Vax.

As you know, my program (Occupational Therapy) is a course based Master’s program which consists of about 40% fieldwork (i.e. practicums or placements in the community). This means I will be interacting with and treating people in any number of environments and circumstances. It then makes perfect sense that in order to be in those places (hospitals, clinics, outpatient programs, home care, etc.) and to work with those people (babies, children, seniors, etc.) I need to prove that I have had all of my vaccinations. Both to protect myself from any diseases clients might attempt to pass to me and to protect clients who have not been vaccinated or have weakened immune systems (we all know about vaccines and herd immunity, right?).

Anyways, it turned out to be a slightly more involved process than I initially thought and in the end I was actually missing a few vaccinations. So here is the outrageously interesting story of my vaccination journey over the summer (spoiler: it’s not actually that interesting).

I should preface this with some history:

I don’t particularly like getting vaccinations. I mean to say, I don’t enjoy them. Who does I guess. When I was a child, I was given allergy shots for a few years. If you don’t know what that is, it is when they inject you with slowly increasing doses of certain allergens in an effort to desensitize you. Each round would be a particular allergen or combination of allergens. The first shot would be 1 ml, then a month later 2 ml, then a month later 3 ml, etc. until you were at the point where you were getting 9-10 ml shots. Now, I can’t recall if those numbers are exactly right. Maybe they are wrong, but the premise is correct. And the take away for me was that the first few shots you barely felt, but by the end they were absolutely massive and were quite painful. After a round is done, they begin another one.

Now, to be honest, these didn’t bother me too much. I certainly didn’t like getting the big ones. But they didn’t leave any lasting issues with injections themselves. If anything, they made other vaccinations seem like no big deal. I had just received a massive allergy shot, I wasn’t even concerned I’d feel the little Hepatitis B shot I had to get in school.

BUT THEN. Oh then. I was about to leave on my first trip to Australia and decided I should get Hepatitis A vaccinations. I was just about to leave and didn’t have time to go in to a doctor, but luckily for me (spoiler: it was not lucky), I could get in to a pharmacist to get them done. The pharmacist suggested I also get Tetanus since it had nearly been ten years since my last one. He said he would do the Tetanus in my left arm (since it tends to hurt more) and Hep A in my right. He started with the Hep A and when he put the needle in it hurt like the dickens. Not like, “ow that feels like a lot of liquid in my muscle” pain, more like “I’ve just been thoroughly stabbed” pain. I got instantly dizzy and while he did the Tetanus shot in my other arm I tried to make my eyes focus and stop blurring. As soon as he was done the second shot (which didn’t hurt at all, by the way) I passed out in the chair.

I have never fainted before, at least not out of anything other than extreme illness. And even then, I am not sure I have. When I woke up, the pharmacist was in a sort of quiet panic. I had to call my dad to come and pick me up because I still could not see straight and I certainly couldn’t drive. It took the rest of the day for the dizziness to wear off and the pain in my arm only got worse. I could not move my arm for two or three days. It was horrendously painful. Turns out (as I learned later – when I got my second Hep A shot a year later and explained previous experience to the doctor) he hit my bone with the needle.

Needless to say, this has coloured my feelings about needles being put into my arms. I am still almost always fine. But every once in a while I get just a little bit of a vasovagal response (I get light headed and woozy). It has never lasted more than a few seconds and I have never again fainted (most likely because I have never again been hit in the bone with a needle). But it means vaccinations are no longer the “no big deal” they used to be. It also means that I have to check yes on the “have you ever fainted after an injection” box all the prevaccination forms. Which is annoying and forces me to tell the story over and over and then assure them that I will not faint as long as they don’t push the needle into my bone. Sometimes they still make me lie down while I’m getting the injection.

I also think time has something to do with my feelings about vaccinations. The longer it has been since I have had a vaccination, the more likely I am to feel not awesome about it. I think this is because the most memorable vaccination experience I have (the one that most readily comes to mind) is the terrible one. But as soon as I have a good one I remember that they are not that big of a deal. All this is to say, by the end of this process, vaccinations felt like no big deal. But at the start, it was a less appealing process.

It’s also worth including that these vaccinations and tests came right in the middle of my second and third HPV vaccinations. I missed getting HPV vaccinations when I was younger and finally decided on my own to get them done. They are a doozy of a shot and are more likely than most to cause fainting.

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Anyways, back to this summer. The first thing I had to do was locate my vaccination records. If you had your vaccinations done through school or at a Public Health Unit, the records should be there. However, when I was a baby, there were no digital records, so while a few of my vaccinations were probably on record at the Health Unit, I was forced to rely on written immunization records given at the time. Luckily for me, my mom was diligent in keeping these and she knew exactly where to find them.

With these records and my program requirements in hand, I made my first appointment at the Health Unit. At this appointment, a public health nurse officially entered all my recorded vaccinations into my official record and we went through the requirements for my program (public health nurses are great!). The requirements for my program are:

  • Three doses of Tetanus/Diptheria (with the last dose within ten years)
  • A dose of acellular pertussis given after the age of 18
  • A strong history of varicella at 1 year or older, positive varicella serology, or proof of vaccination
  • Two doses of measles, mumps, rubella
  • A minimum of three doses of Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis B serology to prove adequate immunity
  • A tuberculosis skin test (and follow up chest x-rays if required)

My tetanus/diptheria were all done (thanks to the pharmacist who also gave the fateful Hep A vaccination). I had one dose of measles/mumps/rubella (they changed the dosing after I received mine – if you were born before 1995, there is a chance you also only got one MMR vaccination, which means you are susceptible to getting the diseases and also means you can get your second booster for free from Public Health. Which you should do because you don’t want to get the mumps. Remember all those hockey players who got mumps? They are all older than 1995 and probably only had one MMR vaccine and then they got mumps!). I had all three doses of Hepatitis B and although I have a strong history of varicella (chicken pox), I was only 8 months at the time so I required serology to prove my immunity. I had not had a pertussis vaccination after the age of 18. Pertussis is whooping cough and apparently (as my mom related to me from personal experience) it is absolute hell to get as an adult. So even though this one wasn’t covered by Public Health, I felt good about getting it. So this means I had to get a pertussis vaccination, a MMR vaccination, Hep B serology, varicella serology, and a Tb test.

Unfortunately, all of these things had to be done in different places. The Tb test could only be done at the local travel clinic. Pertussis is offered as a dTap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis). While I was more than up to date on tetanus and diphtheria, my last dose did not include pertussis. This was is considered outside of the government vaccination plan, so I had to pay and have it done at the travel clinic as well. So that is where I started. A Tb skin test is a test that requires two appointments scheduled two days apart. At the first appointment they inject some stuff (neutralized Tb) under the skin of your forearm. Then at the second appointment they measure your reaction. The appointments have to be precisely spaced and if you miss your second one, you have to start all over. When I returned for my second appointment I was also given my dTap. My Tb test was negative, so no chest X-ray needed.

(A few days after this I had to get my third HPV vaccination, which was unrelated to this whole deal, but added to my general vaccination load).

Then it was off to the doctor for blood work. For Hepatitis B, it was a check to ensure I did not need an additional round of vaccinations. They had to measure the antibody level in my blood. It was similar for varicella. Since I had the disease so young, they were not sure I would have retained my immunity. If I was not immune, I would need to get the full round of varicella vaccinations. It took a few weeks for the results to come back. I was found to have adequate immunity to both, which saved me from multiple additional injections.

Lastly, my final measles, mumps, rubella. I got this one for free at the Public Health Unit. MMR is a live vaccination. This means that I could not get it before my Tb test as it could affect the test results. You can’t get a TB test if you have had a live vaccination in the last 4-6 weeks. Live vaccinations are not given intramuscularly. The are given subcutaneously (just under the skin). This allows the body to absorb the vaccination slower, which is important given that there is live disease in the injection. I got this vaccination about two weeks before moving to Edmonton. She informed me after giving it to me that I should expect to experience symptoms around 7-10 days after the injection and that they could last up to 5 days. Mainly fatigue, body aches, a rash, and other flu-like symptoms. I was very excited to hear that these would hit me just as I was scrambling to pack and move. Luckily, however, they didn’t seem to bother me too much.

Then the public health nurse went through my forms and records again and we made sure everything was filled out and backed up (did I mention public health nurses are great?). Once I got to Edmonton I had to make an appointment at the University Health Centre to have my forms and records inspected and approved. Luckily the public health nurses I saw were diligent and this was a relatively painless process.

So there you have it. My immunization records are up to date and I am approved to do my school placements. My advice to anyone reading this is that it would probably be a very good idea to locate and take a look through your own immunization records. Before this, I really had no idea what vaccinations I had and just assumed that because I was vaccinated as a child and got all the offered vaccinations in school I was up to date. You might be missing a MMR! Your tetanus might be overdue! You might not have a current pertussis! It would be real bummer to come down with a terrible disease simply because you were unaware that you weren’t protected. If you are missing any vaccinations from the government vaccination plan, they are probably free for you to get. You just need to go to a public health unit. And even if you have to pay, wouldn’t it be better to pay $50 for a pertussis vaccination now than to suffer for months with a insatiable and painful cough?

Get your vaccinations friends.

Imprinted.

I often attach memories to music. It is not uncommon to remember a memory when hearing a song, or to think of a song when I think of a memory. But often it is transient and requires me to be in a reflective mood to actually pull the memories up. I can easily just listen to the music without recalling. But with some songs, I have memories burned so deeply into them that I cannot hear the song without actually reliving an entire memory in my head every single time I hear it.

Music has always been very important to me and I have always seemed to use it to connect to and relate my emotions. So it makes sense that sometimes it would be a vessel for strong memories. Sometimes mundane things that I wouldn’t normally remember become burned into my memory because of their attachment to a song or an album. Sometimes it is the first time I hear a particular song and whatever I happen to be doing becomes ingrained, other times it is a song I have known for a long time that becomes associated with a memorable event. I am sure this happens to everyone? It must. Anyways, I thought I would share a few of these imprinted music memories with you.

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Yeah – Usher

I am in grade eight and on a basketball trip. I am in a nondescript hotel room and it is the first time I have ever watched MTV. This song is brand new and plays over and over. MTV is always on in our hotel rooms and I watch this video multiple times every weekend as we travel from tournament to tournament. I’m going to embed the video because the music video is part of the memory. When the song starts now, I see Usher alone on that dark dance floor with those lights behind him and Ludacris in that bucket hat.

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Waiting on an Angel – Ben Harper

I am a camper and Caleb is singing this song. He tells me about Ben Harper. Alex is in my cabin and we ask him to sing Waiting on an Angel every time we see him.

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The Parting Glass 

It is dark and I think we are in the sauna and I am in PIT and Lewis is singing.

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Me vs Madonna vs Elvis – Brand New

I am at camp and Jesse is singing. Molly and Joannah are there and we don’t know the name of the song so we call it the sad song. Joannah doesn’t like the sad song, but Molly and I keep asking Jesse to sing it. He always does.

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I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing – Aerosmith

I am directing a camp for the first time and a cabin sings this song at the talent show. They pull me and Amy up to the front and sing it to us. We are extremely suspicious of their intentions and at the end of the song they pour cupfuls of glitter on us and it takes me days if not weeks to get it out of my hair.

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Hands Down – Dashboard Confessional

I am driving in a car with Amy and we are screaming this song at the top of our lungs.

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Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Glynis and I are singing this song at a coffee house or talent show of some sort. It does not go well. There are too many words and we have not practiced enough. When I think that maybe I want to sing in front of people, this is the memory I pull up to remind myself I don’t.

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Lies – Chvrches

I am driving to the mill with my brother and it is very early but there is a beautiful sunrise and the bottoms of all the clouds are pink. He introduces me to Chvrches, they are new and only have a few songs out. We listen to this song often.

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Moles – The Courage

I am at a little outdoor amphitheatre at a small college in Spokane and it is my 23rd birthday. I am seeing Noah Gundersen for the first time and I am standing at the front and he is so close and I can’t believe I am there. I am so entirely and perfectly happy and he plays this song. I have never heard it before and it is beautiful.

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Undone – The Sweater Song – Weezer

I am in COLTS and Josh sings this song every single time he puts on, takes off, or is wearing a sweater of any kind. I am sure it was not quite as often as my memory tells me, but seriously, in my memory he is ALWAYS singing it.

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Bronte – Gotye

I live in Lethbridge and am going to the University. My roommate shows me the music video for this song and tells me it made her cry. I am having trouble sleeping so I make a playlist that is just this song five times in a row and then I listen to it on repeat until I finally fall asleep.

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Closer – Tegan and Sara

Glynis and I are at a Towers and Trees show in the basement of a bar in Calgary. They play a cover of this song and we dance. The lead singer is dancing in the crowd and now I can never hear this song without thinking it needs more tambourine.

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Broken Song – Towers and Trees

I am laying in the shade at the back of Annex Park in Fernie half asleep in the afternoon. Wapiti is going on and Haley and I are taking a break from the sun. This song gets to the bridge and we both wake up and slowly sit up and fumble for the schedule to find out who is making this beautiful noise. We go and meet them when the set is done and the lead singer is very nice.

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Words in the Water – Thrice

It is 2012 and I am leading PIT. Sami is singing.

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I Could Have Been Your Girl – She & Him

I am driving along the north coast of Tasmania. The ocean is on my left and is so close. The sun is shining and I am peaceful and happy.

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Dust Bowl Dance – Mumford and Sons

I am in the basement of the sawmill by the head end of the 1085 belt. I am sweeping the concrete in a dark corner around a waste conveyor.

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Two – Ryan Adams

I am sitting in the living room and my brother is teaching me how to play a song with him on the guitar. I don’t really know the song while he is teaching me, but then we play it and it is this song.

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San Antonio Fading – Noah Gundersen

I am driving by myself in my car, I think somewhere between Cranbrook and the Crowsnest Pass, and even though I have heard this song a hundred times I listen to it and it makes me cry.

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Friday – Rebecca Black/Glee

I am in Graham’s old civic. We both live and work at camp and we are driving into town to help with youth group. It is Friday. We only listen to the Glee version because it is this weird thing where there is a combination of two things that we don’t really like (Glee + Friday) that makes a thing we like. There are often lenticular clouds.

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Thunder – Imagine Dragons

I am in Vancouver with my dad watching the Maori All Blacks. I am excited, more excited than I thought I’d be when I bought the tickets. The All Blacks crush Canada and I love every minute of it.

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The Calling – The Killers

I am in the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington and the band has just come out for the encore and Brandon is wearing a ridiculously shiny golden suit. I am covered in confetti and streamers and I am perfectly happy.

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New Slang – The Shins

I am in Wellington by myself walking down Courtenay Place. It is busy and I have my headphones in. People are swarming and weaving around me and it feels like I am in an indie movie.

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Occasionally an entire album has a distinct and vivid memory attached.

Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park

I am 10 years old. I just got a new discman and I am using it to play this cd over and over and over while I do my paper route. I listen to the same cd every single day. When Papercut starts I can actually see the sidewalk and the houses on my old street.

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A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out – Panic! At The Disco

It is 2010. I am in my first semester at the U of L and I am taking Biomechanics. The final is worth a very large percentage of my final grade and it is not a particularly easy class. I close myself off in the basement of the library for a full week to try and study. I listen to this album for the first time and then listen to it incessantly for the entire week.

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Goodnight – William Fitzsimmons

I am in Tasmania. I listen to this album while I am falling asleep every night.

Travelling alone, or NZ 2018 pt. 2.

I’m not sure if this will be an interesting post or not, but I will describe for you the process of planning and booking my trip. I felt like since I was travelling alone, it was important for me to be a bit more pre-planned and pre-booked than I might normally be to save myself from getting lost or stranded somewhere along the way. I would definitely say that I was way more prepared for this trip than for any other trip I have taken. Last time I was in NZ I think we booked our car rental in advance, but literally nothing else. So this trip was much different. I’m glad I took the time to plan it out well, I think I used my time far more efficiently and saw and did a lot more because of it. I also had very little stress while I was on the trip because I did not have to worry about any of my accommodation or transportation.

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Okay, so I should start out by saying that New Zealand is very likely one of the safest places in the world to travel alone. I am kind of a big chicken and also have never travelled completely alone before, so it seemed like a good fit. It would have been too intimidating to try and plan my first solo trip to a place that (1) wasn’t particularly safe, (2) I had never been before, or (3) where I didn’t speak the language.

Even still, the lead up to the trip was accompanied by, I guess not really a fear of something happening to me, but more just fears that I would be lonely, get lost, or just not enjoy the trip as much as I would if I was a friend. See, I’m not really a do things completely by myself person. Up to this point I was only ever interested in travelling with a friend. But that was not an option for this trip; it was either go alone or don’t go. I am getting better at doing things alone. Something about getting older, having more life experience, and generally liking myself/having confidence in my own abilities made it so that I was willing to consider a solo trip as an option. Also my heart has been literally burning to get back to NZ the last few years. And it all turned out very well. Turns out travelling by yourself is great.

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FLIGHTS

The first thing I did was obviously to decide where in NZ I wanted to visit most. I knew I wanted to spend a full week in Wellington. I also knew I really wanted to go to Wanaka. It quickly followed that it would make sense to fly in to Wellington then work my way down the south island and fly out of Queenstown. Wellington to Queenstown is a short enough distance that it would give me the chance to move kind of slowly and stop for a few days in a few places on the way. I started looking up things that were going on in Wellington during my trip and realized that The Killers were playing there during the last week of my trip. So I very quickly decided to flip the trip around and fly into Queenstown and out of Wellington.

The next obvious step was plane tickets. There is no sense in planning anything until you know for sure that you are going and what the exact dates are going to be. This meant waiting until my vacation request was finalized at work and then monitoring flight prices for a month or two. I actually really lucked out and got some pretty cheap flights. What happened is that I had kind of forgotten about checking flight prices for a few weeks. Then one morning after a night shift in January I remembered and opened the Kayak app on my phone to do a quick search on the bus ride home from work. And what do you know, flights were $500-$800 cheaper than I had ever seen them. So when we got back into town, I got in my car, went directly to a travel agent, showed her the flights and asked her to BOOK THEM RIGHT NOW.

I have booked flights through a travel agent before. I have also just booked my own flights on the internet before. I decided to book with a travel agent this time for a few reasons, the biggest one being that when you book and insure your flights through a travel agency they give you a toll free number and then if anything goes wrong (i.e. you miss a flight, lose your luggage, etc) you just call the number and THEY FIX IT FOR YOU. I mean, I’m sure it’s not a flawless system. But knowing that I had someone who would rebook my flights, arrange hotels, etc should something go wrong was a nice assurance. The only difference in price between booking yourself and booking with a travel agent is a booking fee (at least at the travel agency I have used). In my experience this fee is between $30-$40. Then you have access to 24/7 assistance throughout your trip.

Also travel agents understand how airlines work better than me so I can just say “please try to get me a window seat on my long flight” or “could you see if you could get me on an earlier flight to cut down this layover?” and they know what to check and how to do it. I know I could probably do those same things myself if I wanted to. But $40 to have someone who knows what they are doing do it and ensure that it is all done correctly is worth it to me. Travel agencies often have deals set up with airlines and travel companies, so sometimes they have access to cheaper fares. In this case, she was able to find the exact flights I wanted and give me the same super cheap price I had found online. I literally took in my phone, showed her the flights I had found on Kayak and she went and found the same ones for the same price.

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TRANSPORTATION

Last time I was in New Zealand there were three of us travelling together. We rented a car and split it three ways and it was pretty affordable. I looked up how much it would cost me to rent a car on my own and very quickly decided I needed to find a different option. I had heard the buses are pretty good in New Zealand so I did some research and quickly landed on the InterCity bus company. With InterCity you could book single trips or buy passes. They sell their bus passes not by length of time (ex. a month long pass) but by time spent on the bus (ex. a 30 hour pass). This meant that since I already knew the places I was going to need to travel between, I could buy a pass for almost the exact amount of time I would spend on the bus.

The pass I got was called a Flexipass. You decide how many hours you want to buy and the pass is valid for a year from the time you purchase it (obviously the more hours you buy, they better deal you get on those hours). You can pre-book all of your trips online and you can log on and make changes up to two hours before a trip. You can add more hours to your pass at any time. Also you can book Interislander Ferry tickets with your pass. Buying a walk-on ferry ticket from the ferry company costs $65. If you book your ferry ticket through InterCity, you just pay for the ride with hours same as you would if you were on the bus. The ferry trip is about three hours. A three hour top up to your Flexipass costs $35.

InterCity buses also have wifi. Which was a huge selling point for me. Pretty much all my Instagram photos and stories were uploaded from either a hostel or a bus. It was so very convenient to be able to use bus rides to check emails, upload photos, and catch up with any messages I had.

Lastly, every driver I had was great. They were kind and helpful and most of them would sort of tour guide a bit as they were driving. Not talking constantly or anything like that, but they would point out things of interest as we passed and would sometimes give you a bit of the history of an area. As a tourist it was great. Also if I wasn’t feeling it I could just stick in my headphones and browse Instagram.

It was fairly easily plan out my route online. The only hiccup I encountered was when I wanted to go from Wanaka to Kaikoura. If I had a car, I could have easily done that trip in a day but it spanned three different buses so it was a bit more complicated to coordinate and I had to break the trip up over two days and take a stop in the middle in Christchurch. That was a relatively small issue though. Booking ahead of time with this pass gave me the peace of mind of knowing that I definitely had a seat on the buses I wanted but also the peace of mind of knowing I could change and adjust my trip at any time.

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ACCOMODATION

Before I went on my first Australia/New Zealand trip I had a friend recommend YHA hostels to me. Take this now as my recommendation to you. I have stayed at quite a few YHA hostels in New Zealand (Wellington, Queenstown Lakefront, Wanaka, National Park, Picton, Hamner Springs, Christchurch Rolleston House, Taupo) and I have had only good experiences. I know that when I stay at a YHA hostel I can expect it to be clean and safe. Every YHA I have stayed in has had a kitchen, laundry facilities, and secure storage. (Not all have secure storage in the rooms, which is best, but they all had somewhere secure you could keep valuables). YHAs also all have free wifi. Sometimes it is not the fastest connection (especially in the evenings when everyone is trying to use it) but you get 2gb per device per day and that is pretty great.

Once I knew where I was going and  how many days I would be in each place, I started booking hostels. I felt a bit nervous booking and paying ahead of time. My brain was saying things like “are you sure you want to tie yourself down to such a rigid schedule” and “what if something happens and you get delayed.” But YHAs have a reasonable cancellation policy and I knew that if I did end up changing my plans I could get most of my money back. Also I would rather lose $30 than show up and have them tell me they have no rooms.

YHAs (and most hostels, I assume) have a number of different room options. You can book anything from a private room to an eight bed dorm room. Obviously, the more people in a room the cheaper the bed. Last time we stayed in a few hostels and since there were three of us we usually just booked out a three bed private room and split the cost. It ended up not being too much more than a bed in a share room. This trip that was obviously not an option and I was going for cheap, so I usually booked into the bigger share rooms. I stayed in four, six, and eight bed rooms.

The hostels that had storage lockers in their dorm rooms were my favourite. There is a locker for each bed, you bring your own lock, and voila! no more lugging all your stuff around so that it doesn’t get stolen.

I imagine that if you are a very light sleeper shared rooms might be a terrible option, but I didn’t really have too many issues. I did make sure that I brought a sleep mask and ear plugs. I never ended up wearing ear plugs, but I did use the sleep mask every night. Also, there was a snorer in almost every shared room I was in. Usually I got to sleep before them so it didn’t bother me too much. (If I can fall asleep initially, nothing can really bother me too much).

Staying in share rooms means being a bit more organized. If you are getting up early to leave for the day, you have to pack the night before. You do not have the luxury of waking up, throwing on the light, and figuring out what you need for the day. Technically you could do that, but I’m guessing that if you did, the other people in your room would physically pick you up and throw you out the window. If you are leaving in the morning, you need to have as much of your stuff as possible packed the night before and then do your last minute packing and bed stripping silently in the dark. Basically you just need to take some extra steps to be respectful and accommodating to the other people in your room.

I had very good experiences in all my rooms. I met some nice people and usually had the option to engage and chat with other travellers or just sort of keep to myself. Nothing of mine was stolen (I was pretty diligent about locking up my camera and laptop, but often left clothes, shoes, etc laying on my bed).

Staying in hostels also allows you to save even more money because you have a place to both store and cook food. Sometimes hostel fridges smell a bit funky, but YHAs have a pretty thorough kitchen cleaning schedule. The staff clean the kitchens every day and most seemed to clean out the fridges and storage areas weekly. They provide labels you were required to use that included your check out date. Any food that was not labelled or was past the check out date is thrown out. YHAs are also pretty environmentally conscious and all had extensive recycling facilities.

I bought a YHA membership. It costs about $25 for a year and it gets you a cheaper rate at any YHA hostel as well as discounts on some other tours and activities.

I basically just booked into YHAs in every town I was visiting. The only time that wasn’t an option was Kaikoura. Even over a month in advance, there were no hostel rooms available at the YHA in Kaikoura for the nights I wanted to spend there. I broadened my search, but it turned out there were no rooms in any hostel for those two nights. I realized I was going to have to either skip Kaikoura or book into a BnB of some sort. I love Kaikoura and skipping it wasn’t going to happen so I started looking on AirBnb. I decided I could handle the higher price of an AirBnb for one night, but not two. So I changed my bus trip and increased my stay in Christchurch from one night to two (thank goodness for this or I never would have gotten to hold that lemur’s hand). Then I found a nice little BnB on the point. It actually ended up being so perfect. I was the only person booked into the BnB that night so I got the entire guesthouse to myself. Kaikoura was about half way through my trip and I didn’t realize until I got there how much I had missed having my own sleeping space. I lounged around, turned the light on and off when I wanted to, and played music while I fell asleep. It was so so restful and refreshing.

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So at this point I had flights, transportation, and accommodation booked. Before I started booking I was worried that by doing so I would lock myself in too tightly to a schedule. I thought that I should leave more of my time open so I could decide in the moment where to go and where to stay. But honestly, so much peace of mind came from having these things booked. It was calming to know where I was going to go and that I had a place to stay. Also, at this point, everything I had booked could be cancelled or rebooked with very little loss to me.

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ACTIVITIES

By this time I had known I was going to NZ for months. As a result I had sort of gotten my heart set on a few activities in the places I knew I would be. Some of them (i.e. climbing Roy’s Peak) required nothing more than simply showing up in the areas and doing the thing. But some required booking a spot on a tour. Again, I was a bit worried about locking myself in too rigidly to a schedule and not leaving days open to do things as they came to me. I figured out what I needed to book ahead of time by looking at each activity and asking myself how devastated I would be if I showed up to try and book it on the day and they said it was full.

I had printed out a calendar page for April and had all my flights, bus trips, and accommodation drawn on to it. It was easy to see which days I had available in each place. This helped me figure out which activities would be more time sensitive (like there would be only one day where I would be able to do a certain thing) and which ones could fit into a variety of places.

Things I pre-booked:

  • The Killers concert: by the time I had flights, this concert was already sold out. Once I knew I was going to be in Wellington on the night of the concert, I started obsessively checking the certified ticket resales on the ticketmaster site. A few months later a general admission ticket came up and I jumped on it. I paid almost double the initial ticket price, but you know what, it was 100% worth it.
  • Hurricanes game: when I planned my time in Wellington, I made sure to schedule it so that a rugby game fell on one of the days I was there. Turns out that this game did not sell out and I could have bought a ticket on the day, but still, I knew I would be crushed if I had missed out.
  • Milford Sound: we didn’t do Milford Sound last time and it is kind of a NZ classic. I booked this tour from Queenstown. I picked this company because they had a backpacker rate and therefore ended up being cheaper than anything else. The bus portion of my tour was on an InterCity bus (wifi and charging stations!) and the cruise was through Jucy.
  • Wine Tour: I decided I really wanted to do a wine tour this trip and I found this company. They offer a full day wine tour for significantly cheaper than any other company I found. They also had good reviews. I only had one full day in Picton and I quickly realized I would be very disappointed if the tour on that day filled before I got there, so I booked.
  • Glenorchy: I knew I wanted to try and get to Paradise and I found this small family run company that offered tours. I put off booking this one for a long time because it wasn’t quite as burning “I need to do this” activity. But since it was out of Queenstown and within a few days of the the start of my trip, I did end up booking it in advance.

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Everything else that I did I just booked while I was there or walked up on the day. Really, the only other thing I booked at all in advance at all was the lemur/meerkat experiences at the Wellington Zoo. I think I booked those a week or so in advance. I often had a vague idea of things I wanted to do in a place and just sort of played it by ear once I got there. Like I knew I wanted to go to Te Papa and to a play at Circa, so once I was in Wellington I sort of felt it out and picked a day and went and did them. When I was in Christchurch I knew that there were some museums and galleries around my hostel. So when I woke up I wandered around to a few of them. Then when I didn’t have anything to do in the afternoon, I wandered down to the iSite to browse through some activities and ended up at Willowbank feeding grapes to lemurs.

I feel like I had a good mix of pre-planned and spur of the moment activities. The part of my trip on the south island, when I was moving around every few days, was more strictly planned. This allowed me to ensure I would see the things I wanted to see and not waste any more time than necessary in moving from place to place. My time in Wellington I left almost completely open (I just had concert tickets and rugby tickets). This allowed me to settle in to Wellington and tackle all the things I wanted to do in an order that made sense once I was there and let me take things like weather and how I was feeling into the equation each day. When you only have one day in a place, you will do an activity (i.e. Milford Sound tour) rain or shine, sick or well. But when you have a whole week you then have the option to wake up and say, it’s really cold today, perhaps I will hold off on the outside activity and go to the museum instead. It worked very well.

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I’m sure there is much more I could talk about but that feels like a good summary. If you ever have any questions about things I did or how I planned them, or if you are ever looking for New Zealand recommendations, seriously come talk to me. I will never get tired of talking about travelling there.

 

A brief look at NZ 2018.

I have been meaning to write a post or two about my trip. But I keep putting it off because it feels too daunting. If I write a post, I should post pictures, and if I’m posting pictures, I need to go through all my photos and edit them. And then that feels like too much work and I just go to sleep instead. But I am here to do it now. I may not have photos for everything and some of them might not be edited and beautiful, but it will be okay.

Here is (briefly) where I went and what I did:

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QUEENSTOWN

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I flew into Queenstown and it was beautiful. The mountains felt so close you could almost touch them.

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I went on a day trip to Milford Sound. This was a 5 hour bus trip into Fiordland, and 2 hour boat tour, and then 5 hours on the bus back to Queenstown. Fiordland was unspeakably beautiful. It was kind of overcast, not too cold, and kind of windy. I got to stand on the front of the boat while they sailed under a waterfall and dolphins appeared right underneath where I was standing on the deck on the way back to the harbour. There was a really great girl named Bri on the bus with me and we took photos for each other at some of the stops and it was great. She took some amazing photos of me on her phone and I have still not quite given up hope that she might still email them to me. (I’m guessing not though due to the fact that it has been almost two months. Note to self: next time make sure that in addition to giving my email, get their email too).

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I went to Paradise. Last time I was in NZ, we got stranded just outside of Paradise and spent the entire day on the side of a tiny back road waiting for a tow truck. This time I made it.

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WANAKA

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I climbed Roy’s Peak for sunrise. This was something I decided weeks before I went that I HAD to do. So despite the fact that I had come down with a pretty significant chest cold/sore throat, I woke myself up at 3 am, walked the 6.7 kilometres from my hostel to the trailhead, and then slogged up the mountain in the dark. Honestly, I was miserable. But you know that because I sent you a constant string of texts that said “I AM MISERABLE,” “MY FEET HURT,” and “I WISH I WAS DEAD.” (Very early in the morning NZ time was late morning/early afternoon Canada time – which was very convenient and allowed me to talk to someone while I was alone and miserable in the dark). I also did not bring hiking shoes with me. I figured one day of hiking was not worth it for the amount of space they would take up. This was a mistake. I have never had so many blisters on my feet at one time. I did make it to the lookout for sunrise, which kind of made it all worth it. Before the sun came all the way up it was windy and FREEZING, but beautiful. Then I walked all the way back. The first hour or so of the downward climb was the only part of the hike I enjoyed. By the time I got to the parking lot and started the walk back to Wanaka I was in some severe blister/foot pain. The last couple kilometres were honestly agony. Like when all you can think about is how much you hurt. But you have no choice but to keep walking. By that time I was also very much feeling the sore throat and chest cold. It was all around bad. However, now that I am fully past all the pain I am glad I went.

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CHRISTCHURCH

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The hostel I was staying at was right in the heart of the CBD, which was awesome. The Canterbury Museum and the Botanical Gardens were literally across the street. I went to both of those places in the morning of my day there. I was also just down the street from the Art Gallery, which I stopped in at in the afternoon.

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I went to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and fed grapes to ring-tailed lemurs. It was kind of a spur of the moment decision to go and involved me figuring out the buses and busing out to the edge of the city, but oh man, was it ever worth it. It was a very magical time. I didn’t know how much I loved lemurs until there was one sitting on my lap holding my hand. If I am ever back in Christchurch I am doing this again. Like, even before I do something I haven’t done before.

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KAIKOURA

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I arrived on the bus, booked on a whale watching trip, and then ran across town on my blistered feet to make it for the sailing. I was super nervous that I was going to get seasick because they were so many warnings about seasickness and I sort of tend towards motion sickness, but it was all good. We only saw one whale. It was a bit disappointing if I’m being honest. But that whale was still cool. His name was Tiaki and we saw him surface twice. We also very briefly saw some dolphins.

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I stayed at a lovely little BnB up on the point because even more than a month in advance there were literally no hostel rooms available anywhere in town. But it was so wonderful to have my own space for the the first time on my trip. I walked down into town and bought a bunch of jewellery. I have a soft spot for things made out of Cat’s Eye Shell (or Shiva Shell) and Kaikoura always has the goods.

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PICTON

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I decided I really wanted to do a wine tour this trip and the Marlborough region just seemed like the right place to do it. I went on a full day tour and we visited six wineries and a chocolate factory. I now know a reasonable amount about Sauvignon Blancs and could probably pick one out of a line up of white wines (although I apparently still do NOT know how to spell it – you should have just seen the number of attempts I made at sauvignon where spell check told me it had no suggestions before I gave up and googled it).

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WELLINGTON

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I went to The Killers. It was the best concert I have ever been to, I loved it so much.

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I went to the Wellington Zoo, which is kind of in the city, and is basically a hill on top of a hill overlooking the city (my feet were still not feeling super great après Roy’s Peak). I fed meerkats and black and white ruffed lemurs. It was wonderful. The meerkats were especially entertaining and gosh do I love lemurs.

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I went to Te Papa. Te Papa is a really great (and free!) museum down on the waterfront. I was there right before Anzac day which meant that the Gallipoli exhibit was packed and had massive lines. I went to Te Papa last time I was in NZ and the colossal squid was my favourite part by far, so you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the exhibit that holds the giant squid is being rebuilt and is closed until next year.

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I walked through Mt Victoria, went to the lookout, and found the spot where they filmed the “get off the road” scene in LOTR.

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I saw a play at Circa Theatre. This is the theatre where I first saw Equivocation, which is still the best play I have ever seen. The play I saw was called “The Lie” and two of the actors in the play were also in Equivocation, which was quite nice.

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I took the Cable Car up to the Botanical Gardens, went to Zealandia, and saw a show at the Planetarium.

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I went to the Wellington Museum and the New Zealand Portrait museum.

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I went to see a rugby game. The Hurricanes were playing the Sun Wolves and can I just say that rugby is so much more interesting national sport than hockey and if I lived in a place that had a rugby team (like Wellington) I would buy season tickets.

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I have many many more photos, quite a few videos, and a lots stories that didn’t make it into this post because I know it gets tedious when people talk about their vacations for too long. Also it would be far too daunting to write a post that long. But I am always happy to talk about New Zealand, so if you want to see or hear more, you know where to find me. Also I will probably post pictures from the trip on my Instagram for the next year. Also all the videos I posted to my stories while I was away are saved in my highlights and categorized by city. I am probably going to write another post about my trip where I will talk about what it was like travelling alone and how I planned for it. I’ll probably sneak some more photos in that one too.

One before I go.

As you know, I am a week away from leaving on my NZ trip and therefore am elbows deep in online bookings and piles of clothes and toiletries. I am hoping to blog a few times while I am away and keep you updated on the cool things I get up to. So for this blog post I will not really bother talking about the trip. Besides, blog post about getting ready to leave on a trip seem about the most boring thing ever. “Will she pack the vest and the jacket? Or just the jacket?” Riveting stuff.

I figured I’d give you an update on my last couple months. I have talked very little about what has been going on with me the last little while on this blog.

Just under two months ago I hurt my knee at work. I’ve hardly posted anything about it because it is a WCB claim and if you have any experience dealing with the WCB system you probably know that it is always a good idea to keep claim information as private as you can. That it is not outside of WCB’s practice to investigate people making claims and use social media posts against them. This makes it sound like I had something to hide. I didn’t. It was a very open and shut “she smacked her knee at work and then it swelled up really big” type of thing. I had witnesses and same day first aid and emergency room reports and I diligently followed all of my doctor’s orders. Which meant sitting with my knee up for weeks and weeks. Very boring. Nothing out of the ordinary or questionable in any way. But still, it is good practice to keep the details between the doctor, physiotherapist, employer, and WCB case worker. You know.

I will, however, share with you this one picture of what it looked like the day I hurt it.

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Crazy, right? I did no actual damage to my knee (that we are aware of). No torn ligaments, broken bones, or damaged cartilage. But it has taken two months for this swelling to go down and it is still not all the way gone.

This has meant that for the last two months I have been on modified duties at work. No stairs, no ladders, no kneeling, and only very limited standing and walking. Which means desk work. I have been re-writing the planer mill’s JSAs (job safety analysis) and training manuals. At first it was a really great break and I felt really good about the job. It really needed to be done and I had the skill set to do it. I still feel good about it, but now it feels more like I am back in school and being forced to write papers all day.

Working all day in a quiet office got a bit boring, so I started listening to music while I worked. I pretty quickly go bored of music and moved on to podcasts. I found this new podcast that I love. It is called Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. If you don’t know, Dax Shepard is Kristen Bell’s husband. He has guests come and he has very real and genuine conversations with them. I was not expecting to love it as much as I do.

I realized I should save up some episodes so that I had something I loved listening to while I was sitting in airports and riding on buses on my trip. He does one episode a week that is around two hours long. So about a month ago I stopped listening to them and now have about four saved up for my trip.

So then I was again without something to listen to. But the podcast made me realize that I really liked listening to people telling stories about their lives. So I made the understandable jump to autobiographical audiobooks.

I should take a quick time out to talk about my position on audiobooks. I am NOT against audiobooks. I think they are great. But I have never been able to listen to them. I can’t. I have tried and it is too different. I feel like I am cheating somehow by not actually reading? Even though I know that I am not and I don’t think that about other people when they listen to audiobooks. And that is not really even the problem, its more that it feels different. It feels like I am experiencing the story in an entirely different way and I don’t like it. Apparently I am very attached to my own inner voice and having someone else read it changes the entire experience for me in a way that prevents me from enjoying the story at all. I once found this quote which maybe sort of explains it:

“I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say, its a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely happens inside your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes.” (Robin Sloan, Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore)

I have, of course, not read the actual book that comes from, just the quote. But it felt true when I read it and maybe explains the difference between reading and listening and why I like one and dislike the other.

BUT. I found that listening to an author read a book they wrote about their own life felt more like listening to a podcast. So I was totally okay with it.

So over the last few weeks I have been ripping through audiobooks. Here are the ones I have listened to.

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

I’ve been sort of kind of meaning to read this one for a while. It was good! I must say I sit slight more on the Amy Poehler side of this friendship, but I love them both and this book was enjoyable and Tina is badass and awesome.

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I have this book and have read it before but it was wonderful to have Amy read it to me. Amy is amazing and Leslie Knope is maybe the greatest character there has ever been on TV.

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

I did not really know anything about Anna Kendrick except that she was in Pitch Perfect. Did you know she started out on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony when she was 12? I did not. This book was really good and I really enjoyed it.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I have read Mindy’s books before. But just like with Amy’s book, it is great to have the author read it to you. It feels like a podcast. Mindy is great. This book was written before The Mindy Project began and is focused more on her time in college and writing for The Office.

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Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

It just seemed right to follow it up with this one. This one is more about her time working on The Mindy Project. She is still great.

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The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I am almost done this one. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I do have to say I did not love this one as much as some of the others. I guess I just didn’t like the style of the reading as much. I did find it to be very relatable at some points. It was also kind of depressing at other points. I have a hold on Wishful Drinking at the library.

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One More Thing by BJ Novak

I am part way through this one. So the jury’s still out on my conclusion. I LOVED the first story. Some of the others have been a bit meh. We’ll see how it finishes.

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I mostly just went to the library website and tried to find as many of these types of audiobooks as I could. It turns out that I am a lot more interested in autobiographies written by females. I did try to listen to Rob Lowe’s autobiography. But I got a couple chapters in and was bored. Turns out it was going to be mostly about his childhood, family, and his time on the show The West Wing. I wanted it to be an entire book about playing Chris Traeger on Parks and Rec. I did’t really give it too much of a shot.

I have a couple on hold I am waiting to listen to (Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking and Tiffany Hadish’s The Last Black Unicorn). But if you have a recommendation within this narrow niche of audiobooks, let me know.

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So that’s it. My last few months have almost entirely been either sitting in an office writing manuals or sitting at home with an ice pack tensored on my knee. Luckily, however, my knee has progressed enough that it should not interfere with my trip and everyone involved in my claim has given me the a-okay to go.

I hope you are excited to see NZ blog posts and hella photos. I will be posting a LOT on my Instagram and I will try to get a few posts up here too.

How to never take a compliment, a crash course.

Step 1: care very much about what people think about you. This step is not necessary, but will really help to enforce the idea that you need the compliment, which will make it so much worse when you are never able to accept it. If possible, have one of your love languages be ‘words of affirmation.’ That way you can simultaneous crave the affirmation of people in your life while also ensuring you never receive it.

Step 2: disregard any compliments given to a group you are a part of. They were obviously not meant for you. They were for the other more talented and/or prettier members of the group. They just addressed it to the group because it would be very awkward for everyone if they didn’t. If they really meant it they would have come talk to you away from the group and addressed their compliments to you specifically.

Step 3: any nice words spoken to you at a time when it is normal or expected to compliment someone also don’t count. They are obviously only saying that nice thing because it is the convention and social politeness dictates they do. You’re supposed to tell girls they look pretty at weddings. You’re supposed to tell someone they’re great when they’re having a bad day. Therefore you must assume all nice things said to you in those situations are only said because it would be more awkward to not say them.

Step 4: if someone says a nice thing in response to something you asked them, you were fishing for a compliment and it doesn’t count either. What were they supposed to do? Tell you that the dress looks terrible? Tell you your idea is terrible? You put them in an awkward position and they said the nice thing to try and make you feel better. It is insincere and you brought it upon yourself. If they really liked the dress, they would have told you without you asking.

Step 5: did someone compliment you after a performance, presentation, or some other public appearance? They could be sincere, but make sure you remember how when you were a kid at camp people would clap louder for the terrible acts in the talent show so as to not make the child feel bad. It is probably safe to assume they are doing this to you. The more enthusiastically they congratulate you, the more sure you can be they don’t mean it. And if they offer a generic, unenthusiastic compliment, they don’t mean it either since a public performance of any kind clearly falls into the category of ‘time when you are expected to compliment’ (see step 3).

Step 6: is the compliment you received generic? If so, throw that out too. Things like “you look nice” have no meaning anymore. They are the generic platitudes that have been repeated so many times they have lost their meaning entirely. Like when someone asks how you are and you reply with, “I’m good, how are you?” without even thinking. They come out of people’s mouths without even thinking and serve as no more than generic niceties and conversation filler. If they really thought something about you looked nice, they would have been more specific.

Step 7: was someone earnest and forceful in their compliments? If so, see the “people clap louder for the bad acts out of pity” part of step 5.

Step 8: if someone offers you a unexpected, specific, relaxed compliment at time when no social convention dictates they should, and with no prompting, assume they have read this post and are just giving it to prove they can. You can safely assume they don’t mean it either.

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I think that about covers it. There should now be no situation in which a compliment will strike you as sincere and you can live your life in the quiet misery of knowing that no matter how hard others try to make themselves seem sincere and like they admire you, you can see through it. You’re welcome.

2018.

I have high hopes for 2018. There is potential for some big changes to take place, but I am not going to publicly broadcast them at this time. I have learned my lesson on that front. When final decisions are made and plans are officially set, then I will happily share them. But there is one particularly exciting thing that is already confirmed, so I am very happy to announce it here and now.

It has kind of been a weirdly, sort of kept but not really, secret for the last month or two. What I mean by that is that I have not posted anything about it or contacted anyone to tell the about it. The only way you would know is if you have seen me or talked to me recently in person. It also involves time off from work, and my work is an insane gossip factory, so pretty much everyone I work with knows about it. Which is a bit weird when a lot of my friends don’t know.

ANYWAYS! The news: I AM GOING TO NEW ZEALAND!

I am going in April, for three weeks. Three weeks is the maximum amount of vacation I am allowed for this year, so I booked all three weeks back to back and then I will not get anymore time off for the rest of the year. But it will be worth it!

I am going by myself because all of my friends are in school or can’t justify paying the flight fees for just a few weeks. I really only asked a couple people to come, and they couldn’t so I’m doing my best to embrace the idea of going solo. I’m actually pretty alright with it and I think it will be good for me.

I have a vague outline of the trip:

I am flying in to Queenstown. I will, over the course of approximately two weeks, work my way from Queenstown up to Picton. I am hoping to definitely hit/spend a few days in Wanaka, Tekapo, and Kaikoura. I would love to spend a day at Castle Hill (our time there last time was cut pretty short). But exactly how it will all work out depends on the transportation mode I choose. I am kind of leaning towards busing at this point because rental cars are stupid expensive when you are by yourself. But busing probably removes the option to go to Castle Hill. So I haven’t fully decided yet. Then I will ferry across to Wellington and spend an entire glorious week in my favourite city of all time before flying home.

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I am very excited. I also probably need to really sit down and do some planning. I have my plane tickets booked, but that is all. I feel like solo travel requires a bit more preparation ahead of time. But I am still stuck in the “its still a long way away, I don’t have to worry yet” stage. And I know this month is going to fly by and it will come so quickly.

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If you, or anyone who might be reading this, has any solo travel tips, any NZ travel tips, or any must see places along my general route, hit me up! I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want to see, but it is mostly based on going back to the places I saw and loved last time. So it would be super awesome to mix some new things in.

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I have been trying again to make it all the way through editing my photos from my last trip. This time I am actually doing it systematically and thoroughly. Not just jumping from place to place and photo to photo whimsically. It is making me more excited and reminding me of things that we did and places we went last time. I feel like a a thread of freshly edited NZ photos is a good way to end this post.

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BOOKS

It is with great sadness that I announce that my reading list for 2017 is abysmal. I finished only five books. Where’d You Go, Bernadette was charming and a quick read. Dracula was fantastic as long as you overlook a few small “the lady is too weak hearted to fight vampires and would probably faint even though she has spent the whole book proving she is smarter, braver, and more level-headed than most of the men” parts.

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Part of the reason I didn’t read too much this year is just that I tend to go through highs and lulls in my reading volume and in 2016 I read a lot of books. But I think another reason is that I read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and I needed some time to recover.

It was a long book and it was an absolute emotional punch to the gut. Like it punched you in the gut until you collapsed and then it started kicking you while you were down and somehow instead of PUTTING THE BOOK DOWN you kept reading it and it kept kicking you. It deals with some heavy subject matter; one of the characters has a outrageously traumatic and abusive childhood that you slowly learn about over the course of the book.

It also has some extremely beautiful characters and relationships. I read this book almost a full year ago but I can still remember the way that I felt about the characters and I can still see them and feel them in my head. I also read this book at work and I cried at work about it at least twice. I think that the horror you feel at the bad parts of the book makes the beauty in the good parts so much more vivid. And it seemed to go back and forth between the two often enough that you were never really sure if it would end happily or tragically. It is beautifully written. It is uncommon for a story to stick with me in such a visceral way. While I can’t remember anymore all the small details of the plot, when I think about the characters I can still actually feel the feelings I felt about them. Not in like a “oh I remember that I liked that part” way, but in a visceral “I can physically still feel how beautiful it was in the pit of my stomach” way. If that makes sense. It makes you feel a lot about what is fair and what is unfair and how our upbringing affects the way that we view our future and the things that we think we deserve. It was intense and I don’t know your tolerance so I’m not sure I can recommend it or suggest you read it, but I think I’m glad I read it.

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MOVIES

I also did not see a lot of movies this year. I can think of maybe four movies that I saw in theatres this year. There was maybe a couple more, but I just can’t really remember. So obviously they weren’t that impactful. Here are the ones I liked.

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Wonder Woman.

I am 100% over superhero movies. I would not have seen this one in theatres had it not been for your bachelorette party. You wrote a whole post on this movie so I don’t think I need to say much about it other than it was a very beautiful thing to see a female superhero who was not made a superhero by being made into a one dimensional character who displays stereotypical male qualities. It was weirdly overwhelming and beautiful to feel like I was seeing an actual woman in a role like this. I guess that is what you get when the majority of superhero movies are written and directed by men. It was still a superhero movie and parts of it were pretty cheesy. But I liked more than I’ve liked most superhero movies. I’m pretty sure the No Man’s Land scene will always make me cry.

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Beauty and the Beast.

Emma Watson is pretty much Belle in real life in my mind so when I heard she was going to play Belle I was very excited and also very nervous. What if they screwed it all up? What if it was one of those terrible remakes? But my fears were not realized. It was very good. Emma Watson came on screen and started singing the first song and I started crying. Now I did see this during my couple months of night shift last winter, so that may have had something to do with it, but I basically cried every time she did anything Belle-like. So the whole movie pretty much. Emma is such a good person and a strong and outspoken woman who stands up for what she believes in. She is the perfect person to play Belle and I was so happy she did.

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Blade Runner 2049.

I did not cry in this movie! It was directed by the Denis Villeneuve, the same guy who directed Arrival, and we all know how much I loved that movie. I can say a lot of the same things I said about Arrival: the colours! the lighting! the cinematography! It is all so beautiful. I appreciated the subtle ways it tied back to the original movie. The way some of the scenes were filmed and the little details. The story was beautiful. It felt profoundly human in a profoundly unhuman way.

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MUSIC

This was also not a big year for me in terms of new music. But here are a few things I found and enjoyed:

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Stranger in the Alps – Phoebe Bridgers

This album is beautiful and I love the whole thing. There are maybe one or two songs I might skip sometimes, but really I usually just listen to it front to back. Her voice is beautiful and her songwriting is amazing. I particularly like Smoke Signals, Funeral, and Would You Rather.

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Melodrama – Lorde

I wasn’t really on the Lorde train before this year. I think it is because I didn’t really care for Royals and that was the only song that ever seemed to get played from her first album. But I love this album. Again, it’s good all the way through. I particularly love Liability, Sober II (Melodrama), and Green Light.

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White Noise – Noah Gundersen

This album was very different from his other albums. I like it in a different way than I like his older stuff. This album I find that there are a few songs I feel pretty meh about and a few that I absolutely love. So it is the same amount of love I usually have for a Noah G album, just distributed differently. Instead of being spread evenly over the whole thing like it was for Carry the Ghost it is slightly more concentrated on certain tracks. My absolute favourites are SEND THE RAIN (TO EVERYONE) and HEAVY METALS. But I also really like BAD ACTORS, THE SOUND, NEW RELIGION, and WAKE ME UP, I’M DROWING.

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One More Light – Linkin Park

This album is not on my list because Chester died. I genuinely love it. It is a very different sound for Linkin Park. Now I love classic old school Linkin Park. I grew up on it. This was the first band I ever loved and the first cds I ever bought. I used to listen to Hybrid Theory and Meteora exclusively and on repeat while I delivered newspapers for the bulk of my childhood/teenage years. But I have to say that I might like their new sound even better. My favourites are One More Light, Invisible, Good Goodbye, and Heavy.

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TELEVISION

I watched A LOT of tv this year. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. But I haven’t been reading much or watching very many movies, so it makes sense. I also tend to watch tv while I’m knitting and I’ve been knitting a bunch this fall. So here’s my (long) list of tv I watched this year.

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Survivor: Game Changers (season 34)

Of course I watched this season. Returning players! Ozzy! Malcolm! Cirie! Sandra! JT! Andrea! Aubry! Did I say Ozzy already?!

I knew Ozzy wouldn’t win. He didn’t. Cirie came pretty darn close AGAIN. And Malcolm went out early in an absolute freak tribal council. It was a good season, even if the winner was not someone I was rooting for. It was also an absolute crazy season. There were a lot of game twists and blindsides (i.e. the insane tribal where Malcolm went home) and then there was the tribal council where Jeff Varner outed Zeke as transgender. It was insane. Zeke handled it with incredible grace and composure. He wrote this article which was published right after the episode aired.

In general, seasons like this are almost always a bit of a let down. They bring back all of these amazing people, and most of them get voted out right away. So you end up spending most of the season watching the people you really weren’t that excited about and you kind assume are sort of filler because you can’t really figure out how they were a “game changer” in their past seasons. But that’s the way the game goes. At least Ozzy was there for a while so that they could break up the insane game tension with peaceful spear fishing interludes.

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The OA (season 1)

I had no idea what to expect from this. It was extremely original. Sometimes it was very heavy, sometimes it felt a touch silly, mostly it was serious. I had no idea what was going to happen AT ALL. I like it even more now that I know Brit Marling wrote it as well as starred in it; she is fantastic. I will definitely watch the second season when it comes.

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No Tomorrow (season 1)

I have not heard a single person talk about this show. I found it on Netflix. It was good! It is the classic “type A perfectionist lady meets free-spirited, ‘live life to the fullest’ man” story. Only you quickly find out that this free-spirited man is seizing the day because he is convinced the world is going to end because a meteor is heading towards the earth. He claims to know this for certain. It is super cute and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

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Girlboss (season 1)

This show had a lot of hype. I loved the best friend character. But honestly, I found the main character so profoundly unlikeable that I struggled to make it through the season. I actually gave up on it for a while but ended up coming back to finish the season. Netflix cancelled the show; I wasn’t upset.

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The Good Place (season 1)

I have only seen one season so far because that is all that is on Netflix. But it is charming and funny and Kristen Bell is a delight as always. Love it.

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Master of None (season 1/2)

The first time I tried to watch this show I watched maybe the first five minutes of the first episode, got bored, and shut it off. But I kept hearing good things so I went back to it. I liked it. It felt like a very real show. Kind of like an independent movie, stuff happens but the plot doesn’t feel contrived or over the top. I know there is some controversy around this now due to the whole Aziz Ansari #metoo story. I’m not going to get into that except to say that I have read good and bad arguments and read some poorly written articles on both sides. Because of all this, however, I did find out that apparently Aziz wrote the Chef Jeff character in a way that you were supposed to think he as a great guy and then be surprised to find out he was a sexual harasser. Which is absolutely bonkers. But he says it in an interview, you can read it for yourself.

I thought you were supposed to know from the first moment you met him that something was off. Like crazy foreshadowing. I was surprised it didn’t come out sooner. And it wasn’t just like a “oh wow, I wasn’t expecting that but now that you say it yeah I guess I see how it was coming.” I had clearly formed the full thought in my head already, “this guy is a total creep and he is going to do something inappropriate.” I thought he was going to make a pass at Francesca or something much earlier. So to hear that that was Aziz’s portrayal of an awesome dude is a little troubling. This is his actual quote from the interview: “Okay, what if this is one of those types of guys and we just get the audience to love him? And then pull the rug out from under them at the end and reveal that he’s actually not a good dude?” I did not love that character. From the moment he came onscreen he made me uncomfortable and I strongly disliked him. I was annoyed at Dev for not seeing what a douche he was from the start.

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Orange is the New Black (seasons 1-5)

I watched all five seasons this year. It is a good show. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it is full of diverse, well-written female characters. I love that even though the show starts out fairly centred on Piper, it widens significantly to the point where her story is just one of many. Also the way the characters are developed is fantastic. There were multiple times during the series where I found myself rooting for a character I hated two seasons ago, or discovering I was completely wrong about who a character really was. The writers do a good job of allowing you to make assumptions about characters and then slowly revealing their backstories.

There was one season that I thought was a bit boring in regards to the overall season story, but the characters were still great so I stayed. And I certainly did not love every character (Piper in particular is pretty annoying actually), but there are some absolute gems that I felt made it worthwhile. Poussey is easily my favourite character. And one of my favourite characters from any show, not just OITNB. She is fantastic and Samira Wiley is amazing. Also Danielle Brooks! I couldn’t watch her in Master of None without picturing that character as Taystee, like she got out of prison, became an agent, and then started representing Dev.

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That 70’s Show

I started watching this because I wanted a fluffy sitcom to put on in the background while I knitted my sweater. It is on the same level as Friends, or How I Met Your Mother, or Big Bang Theory. Not that good, but somehow you keep watching it cause its a bit funny and it requires no emotional investment. I didn’t make it all the way through. The Danny Masterton rape allegations kind of killed it for me. Steven was my favourite character and the Jackie/Steven relationship was the only one I liked. So when I found out that the actor playing Steven was (allegedly) raping people and having the church of Scientology protect him it kind of made it hard to keep watching.

Here are some other reasons I probably should have stopped watching sooner:

(1) Eric is the classic “nice guy” in a sitcom who is kind of an entitled jerk but we’re supposed to root for him because he’s “nice.” Just think Ross Gellar or Ted Mosby. Same character. You’re not being friend zoned, thats not a thing. Shut up.

(2) Kelso consistently cheats on his Jackie to the point where he is straight up dating another girl on the side. Everyone in the friend group knows and no one tells Jackie. This goes on for more than a full season. What is it with tv shows and the whole, “I know he’s cheating on my other friend, but I’ve been friends with him longer so I won’t tell her cause that would be a betrayal.” It is garbage. Especially when:

(3) Jackie kisses another boy while dating Kelso and Eric finds out. He blackmails her into doing things for him to keep him from telling. He ends up forcing her into telling Kelso herself within one episode of finding out. Kelso throws a fit when he finds out.

(4) There is a very real idea that it is normal for guys to cheat because “boys will be boys” and they can’t help it. But they get outraged if a girl cheats. It is absolute bananas.

(5) Eric’s mom goes through menopause and it is used as comic relief. I’m assuming all the writers are men who think that menopause turns you into a wildly crazy and emotional train wreck and they thought continually make her look unhinged would be good for laughs.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine (season 4/5)

This show is amazing and if you aren’t already watching it you should be. It is very funny while also being diverse, inclusive, and tackling real issues (race, gender, sexuality, etc) in a sensitive and positive way. It is a slam dunk of a show and everyone should be watching it.

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Sherlock (season 4)

I’m a bit late on this one. But I finally got around to watching the newest season. It is darker and different from the older ones. Maybe it is just that I really miss Andrew Scott’s Moriarty and am sad he is gone. He makes a few little cameos in this season, just enough to remind you of how great he was and make you sad he’s gone. The Christmas special they did between season 3 and 4, The Abominable Bride, is fantastic. I watched it for the first time way back when it came out, but I watched it again before I got into season 4 and was reminded of how good it was.

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Outlander (season 1/2)

I am not quite done this one yet. I’m about half way through season two. There are only two seasons on Netflix right now, but I believe the third season came out in the fall. I avoided this show for a long time because I had heard it was based on a romance novel and I wasn’t into that. But I finally gave it a shot after hearing a lot of good stuff. I actually just looked it up, and I don’t even know that it was based on a romance novel at all, so I don’t know where I heard that. It is based on a novel though. Anyways. Some parts of the show feel a bit romance novel-y, but it is a really good story with interesting characters and original ideas. I have also learned a reasonable amount about Scottish, British, and French history (assuming of course it is mostly accurate in its portrayal of the countries and times it takes place).

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Big Little Lies

This show is absolutely fantastic. I managed to watch it without seeing any spoilers and it was crazy. They introduce that someone has been murdered at the very start of the first episode and then flash back and show how it all happened. I had no idea who died or who killed them until it actually happened in the finale. The acting is fantastic. The story is layered and well written. The cinematography is amazing, it is an absolutely beautiful show. At times it is unsettling and hard to watch, but the story feels important and worth watching. The acting is also amazing. Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard are winning award after award for their roles. It definitely one of the best shows I have seen all year and I highly recommend it.

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So there you have it. It is another marathon post, I know. But once I got going it just kept going. You were interested in hearing about every tv show I watched this year, right?

 

2017 in review.

This was an interesting year. When you first suggested doing end of year review posts like we did last year I was hesitant. Mostly because it felt like I had done nothing and accomplished nothing this year and my post would just say “I worked at the mill” while yours would talk about how you were finishing your masters degree, getting married, buying a house. You know, real actual life accomplishments.

Also I feel like I have spent the majority of this year angry. Not like rage anger, more like disappointment anger. Like something inside of me is constantly rolling itself into knots. Things are not fair, things are not just, and it infuriates me that its all being allowed to happen. The president is a racist, hate-filled, selfish narcissist who has the emotional maturity of a spoiled child. I don’t live in his country yet somehow he is managing to have a large impact on me and on everyone else in Canada and around the world. And to make it worse, millions of people are pandering to him and stoking is already grossly inflated ego in order increase their own wealth and power. Their motives are so unbelievably transparent; they blatantly display their greed and hypocrisy and it makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t even look at the president without feeling full on rage. It used to be that hearing him speak brought on the rage, but as the year has gone on it has progressed and now just a photo will do it. And don’t even get me started on the sexual harassment stuff. I have written about that a bit already and will probably do so more in the future.

I didn’t know it was possible to be this angry for this long. It has kind of turned into a sort of despair. Sometimes I can be a bit of a know-it-all and when I am convinced that I am right about something and someone else is clearly wrong, I have an almost compulsion to prove that I am right and have people agree with me. This is not a great quality I know. I’m working on it. But this year has been an absolute nightmare. I don’t understand how so many people are able to shut off their empathy and put their own wealth ahead of the well-being of others. I don’t understand how christians can be against immigration, health care, and welfare. I don’t understand how rich white people can’t see the advantages they were born into. I saw a tweet that described the president as “born on third but convinced he hit a triple.” I think that applies to a lot of white people right now. I don’t even know how to have a conversation with them because I can’t understand how they can’t see and understand that they did nothing to earn the privilege they were born with. Can they not see what a colossal stroke of luck it was for them to be born rich and white in north america? How can they look down on others, dismiss them, and even condemn them to death because they had the bad luck to be born into poverty? And how can they call themselves followers of Christ and do this? Have they really convinced themselves that Christ is on their side in this? That the bible backs up them up? That God loves them more than he loves poor people? It baffles and infuriates me.

But this is not supposed to be a rant so I’m going to try and get back on track. This was a difficult year in a lot of ways. I have had to figure out how to process all this anger and disappointment and not let it consume me. I have had to figure out how to merge the insanity and fear of international news with the relative quiet and monotony of my day to day life.

There have also been some positive things come out of this anger. I have become a lot more invested and outspoken about politics. I see all the more clearly how important it is for me to raise my voice and speak out when something is wrong. I used to care a lot more about keeping peace and having people like me/think I’m nice. I think I have reached the point where I am so fed up that I just don’t care anymore. Or at least I care a lot less. I am still a lot braver inside my head than I am in real life, but like anything, it takes practice and I am doing my best to take steps forward.

Okay, now on to some less heavy and more specific ups and downs of the year.

THE BAD

(it makes more sense to get the bad over with first. I am not really interested in dwelling on the bad things that happened, or sitting here racking my brain to try and remember them. So if it doesn’t come to me in the moment that I am writing this section, I just won’t include it. I’m also not going to talk anymore about politics as I think I’ve already spent enough time on that)

♦ My grandpa passed away.

♦ My dad was in a mountain biking accident the day before my grandpa passed away. He broke five ribs, punctured his lung and spent a week in the ICU with a chest tube. (He is almost completely recovered now)

♦ My province was on fire for most of the summer.

♦ Chester Bennington died. I wrote a post about it. He was an incredibly influential voice of my youth and I don’t really have anything new to add except to say that I am still sad and to reiterate that being killed by mental illness is not a sign of weakness.

♦I got a kind of terrible haircut. I was bored of my hair and decided I wanted an undercut. Which in itself is not a decision that I regret. However, through some miscommunication, some bad luck, and just an all around bad haircut I ended up with an outrageously large undercut and was not at all what I wanted. I knew instantly that it was a disaster but I tried for a couple months to convince myself that it was okay and that I liked it. I could never actually bring myself to get someone to take a good picture of it and show it to me because I think I knew that as soon as I actually saw it straight on I wouldn’t be able to pretend to be okay with it. Eventually I admitted it and am slowly waiting for it to grow out.

♦ I spent months fighting with my union local about a harassment case that I believed they handled poorly and in direct opposition to the bullying/harassment policies they claim to stand behind. This involved multiple emails back and forth as well as in person meetings. I was also in contact with the USW Wood Council Chairperson; I emailed back and forth with him and met with him in person as well. I knew when I chose to begin engaging with the union that it would almost for sure be a fruitless endeavour but I felt that it was important for me to speak up anyways. It was frustrating and drawn out and kind of brought on the same muted rage that the news has been bringing this year. I won’t turn this into a rant about the union and how they treated me and the ways that I am completely convinced that they are outdated and wrong. If anyone reading this is actually interested in union dynamics or my fight with them, it doesn’t take too much to get me going. Next time you see me just bring it up casually and I’m sure you will get an earful.

While it was a frustrating endeavour, it was not all bad. I learned a lot more about how unions work and benefits/drawbacks of them. I spent a lot of time talking with a really great union guy from my mill who continuously went out of his way to help me, affirm me, and explain union complexities to me. And even though I got no tangible results from the encounter, it felt good to be direct, honest, and in loud opposition to something that I truly believe was wrong.

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THE GOOD.

(these moments were chosen from memory/from scrolling through the photos on my phone and seeing what I photographed over the course of the year)

♦ It snowed like three feet one night in February and I literally couldn’t get out of the driveway to go to work so I had to call in and Haley came and picked me up and we spent the day snowboarding in waist deep powder.

(I just feel like I should add that I have had this jacket for at least 5 years and I still love it as much as I did the day I got it. Maybe more. Even just seeing a photo of myself wearing it brings me joy.)

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♦ I went to a Fred Penner/Shred Kelly show with Jocelyn and we danced and had a really really really good time.

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♦ I found a bakery in Kimberly that is peanut-free. The baker is more allergic to peanuts than I am so I can eat everything that they make. I have been up to my ears in croissants and I finally understand what non-allergic people feel like in every coffee shop/bakery. I can go in and look at the display case and just choose something that looks good without having to read ingredient lists or look it up online or actually just say I’m not hungry because it would be impossible to actually read an ingredient list for a cookie in a display case in a coffee shop. (I wrote in an earlier blog post about my first trip there).

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♦ I put pink in my hair. What I really wanted was like a coral, which it faded to and was really nice for the few weeks before it faded out entirely. This photo is right after it was put in so it looks more on the hot pink side.

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♦ I went to Ty and Jenn’s wedding with Sami and Seth and we went to Kangaroo Creek and I spent the afternoon petting wallabies, taking selfies with emus, and mostly just being completely and totally happy. I did a whole post about it.

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♦ Laura came over from Tasmania and I got to spend a day with her climbing through a creek and swimming in a waterfall.

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♦ I photographed more weddings as a second shooter. Sally Ann randomly reached out to me a little over a year ago and asked if I would be interested in second shooting for her. I think I wrote about it in my review last year. This year I shot a few more weddings with her. She is wonderful and I love working with her. I am getting a bit better at taking photos of people and at editing my photos. This year I got a new camera and I am beyond excited about it still.

I really have only put significant effort into editing one of the weddings. Here are some photos from that one. The other wedding I did in the summer was the week before yours, so those photos are still sitting on the card waiting for me. I’m not sure I will ever get around to them. But I really should, I’m pretty sure there are some good ones.

Sally Ann is super fun to work with. We take lots of selfies. Also yes, that is a mirror selfie taken in a trailer bathroom. I had just gotten that shirt and my look was FINE and needed to be documented.

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♦ You got married. I was in a wedding party for the first time, wore fake eyelashes, gave a speech, and didn’t have a single public breakdown about the fact that I was literally the only non-married person involved in any capacity with the wedding. It was a wonderful day and you and Josh were both beautiful and happy and I was so happy for you. Also everyone laughed at my speech jokes and that made me feel very good. I pulled some photos from your online gallery, sorry but they are only ones that I am in. You looked amazing in like every photo and I know the day was all about you and Josh, but this is my blog post so I’m allowed to make it all about me.

Can we just take a minute to appreciate how many photos there are of me speech giving in your gallery. THESE AREN’T EVEN ALL OF THEM. Which I am taking to mean, “you were funny and even the photographers loved your speech so much that they took tons of photos of you talking” and not “you talked for a long time.” But for reals, I had been writing this speech in my head since long before you asked me to give it. I’m pretty sure I had a rough outline floating around in my brain before you guys were even engaged. I got nervous in the couple days leading up to the wedding and my brain was doing that thing where it tries to convince you something you know is good might be bad. And a part of me wanted to cut out parts and change it to make it less vulnerable or less like I was trying to be funny or just shorter. But I knew that I wanted to say all those words so I did what anyone would do: cut nothing out, drank a few glasses of wine, and just went for it.

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People thought it was way funnier than I thought they would. Which was nice, but I knew that you would find it funny and that was all that mattered. When I looked up to see this I knew that it was a success. (If you want to read my actual speech, I posted it here)

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Also this photo. This photo is amazing and maybe my favourite. It is my favourite not because it is a good photo of us (which it totally is) but because of what was happening at the time. It looks like we are just sharing a little joke or are just really happy about how you are getting married or something like that. But I remember very clearly that I was trying to get your hair right and IT WAS NOT COOPERATING. I kept pinning it and it would fall out, or I would curl it and it would fall and hang funny and finally I leaned in really close and said “Glynis, f*ck this hair.” We both burst out laughing and in the background I heard a camera shutter go off. I’m very glad they captured this moment.

And finally here are a couple more photos of me at your wedding.

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♦ Alex came for your wedding. I got a new camera (as mentioned earlier) and Alex came and spent a day with me taking photos before he went back to Tasmania.

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♦ I got a new tattoo. It was done by the same artist who did my tree. His name is Craig and he works at Blackbird Electric in Calgary and he is funny and kind and amazing at what he does. I came to him with a vague idea of what I wanted and he drew something that was exactly what I wanted. I love it so much.

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♦ My dad and I went to Vancouver to watch the Maori All Blacks play. I wrote a whole post about it so I won’t go into a ton of detail except to say it was amazing and the All Blacks absolutely demolished Canada and I loved every minute of it.

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♦ I knit a sweater. Okay, technically I am not quite done so I didn’t finish it in 2017. But I only have a couple rows left and I did the bulk of it in 2017 so it counts. I just have to finish off the neckband and it is DONE.

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♦ I consistently ran all through the spring, summer, and fall. Most weeks I went for at least two runs, sometimes three. I did take a couple weeks off when I got sick for a few weeks in the summer, and it was hard to run a lot when we were in that crazy heat wave, but by the end of summer a quick, short run was no less than 5km and I could do it easily and without needing much recovery time. I switched from Fitbit run tracking to Strava part way through the summer so unfortunately I can’t give you stats for the year (for the record, I love Strava infinitely more than Fitbit). But I can tell you that between July 20 and Nov 14 I went on 19 runs and ran 111 kms.

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♦ I started going to hot yoga again. This was right at the end of the year, but still in 2017. I haven’t gone to yoga since I lived in Lethbridge. It has been a good way for me to feel like I am doing something during the winter while it is too cold to run.

This year has been a really good year for me in terms of fitness. I have been making consistent choices to be active and eat well. I know that I have never really been overweight or grossly unhealthy, but the last five years or so I have just felt terrible about how I looked and my fitness level. I knew that the simply solution was to start exercising, but I just couldn’t make myself care enough to do it. It feels so amazing to finally be doing something about it. I have never really been a fan of my legs and have always felt like they were much too big. However, I decided that I could settle on having my legs be bigger than I want them to be if they were toned and strong instead of chunky. Running has been good for this and honestly I feel better about my body than I have in YEARS, maybe better than I have ever felt about it.

.♦ I wrote this post. I had been feeling like I should write it for MONTHS. But same-sex marriage can be a polarizing topic in the christian community and although this blog is not written specifically for the christian community, I know that there are people who read it who come from that background. I also have a lot of friends who live in Australia who I hoped would read it. I was nervous about putting my thoughts in writing because I was afraid I might not do a good enough job explaining them and then people would judge me or be upset. But it just sat in the back of my head for months nagging to be written. I realized that it was important for me to speak up and say what I believe is right. That it was worth the chance that I might lose a friend or have an acquaintance judge me or write me off. I finally wrote it and was content with how it turned out. I felt like the tone was calm and I said what I believed in an honest but un-confrontational way. It has the most views of any post I have written, but remarkably few comments or interactions. I was kind of expecting some angry/earnest comments,  or questions, or some sort of agreement or disagreement. But I got nothing. It was weird but I still feel good about having written it.

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Okay, that’s probably enough. I will tackle media and the coming year in another post. A hearty congratulations if you actually made it the whole way through this marathon of a post.

2017 Year in Review

It’s 2018! We’re going to look back on 2017 in the next few posts, and here’s a few of the topics we’ll be thinking and writing about.

  • Media (books, movies, music, etc) that was important, influential, or especially enjoyable;
  • Events that were impactful, positively or negatively; and,
  • Some goals or intentions for making 2018 a good year.