Around the World With a Vagabond

A Success Story February 24, 2011

Filed under: A Success Story,February Doesn't Suck — christynichols @ 12:03 pm
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Today I accomplished the laundry.  This is a huge feat for me. There are so many steps! I end up losing interest half-way through the process and then don’t finish the laundry for days.


Last week, in another botched attempt at good house keeping, I washed the bed sheets.  The sheets were hung out to dry in the warm wind for a while, and then I tumbled them up and threw them in our room to land wherever they might fall. That’s as far as I was willing to go to finish the laundry.


Later, Chris began to finish the cleaning that I had abandoned. He opened up the bundle of clean sheets and as he did, about two shovels-full of twigs and sticks and leaves and dirt drifted off the sheets and onto our carpet.  Parts of the twigs and dirt still clung to the bed sheet. One twig was almost an entire flowering branch.


“What’s happened?” he asked me.


Blank-faced, I looked at the dirt and twigs on our bedroom floor and the plant stuck to the bed sheet.


“I cleaned them for you.”


I like to think the look he gave me as one of amusement, but it was probably more a mix of confusion and disapproval with my explanation.


“There’s plants and a bush near where I hung them to dry. The wind probably blew the sheets into them.”


He looked at me. In his head were probably thoughts of frustration, but Chris is very good about keeping these kinds of thoughts quiet.


“What?” I say. He can’t understand how I didn’t notice that I had grabbed parts of the outside lawn and brought them in with our clean laundry.  I guess he has a valid point.


Chris proceeded to take the twiggy bed sheets outside and give them a good shaking. Then he came back in and folded all of the sheets neatly and put them away. Then he got out the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed up all the dirt from the carpet, and then put the vacuum away.  He then made the bed, hung some lights, and cleaned up the dresser.


How did I help? I laughed with my housemate about the dirt on the bed sheets, and then had some coffee.


He probably wonders all the time why I can’t manage to finish simple tasks.  Or to not muck up the simple things.


But today, I did the laundry. I did every step and I didn’t get distracted by 8 different things along the way, even though the sun was out and the dogs were playful.  And I didn’t bring in dirt and plant-parts with the clean clothes, either!


Yep.  Today, laundry day, was a success!


. . . . . . . . I know. My life is sad.


Bittersweet Victory February 23, 2011



My nephew is nearly 9 months old.  He has been wiggling around and trying to crawl for weeks.  The other day, he managed to hold on to the coffee table on his own and lift into a standing position. He was so proud of his little self.

In the last week, this little boy has had an enormous breakthrough in his infant months, and has managed to pull his plump baby body up the staircase all on his own!  My sister was so proud of him! She emailed me a video of this victory, my little nephew, all baby smiles and cheery drool.


His parents didn’t revel in his accomplishment for long, however.  The picture I was sent today was not of Logan propped up on the couch, and not of him holding himself up against the coffee table, or achieving a long-distance crawl.


In this photo, my sweet little nephew had been jailed in a playpen.  His face and hands are mashed against the sides in playful protest, as the sides are far too high for him to crawl up and over to freedom.


He looks happy enough, sitting there with all his toys, but I feel for the poor kid.


He’s achieved one mammoth challenge, only to be presented with another, almost immediately.


Such is life, kid.  Such is life.



Kia Kaha, Kiwis February 22, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,Kia Kaha Kiwis — christynichols @ 12:47 pm
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I know this category of posts is meant to be themed with reasons why February doesn’t suck. However, I spent much of the day in front of the TV, watching as the horrific events in Christchurch unfolded. For many of my friends, this doesn’t make for a very positive and uplifting February.


The surreal footage wobbled as the camera swung from one crumbled building to the next, capturing images of people crying, shouting, and shaking in shock and fright.


I’ve never been to New Zealand, but in the past few years I have met some pretty stellar Kiwis.


It’s heartbreaking to witness a peaceful nation uprooted by Mother Nature into what looks like a war zone.  Streets are flooded; loved ones are trapped in fallen buildings.  There is no electricity, and the city sits in bleak darkness tonight.


In response to the earthquake, a friend of mine posted “Kia Kaha” as her Facebook status.  When I wiki’d it, I found it to be a phrase taken from New Zealand’s indigenous Maori language, and intended as a comfort and solace. It means forever strong.


And they will be.  When you meet a Kiwi, there is no denying their spirit, their toughness, their resilience, and their natural instinct to come together as a community and help, rescue, and rebuild.


While what happened today is indeed tragic, there is still some good to be found.


In Christchurch, there just happened to be a medical conference in session, with numbers of doctors from Melbourne, and probably other places in the world, in attendance.  The fact that the New Zealand city coincidentally had extra doctors on hand today is one good thing that “doesn’t suck”.


There also just happened to be a military training in progress in Christchurch, so having trained soldiers instantly available and in action is another thing about this day that “doesn’t suck.”


Keeping up with the headlines and breaking news, there are stories of heroism emerging from the devastation, and images of people of varying class and status working together to lift the same stretcher, heave building blocks, or carry out the wounded. There hasn’t been a case of looting, or blame, or fleeing chaos.  In fact, any images of fleeing are of groups of people, strangers, holding out their hands and fleeing together, most to return to their shaken homes and families.


There was only one arrest today in Christchurch of a man whose crime was that he was too insistent to help, so much that he was endangering himself and other emergency workers.  He was arrested because he was crazed with the urge to dig through the rubble and save someone.  Probably someone he knew.  Who can blame him?


Hearts and prayers and thoughts are going out to you, Kiwi friends.


“Kia Kaha.” Stay strong.



The Coffee Posture February 21, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,The Coffee Posture — christynichols @ 11:58 am
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If making hot coffee was a yoga posture, I’d be in better health. Like my step-dogs.


When I was working in Savannah, Georgia, I came across an advertisement for Doggy Yoga hosted by the Save-A-Life animal welfare organization every Sunday. Strange, but it’s popular, and my dogs seem pretty bendy.


The first time I ever tried yoga, I was immediately put off.  We took an hour to do 5 postures that, in trying, I discovered I couldn’t do and left in a huff of frustration.  I think it was the tree frog position that broke me. I didn’t go back for years.


When I did, I learned to love it, so much that I took up hot yoga, then challenged myself to do hot yoga for 60 days straight.  I managed it for about 45, but this was in England and I had to unexpectedly fly back to California, and so my streak was broken.


45 days isn’t bad though. I really got into yoga. For a while back in California, I even taught Power Yoga.  To people who are hesitant or intimidated a little by the seemingly physical demands of yoga, Power Yoga was terrifying.  I should have called it Empowering Yoga.  The lexis of language is so important.


Anyway, since December, I have let my yoga practice fly out the window, and with it has flown my posture, my flexibility, and an over all feeling of good health.


There is a Hot Yoga studio not far from where I live, and I think I might just throw down the big bucks in exchange for a sweaty towel and healthy pores. Lord knows I need it.


Every morning when my dogs wake up they make me feel guilty.  Crawford, who does the Upward-Facing Dog straight after waking from his sleep, and looks at me for his breakfast. Sewell surpasses him (and me) when she wakes by beginning with a Downward-Facing Dog, then stretches, pauses, and flows smoothly and beautifully into her Upward-Facing Dog.


Yeah, yeah,” I think as I move into my post-sleep routine and make a cup of coffee.

My dogs do this better.


The Day We Were Athletes February 20, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,The Day We Were Athletes — christynichols @ 10:56 am
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You know how if you hang around a certain kind of person, you take on their traits and characteristics?  Perhaps this doesn’t happen to everyone, but I have noticed it about myself. When I lived in England, my accent changed a little so that I sometimes spoke with a British intonation. I drank tea and ate scones.  Perhaps other people can relate to this if, maybe, they live with vegetarians and choose to stop eating meat, or maybe some people who live with card players who one day become professional gamblers.


Today I had that kind of day.  My companions’ characteristics rubbed off on me.  I hung out with triathlon competitors and, being the human sponge I am, I felt the spirit of fierce athleticism; by the end of the day, I too would feel the burn of victory.


Even though I wasn’t actually part of the triathlon team, the atmosphere was such that I felt as if I was.


It began when Chris woke up early. I, too, woke up early. He gathered his gear and bag of necessities (water, granola bar, jogging pants) and I gathered my bag of necessities (coffee thermos, laptop, spending money).


We arrived at the track and Chris went to the starting line for the team briefing to get organized. I went to the marquis with the team supporters and organized my chair, my computer, and peeled an orange.


For 3 hours, Chris warmed up, stretched, ran, biked, ran harder, and worked up a good sweat beating down the track.


For 3 hours I followed Chris as he warmed up, stretched, and supported him as he ran, biked, ran harder, and I worked up a good sweat, cheering right down the track. I was out of breath from all of the hard cheering.


When it was over, all of us exhausted people convened at the marquis for much deserved sausages and beer.  I felt very good about myself.  Chris did too. Together, we had achieved something awesome.


As the day came to an end, the thousands of other athletes gathered their bikes and their gear, and trooped off the track.  Chris needed to change his shoes, and I stood by the track, balancing his bike and both our beers.  The other competitors in their brightly colored spandex and helmets smiled and nodded at me as they passed with their muddied bikes, and I, holding Chris’s muddied bike, nodded right back.


It was a good feeling. We were athletes.


Saturday’s Highlights February 19, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,Saturday's Highlights — christynichols @ 11:18 am
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Today was a day of online meetings, polar bear greetings, and a swag roll competition.


The first failed, due to a technical glitch, but an organized meeting on a Saturday was inevitably doomed anyway.


The polar bear was dancing in the sun and passing out chocolate coins at an expo.  I gave him a hug.  That’s what you’re meant to do with dancing polar bears, right?  A big bear hug.


The swag roll competition went like this:  whoever could pull on pajama bottoms, unfasten, unroll, and unzip a swag, get in, lie down, then jump out and re-zip, re-roll, and re-fasten the swag the fastest won a wine tour.


When the countdown started, I went for it. . .the fastest time was 19.something, and I did it in 23.something else.  Second place, and 4 seconds from winning!! So close!


And those are the highlights of my Saturday.


Friday Storm February 18, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,Friday Storm — christynichols @ 1:31 pm
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It is a humid, thunderstorm-y evening in Melbourne this Friday.  I know those clouds are hiding a full moon.  As I worked in a cafe bar in St. Kilda, the sky cracked it and I watched the lightning strike across Port Phillip Bay.


Okay, so it wasn’t this, exactly. But lightning is lightning.


A friend of mine once told me about a friend of his who was once struck.  It gave him a red scar that began at the top of his right shoulder, and burned diagonally downwards, across his torso, and down his left leg.


Lucky, or unlucky?