So as approximately no-one noticed, Shar and I managed to completely not post for three months! That is okay, life yada yada, but it means there’s a lot of content jammed into just one post, so this format might be a bit different. We wrote a June wrap up that we never posted, which is below, but July and August will be wrapped into one (biased a bit towards August because human memory).
Shar: July and August
This has been rather ubiquitous, as one might expect in southern NZ in winter. Frost on the grass outside each morning and shining on the road as I walk to lectures (or one time, skated home at 2 am after a horrible late night group project work). There was ice on frozen tarns above Arthur’s pass on a tramp with our family, and ice in muddy puddles in the morning as I went for runs. Tussocks and Celmisia coated with ice above Middlemarch, and icy snow skiing in Wanaka. There’s something about frozen water that appeals to me greatly, so I have no complaints.
- Mountain biking
This is something I really want to get in to more! But I have had a few really fun mountain bike rides in July and August, one in Dunedin and two in Christchurch. Doing something that scares me is really good for me, I feel, and I got to try doing table-top jumps one time, which was also really thrilling. My biggest setback is my fear of hills, so practicing biking up hills is something that would be really good for me.
- Craft projects
I finished making a hat that I started knitting over lockdown, then left my needles at church after I finished a new project and have yet to retrieve them. But I was quite proud of this achievement. I also made a pair of pants with some supervision from my mother, which are not perfect but definitely work.
I have been doing a new lab demonstrating job, again helping students learn to code. While I haven’t really known what the heck I’m doing, it has been very fun and I have realised that I really enjoy interacting with students. We haven’t been able to do face-to-face teaching recently because of COVID restrictions, but it has been nice to have some coding to do that I actually know how to handle (unlike 300-level computer science which is really challenging me a lot).
- Interesting looks
A jumpsuit borrowed from my flatmate for a wine and cheese (plus black high heels cause it was the only thing that matched)// New red Vans which are basically my favourite thing ever and suit my skater vibe// A yellow top which just suits me really well// A blonde streak in my hair somewhat spontaneously. All a bit different from my normal shorts, skirts, hoodies, t-shirts and jerseys style.
- Social events
These have kept me very busy, but just a few images: a flat-warming party which was interesting as I knew almost nobody, a bonfire, a dinner party, surprise flatmate birthday party, etc.
Shanti: 6 pieces of July and August
- Greasy fingers
I am eating chips with my friends and listening, ostensibly, to a politician. There was anxiety; I kept looking for the waiter in the throngs of people, the tables tipping close to each other, the scramble for a seat. The politician is a politician, and he knows how to sound good, although I do not agree with his politics. I am here with people I love, and our words untwist after the event. I feel the wrong size. I lick the salt and grease off my fingers, and walk home.
- Threading needles
I wanted to do crafts with my friends, but it’s become a mask making session, and my sewing machine is still being stroppy; the results are decidedly uncool, ugly and badly sewn, but they work for all that.
My mother has given me a mask pattern, and I’ve lost the piece of paper, and try to reconstruct it from memory, although I am preoccupied by the good sunlight in my parents house, and how it serves well to take photos of my hair. I get to the end of a mask, screw up the straps, and give up; get partway through another, and give up because I can’t find an attractive and suitable fabric.
My mother has been helping me sew a slip that can go underneath a skirt I bought secondhand. It’s designer and –well, it didn’t cost that much. Relatively. It’s just transparent. I make a lot of mistakes. Sewing is something to keep learning.
- Mainlining cough drops
I hate being sick, and this cold–have I caught it from a child I care for? Somebody at the house party I went to last night? A flatmate?–is somewhat miserable. I do the things I always do, but more limpidly. Suddenly, there are community cases of covid in this country, and I should probably get tested. But I don’t want to, and I call student health, and healthline, and have multiple people tell me I shouldn’t be outside, so sadly stay inside, mostly. I get butter flavoured cough drops, feeling vaguely patriotic–they were manufactured in india–and get every yellow thing into my body that I can: dahl, cough drops, lemon honey ginger, camomile tea, sunlight.
- Angled winter sunlight
The mountain is more friendly like this, and I forget how many times I’ve fallen over. The skiiers, all much better than me, weave beneath the chairlift, and the sun redeems the mountain. I don’t want to go skiing again, at least not yet, but I like the winter sunlight. It took me so long to get used to this sunlight in cold air, a cognitive disconnect after living closer to the equator. Morning sunlight over south coast harbour; evening light spinning through trees by the Avon River; light filtering through the library windows, angled over the city. I like winter for these moments, when I try to curl in the sunlight, accepting it for its scarcity. There’s something to Emily Dickinson, and I feel more like a literature student, that I can quote this.
- Small seeds
This will be basil, and I believe it, although the seeds are tiny, and I tip them into the soil, wishing them all the light and water they need to thrive. My other plants have been repotted, where necessary and–well, they’re not dead yet. I am not certain I can provide what anyone, even the nascent seeds, need from me.
My grandmother knitted me a beautiful brown and white sweater two years ago, and it’s a little baggy but I am convinced it matches everything. On the tandem, I see my father’s back. He too is wearing a sweater, one I think he got from South America many years ago. This is the most Cantebury thing: the mountains beckon on the other side of the plains, and the road ahead of us flows with sheep. Could I felt this, tangle the fibres like I will do to make a bookmark in a few weeks, fix the holes and affix this moment in all its woolen gladness?
Shar: June has been a lovely wintery month. I finished my two exams, and then managed to have 3 weeks of holiday, which was extremely good for me.
Good things: Two tramps (one with 4 friends in Fiordland, and another in Lewis Pass with my mother. Both involved ample amounts of snow, frozen tarns, and spectacular views.)//Visiting Aramoana// Visiting the Otago Museum Butterfly Garden// Bike rides// A 19 km trail run with two of my faves// Reading lots of books// Bike rides// Island visits// Frosts// Sewing// Family time// Great food// No COVID restrictions (!)// Road bikes
Not so good: Freezing fiordland weather (although the end result was snow which was very good)// Useless Christchurch weather (If I wanted a monsoon, I would still be in India)// Exam stress// Having to decide what to do with my life, and even worse, being asked what I’m doing at the end of the year// confronting the privileges and freedom of my life compared to most of the world, and the emotional pain of engaging with all the awful events around the world//
Media and books: Sing St is an absolute banger of a film. Christopher Robin felt fairly juvenile and predictable but was still fun. Modern family > Community (although they both have problematic aspects if I am honest). Howl’s Moving Castle was just as delightful in book form, but The Paper and Hearts Society was poorly written and too young for me to be frank. Milkman was a little too complex for me to finish. How to Be a Woman was very fun yet really put me off childbirth.
Shanti: June was a lot of uni but also many other good things! I went on some long walks and some short runs and tried my best not to get chilblains.
Good things: new piercing! (pls if you have a cartilage piercing tell me success stories about the healing process because I’ve completely forgotten how long it takes to stop being annoying). Free public transport! Meeting guinea pigs! Road trip to gisborne (evening runs in dannevirke)! New plants to take care of (I legit need bigger pots though, the poor things are root bound)! The unexpected generosity of friends! Seeing dolphins from the boat!
Bad things: getting lost cycling to new places on cold nights/ university related stress and a conviction that I haven’t done my best/ not being able to solve other people’s problems/ group projects frustrating me / not being able to not be frantic / rainy weather and not enough time to go running/ so much to organise/ buses with broken heating
Notable food: rajma, bagels, lemon poppyseed muffins, lime and ginger tofu salad
Media and books: Regina Spektor is always exhilarating/ I’m so glad I finally read The Light Between Worlds and finished The Luminaries/ the Blowback podcast is utterly stunning and makes me furious (which it should!!)