A Warm Summer’s Day

The New Zealand summer starting in late 2011 that continued on into 2012 was a bit of a fizzer for Christchurch.  Not a lot of warm days, and if memory serves me correctly, there were no days above 30 degrees Celsius.  As a matter of fact, this story in the Christchurch Press on 3 December 2012 stated that there hadn’t been any days with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius since early 2011: the summer before last.

So, imagine our delight when, this summer, we have had quite a few days near or above 30.  As I type this, the readout on our home weather station is reading 33.9C (93 Fahrenheit for those of you who haven’t yet converted to Metric).  Coupled with the (thankfully) diminished earthshaking and the occasional respite from the heat, this summer has been a pretty good one.

Noel and I have been (somewhat guiltily) locking the cats in the air-conditioned lounge at the front of the house and opening up the rest of the house to let in the warmth and fresh summer air until we basically can’t stand it any more.  Our house’s living areas and main bedroom have floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, and the house has been positioned so these areas get the benefit of the sun all day long, so the house does manage to capture the sun pretty well throughout the day.  In the winter, this is great because we rarely need heating on during the day.  In the summer, it does make things a bit hot, so, years ago, we had roller blinds put up.  The benefit of these is that you can see out of them and they let some light in, but people outside looking in can’t see in during the daytime.  (At night, this effect is reversed as the light source is inside.)

I digress.  It’s lovely to have such a Goldilocks summer season (not too hot, not too cold, just right) with the double doors leading from the main living area onto the back patio swung wide open and locked against the walls, letting the fresh summer air and sunlight pour in.  It’s the warmest (consistently) summer I can remember for a while (except for that scorcher day or two in January 2009 when it got above 40C / 104F) in Christchurch; as a matter of fact, it may have been the warmest summer I’ve ever experienced in Christchurch.  (Getting older is a bugger…)

Right now, I’m typing this blog, with the doors and windows fully open, listening to music through our Apple TV, a moderate breeze outside, a cold Coca-Cola at my side.  I’m appreciating the day and these moments for what they are, no matter how simple they may be.  Life is good, and I have many things to be thankful for.

Happy New Year… Nearly a Month Late!

Happy New Year… nearly a month late.

I have to admit that after I posted my Christmas decoration blog, I was facing burn out with all the tasks to complete at work (results, diplomas, international examinations, graduation, et cetera) and once we hit the Christmas break, I vowed I wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want to do and just relax.  It worked pretty much, which, for me, is no small feat.

Christmas came and went too fast for us.  Noel wasn’t well most of the break, so that meant we really didn’t do much.  To be honest, that was fine by me because I spent the time doing stupid silly things like playing Sims 3 (which ended up being more stressful than not because the damned newest expansion pack, Seasons, doesn’t work very well on pretty much everyone’s computers) and being a little creative.

The New Year hit me rather hard.  I admit, I cried.  I was glad to see the end of 2012, which had been such a roller coaster of a year for me, tacked on to the end of 2011 like the false ending of, well, a roller coaster you think is going to stop but it picks up again for another final lot of thrilling and scary spins.  I missed Jenah.  Some of my friendships seem to be getting more and more distant, and it’s hard enough to try to make friends in Christchurch as is.  I was homesick.  But I was finally feeling emotionally slightly better.

2013 arrived, and, at first, it felt no different from 2012.  There was still that apprehension about work with the Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ) and our upcoming External Evaluation and Review (EER), all through NZQA, plus the looming threat of whether we’d get enough students to meet our funding requirements.  No pressure.  No pressure at all.

I don’t know why, but something came over me to say that life is not all about work.  I seem to be going back to that message all the time.  My parents and grandparents instilled in me the value of working hard in the job you are in to be successful, but this wave of longing to expand my horizons, almost to the level of panic, rushed over me.  And then I felt suddenly positive and creative and raring to go with that.

One of the creative ideas I have been toying with is creating my own Star Trek movie using CGI.  I have seen some excellent ones and some not-so-good ones, and it irks me that some of the not-so-good ones act like they are better than Aliens.  I’m not that great with the whole CGI thing but I do have a sharp image in my mind about settings.  It would obviously not involve the characters established in the movies and TV shows, so part of the challenge would be to set up new characters the viewers would care about.  And I was also thinking of cobbling together some of my ideas and characters in my fan fiction universe to accomplish the movie (although only a featured starship, one of the enemies, and a region of space would show up with a few cameos from some of the other characters).  I have been thinking of a good piece of drama.  Sure, there could be a few phaser blasts here or there, but a character drama really is what has made some Star Trek episodes and movies great in the past.  Plus, whoever helps me with the CGI won’t die from establishing too many special effects shots!

Another challenge would be to build up my non-Star Trek writing.  The problem with this has been that I get so bogged down in consistency that I can’t seem to just write something down and worry about the nitty gritty later.  I did have a successful shot at writing a short story for an anthology I wanted to create, although it worries me because the supernatural angle seems to have been done a bit too much.  I want to make it as realistic as possible from several different characters’ viewpoints but hopefully leave the stories ambiguous in the readers’ minds as to whether or not the characters are reading supernatural things into everyday events.  In my mind, this could lead to starting my Masters in Creative Writing in 2014, because I need to have several stories built up in a portfolio before I apply.  The thing that worries me is I feel very devoid of ideas right now.  The same old ideas keep churning over in my head, and I’m trying to distance myself from anything that can be construed as autobiographical or semi-autobiographical to be honest.

Of course, in all this, I’m afraid I won’t do well enough or that the standard I set is too high and I can’t reach it or I’ll just plain burn out or lose interest before I finish.  And the biggest worry is rejection.  But then again, what do I have to lose if I don’t do it?

Just last week, I received some devastating news.  My cousin Greg, who was a year younger than me almost to the day, passed away suddenly.  It has rocked me to the core, and made me more apprehensive about my own destiny and my own life.  If the earthquakes have taught me anything, it’s that you don’t know what’s around the corner.  Do I work my butt off to get these things I listed above done, and hope my work somehow becomes a footnote in history, or do I just drift my aimlessly in life like a boat without a rudder and hope I’m remembered for good reasons when I go?

Yes, 2013 is going to be an interesting year indeed.