Lesson 1:

Fair Weather Fan

As much as I hate to admit it, I have always been a fair weather fan of sorts. For me, this was a hard fact to face, and a very difficult lesson to learn. Doesn’t everyone want to believe that they are filled with deep seeded, prolific passion for one thing or another? That they are, goals and unconscious habits alike, driven by purpose?

This illusion is sustained so long as that fair weather persists. It is not until weeks of rain that our true character is unmasked.

Upon what felt like endless stretches of rain in Dunedin, this unappealing attribute surfaced quite obviously in me. The cold and hard truth was that these tiny little droplets of water that fall from the sky had seriously decreased my willingness to engage in just about any activity. I cannot even imagine where my motivation level would be if I ran into a real obstacle- Like say, frozen water…

Fortunately, this realization came at a point in my life where time was of the essence. A time where I was more aware of the ticking clock than I ever have been before my move abroad. Limited time meant limited days, which meant I could only allow the rain to steal so many hours before I would find myself on a flight back home.

Time, which is always scrutinized for it’s fleeting property, provided me with the pressure I needed to act. To decide, commit, manifest. Time forced me out of my comfort zone where small hurdles like rain were no longer able to passively override my decision to act. Whether the decision was to take on the rain and spend a rather soggy weekend camping, or to embrace it instead by curling up on the couch with my flatmates and a movie, I was a able to actively enjoy each drop simply by making a choice.

Time which acts in such minuscule increments often gets lost is our everyday habits and overlooked in our extravagant future oriented goals. But time isn’t the problem, time isn’t running away with tiny segments of our lives, as we portray it. It is there all the time, it is the spark to life, just waiting to catch our attention.

My time in NZ taught me no matter the forecast, and no matter the obstacle that is placed before me, it is my decision that shapes the outcome. And I have decided I will no longer live the life of a fair weather fan.


Not Goodbye: A poem by our very own Chris Williams

Not Goodbye

By: Chris Williams

In these short verses I will justify
Why although it may be long, this will not be goodbye
I will try to be sarcastic and funny
To ensure that our faces aren’t wet and our noses aren’t runny
Goodbyes seem permanent and signify something final
Like washing your hands after using the urinal
Goodbye is something you say sometimes and the end of a tex’
Whereas what we’ve all experienced is something far more… Complex

Firstly Anum, where do I start?
A logical brain and a logical heart
You’re loud, energetic, a bit crazy and smart
But most of all you’ve played a pivotal part
Of being the one we can always rely
Even though you can’t skate on a board made of ply

Next we have Katy, Headband and all
Snapchat queen and an energetic ball
There isn’t a time where I haven’t seen you smile
Looking into symbols or a new cooking method to trial
And even with the fun you still have to toil
Through all your uni work and meals, minus sesame oil

FREEEDOMM yells Hannah, because she’s the one true Scot
And as she likes to keep telling me, I certainly am not
She’s witty, sarcastic and on occasions a bit of boss
And if you don’t do what she says she may get a little cross
But most of all a joy to be around, and we’ll see each other soon
Afternoons, not mornings though, that would not be a tune (choone)

Last but certainly not least, flat four has wee Jess
A lover of socialising and a hater of mess
Her cleanliness goes hand in hand with her ability to make tea
So we can chat and tell stories and make us feel our lives are stress free
But what I have to admit, and hate to say most
Is out of all of us, she’s probably been the most reliable Kiwi host!

Simon is next, the Granddad of our group
The one that we loving refer to as our man Snoop
A Dunedin veteran, we do love him dearly
As he dispels his wisdom on something to make us see clearly
Always up for a laugh, and a receiver of many of my hugs
I’m still not convinced after 5 years here he knows where to find drugs

If Connor had left before this had all begun NZ wouldn’t have been the same
He introduced us to Drake and showed us we’ll never beat him at any game
An adrenaline junkie, he’s relaxed and he’s cool
Don’t let that innocent smile play you for a fool
Bleeding green and a Jayhawk to his bones
I’m still amazed and the speed he watched Game of Thrones

How do you describe Martin, the one who makes us happy
He’ll never cease to put a smile on your face, when you feel a little crappy
Never have I met someone so positive, always up for fun
If you need to defuse a situation, he is the chosen one
But what we’ll never quite get, is what is in his head
Well apart from: food, food, and of course Banana bread

Next the token brown kid, Dereck San Miguel
A lover of all things Hawaiian and catching fish as well
With a yearning for adventure, he’s never been a bore
Even though we’ll be miles away, I’ll probably hear him snore
What I’ve been amused with, is him dealing with the cold
You’ll be grateful for the warmth again, as we keep on getting told!

My ground floor buddy is next, Allen Vanmeter
Whose loud drunken singing has been a constant presence and feature
Of our time here, as well as his slow cooking,
The girls try to steal it all the time, only when he’s not looking
Hats off to the guy, he’ll never compromise what he wants to be,
Whether it’s a squeamish doctor, or someone screaming Zedd’s Clarity

So that’s all of us… oh wait there’s Hayley
That girl from Somerset that I’ve seen almost Daily
The fun energetic one who sometimes gets in a tizzy
Whether it be a weekend in Wanaka or standard trip to A & E
Whether shes, laughing at random stuff or falling at Milford on to her bum
Complex could only ever have, one Hayley Crumb

Words cannot truly describe the times that we’ve had
And yes, going home will make us all sad,
But one thing I’ll remember when my time in New Zealand ends
Is I can call each one of you a true true friend,
So go home, travel some more, have fun, time will fly!
We’ll see each other again, this will NOT be goodbye.

Each verse- nearly perfect, yet I must say
Something seems to be missing, so Chris, If I may…

Complex, the semester, this poem exists not, without you
We owe many adventures and laughs to all that you do
As Head of safety, fun conveiner, and makeshift kiwi host
And I’d be sinning if I failed to mention Alpacas- the fluffy beast you love most
Law abiding and always genuine, one to truly commend
And with that crucial addition, this poem can now properly end

Unlikely Heroes: Wolf-boy, and Sweatpants Dude

I regret to inform you that it snowed yesterday. To avoid dramatizing the whole situation, I’ll just say that Monday morning when my alarm went off at 7:22AM I personally experienced what it’s like to be paralyzed. I could hear the hail pelting the roof outside, but I could not yet see it, as I was concealed head to toe in blankets, and preoccupied with the fact that I could still, within my cocoon, see my own breath. By the time the conscious control of my body was restored, I still had time to make it to class by 9:00 if I rushed, but today of all days I was not prepared to sacrifice my piping hot morning cup of joe. So, by the power invested in me, I declared yesterday a snow day.

Today, however, I was a good student. I got up early in order to mentally prepare myself for the journey in. With an extra pair of leggings under my jeans, and my hiking boots strapped tightly, I set off for one of my last days of uni at Otago. I took the first right at the end of my driveway, where I was met at the corner by a stranger in a three wolf moon t-shirt. We both started up the hill, barely gaining ground, then slipping backwards. In the midst of our struggle, we came the awkward realization that we needed to stop expending energy climbing, and start worrying about how we were going to slide to the bottom without falling on our asses. I couldn’t help but laugh as we struggled in parallel. Side by side, we were fighting to keep both our balance and our composure. When we finally gained our footing, he suggested that we try crossing the street. And just like that, wolf-boy and I were in it together.

While the walk was still traitorous, it was surprisingly casual, for two rushing strangers. Usually situations like this are awkward, walking slightly staggered on the same sidewalk, both of you knowing you’re headed the same way but not knowing how to pull a conversation out of thin air. This time it was was different, it was something about the mutual struggle and commitment to the shared goal- simply making it to class, that made for a solid enough foundation that we were comfortable. He caught my fall just about once per intersection, then continued on all the way in to the hospital after I arrived (unscratched, I might add) at my lecture hall.

I headed toward the back door, knowing my professors annoyance with students entering late through the font. Before I got to the top of the stairs I was stopped by a tall dude in sweatpants, and informed that no one was there. Evidently, we were the only two in the entire 200 plus lecture who failed to get the memo. We laughed at the fact that we both seemed to have a knack for just attending cancelled lectures, and skipping the ones that fail to get recorded and posted online.

So of course, today (not yesterday) is a snow day. Which brings me here, where I sit alone at a cafe, at 9:00AM. I am stranded until my next class at 1:00, because there is no way in hell I am prepared to make the journey home. Thank you, kind strangers, Wolf-boy and Sweatpants Dude, for softening the blow of my stupidity this morning. I take comfort in knowing that at least two of you (even if it is Wolf-boy and Sweatpants Dude) are laughing with me, not at me. Your smiles made these misfortunes reasons to laugh, rather than the summation of a bad day.

Rotten Eggs

Sunday morning I went to the supermarket. When I arrived back home, I  began unpacking the the contents of the plastic bags into their designated shelf space. As I went to put the eggs into the cupboard, I noticed that the expiration date read June 15, 2014. It was right then that I was struck with the dreadful realization that my time in this flat would expire before this particular dozen of eggs. This was the first time I had physical evidence that I am now truly on the home stretch of my time in NZ.

I think I ate a dozen eggs in about 4 days that week… I’m not sure if this was just a coincidence, or if I couldn’t bare the date of impending doom staring me right in the face every time I went for a snack? It was as if it were some kind of competition, and I refused to let that crate of eggs outlive me.

I talked to my dad on the phone the following day as I sat down to a nice veggie omelet for lunch. I told him about how sad I was to discover these stupid eggs and their strange relevance to the timeline of my life. He asked me if there was no part of me that was excited to come home- sounding a tad bit offended. I assured him that there was; that I missed him and the rest of my family, and named all of the other things that I was excited to come back to, like oatmeal and the big dipper. Then I told him how coming home is going to feel like waking up from a long vivid dream. Like my memories of these past few months will feel obscure and out of place, almost like they belong to someone else. He assured me that this was a good feeling to have- that in my situation there is no short end of the stick. I liked where I was, and I liked where I was going. But I explained to him that it’s not the place or the people that made me dread this next transition, but the waking up. This made sense to him, and after saying it out loud, it made sense to me too.

Coming home means diving back into reality. A reality with a future full of uncertainty. A reality that has carried on without me for 6 months now. It’s like that feeling you get when you check your emails for the first time on a Monday morning after having been away for the weekend. That overwhelming flood of mostly unimportant, irrelevant junk that is just there to remind you that life goes on with or without you, that the world doesn’t stop when you’re away.

That night I had eggs for dinner, knowing full well that there is nothing I can do but enjoy the contents of what remains in that looming crate.

‘Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda’:Time Spent Down Under

I realize that this post is a bit tardy, however, I am pleased to report that we did in fact, make it back alive! For those of you who think that this is not much of an accomplishment, bear in mind that Caitlin and I still, to this day, have failed to learn the street names in Burlington after having navigated them daily for three years. Yet, somehow, we managed to meet on a foreign continent, and then arrive back at our intended location- both of us, together, and on time.

The only decision we firmly committed to this entire trip, (though not without days of clumsy deliberation) was to cancel all of the further travel plans we had booked ahead of time. Aka omit every single decision we had made in advanced. This rigorously over-thought and yet somehow last minute decision did land us with a few non-refundable tickets and deposits, and open the door to a whole new word of decisions to be dealt with. And still, despite this mess of uncertaity, I cannot say that I regret this choice. That’s not to say the phrase “Dude, we should have ___________” was not thrown around from time to time (hourly), but you live and you learn, and that is just how we have always operated.

There is always some give and take when it come to traveling- especially when you’re working with a budget as sad and nearly impossible as ours. While I only got to see a small portion of the east coast Australia, we were fortunate enough to get to stay in a place where the sun shined every day, almost to a fault, (I genuinely forgot that there was the possibility of anything but blue skies) and more importantly, a place that attracts people from all across the world.

Byron Bay had a definite “Aussie surfer bro” culture to it- but I would bet you could experience this in just about any city or town along Australia’s coastline. The real draw to Byron is the energy, an energy brought about by the travelers. These travelers equipped with sufficient amounts of vitamin D radiating from their skin, and casual yet obvious enchantment to the chill Aussie lifestyle. We had the pleasure of getting to know some of these travelers, a few of our favorites coming from Scotland, Kenya, and a couple of half decent Americans from Kansas.The draw of Byron offered us the unique experience of meeting people of all walks of life, and variety rare breeds that most likely wouldn’t intermix if it weren’t for a place like Byron.

How do you measure a trip like this? One that cannot be called a vacation- there were so 5-star meals or drop-ins at the day spa. Nor was it a nomads backpacking trip, fueled by passionate wanderlust and a quest for self-discovery. We managed to fall somewhere in-between on our Aussie endeavor. By the end of our two weeks, the trip did not amount to much in miles, but in friendships, rays of sunshine, and breakfast cocktails we were brimming. We left Byron Bay with perfect memories and a restored faith in all of the imperfect strangers we encountered and those at large. Byron Bay

Ode to Mom

Remember the year we made you breakfast in bed? Toast and orange juice I believe- because that was our favorite. Dad thought that maybe we should let you sleep in, but we were too eager. You were beside yourself with excitement, absolutely thrilled, just like we knew you’d be, because no good deed ever goes on unappreciated by you, mom. So to this day we make a point to tell you that “you are the best mom in the whole wide world” every single day, once a year, on Mothers Day.

Remember the time I proclaimed “You’re not my mom, Dad’s my mom!” in front of dads entire family and coworkers? When I constantly pushed your buttons, and tested your limits, and you responded with nothing but unconditional love to my “strong will” and mild battery.

Remember in kindergarden when you did my hair for my very first daddy daughter dance? You endured hours of precise direction and scrutiny and gave me nothing but patience in return. (Remember how much worse it got by the time homecoming and prom rolled around?)

Remember how you used to send me care packages on holidays with all of my favorite things, so that I wouldn’t feel so far away from home? Or how when i’d visit home, i’d come back to clean sheets on my bed and my favorite meal?

Remember how my entire life you gave me advice, hugs, lunches, back rubs, second chances, and unconditional love- expecting nothing in return?

You gave me life! And I gave you toast……(just the way I like it)

I love you mom, I am forever indebted to you for all you have given me, done for me, and taught me over the years. So without further ado, you are the best mom in the whole wide world! I miss you, and I wish I could be there with you today above all days.

Your Awkward Offspring