Fresh off 2014, which was marred by serious illness and personal upheaval, I went into 2015 with little expectation. Little did I know that I would finish out the year a completely different person (not like, went from human to mermaid, but still, big changes). For those of us who like peace, going barefoot, and thinking up imaginary scenarios, going public is scary.
I suffer from agoraphobia (extreme or irrational fear of open or public places), resulting in panic attacks (and I get angry). But in my quest to overcome this, I threw myself out into the world, and that found myself, early in the year, chilling in the swanky area of a stadium, working at the Cricket World Cup. New places, new people, new experiences. I was ready to take on the world. Selfies! Random chat-ups! Screaming in public! Wearing 20 different colours at a time! The moment that was done, I started working for the Volvo Ocean Race here in Auckland. Suddenly, I was in charge of whole classes of children at a time, working with new people, and reconnecting with a lifestyle I had left behind many years before (see Sorry, Readers, I Ran Away With The Circus). Little me, age 20, bright, enthusiastic, thinking women can do anything, wanting to sail the world, wear no shoes and eat a lot of donuts, you came back to my jaded heart.
Life lessons learned in the first quarter of 2015-
I will never like my new haircut. No matter the length, my style is ‘didn’t expect to be in public today’
Not wearing rings is awesome… ooh, look, shiny!
The one person concerned with my appearance or weight is me. I am build for strength, not speed
Not everyone is a potential killer, some people are just friendly
Not canceling plans can be fun too
Do everything offered with a level of enthusiasm that makes the patriarchy uncomfortable
Cue May, where I had a double book release – Death in the Valencian Dust, the third and final book in the Secrets of Spain trilogy, which came out together in one giant book. I really enjoyed writing that book in 2014, and felt proud and relieved to have completed the series. Yet, somehow, my love of writing has diminished. The books came out, and 2015 has been my best year for book sales so far, being more profitable than all my other years combined. But in my challenge to open myself up to the world again, it is writing which has suffered. That being said, when June rolled around – cold, dark and generally as fun as standing on a nail – after my children went to bed, I spent my lonely evenings writing another book. A love story – talk about a challenge, as it is not my genre. It is based on fact, hence the genre change. One month, a whole book. First draft, so it reads like about as comfortable as a turtle in a waste-disposal (don’t do that, ever!), but time will polish Intense Professional Marquesa up nicely. Valencia 1885, here we come.
Life lessons learned in the second quarter of 2015 –
Book releases are never fun. I knew this, yet the reality is, basically no one cares
Public speaking about books sucks. No amount of people coming to your launches or talks is enough. Underwhelming is the prevailing emotion no matter how matter how many people pat your back in congratulations
Writing books isn’t enough for me anymore
Resting bitch face can be a whole lifestyle
Colouring books are for grown-ups
It’s sad when your lover lets you down, and by lover I mean wifi connection
Cutting your hair even shorter does not do you any good
Becoming a Ripperologist was a good idea, but not while reading alone late at night
My new-found confidence led me to becoming a teacher’s assistant at Auckland Museum. It is a beyond awesome place to be. The work is so varied that while the children are learning, I too learn something new every day I am there. The people involved have been kind to me on a level I did not know existed. My love of the arts and history can both grow and be utilised, and my interest in science can grow. In August I started my first semester at university, studying to be an ecologist, which can further myself at the museum. Already I have finished two short courses as part of my degree, both with A results. I have learned so much about my own country, which makes me love and appreciate my life in New Zealand so much more.
Life lessons learned in the third quarter of 2015 –
Even shy tigers can change their stripes
There is no such thing as too many feminist tweets
Science is even cooler than the high level of coolness I already gave it
It’s fun to pick your teeth with a fossilised T-Rex claw
Ricky Martin on my world tour t-shirt does count as my boyfriend
Wearing a lanyard around your neck is awesome. One piece of cord and a laminated card holds so much strength
It is possible to use a whole tube of lip balm, instead of losing it after like two weeks
While I volunteer a huge amount of my time to children year round, the end of the year is always my busiest time. While studying for my ecology exams (read: looking at cat photos and staring at my nature garden, or big flowery mess) I was also ignoring my new book draft and taking children sailing, swimming, skateboarding, bowling, ice skating and a whole bunch of other stuff I have already forgotten ( sorry, random kids, you aren’t always endearing). Despite my propensity to read about Princess Louise in cafes, I did pass all my exams and papers with top marks and fit in all the demands of being a parent helper.
Life lessons learned in the final quarter of 2015 –
People don’t appreciate volunteers enough, so much so that I will do less next year, because it makes me feel bad about me!
You can never be too proud of your own children (knew it lol)
You can never be too irritated by other people’s children
Volunteering doesn’t give off the same feeling of satisfaction as it used to
Yelling ‘push the tiller away from you’ somehow means something else entirely to some people
Dyeing your hair ten different shades is worthless, you’ll go back to black anyway
Road rage is permanent state of driving
Rearing monarch caterpillars in the BEST
Tattoos are addictive
Don’t get too much beauty sleep or others may fall in love with you lol
Jane the Virgin is the best tv show ever
So, in one year I have become less of a book writing nerd, and more of a super cool nearly-scientist who likes writing love stories and loves the 1800’s and even more Ripper murder stuff and I look more badass with a new tattoo and made loads of friends and accidentally friend requested loads of strangers and work in a museum but still have time to be fucking awesome and work at international professional sporting events and even sometimes shave my legs. Ooh, and I fulfilled my dream of owning a kayak yesterday. Now I have to find time to use it!
I am off to a eco-friendly lake house, so be safe, readers, and I will attempt to blog more, and have loads of book reviews to post in 2016. Stay classy, internets.