home and leave again.  This is my life and I’m going to accept it for what it is.  Even though it hurts.  It’s like this desire to leave has been built into me.  And a desire to come home has also been built into me.  It’s pretty strange, but I’m not alone in this.  There are other people like me. . . they just aren’t at home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Yesterday morning I woke up at 6 am and started going into a panic.  A panic about sleeping in my own bed in my parents' house.  Soon I will be back home, which is a good thing.  A very good thing.  But at 6 am the idea of being back in my old room and in my old bathroom and in my old house, I got panicky!  I think it was more than just a panic of being in my old bed.  It was a panic of returning to the exact same life I left behind. 

My main consolation about being back in my own bed is that I won't be there for long before moving to a different bed.  First, I will be going to the cabin almost immediately after coming home.  Then less than a week after being home I'll be going to Las Vegas and Zion National Park.  Again, different beds!  And when I come home I might be spending some time at a good friend's house.  Different bed.  I guess after being slightly nomadic for the last 8 1/2 months it's going to be hard to give up!  The longest I've slept in any bed is three and half months and that was four and a half months ago!  Many weeks I've slept in a different bed every night or every other night! 

The idea of going home to the same old same old freaks me out.  And I know it's not just about beds and their locations.  It's about doing the same things I did before I came to New Zealand.  I don't want that.  I don't want that hemmed in feeling. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Ever since I came back to New Zealand from Fiji I've been waiting to come home.  I've tried not to see it that way.  I've tried to live my days and enjoy them, but I find that most days I truly am just waiting.  The countdown of my return home commenced on my return from Fiji.  The customs and immigration form the New Zealand government required me to fill out asked how many days I planned to spend in the country.  Seventeen.  Seventeen days until I come home.

It is now only five. Five days.  A lot of this time has felt like I am waiting at the airport.  You know that feeling of waiting for your flight?  You get up on the morning you are to leave and you are calculating the number of hours until you must leave for the airpot.  You think to yourself, "I have five hours until I need to leave."  Then you depart for the airport.  "I have an hour to get to the airport before I need to check in."  You arrive at the airport and wait in the check-in queue.  You constantly look at the airport clocks hanging from the ceiling or you pull your cell phone out of your pocket every few moments.  "An hour and a half until the plane takes off.  Probably an hour until the plane boards."  You check in and then make your way through the security line watching other passengers struggle to take their laptops out of their bags and shrug off their coats.  Finally, you slip through security and follow the signs to your gate.  You find a seat and check the time.  "Thirty minutes until the plane boards," you think to yourself as you eye the other travelers around you.  You wait and wait and wait listening to the other announcements for other flights going to other places.  "This is the last boarding call for Mr Jerry Lutes on Flight QF 181, service to Baltimore."  Only it's not the last call for Mr. Lutes because they'll make that call three more times.  Then finally someone from your gate comes over the loudspeaker.  "Yes!" you think to yourself, "Almost time to board.  Almost time to go!"  But then it's another twenty minutes before they allow the families with babies and those requiring assistance to board.  Then finally it's the first class and business class passengers.  If you are lucky and seated at the back of the plane you board next.  If you're not lucky you a wait a while longer.  Then you get on the plane, stow your carry ons, find your seat, and finally struggle to get your seatbelt on.  Ah, finally on the plane.  But then you have to wait for the plane to take off.  Again, if you're lucky it will be only a few minutes before the cabin door is closed and the plane heads for the runway.  If you're not lucky, it's another half an hour before the process begins.  Then finally.  Finally, you are rushing down the runway and in flight.  Ah.  Let the adventure begin!

This is what the last seventeen days have been like.  It's been like waiting to go to the airport, waiting in a queu, waiting to board, and waiting to take off.  Right now I'd say I am at the stage where I've just come through security and I'm finding a seat in the gate waiting area.  I'm almost there.  Just a few more minutes before they call my flight number and I am allowed to board.  Just a few more minutes before I'm coming home.  And ah, what a feeling once I'm on the plane headed home.  What a feeling!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


July 28, 2011
Gisborne has been much more exciting than I was expecting.  I came in late in the dark on the bus and I wasn’t too sure of the place.  The hostel was nice, but in a funny area.  I made dinner and soon met some of the other folks staying here.
The most outrageous, outgoing, and somewhat obnoxious person was a drunk Japanese man.  He kept saying, “This is my last night!”  Later I learned that he’d been working here in Gisborne and the next day he was leaving for Auckland.  He spent a good amount of the evening hitting on me just because of my curly hair.  Fortunately there were loads of other people around laughing their heads off at him and eventually he just fell asleep with his head back snoring away in the chair next to me.
This morning he was gone, but the other lovely people from last night were still around.  One of them, Grant, had a car and wanted to take the rest of us around to see the sights.  Grant grew up in Gisborne until he was a teen.  He took Carl, from England, Sabrina, from Germany, and me around.  
It was a beautiful day so we went up Kaiti for the views of where Captain Cook first spotted New Zealand.  Then we drove around to several beautiful beaches.  We watched the surfers try to catch some waves and soaked up the beautiful sun rays.  Grant was keen for some coffee so we found a little cafe by the town beaches.
We followed the coffee with a visit to a park and the town botanical gardens.  At the park we played along with the kids on all the fun playground equipment.  Grant pointed out the house his grandparents lived in and also drove us past the house he grew up in before taking us out to the local museum.
Grant’s grandparents used to be the curators for the museum.  He got into conversation with the woman behind the desk and discovered that his grandfather was her great-great uncle.  They were second cousins!  She gave us the local admission fee of $2 for the museum, which Grant paid for all of us.
We had lunch at a Noodle Canteen and then went to the Gisborne Wine Center to taste some wines.  It was so warm and beautiful that we sat outside and enjoyed six different wines.  
Everything about this day has been unexpected.  I came to Gisborne without any plans and with only a vague idea of what I wanted to do and today has yet again proved that this is the best way to travel in New Zealand.  Don’t over-plan!  Go with the flow and you’ll never know what might happen!  

Mount Maunganui

July 24, 2011
I left Auckland yesterday and came to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.  Penny said I would like it and I do!  It’s much larger than I thought it would be.  It has a huge, and beautiful downtown area and my hostel is right in the thick of it.  It’s a nice, clean hostel.  
After checking in I walked forever to the supermarket and The Warehouse.  I bought a DVD with three movies on it to keep me entertained and picked up some groceries as well.  Tim Tams two for $5!  
This morning I went to the I-site and booked a trip to White Island for Monday.  White Island is the most active volcano in New Zealand.  It’s an island about six hours off the coast.  I also found a church to go to.  It was a lovely little Presbyterian church that’s in the midst of a remodel.  I sat next to a sweet woman, Marguerite.  
After church I went to the Baby Factory, a kind of outlet store for all things baby. With all the babies coming into my life I need to be prepared!  I bought a few things for my new babies.  I’m definitely in a spend money on gifts mode.  I’m starting to realize that I only have a short amount of time left here, so I need to get my souvenir shopping done.  There are so many things I want to buy for others and even more I want to buy for myself.  I think I want to take as much of Kiwi life back with me!
In the afternoon I caught the bus to Mount Maunganui.  This is a town right on a peninnsula with a big, steep hill at the end called Mount Maunganui.  I started by walking to the very top and boy, was it difficult!  The woman at the I-site had told me it would be steep, but I didn’t really think it would be that hard.  Well, it was!  But once I got to the top it was so worth it because the views were incredible.  There were vistas of the sea, other smaller islands, the beach, the surfers, boats, and peninsulas.  The weather was beautiful too.
Once I scaled the top and made my descent, I trekked around the mount.  Then I walked back to the bus stop.  On my way I came across an ice cream truck called Mr. Whippy’s.  Now Penny and Mark told me they had the best ice cream.  So I decided I’d better try.  The man in the truck has been selling ice cream cones in this spot for twenty five years!  I ordered a double dipped.  it’s a cone with two soft-serve peaks of ice cream dunked in chocolate.  The chocolate gets hard, but underneath is the softest, smoothest ice cream I have ever had in my life.  It was more like eating whipped cream than like eating ice cream.  That’s how light it was!  All in all, Mount Maunganui definitely exceeded my expectations.  I’m really glad I came out here and didn’t miss the opportunity to see more of New Zealand!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This morning I returned from a week-long trip to Fiji.  Well, I got into Auckland just after midnight and didn't get to sleep until 2 am.  It's funny that you can go on a long, relaxing vacation and still return home tired.  How does that happen?

I did an island hopping trip to the Yasawa Islands in Fiji.  I took a boat out to the northern islands to a resort called Nabua Lodge.  A littlier boat zoomed up to the side of our big boat and we loaded onto it.  Our luggage went into another boat.  This was the protocol at all the resorts I stayed.  The staff introduced themselves and then we motored over to the beach and stepped into the warm, clear water and onto the beach. 

At each place I stayed all my accommodation and meals were paid for.  These places were all remote.  Many ran on generators and didn't have clean drinking water.  Despite that they had beauty and beautiful beaches.  Some were more impressive and had pools and internet.  Every night after dinner the resorts put on Fiji dance shows.  I spent so much time just laying in the sun on the beach or in a hammock in the shade.  Despite this I felt like my mind could never stop running.  I was always thinking. 

But in a way it was a great vacation.  It felt like a Lake Chelan vacation: the kind where you wake up in the morning and just put your bathing suit on! 

I met some really nice people and I just enjoyed being really warm!  The last night in Nadi, the main city with the airport, I got terribly sick though.  I threw up several times and just felt horrible.  I had one last sailing trip planned for the last day before my flight, but I didn't end up getting to do it because I felt so sick.  Needless to say, while I had a wonderful time in Fiji, I'm glad it's over.  Glad to be back in my second home, New Zealand.