Pub Quiz!

Last night I had the most excellent fortune of showing up in town…just to hit the local pub for quiz night.


It seemed like a beautiful moment where the stars aligned so that I could head to a bar to take part in competative trivia along with the sole Kiwi of the group and about fifteen Germans.

We lost pretty spectacularly because half of the questions were things like “Does this picture of a haircut belong to a member of the All Black rugby team?” and we were all like “…yeah. No. Got nothing.”

For every answer we didn’t know, we wrote Harry Potter.

One of the final questions, the answer actually was Harry Potter.

It was a really good night.


Totaran Uniform





Today was my last day in Totara North. Yesterday, I went with “The Wood Man to go see “The Metal Man”, and I was given a beer and a pair of painfully coloured coveralls. It’s the Pub Night uniform of Totara North; the general standard of the Sunday afternoon pool tournament.



So, it’s not exactly a key to the city, but for some reason, it feels pretty close.

Rockin’ Weather

A band:

The Octopodes – they’d be a variant upon the theme of “indie”, somewhere between really, really *strange* indie, to some pretty edgy rock stuff.

Their first album would be Bongi Walu (a term for a type of trade wind), and their second would be Anticyclonic Gloom.

Who knew that weather would ROCK SO HARD?


One of the things that I’m really coming to love about hanging out with folks who occasionally live on boats is that sometimes they say things like “You know, I think I’m rather tired of land. How about we go to the boat for a while?”

And then an hour later thing have been packed, plans have been made, and we’re all out in the bay, heading towards the ocean.

Because I guess sometimes, land can get a bit boring for folks. It never changes; always the same hills, day in and day out.

The ocean changes with every wave.

There are far, far worse ways to be kidnapped.

Afflicted By Pox

Let us, for a moment, discuss one aspect of New Zealand that is truly anything but pleasant:

Sand Fleas.

They are horrible little black biting insects that seem to exist in every picturesque place where one might like to sit and contemplate.

Sand fleas also seem to be particularly fond of me. Their bites leave red welts, and I rather look like I should be placed in quarantine somewhere. Additionally, the bites itch like with an ongoing intensity that makes them most unpleasant. It’s more than a bit ridiculous.

There is a preventative measure, thankfully. If one liberally coats their skin in the household-favourite medical-grade disinfectant Dettol,


the smell will quite effectively deter horrible blood-sucking insects. It simply causes a person to smell rather like they’ve been bathing in cleaning products, but I find it quite preferable to donating measurable quantities of blood to the local insect population.


Bring out your dead!

Of The Sea

A reflection from my time aboard De La Mer (French, for “Of The Sea”).

I think I’m not built for sailing. It’s beautiful – moonlit stillness and silence – but I’m not ready for that yet. I’m still too attached to meeting people on street corners to embark on a life without them. My mind is continually circling around the people I can’t share the experience with. It’s like a vacation that lasts too long; I can’t wait to get back on land so I can get my life moving again.

Some people revel in stillness, in the fluidity of time when life is set to the pace of the sun and rolling waves. It’s too isolated for me. I feel harnessed, tied-down to only this (which is lovely. There are moments when the sun turns the sky orange as it plunges into the water like heated metal being forged by a smith…) but this could never be my life.

It’s not my romance*.

I close my eyes and dream of filling a house with food, music and friends.

I think, perhaps, I am just a bit too American for a life at sea. I am not the child of an island. I think perhaps my heart was not truly open to be taken by the ocean because it has already been claimed by changing skies and the open road.

In the old television mini-series Dinotopia, there was a sorting ceremony of sorts. People were told their native element and given jobs.

I am not of the sea.

I may yet be of tidal flats  or coastline, but even then, it is the wind as much as the crashing surf that I am drawn to.

For now, I am left only with light to follow. At this point, whether that light is a follow-spot, the sun or some other flame, I have yet to find out.

And so: Onwards!

* this is not to say, however, that the subject cannot be revisited; “Of The Sea” feels similar but distinctly different to “Of The Caribbean”, for example. 😉

Back In The U.S.S.R.

– er. Wait. I mean…Totara North…

I’m back with my wonderful friends in Totara North for a little while. Last night was Pub Night, so I got to say hello to everyone.  This weekend is labour day in New Zealand, so it’s a long weekend, and I’m really excited because the current plan is to go out on the lovely lady Gannet.

I love travelling and meeting new people, but sometimes it’s just really wonderful to relax a bit and go somewhere familiar. I get a bit of a break from trying to figure out how to integrate myself into someone else’s life, because I’ve already learned the rhythm of things here. I don’t need to ask where things are in the kitchen, because I already know how it’s laid out.

It feels sort of like I’m getting to sleep in instead of getting up when the alarm goes off, and I’m really quite alright with that.

Solo Flight

One thing that I’ve found as I’ve been traveling is how perceptions of the world change.

Which, yes, kind of obvious; something I did sort of already know. Knowing something intellectually and experiencing it are very different things.

I travel by myself, and I love it. I don’t have to justify my choices, I don’t have to compromise on things. I can do anything I want to, because I want to. It’s one of the most freeing, empowering things I’ve ever done.

Every beautiful thing that happens – it’s because of choices I made.

Every stupid thing that goes wrong – those are also because of choices I made.

It’s so much easier to take responsibility for my life when I have no one else to blame…for anything. I can’t imagine anything better.

That being said… I keep finding that I’m still hesitating sometimes. I’m still waiting for permission to do the things that I want to do. I’m still looking for someone to tell me that it’s okay to throw out ideas that have been pressed into the culture I grew up in.

If I say something like “I want to go to Kenya”, in the ‘States, I am told that I will end up dead or kidnapped, as a young lady traveling alone. When I tell someone in New Zealand that I want to go to Kenya they say “Oh, that would be lovely, wouldn’t it. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa…”

Now, perhaps it’s my sample group, which is, admittedly both small and more open-minded to both traveling and travelers than the general populace probably would be.

It’s nice though, for the first response to not be fear.

That’s something I want to be able to pass along to other people. A response of not-fear.

It’s amazing how much it feels like that elusive “permission” that I’ve been looking for.

Why I Can’t Write Novels

I could never write a novel.


It’s often said that readers make the best writers, but in all honesty, reading is what has made me a terrible writer. Well, reading and curiosity.


I am a greedy reader. I want to know everything. I want every sense to be filled and possessed by the description on the page. I’m interested in the detail. I want to know the texture of the buttons on his shirt. I want to know about the gleaming streaks of cleanliness where fingers were dragged across the dusty surface of the wooden banner. I want to know about the slight metal-and-plastic aftertaste that she gets from her water bottle that will always remind her of camping trips with her uncle.


It is often said “write the story you want to read”.


The story I want read could have no plot. They just need to be interesting. I would read a story that had nothing but details. It could just be a single moment, and the telling of it. I would read hundreds of pages about hands wrapped around a coffee cup, the sun reflecting off the wings of a bee as it balances on the petals of a lilac, a spec of lint making its daring escape up, from behind the drying, to dance in the updraft from the heating vent.


The stories I want to tell aren’t details.

I want to tell stories about people getting lost and finding themselves. I want to tell stories about accidentally tripping and falling only to end up sliding down the rabbit hole. I want to tell stories of discovery and loss and hurt and healing. I want to tell stories of triumph. I want to tell stories where the end is really only a middle, because sometimes there are things that cannot get better.


I can’t write these things, because I say “Let me tell you a story,” and I have nothing to put on a page, because there are infinite worlds to be created, and they are all changing at every moment, and how can I explain that if I’m trying to say something else?

I Would Sail 1,000 Miles…

Isn’t that how the song goes? No? Ah, well.

It took ten days, and 1,187 miles, but I have officially crossed an ocean. (Or enough of one to consider myself sea-worthy.)

I wrote some things down, on my Oceanic Journey, so I thought I might share them with you now:


Sailing at night is like living in Treasure Planet.

I feel like I acidentally walked into Pirate Radio, only I’m not a boy, I know who my father is and no one is obsessed with losing their virginity.

Nothing says “commitment” like a willingness to blow carrot chunks.

I am literally dreaming of meat. Delicious, greasy, sizzling meat.

“How’s the weather?” – totally *not* an innocuous question.

V.H.F. radio sometimes sound like a droid chorus. Or a symphony of Cybermen.

The boat is a mermaid singing Defying Gravity. I can hear it.

The mermaid boat is now singing Strawberry Fields by the Beatles, but it doesn’t seem to know all of the words.

I had a dream I was asleep in a submarine and when I woke up my bed was pink, the size of the entire room, and the wall was lined with bananas except for where there was a breadfruit the size of a mastiff.

Ship ovens are hypnotic. And nauseating.

Nothing says “I love you” like burning one’s skin off while using caustic chemicals to clean the deck.

There are fourteen different species of termite native to Fiji.

The mermaid is trying to play my ukulele.