Tag Archives: emotions

And So I Said “Yes!”

Have a seat.  make yourself a nice cuppa.  Get comfortable. I’m going to tell you a modern love story.

Four years ago I got involved in a message board at a rather famous webcomic’s website.  I was playing games and posting about politics and generally being a typical citizen of the internet.  I made some friends and we all started hanging out together in an online chat room.  And it was there that I first started talking to my E.

 

I had just finished a long term relationship and was not looking for anything more serious than friendship.  He was still finishing up his Doctorate Thesis and wasn’t looking for anything past the end of school.  But we spent the nights and evenings talking about everything and anything.

 

Ideal vacations on a train through the outback, having dinner beneath the shadow of Uluru and counting the stars.  Singing songs from Broadway musicals and laughing when one of us (him) got the lyrics so horribly wrong.  This was all about three years ago. And then one night, something strange happened.  As we were saying out good nights so that I could sleep and he could make dinner, he slipped. And the words “I love you” came out of his mouth.

 

He panicked. I panicked. We both ignored it.  But then time passed and the words just seemed to be so very natural.  He slipped and said it again.  And then I slipped and said it back.  And then the whirlwind of absolute insanity happened.  Within months he was flying to the States from New Zealand to spend a week with me in DC. That time went far too quickly and we arranged to see one another in Seattle later that year.

 

And once that trip was over, my fate was sealed. It was only five months after having only spent three weeks total with him that I shoved my belongings into two suitcases and got onto the airplane to come to New Zealand.  I have been here for over 19 months and it’s like the time has both flown and stood still.  So much is happening in life that I could never have imagined.

 

Our happiness has only grown, our comfort is immeasurable, and our certainty unshakable.  So when we took the trip to the States this summer/winter it was not a surprise that he asked my father’s permission for my hand.  When we came back from the trip things continued as always.  But there was now an anticipatory excitement happening.

 

Then, about a month ago, I was daydreaming over rings online and E said to me, ‘let’s go out this saturday to look!’  So I found a few local jewelers that I liked their websites and found their addresses.  We went and spoke with a couple but the one gentleman in Devonport was astounding.  He was polite, professional, educational, and overall excited.  We left his store and looked around a bit more, but by the time that we got home, we knew that he was going to be the one.

 

So I started to tell E just what I wanted so hat he could call the jeweler, at which point E just told me to do it because I knew what I was talking about and he was clueless.  So I called and emailed the jeweler and we set up an appointment to come back and see him on the next saturday.

 

We got to his shop and he had spent his week searching for the stones for my ring.  I fell in love with them immediately.  E nodded and smiled and we decided on the ring and the setting. E and the jeweler settled on a two week period of time for the ring to be finished.

 

And so time passed. one week and then another. the days moved so slowly.  But then we got the emails from the jeweler.  Our ring was ready!  So this past saturday, October 20, we drove back to Devonport.  And my ring was there and it was gorgeous.  I tried it on and it fit absolutely perfectly.

 

And here is the next modern part.

 

I went to put the ring back into the box, so that E would be able to hide it and propose in his own time.  But he told me that I could keep wearing it, so I did.  We went and spent the afternoon with some friends at a campsite up north and then spent the rest of the weekend packing.  I kept offering for him to take it so that he could propose, but he kept telling me to leave it on. So I did.

 

And then, last night, after a particularly long night of playing Civilization 5 on the computer, we were getting ready to go to bed.  As we’re climbing tinto bed and settling into our customised cuddling positions, E said to me, “So I can’t think of how to make it a romantic surprise. I’ve been trying, but I just come up blank. So, do you want to get married?”

 

And so I said, “Yes!”

 

Getting Back Up

Hi!

 

Have you missed me?

 

Well life has been a series of busy lately, and while all of it has been fantastic, none of it really lends itself to being ‘blog-worthy’.  Or at least, not in a way that I can think of just yet.  So what has been happening in life down here in kiwiland?  Well, let me tell you.

 

A couple weekends ago two of our really close friends got married.  It was an absolutely fantastic day, the ceremony went off just as was planned and the Bride and Groom had a great time.  I was so very happy to be not only invited but to also be a part in helping them plan and get ready for their day.  Having only known them for a few months, it’s truly amazing just how close we’ve become.  I can’t express enough or in the proper words just how humbled and grateful I am to the pair of them for allowing me to spend time with them and share in their joy on that day.  Love you both R&K!

 

This past weekend, another pair of our friends moved into their new house! And we, of course, helped them move!  Now, I know that does not necessarily sound like a barrel of laughs, and it was some hard work, but it was also absolutely great.  We got to spend time with friends, help them move onto their next big step, and generally just enjoy everybody’s company.  And while helping them move, unpack, and settle into their new place, I had time to look back, reflect, and focus on just how far this life that I’m living now is to the ones that I’ve lived before.  Doing physical labor, but laughing and joking at the same time. Everybody coming together collectively to help out, and then sitting around a table (which is gorgeous!) for a well deserved dinner.  I am struggling to figure out if life gets better than that.   The house is gorgeous, the couple fantastic, and our time spent together equally precious.  Congrats R&E!

 

What else, what else.

 

The job hunt is not so much a hunt as it is shooting arrows wildly into the forest in every direction, only to have them shot back at you with no points and no fletching. Not helpful.  But! perseverance will prevail!  Employment will be gained! Somehow.

 

Now, the biggest new thing happening to me personally is that I’ve committed to a Personal Trainer. Tom is going to be kicking my butt left, right, and sideways twice a week for 45 minutes.  After 7 months at the gym, and a significant amount of body tightening up, It was time to get even more serious.  I’ve got weight I want to, must, lose and it’s not going to come off on it’s own.  And while I’ve stuck with going to the gym at least twice a week for 7 months, I need something more. I need to keep pushing myself even more, harder than before.  I must lose this weight.  The rest of my life depends upon hitting that healthy moment and then keeping going.  And that’s not an exaggeration.

 

Today was my second session with Tom and everything went well.  Really well, actually.  But it was the last ‘exercise’ that got me into a contemplative mood.  Essentially all I had to do was lay down on the ground on my chest and then stand back up again five times, and then lay on my back and get up again five times.  Sounds simple, right? Wrong.  It was definitely not easy.  There was so much involved, just so much energy and movement and muscles.  It was by far the hardest exercise that I did.

 

Just like life.  It’s fairly easy to get knocked down time and time again.  It’s the getting back up that’s the hardest part.  And all of this, the man who is supporting me, the friends that I’ve found and love, and the gym, this is all part of me getting back up off the ground.

 

And this time, I’m going to remain standing. And then, start running.

Round the Bays 2012

What an absolute crap day.

 

Oh the race itself was great, the company a blast, and being able to cross something off my list highly fantastic!  But I was just not quite in the mood. I woke up grumpy and it stayed with me pretty much all through the day.

 

I went to bed early the night before, but having been awake for far too long by that point I was not able to make up my sleep quota in just 7 hours, so I woke up at 7am on sunday morning, and I was grumpy. Cranky, and a few other words that end in -y and are not pleasant things to be.  But i was awake and there was no way I was going to back out of this now.  I made myself some oatmeal, had a mug of tea, and then our friends arrived for the carpool caravan!

 

We drove with them towards the end of the race track (because you see, you walk the 8.4km and then you have to get back to your car, which is likely at the start of the course.  So really, if you’re unlucky, it’s actually 16.8km walk. but only half of it counts!  But we were smart this year!  We carpooled with some friends and we each parked our cars at one end of the course!  Huzzah!  So after dropping their car off at the finish line, we drove back towards the start of the race and parked ours.

 

And here is where my day started to go bad.  I had to use the bathroom.  I know I probably could have held it a bit longer, but that seemed to be utterly foolish.  So while scouting for a place I finally gave up and went into a petrol station with a line.  I was still standing in line when the race officially started, with cannon blast and everything.  I didn’t actually get to the starting line of the race until about 20 minutes after the race started.  Which was actually not too bad since we were still with a bunch of people at that time.  There were over 70,000 participants in this event.  That’s a lot of humanity.

 

 

So you see, we started in central Aucklan, right along the waterfront.  Walked up past the Port of Auckland, where the Portworker’s Union were standing out with signs about keeping the Port public.  And then all along the walkway that’s just been finished .  Up and around all of the bays. Mission bay, where I’ve spent some time, and others that I haven’t yet.  The views were quite pretty, but I did not bring my camera.  My big cannon just would not have worked well.

 

So, now that you know the route, let’s get back to me and my bad day.  Somehow I started off putting my left foot down wrong. Or at least that’s how it felt.  I tried to adjust my gait over the course of the day, but it just was not working well for me.  My big toe was hurting and I was getting cramps down the outside of my leg, along my knee.  I stopped a few time to try and stretch the offending muscle, but to no real avail.  It was just not a good day.My pace was not consistent as a result and by the last kilometer of the race I was barely moving.  I was running on absolute dregs of the dregs of fumes.  My tiredness from the day/night before plus the exertion of the race seemed to have caught up with me and I was just plain wasted.

 

I made it to the finish line though, and the official times haven’t been posted yet online, but shortly after I crossed the line, they announced it had been 2 hours and 28 minutes since the start.  So a little over 2 hours if we want to be technical and not count my being in line for the toilet.

 

Now there were some fun things along the route.  One radio station was apparently handing out sausages, and another was giving out/selling slushies.  They had packed up by the time we reached their trucks, but we were told that they had been awesome.  Cadbury chocolates had set up a giant water sprinkler at just about the halfway point for people to run under and cool off a bit.  Luckily, or not I guess, the weather was actually overcast and cool so there was no real need for the sprinkler, but it was really cool either way. And there were some folks from the Ice bar company (a new icy pop business) giving out samples of their lemonade icy bar.  Which was really welcome at that point in the race.

 

Overall, the race was good, and had I been in a better mood, less tired, and better prepared mentally I probably would have enjoyed myself even more.  But my mind was just not in it, and my body certainly was not quite ready for it.  Next year, I will be more prepared, and I will conquer it again.

 

had a good time with walking the race with E though, he decided to not run it, but instead hang back with me and our friends and do the course at a leisurely pace.  Which was greatly appreciated.

 

There were some good bits, like the sprinkler and the icy bar, and the army guys and their perfect jogging technique. Oh, and the firetruck that got stuck on the Start banner. And it did feel good to finish the race, walk to the bbq that his work put on and have some post race food.

 

But It was just not my best day, and not my best race.  It’s left a tiny bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but i’ll get over that soon.

 

Soon up!  Crochet projects galore!

Achievement Unlocked: New Visa!

So last night, I checked my email before going to bed, and there was a nice email from Immigration New Zealand, saying that my status had changed.  So i logged into their website and sure enough, it said “Work Visa January 2013”

WOOT!

It’s only a year long visa, but it’s still a visa.  I can go get permanent work now instead of temp jobs. I can be a contributor to the household instead of a drag on finances.  I get to say in new zealand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I am overjoyed, overexcited, and quite simply thrilled to no end.  I got very little sleep last night, and I’ve got a full day today. I’m going to crash tonight, but right now, I am on top of the world and singing songs.

And doing laundry, dishes, and straightening the lounge.  While guzzling caffeinated tea because I am dragging.

New tomorrow, here I come!

Clarity

So yesterday’s post is what most of my friends would call ‘a hot mess’.  And I’m sure it got some reactions from pretty much anybody that read it.  Today, I’m a bit more focused, less emotional, and more informed.  So let me try this again with a bit more clarity.

 

First, yesterday was the most emotional I think I’ve been while writing a blog post and I think that came through in the writing, but in case that it didn’t, let me put this here.  That blog post was a purely emotional response to something that I will explain a bit later in this one.  And if you can read that post and not sense that it is not a logical thought out, reasoned essay, then you have been spending too much time on the internet and you need a break to readjust your compass.

 

Second, Abuse is wrong.  Any form of abuse.  Any form.  No, even that one.  It is wrong.  And the appropriate consequences should be taken.  Sandusky has been arrested.  The President and Athletic Director and Coach Paterno have been fired.  And there is a grand jury investigation, and i’m sure many other investigations as well, going on to find out even more of the truth than what is being reported.  Only once that is done cane the final appropriate actions be taken.   Should JoePa have not only reported what he was told, but also have followed it up?  Absolutely.  There is no doubt in my mind that in his position as head coach for a team of young men, he should have not only reported it, but followed up and pursued the charges until something was done.  He didn’t, and so he has been fired.

 

And he should have been.  That was the correct decision.  But, it’s still not a happy one.

 

Please, spare me your moral outrage for just a bit and go with me, ok?

 

Coach paterno has been the coach at Penn State Football for something like 60 years.  He has helped thousands of young men stay in school, complete their education, and move on to different and better lives, whether that was academic or professional sports.  He has, overall, been a force of good and positive change in the lives of thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands.  For those of us that grew up watching Penn State Football, there was no difference between the team and the man, between the Lions and the Coach.  In a world of sports where soon everything became about the promotion, the money, the getting to the pros and how big and fast and strong you were, in some ways, Coach Paterno was still one of the ‘good guys’, the ones that encouraged going to classes and doing things the old way.

 

Yesterday, and the days leading up to that, everything along those lines came crashing down.   This man that we had known all of our lives as a ‘good guy’ came crashing off the pedestal.  A friend of mine and I were discussing it and we came to this somewhat decent comparison.  It was like finding out that Batman liked killing, that cheetara was sleeping with Mumra, and that Splinter suddenly developed a taste for Turtle Soup.  And that the Green Ranger was actually a putty.   There was one last vestige of brief nostalgic childhood innocence left in a sport that has changed even since I was a child.  And this week that was destroyed before my eyes.

 

So yes, I was emotional yesterday.  I was a five year old that just got told about Santa and the easter bunny and the tooth fairy.  I was that seven year old waiting backstage at a WWF event and seeing the Ultimate Warrior without his facepaint for the first time, or learning that the Undertaker really did have pupils.  It was a crushing blow to one last moment of innocence.

 

But, since this is the internet and the moral compass online is often set to Black or White, there are few areas of gray.  But I am going to stay in one.

 

I am sad to see the legacy of years of coaching and good tainted, tarnished and ruined by this.  I am sad to see the man that so many of us have grown up loving get tarred and feathered.  But I am outraged that the abuse has happened, did happen, and that so many victims had to live through it.  I am outraged that nothing more was done to protect children that were in the charge of not only the coaching staff, but also the university as a whole.

 

It is possible to be both.  Emotional reactions do not necessarily have to contradict logical reactions.  And most people are capable of feeling more than one thing at a time.

 

I got a comment on my blog yesterday, that I did not post up.  The commenter did not seem to be incredulous about most of anything that I wrote.  Of course I was accused of being a man, of having blinders on, and of being clueless.  Which, only one of those things was untrue yesterday.  I am not now, nor have I ever been a man.

 

But what the poster seemed the most incredulous about was my insistence on Beat Nebraska.  And reading back over the post, I think I can see why.   I was a bit rambling.

 

But let me try and clear things up.  Even without Coach paterno on the field, there is one thing that this football teams needs to do.  And that is on Saturday, they need to Beat Nebraska.  With or without Coach Paterno, they are still a football team.  They still have a game on Saturday, and they have a record to uphold and protect.  It was going to be inevitable that Coach Paterno not be on the sidelines one day, and even then the team has but one goal.  Win the game.

 

Now, they have even more of a reason to do so.  Football is life in Happy Valley, and now for the students, for the community, life goes on as it should, while the investigation goes on as it should.  And there is still going to be a football game on saturday.

 

But life in Happy Valley will never be the same.  Saturday mornings will never be the same, or as almost innocent as they were.  And for that, for that I am sad.

 

 

Go State!

Beat Nebraska

I can’t quite think straight. And I’m sure that a lot of this reaction is due to the lack of sleep that I’ve been going through.

 

But I am sitting here at my computer, reading the headlines coming out of Happy Valley, PA, and I am crying.

 

I am crying for the boys that were abused.  I am crying that one last thing in this world that was actually still viewed as good and mostly pure has been tainted.  And I am crying for Joe Paterno.

 

Joe Paterno has been the football coach at Penn Stated for as long as pretty much anybody can remember.  He has won 409 games and has surpassed everybody around him.  He is a giant in college football and a giant in real life.  Loved, respected, and adored by fans, team members, and alumni alike, there was always an old question of ‘When will he retire?”  And the answer almost always was, “When he’s damned well ready to.”

 

Sadly, reality has a way of breaking into even the most safe locations left to us and smashing everything to bits.  If you have not heard the story yet, if you do not know what has happened, I will be brief.

 

Jerry Sandusky, often considered to be JoePa’s #2 at Penn State and the heir apparent until 1999, has been arrested on several counts of sexual assault and misconduct with underage boys.  One such assault, as reported from the grand jury investigation, was discovered in a Penn State locker room by one of the assistant coaches.  This was reported to Joe Paterno, who then followed the procedures in place and reported it to the Athletic Director and University president.  Who then, did nothing.  Well, they banned Sandusky from the showers, but he was not fired, and he was not reported to the police.

 

JoePa did what he was supposed to do.  He got a report of abuse, he passed it up the line, and that was his responsibility.  But sadly, he did not follow up.  He did not push for a result that protected his players and his school.  And he is now paying the price for that.

 

I am not condoning or excusing Joe Paterno’s failure to report this abuse further than he did.  He should have done something.  He was the coach and his players, his ‘kids’ were in danger.  Yes he did what he was supposed to do, but he could have, and probably should have, done more.  And he didn’t.  And for that, I and I am sure many others, are deeply sorry.

 

I want to express my feelings of sorrow and empathy for the boys and their families who are living with this, and have been for some time.  Nobody should have to go through that. Nobody.  But also in my mind and in my heart is always thoughts of JoePa.

 

He was always going to retire when he was ready. When HE was ready.  That could have been this season, it could have been five seasons from now.  But because of this scandal.  Because his #2 could not keep his hands to himself, and because the school’s administrators cared more about protecting the school than protecting children, JoePa gets no say in when he retires.   He has announced that he will retire at the end of the season.  Providing that the school’s Board will let him stay that long.

 

There was always going to be a sad day in Happy Valley, and pretty much everywhere that Penn State Football fans were on the day that JoePa said he was leaving.  It was always going to be a day with some high emotions and possibly even some tears.  But to have it happen like this.  To have the terms of his retirement dictated by events outside of the Man, it is heartbreaking on a whole new level.

 

This weekend is Penn State’s last home game of the season.  They are playing Nebraska.  Some many years back there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the BCS and Penn State and Nebraska and the National Title.  Both teams were undefeated. Both teams were considered to be the best in the country.  They never played each other, so nobody could hold the complete title.  And the BCS, considering that Nebraska was a bigger school, or came from a bigger conference, or whatever, Nebraska was given the National Title.  And since that year, there has always been this driving force to “Beat Nebraska”.

 

And this weekend, the kids on the Nittany Lions have the chance to do just that. To Beat Nebraska one last time for JoePa.  And I hope, in my heart, that they can do it.  That they beat those cornhuskers solidly into the field and then they celebrate in Happy Valley one last time with their coach.

 

Their coach. Our coach.

 

It is a bit embarrassing to admit that I am sitting here crying about this. It’s a bit strange to me that I am crying about this.  But here I am.  Typing this and barely able to see the keys through the tears.  For the boys that were abused.  For the Coach that is leaving in a way that nobody ever thought he would, and for that one last bit of innocence that had been left.

 

JoePa did not do everything that he could to help protect the kids under his charge, and other children as well.  He knows that, he admits that and has apologized for that.  And I in no way am excusing him, or the authorities of Penn State for what they did or didn’t do.

 

But Joe Paterno, JoePa, deserves a better exit from the sport, and the school he has spent most of his life at, than this.  He Deserves, or deserved, the right to control his future and retire when he wanted.  To not be pushed out in shame and disgrace.

 

That is why I am crying.  Because all the good that Joe Paterno has done in his life, all the kids that he has helped through school and beyond, all of that, will now forever be tainted by this.  His legacy will have an asterik by it forever.  And that is crushing. Devastating.  And depressing.  Again, I am not defending him for not reporting to the police, but he has done so much good in so many other ways, to have this be what he was remembered for…

 

You are loved, respected, and adored Joe Paterno.

You are, for all intents and purposes a good man. A solid man. A role model.

You have been the face of football in central PA for at least two generations, and you will be remembered.

You will be remembered as a kind man, a tough but loving coach.

You will be remembered, respected, and loved.

 

Go State! Beat Nebraska!

Backing Black

I have never been more determined to become a part of this country and its culture than I was on Sunday night.

 

First off, let me say that my time in Queenstown was massively awesome and there will be a further post on that, and the whole experience to come later.  But for now, I have to talk about Sunday night.

 

For those of you that don’t live in the world of sports, or actually in New Zealand or any of the other ‘major’ team countries, this year was the Rugby World Cup.  And it is a huge huge huge thing down here.  I don’t think I could even come up with a comparison that would make sense in the US levels of huge.  Possibly Huge like ice hockey is huge in Michigan.  Or high school football in Texas.  But even that can’t quite cover the obsessiveness that has come about over Rugby down here.

 

Now, I am not an expert, or even a beginner expert.  I know that there are different levels of play, different leagues, and I know that there are ways to divide the country (like canterbury versus auckland or something), but I’m still learning the ropes.  I can very well, and probably will, say something completely wrong about this but I’m giving my observations and opinions on a short window of exposure.  So, bear with me.

 

The Overall attitude down here during this World Cup has been astounding.  Teams from around the world came here (including the USA! Go Eagles!) to play in pool challenges.  And then after the Pool stages were over (the US didn’t get past the Pools, but we did beat Russia!), we got into the really exciting games.  The semis and the quarters and the final.

 

And let me tell you, as the weeks got closer and closer to the end of the Pools and the start of the actual ‘tournament’ part of it, this country got more and more united.  Black signs everywhere.  People with those flags flying from their cars with the NZ flag and the All Blacks flag, and pretty much everything else all became about the Rugby.  Everybody was ‘Backing Black’ in some way or another and the energy in this country was astounding.  There really is no way to explain an entire country coming together behind one team.

 

And no, the Olympis don’t really count.  Well, Maybe for the Dream Team.  I would say that it was close to the 1980 US Hockey team, but they were the underdogs.  The All Blacks are definitely not the underdogs.  They are supposed to be the best rugby (of this league) team in the world.  So, yeah, let’s go with Dream Team for US Basketball as an analogy.  But even that analogy doesn’t quite work.  The Dream Team had national backing, but only if you cared about basketball, and only if you cared about the Olympics.  And frankly, not enough of the US does either of those at all.

 

No, this is close to the Dream Team but amplified on a scale well past it.  Well past it.  The Semi-final game against Australia was billed as “The Final” because there was no way that France should have beaten Wales.  They had played so sloppily all tournament, there was no way that they could be a match for the mighty mighty All Blacks.   But France did beat Wales, and the ABs got past the Wallabies, and here you have it, The Final.

 

New Zealand vs France

 

Now, there are some rather epic backstories to this rivalry, and I can’t even begin to explain them all.  I’m sure that somebody else is more than happy to fill them in, but the relations between France and NZ have been strained at times in the past.  There was a Rugby match sometime back in the 90s that NZ was expected to win handily, but the French came out victorious.  Then there’s the Rainbow Warrior incident, and I’m fairly sure that there was another incident that was explained to me this weekend, but in all of the excitement, some of it has gotten lost in memory of wine and lack of sleep.

 

Suffice to say, emotions were running high for this match.  It’s a holiday weekend down here, with monday being a national holiday and pretty much everybody in the country having the day off.  So the Final was on Sunday night, and we were on holiday with some friends down in Queenstown.  One of our friends is a huge rugby fan and was insisting that we go to the pub to watch the game. Any pub.

 

At first, I resisted, but my god am I glad that I didn’t.

 

A bit more background, this a bit more personal.  I don’t usually like pubs. Or loud places. Or places with people drinking.  Or loud places with people drinking.  So being in a pub for a sporting event that was going to be loud and rowdy at first did not seem appealing to me in the slightest.  But, I want to know what it is to be a Kiwi, to really be somebody from New Zealand.  And part of that is going to be being around the loud, the drinking, and the rugby.  So what the hell.

 

I will tell you, I have never seen or been a part of something more epic, inspiring, and breathtaking than being in that pub watching the game.  We got their early, got a table, and had dinner (which was cheap bar food and not particularly good), and then sat and waited.  And waited.  And the pub slowly started to fill up around us.  And then, at around 830 or 845, suddenly, the pub around us was packed.  The French anthem was sung and people politely sang along (I think there were a few French supporters in the pub, but they were downstairs).  And then the NZ Anthem came on.  Everybody that I could see stood up and sang along.  And I don’t mean the polite singing along that we Americans do at a baseball game.  Or the way that we use the national anthem on TV as a means of having just three more minutes to get the gang settled and the food passed out. Everybody sang along to their national anthem (in both maori and english! with sign translation too!) in as full throated and fullbodied manner as they could.  The room was buzzing, the excitement was so palpable you could feel it against your skin like an electric current.  Everybody at back down (or remained standing if you didn’t have a seat) and got ready for the next big thing. The Haka.

 

One more pause here.  The Haka, or rather more properly it should be stated as being ‘a haka’, is a war dance done by native tribes around the southern pacific islands as a means of intimidation.  The All Blacks are not the only teams to perform a Haka, in fact most of the island national teams down here (Tonga, Samoa, Fiji) also perform their own.  But when we’re talking Rugby, and the All Blacks, then I believe it is appropriate to use the full on capitalized “The Haka”, because nearly everybody down here will know what you mean.

 

Now, the bar is full, lets say about 200-300 people, all buzzing and bubbling with Excitement.  The All Blacks line up for the Haka.  The French line up across the field from them in a flying V pattern (Yay Mighty Ducks!), and Piri Weepu starts the chant.  The entire bar goes silent.  The kind of anticipatory silence that crawls up your neck and settles at the base of your skull.  Speculation over which Haka (the ABs have several that they do, but there was strong anticipation for two of them, one being Kamate, and the other being Kapa O Pango) flittered around the room as the Haka leader, Piri Weepu, began the chant.  And the All Blacks performed Kapa O Pango (my favorite of the two).  The first lines were met with cheers in the pub, and then the French flying V flew up and formed in a line directly across from the All Blacks, accepting the challenge.  And the Pub went crazy.

 

The game was intense, seriously intense.  It was not one of the better played games, but it was still heart-wrenching.  There were a few missed kicks from both teams, and then a playbook perfect try (score) from the ABs and then halftime.  After halftime, the French scored and the game was at 8-7 New Zealand.  And that was where the game would stay.  For the next 40 minutes until the end of the game.

 

Intense.  The last two minutes of play amounted to essentially the AB’s wasting the clock, taking a knee, running out the clock as best they could and holding onto the ball for dear life.  Everybody in the pub is screaming, pounding on tables, clapping and shouting at the screen.  Rugby plays 80 minute games.  If there was a stop in play for any reason (like decapitation being a reason to stop play) then however long the stoppage was, was added onto the end of the game.  There was a total of almost 2 minutes of stopped play, so everybody was watching the play clock, watching it count up to 82 minutes.  Holding their breaths while shouting at the same time, and then the collective inhale at 82 minutes, the Referee blowing his whistle to signal the end of the game, and then the cheering. The screaming, the jumping around and hugging people who only an hour before you didn’t know and are pretty sure spilled their beer on you as they walked past.  There was shouting and screaming and absolute insanity.

 

There were tears and screams of joy.  And I’ll admit that I teared up a bit.  It was seriously the most intense thing, the most outstanding thing.  It will be a night that I will probably hold in my memory for as long as I can. Friends, atmosphere, and an entire country taking in a sigh of relief and then letting it out in one huge long exultant scream.  I had never experienced a live sporting event in a pub before, and I strongly doubt that I will ever experience another one quite like this ever again.

 

Last night was one of those moments that completely solidified something in my mind that I already knew.  I want to be a Kiwi.  I want to know this culture, live this culture, embrace this country and it’s people, and just be a part of it all.  I love this country, I love these people.  And I love the All Blacks!

My Boyfriends Friends

What great people.

 

I mean it.

 

I am so fortunate in life to be not only in this place and in this time, but to be blessed with such beautiful wonderful people around me.

 

They are caring, warm, loving, polite, and respectful.  They are brilliant, insightful, glamorous, and interesting.

 

I could not, in my life, have imagined myself in a better place than I am right now.  happy, loved, and with a slowly growing group of friends that are absolutely fantastic.

 

What brings this on? Simple.  We went on a picnic yesterday with some of Ee’s friends and basically all ended up at the last minute grocery run together, because nobody was really prepared for a picnic.  Cheese and salami and fruits, and bread, and salads.  And without saying anything, or making a statement at all, they picked up smoked salmon and some shaved roast beef because they knew I didn’t eat pork products and they wanted me to have something to eat other than just bread and cheese.

 

We went out for lunch with another friend to dim sum, and she made sure that there were options on the table for me that weren’t pork.

 

I am so very blessed to be surrounded by these people, and so very amazed and even humbled by their overwhelming kindness, generosity, and their acceptance of me.  At a time in my life when I could very much feel so very alone and lost, they have made it possible for me to not be so homesick.

 

My boyfriend’s friends have found a way to make me feel at home, and for that, I can never thank them enough.

 

Love you guys.

Rollercoaster

Man.

Life can be such a downer sometimes.

No really.

I start feeling like I can move up and on with things and life just pushes me back down with a firm hand.

sucks.

really.

but what can you do?

Get back up, off your ass, dust yourself off, and push back.

There can be tears, it’s ok to cry.

But don’t let yourself be kept down.

Fight.

Stand.

Win.

Ok, so this post started off to be just a normal post and then I started thinking about a roller coaster and I wanted to do a ‘typing format’ experiment, so I forwent my usual doubletap enter button and only single tapped it in order to attempt to give that first bit the look of a roller coaster. Up and down. Up and down. Not sure if it worked or not, but there you go.  e.e. cummings i am not.

But no, emotional roller coasters are a thing.  They happen.  You don’t have to be depressed to go through them. You don’t even have to be female.  Everybody has their good days, their great days, and their bad days. And their really bad days.   Last sunday was a really really bad day for me.  It actually started saturday night and just evolved into a massive mess on sunday.  My brain started focusing on everything that could go wrong. My visa application being denied. Getting hurt. Staying unemployed. Not finding a job that I enjoy. E coming to resent me because I’m not working. Losing focus on this weight loss.  Being overweight to begin with. being thirty and not having a clear sense of anything that I like other than cooking, american politics, and writing.  Also, classical music.  But what can you make all of that into?  A cookbook about american politics?  How would that even work?

But, slowly I got out of it. After bouts of just sitting down and crying for no reason, I slowly fixed myself.  And that happens.  To everybody.  Nobody is perfectly happy all the time. If they were, they’d probably be dead bone of the rest of us poor people would have shot them by now.  I am, in my life now, the happiest I have ever been.  I have a man who loves me, I have some goals that I’m working towards, and I have friends.  I am in so many ways ecstatically happy.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel sad at times.  That I don’t give into those voices in my head on bad days.  That I can’t curl up in a ball and cry for no real reason.  Crying is good for the soul. It cleanses.

What I’m saying is, it’s ok to have a bad day.  You need to have one every now and then.

And then, you need to get your ass back up off the ground, look those bad moods in the eyes, punch them into the oblivion, and focus on getting back to where you were before.   It’s ok to have a bad day. It’s not ok to let one bad day derail everything.

Also, Happy New Year!

Remembrance

of course I remember where I was that morning.  Like most 20 somethings on the East Coast I was desperately trying to ignore the sunlight coming into the window in my dorm room.  I was groggily trying to figure out why my phone was ringing. I hadn’t set my alarm, I didn’t have a morning class.  It was my mom.  Now, when you get a call on a tuesday morning just after the start of your second year of university, something is going on.  Mom insisted that I turned on the television.  Luckily I had one in the room because the roommate had a TV, but we hadn’t gotten the cable hooked up yet so it was a fuzzy picture on channel 3 or 6 or 9 that I got in.  Something was going on in new York.  I couldn’t really tell what.  Mom had to go, but now that I was up and watching tv, she felt a bit better.  My parents always had that opinion that if there was history on, I had better be watching it.  I’m grateful for that for the most part.

 

The picture quality was really crap and my brain wasn’t fully processing what had happened yet, just that something had flown into the world trade center.  Well ok, that’s happened before.  One of the flatmates came into the dorm suite talking about something happening in DC, but again, still half asleep university student.  I remember wanting breakfast. I mean if you’re going to be up at this ungodly hour in the morning, you should at least have some food in your system.  So I got dressed and headed over to the campus center, turning off the tv in my bedroom just after the second plane hit.  Still, not quite registering anything other than I wanted Mike (the grill guy in the food court) to make me some pancakes.  Dude made wickedly awesome pancakes. And maybe a fried egg.  Seriously, guy was good at his job.  So I walk downstairs, well ok, I lie. I took the elevator because I was living on the 7th floor and I’m not a very active person at this age.  Even today I would take the elevator for 7 flights of stairs.   All of the security guards on the front desk and the staff from the housing office are gathered around a TV behind the desk, their mouths open and their eyes wide.  But for me, all I want is pancakes.

 

So I trudge my body across the street to the campus center and there I run into Mike T from the theatre.  Now Mike and I have worked together in the theatre for a bit, and we had some summer classes together, we’re both english majors and he’s cute.  Of course he’s destined to become my best friend at University, but that all happens later.  He asks me if I know what happened, I mumble something about a plane flying into the Twin towers and I was going to get some pancakes.  Holy crap, I really wanted those pancakes.  So I offered to buy Mike some coffee and maybe breakfast (He was a commuter so he’d been conscious for at least a bit, but not yet awake since he’d only had two cups of coffee so far).  So we walk into the campus center and are stunned at what we see.  Everybody is standing around the ‘Pit”, a large area that looks down from the main floor of center onto the lower floor in a kind of mezzanine type fashion.  Down in the Pit there’s a big screen TV.  And this big screen TV is blasting in full color and sound that which I could barely see on my little tv back in the dorm room.  The Towers were both hit (Had I seen a second plane?) and they were both smoking and fire, and holy crap was that a body? And then it happened.

 

I was standing around the pit, my soon to be best friend at my side, surrounded by the other students of this urban campus of every color, religion, background, gender and we all stood and silently watched as the towers fell.  Well, the first one was met with silence, and then the crying started.  And we stood there, our eyes glued onto the television, still not believing what we were seeing.  This was some new viral marketing campaign for some new movie.  Next thing was Toby Maguire was going to swoop into the shot as Spiderman and save the day and the joke was going to be on all of us. No. The second tower fell and the place went numb.  Oh sure, there were people cursing, swearing, nobody could believe what had just happened.  We were staring in shock, stunned into silence and tears.  I think i might have grabbed hold of Mike’s hand or arm, but I don’t remember.  I also don’t remember how long we all stood there for, but I know what snapped us out of it.

 

Cal M, the campus’s events coordinator and head of Student Life stepped out in front of the big screen TV down in the pit.  At first there were yells at him to move, we needed to see what was happening in the world, but he quieted us down  and informed us that as of right now, there were more planes in the air and nobody knew where they were or where they were going.  Our campus was right across the river from Philadelphia.  On a good day from the 10th floor, you could look across the river and see old William Penn pissing on the city.  If they had attacked New York, what was to stop them from attacking the Liberty Bell? Independence Mall? The Naval Yard?  We were all told in no uncertain terms to go home.  If you lived on campus, go to the dorms. If you lived off campus, go home. If you lived on campus, but had someplace else to go, go there. But we were not to stay on campus, classes were cancelled and the school was shut.

 

I never got my pancakes.

 

I remember going back to the dorms, and gathering up some clothes, telling my flatmates that school was closed and that I was going to Jimmy’s house.  I passed on Cal’s message of “don’t be an idiot” to my flatmates, grabbed my cell phone (a delightful virgin mobile prepay) and headed out the door.  I climbed into my car and started calling Jimmy’s house.  His mom answered and I told her to wake Jim up and plop him in front of the television, I was coming home. I had just the one last stop to make before getting there.  For a few months, since April, I had been working part time at one of the grocery stores near Jimmy’s house as a cashier.  Well, we weren’t so much working as we were on strike, and had been for about two weeks at this point.  I wanted to make sure the people on the picket line knew what was going on.  They did, so I headed to Jimmy’s parents place.  I found him, and his mom, on the couch watching the television.  He was still in his pajamas and his hair was still in that awful state of bedhead that just was unfixable.  I dropped my bag in the kitchen and went and sat down.

 

I don’t remember really much else of that day, other than watching Television.  I can’t remember when it was revealed that the terrorists were arabs and not Timothy McVeigh back from the dead to live in my nightmares again.  I remember being confused, scared, and uncertain.  I remember sitting in that living room, watching the television until it became too late to stay awake.  And then waking up the next day and going back to the television. I also remember the days after “That Day”.  I remember going back to campus and listening to the angry Wrath of America and God speeches from my theatre mentor.  I remember all of our muslim and arabic students walking around campus in groups, for their own protection.  I remember the signs, and the posters.  And I remember that moment when the first plane in three days flew over the campus, and everybody stopping, staring, and forgetting how to breathe.

 

I remember going to the picket line a few days later, on the weekend.  I remember the people who had only a week before been bringing us coffee and pizza and sandwiches were now driving by, cursing at us, spitting at us, throwing water balloons and trash and whatever else they could hurl out of their vehicles at us.  I remember the yelling, the angry, high-pitched screaming confrontations of people who thought we were being selfish because so many people had died.  I remember the cashier with the voice of an angel standing with a bullhorn near her mouth and singing the National Anthem and every other patriotic song she could think of while being screamed at for being lazy and a whore.  I remember the huge American flags at half staff and attached to cars, being run ragged and tearing to shreds in the high-speed world of the interstates.  I remember classes starting up again, and the professors saying their pieces and then starting to lecture.  I remember starting work on the next show at the theatre, and I remember going to my dorm every night, thankful for the lack of a television.  And I remember the footage.

 

But I think that this is where I have to diverge from a normal “I remember” post.  I remember all of this, I recall it all as though it were yesterday.  But gladly, thankfully, it wasn’t.  No.  It was ten years ago.  My god I can’t believe that it was ten years ago.  The pain of that morning is still there, the terror of watching those buildings fall, the anger that was everywhere around, and the uncertainty, they’re all still there.  But as with most things in life, with most grief, the pain is less sharp.  There is still a tang of bitterness in my mouth, but it’s not the overwhelming searing ache that it used to be.  And, it was ten years ago.  Look at me, where I am now.

 

If you had asked me ten years ago where I would be today, let me tell you how different the answer would be.  I would have been Rabbi Sarah Priest.  A Jewish woman married to a Roman Catholic man who had gone to seminary school and was a Rabbi.  I would have been married eight years by now, and probably have had two kids.  We would have been living in some city, probably philadelphia and I would have a synagogue that I ran and still done work for a local theatre. Had you asked me about my future on September 10, 2001, that’s probably what you would have been told.

 

But here it is, September 10th, 2011 and I am not a Rabbi. I am not married to a Roman Catholic man with the last name of Priest.  I have no children, and I am not in Philadelphia.  I’m in new Zealand, with a man that I love and he loves me.  He’s not religious, and I’m more spiritual than Religious as it is.  There are no children, and no plans for any in the immediate future.  This was never where my life was ever going to go back then, but my god am I glad it did.

 

So yes, I remember.  and yes, I feel the remembrance deep in my heart and in my body.  No, I don’t think I will ever forget where I was on that morning, or the sequence of events, or the fact that I never did get those pancakes.  But I will also remember that for better or worse that day shaped my country, my family, my friends, and my life and all of that together with all of who I am has led me to be here.  In a country that I love as much as my own, with a man I love as much as life, and happy for the first time in about ten years.

 

For the first anniversary of this horrible day and thing, I can say that I will be better than I was on that day.  I will be happier than I was. I will be ok.

 

I can still remember without being depressed. I can still honor the fallen without wallowing in misery, and I can still live my life as I want to because even though it was a tragedy, life does go on.

 

God bless those who were killed, God bless those who showed up to help.  God bless those who are still struggling to find a place in this new world, and God bless those who are sick and dying because they did show up.  God bless the United States of America, and God bless this beautiful world.

 

And God Bless You.