Weekend getaway to a writer’s home

I’ve always wondered what a writer’s home looked like. Rooms full of libraries, books that span across shelves, a reading corner, a warm fireplace, something a little reminiscent of the Beast’s library.

Last weekend, I got a chance to see such a home with my very own eyes, to live and breathe the space where a writer once worked.

Let me describe to you every breathtaking detail from the drive up the long winded driveway, to the little speck of dust on the kitchen counter.

It was as if we had stepped into a house that was waiting for us to enjoy its simple pleasures.

The ferns waved at us from either end as we rounded into the driveway, the door swung open with an easy click that opened into a homely kitchen and lounge, and there were cats, all six of them, roaming freely, so that you never got to see them all together at the same time.

After we had settled our bags down and pinched ourselves in disbelief, we gave ourselves a mini tour.

A little note was stuck to the kitchen counter. “There’s pizza in the fridge. Help yourselves.”

We did more than just that.

We cooked in the kitchen. Roast chicken and salad, while my friend prepared dinner for the cats. There was a pantry full of all the spices one could ever need, and drawers and drawers of utensils.

As I recall, my friend got mixed up between the cat utensils and the human utensils. You can tell that the owners were very fond of their cats.

After dinner, we melted cheese on bread and sat outside on the deck that overwatched the sea, and later that evening, we spread ourselves across the warm rug in front of the TV, while the cats joined us, purring contently.

Even though it seemed like an hour, we sat this way for five hours. The house seemed to have its own time.

It was midnight, when we reluctantly peeled ourselves away from the warm rug and entered the cool night, leaving this oasis behind us.

On the drive home, I struggled to keep my eyes open. The next day was a work week, what was I doing out so late? Still, it was the best decision ever.

Yawning loudly, we drove towards a purple-blue horizon lit up by a single streetlight. Lights multiplied by the dozens as we drove on – out of the countryside and back into the city, with just a touch of remorse tainting this lovely Sunday evening.

Post-traumatic work disorder

First day back at work and I’ve already got post-traumatic work disorder. Can anybody relate?

Today. YES. Today I went back to work.

I’m still wearing the shades I wore to my Tree Adventure escapade. My abs are still raw from climbing 14 meters above ground. I still look red frolicking under the sun, and despite all that, I yanked myself out of bed today and closed the door to my faraway holiday.

After a few years of work, I’ve gotten so traumatised from waking up early in the morning, stressing out about traffic, trying to find a carpark, getting my windows smashed, and sitting at a desk for eight hours straight.

That’s my montage for the week, the month, the year.

Only the newbies just starting out get excited about the money, the office culture, the perks, and the title of having a job, while I just wanna sleep.

I used to be a newbie, but now I’m an oldie.

Gone are the days when I used to go running at 5pm. Poof! Gone are the late nights and easy early mornings. Poof! Poof! Poof!

So I’m protesting office culture.

I’m protesting the 40 hour work week that Henry Ford created, and I say we have a four hour work week.

Bring back the golden era of work-life balance that existed before I was born.

But what have I got to accomplish from all of this misery and complaining?

Absolutely nothing at all. So head down I go, taking my blues with me and turning it into something productive: novel writing.

One positive thing has come out of this day:

Facebook predicted that I would finally find my dream job this year.

I pray to the stars to send me the energy I so desperately need, so that I can work hard and become the author I dream to be.

I have high hopes for this Facebook prediction. It predicted that my friend would win lotto, and he did.

What are the chances?

I live three hours away from paradise

As the summer holiday draws to a close, I refuse to resign myself to the usual dread that fills these last few days.

I have persuaded my friends to go on a spontaneous roadtrip with me in which we are all going to explore and be adventurers again.

Our planning for this one day roadtrip began on New Year’s day, right after 12am, and by 1am, we had decided to meet two days later to drive up North to a “developing” city named Tauranga, a three hour drive from where we reside.

I don’t know whether you know this, but here in New Zealand, developing cities don’t look like your usual slum of the earth.

Instead, picture a sunny harbourside town, where every street name and road sign has the word “ocean” or “coast” in it, and everybody in the neighbourhood looks extremely tan and fit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole town was selected to star in the next Baywatch.

Anyway, that’s where we found ourselves in, overdressed and overheated, strolling through a harbourside paradise.

To point out our exact location in paradise, we were in Papamoa, a suburb with a beach that residents actually use! something that rarely happens where I live.

Since I came unprepared to this harbourside town, without togs or a towel, I did not get a chance to bare my skin to the summer sun or dip my body into the ocean. I did have a front row view of the sea and watched longingly ahead at the surfers and swimmers catching their next big wave.

When the excitement seemed too good to miss out on, I rolled up my pants and ran into the crashing waves, not caring that my bottom-half was soaking wet and that I didn’t have a spare change of clothes.

The salt and sand was still on my mind when we left Papamoa. So I insisted we wrap up the evening by watching Indiana Jones late into the wee hours of the morning.

I want to wake up every morning in Papamoa. It reminds me of adventure and beaches, sand and sunshine, of things people should do more of to fill their lives with excitement.

As I wake up in my own bed with the wind howling outside, I ask myself, what can we do to make our lives more adventurous when we have jobs and responsibilities?

I hope to continue searching for an answer to that question as I return back to work next week.

The hidden workshop

Enid Blyton taught me that summertime is all about exploring, and that if you look closely, even ordinary things can start to look like treasures.

I’ve discovered a workshop hidden right outside my new house. It’s hidden because nobody can see its potential but me. If I were to describe it to you, I’d take away the magic from this place. Instead, I’ll talk about what I plan to fill it with.

Coral. She’ll go in there first. That’s my coral-coloured kayak. It’ll be a proper little home for her. I take her out to go exploring with me during the summer but she hibernates during the winter months. A tarpaulin over the timber shelter will cover her nicely from the harsh sun.

My imagination. It’ll be nice to have a place to store my imagination. These days I daydream from room to room, leaving too much of my energy in bits of places. Virginia Woolf always said that a writer needs a room of one’s own. Mine just happens to be a workshop!

I am happy to have found a small space to occupy and fill with wonderful projects. It’s a way of keeping the magic alive even if I am now an adult.

Call of the wild

A few months ago, I had the most epic apocalyptic dream:

I was vacationing on an island, with my mum, dad, and sister, when a huge tsunami swept everyone away, leaving only my sister and I clinging onto the balcony of our hotel.

When we looked around, we saw a giant crocodile statue wrapped around the entire hotel building.

Except that it wasn’t a statue, it was a real crocodile.

And it wasn’t just any crocodile, it was a giant, prehistoric crocodile.

So my sister and I made our way slowly down the building, trying not to disturb the beast, when we noticed something interesting.

Tucked away underneath the foot of the crocodile was an old box. We opened it and found an old casette player and a tape inside, so we played it.

A man’s voice crackled:

“Mayday! Mayday! This is M.C. Mcdonell. I’m on an island, and there’s been a huge tsunami. I’m the only known survivor and there’s a giant crocodile wrapped around the hotel-”

The tape stopped playing.

We all stared at each other.

“You mean to say,” my sister said, “that this has happened before?”

“I’m afraid it’s happening again.”

And that was the end of my dream. I really wanted to know what happened next, but I woke up and never got to finish dreaming.

So I went on a dig down at the library to satisfy my longing for that dream-like apocalyptic feeling.

And there, right in front of me was an old classic, rewrapped and rebound in new. I’d never read the book before, but there was an image of a prehistoric beast rearing its head on the front cover.

It reminded me of those old adventure movies I used to watch, like Indiana Jones, and The Mummy, and it had the faint whiff of my dream, so I stood there in the middle of the library, reading the first few pages:

For it is only when a man goes out into the world, with the thought that there are heroisms all round him… that he breaks away from the life he knows…and ventures forth into the twilight mystic land where lie the great adventures and rewards.

Which is why, in following the author’s advice, I ventured out, or rather, up, onto a mountain, 50 metres above ground, with Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World in my mind.

So next time if you have a dream, answer the call of your dream. It might lead you to discover one more awesome book and if you’re willing to follow it, it might lead you to the next part of your adventure.

The gutsy girl

Because I’m young, stupid and naive, I thought it would be a no-brainer to follow in the footsteps of some leading ladies and heroines in this book:

The Gutsy girl: Escapades for your life of Epic Adventure

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By saying YES to all the roadtrips I got invited to this Summer, I definitely came out scathed with memories.

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Road trip 1: Tongariro Crossing (Or more like the spilling out of guts)

So here’s what happened:

I was supposed to go on an epic 8 hour hike with my group of girls across the Tongariro Crossing but as soon as we arrived at the backpackers motel I had a severe case of the runs which lasted the entire day and night and the morning after. So I was a no show, and ended up lying in bed the whole day.

I did leave my room once to grab a glass of water and ended up being treated to a few hours of humourous conversations with a cast of international backpackers and a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with roast chicken, ham, potato gravy… everything. And, to top it off, I made 4 new, amazing friends.

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Roadtrip 2: Cathedral Cove (The drowning incident) 

I must have thought that I was Wonder woman because when the waves were crashing down against the rocks, I recklessly abandoned any notion of my mortality and headed further out to sea and well, got stuck in the waves.

It was the loneliest and scariest moment of my life trying to stay afloat while the waves continuously crashed down over my head. All I could think of to the waves was: ‘Stop! give me a break so I can swim to shore.’ But it was just too strong and I felt so small against this big ocean.

My moment of relief came when someone swimming in the ocean saw me and dragged me in to safety.

But just so that I would get over my trauma, I went right back out to the ocean and had some cautious fun splashing about in the shallower areas.

How gutsy was that?

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To sum it all up

I had some good gutsy and bad gutsy moments, and moments where everything literally spilled out from my guts. Splendid!

Since summer’s almost over, and I’m trying to squeeze every little bit of fun out of the sunshiny weather, I think it’s time to consult my gutsy girls book to see what’s next on the adventure agenda!