Honeymoon in the South Pacific!

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So K just booked the flights for our honeymoon! We’re getting married on a Saturday this fall and we’ll be flying out that Tuesday, heading from Atlanta to LA and then on to Tahiti! We’ll be staying in an over-water bungalow in Moorea, most likely at the Hilton property. Private bungalow on the lagoon, snorkeling and swimming from our deck, a glass bottom spot in the living room to view the fish swimming under us (and they have lights to attract them at night), free use of kayaks, a private beach… not too bad if I do say so myself!

We’ll be in Moorea for about a week, flying out the following Wednesday, heading down to New Zealand! We’ll be there from Thursday to the following Thursday (the flight to Auckland will bring us over the date line). We’ll fly from Auckland to LA, LA to Atlanta, getting back on a Thursday night. That gives us a three day weekend to try and recover and get back to work on Monday. We’re both taking off the Thursday and Friday before the wedding, so we’ll be off over three weeks. We’re trying to decide what to do in New Zealand for that week. The country has two main islands. Since we’ll be landing on the north island, we may just stay there. There’s plenty to see and do, and we don’t want to feel so rushed we miss everything and have a crappy time (slim chance of that, methinks). We’ll probably be taking a scenic train ride down the east coast. Lots of things to see and do, so it’s hard to choose. But we can eliminate some based on the first part of our trip. We can go whale watching in Moorea (and swim with dolphins as well). Those are both options in New Zealand, but we may do them in Tahiti first. There is also a glacier to hike on or fly over on the south island. However, we want to do a trip to Alaska some time, and plan on doing the glacier trip there instead. I’m guessing we’ll see the caves with the glow worms, and hit a winery. My favorite wines are the Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, so a trip to the source may be worth it. There are lots of beaches there as well, but we’ll have just come from a week over the water. I think we’ll be playing part of it by ear.

We’ve both lived abroad before – I lived in England for 4 years while in the Air Force, and did 100 or so days in the Middle East the summer of 2002 as well. K did a semester abroad in France, and has traveled back to France many times (including last years’ trip when we got engaged) as well as many other places around the world (including Australia). We both are firmly of the belief that you can’t truly learn much about a country’s culture in a week. However, we will be able to see a lot, and enjoy ourselves. I think the Moorea portion will be mostly relaxation. Swimming, snorkeling (which I’ve never done), baking in the sun… The New Zealand portion may involve more hiking and walking and activities. We may need another week off just to recover…

Engaged in Paris!

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It was a beautiful spring day in Paris.  We had been wandering around all day.  We thought we were someplace else, but then K noticed ‘The Thinker’ over a wall and said “The Rodin museum!  Let’s go in!”

I’d been looking for the perfect time and place to propose.  I’d been carrying the ring around for a few days, but no moment had seemed right.  I’d planned on the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, seeing how as she loves gardens and, come on – Versailles!  However, it just wasn’t right.  The gardens were huge, but we never had any privacy.  I knew she didn’t want a big crowd at her proposal.  Also, there were very few spots with flowers, which is what I figured she would prefer.  But now we were at the Rodin Museum, and I figured that a museum would not work at all for a proposal.  Once we got out back in the gardens I began to change my mind.  At the far end of the lawn there’s a fountain with a sculpture of a father and his sons playing.  There were a lot of people there, many sketching the fountain.  But around the back side there was some privacy, and lots of greenery.  Perfect!  But, for some reason, I didn’t suggest we sit down.  I was kicking myself the whole time as we continued on the path up the side of the garden, looking at sculptures.  We went in the house, too.  From the upstairs window I could see down the lawn to the fountain, and kicked myself again.  Where would I find a better spot?  In beautiful gardens, behind a lovely house, with a few beautiful buildings in view over the wall?  How was I going to top that?  And I had blown it!

After we came out of the house K suggested that we go back through the garden.  I don’t know why she said it, but this was my reprieve!  We went all the way around, stopping here and there to see some flowers.  As we passed behind the fountain, I saw that the chairs I’d been planning on using were now occupied.  As we went just a tiny bit further, an open bench appeared.  I suggested that we sit down for a bit.  We talked a bit, and I pulled out the ring box without her noticing.  I said “K, this has been a wonderful day, and I’d like you to make it a perfect day by agreeing to become my wife.  Will you marry me?” She’d seen what I had in my hand, and stopped breathing.  She started to tear up.  She couldn’t speak, but hugged me and kissed me.  I said “Does that mean yes?”

It did.

We sat for a long time, just enjoying the moment and savoring every second.  We took a few pictures of us and the ring.

We eventually continued our tour, but the rest was anti-climactic.  There was a Maplethorpe exhibit, and we left through the gift shop and headed out on our merry way.  And the rest is history!

My return to writing

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I must be afraid. I started the 500 word writing challenge way back in August, 6 months ago. I missed only one day out of the first thirty. Now it’s the 53rd day of the New Year, and I’m writing for just the second time. February 22nd. The only other day I wrote this year was on February 9th. Well, at least I’m writing in the same month! Beats the hell out of January!

What is the fear? I think it’s not that I can’t write. I know I can put words together well. But I think it may be that I can’t write like I WANT to write. I don’t know if I can write consistently for 300 pages or so. I want to write a novel. The longest thing I’ve ever written is probably around 20 pages worth, and that would have been term papers for college. Research papers, not exactly original content through and through. Maybe I’m afraid of the work? It’s a lot of work writing like that every day. Maybe I’m afraid of the rejection of my work? I think partially, I’m afraid of my own rejection of it. Any time I’ve written a story longer than 2 or 3 pages I find something wrong with it. Usually I feel like I just tied it up too quickly. I’m also afraid I can’t write good dialogue. I find it too forced and stilted. I may be my own worst critic.

I don’t know what to write. I remember when I first started the challenge I just assumed that by the end of 30 days I’d have an idea for a novel, and would almost assuredly be started on it. Now I’m just… lost? I don’t know. I feel better when I write, but I just won’t make myself do it. I never finish writing and say “That was a waste of time”. During this process I’ve learned more of what I like and don’t like. I like REAL language. That must be why I like Hemingway and Elmore Leonard. Hemingway wrote the way people talk. There really is no need for a lot of verbosity. I remember reading an article by Leonard where he mentioned an author (I can’t remember her name) and how he had to stop and go get a dictionary to look up a word as she was making a simple description. I think many people mistake using unusual words with good writing. Don’t only use one syllable words though! But use a word that people know, if it will suffice.

“It is one thing to speak much. It is another to speak well”! I need to remember that…

Whenever I’ve had to write something longer, even 20 pages, I’ve mostly done the actual writing in one sitting. I’d get my research, string stuff together; maybe even spend a few different days on my rough draft, but when I actually wrote it, it was almost always in one sitting. Once I switched from typewriters to computer I usually did my editing as I wrote, even, so there wasn’t a rough draft. Just me and a computer (along with some junk food and a Coke or three).

So where does this leave me? Does acknowledging a fear mean I’m going to conquer it? I hope so! How do I not keep going back and tearing it down as I try to build it up, though? I can do these 500 word dailies – part of the process is just writing, do not edit! Hence the typos (yeah, that’s my excuse…). A book requires editing. A book requires focus. A book probably requires dialogue…

And…

If I don’t start I will never know!

I’ve been letting my whole life slide, lately. No going to the gym. No writing. No looking for a new job. No practicing my French. Just…whatever. Kind of sad. No wonder I’m getting sick more often these days.

Tomorrow I will write again. And the day after. And I will keep writing every day, because THAT is who I am!