One year later

Exactly one year ago today, Giac and I left London to embark in possibly the biggest adventure of our life. Coincidentally, it was also the day Britain voted to leave the EU. We weren’t envisioning Europe to fuck itself up so much in the last 12 months, but we knew that leaving at that particular moment in time for us was the best decision we could make.

One year ago I wrote this post expressing all my thoughts, fears and expectations for this new chapter of my life about to unfold.

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So many things have changed in the past year. I grew up in ways I never thought were possible. I’ve been working really hard towards self-improvement and I’m getting closer and closer to the best version of myself I could possibly be.

So here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Travelling is life
    Moving around is one of the most important parts of my life. You learn so much from travelling. I love meeting new people, discovering new cultures and exploring new places. I love New Zealand but I’m already getting itchy feet and planning my next destination.
  2. I like old stuff
    One of the things I miss the most about Europe is the history. I often find myself dreaming about my lunch break trips to the British Museum, where I could walk in for free and admire two million year old rocks. The oldest thing at Te Papa is a piece of fabric from the 16th Pfft.
  3. People are awesome
    I met so many incredible people in New Zealand. All my new friends are extremely inspiring, smart, talented, awesome people that make me want to be a better person. I can’t believe how quickly I connected with them, immediately relating at a deep level and talking about real shit (aka, not the weather) from the very first time we met.
  4. You got this
    Everywhere I go, anyone I talk to, I always receive an immense amount of support. Kiwis are always so excited about hearing about you! This means I became more confident in my abilities and I’m no longer ashamed of being honest about what I like, what I’m good at, and where I want to get in life.
  5. You’re never done learning
    As I mentioned earlier, I’ve grown so much since leaving London, and I’m constantly learning new skills and gaining more knowledge about things I’m passionate about. This is because of all the above. School didn’t teach me anything compared to what I’ve learned on the road. Now I know what I’m interested about and I’m taking classes, teaching myself or absorbing information from the people around me. It’s awesome.

I was that prick

WELL. I ran my half marathon. And I wasn’t ready. But I did it. And I freaking smashed it.
I know. I was that prick.

I honestly don’t know how I did it, and I’m not gonna lie it wasn’t easy. I did not enjoy that. In fact, after I passed 14km, I hated every minute of it. But being there, surrounded by all those other runners, being cheered by strangers along the way, I guess that’s what pushed me.

I started way too fast. But I’d decided not to check my watch for a while because that’s how I trick my mind to run past the first 2 or 3km, so when I do check I can tell myself that I’ve already gone past the 1km mark (I don’t know). So I couldn’t tell how fast I was going.
After about 2km I bumped into the 1h 50min pace team, who were going pretty much at my same pace, so I orbited around them until about 8km, when I thought I could go a bit faster and so I did. That was obviously a mistake, because on the way back my legs started to hurt and I had to slow down, and the pace team caught up with me and took over.
From 14km to 17km it was pure pain. My chest hurt (see: costochondritis) and I could feel blisters forming on my feet. 18km lasted forever. But once I hit 19km, I told myself I’d basically made it. So I pushed it. I forced myself to ignore the pain and to keep on going. I sped up until I realised even if I started walking at that point I would have still made it under two hours. But being the competitive fuckhead that I am, I thought maybe I could even break my PR. So I literally ran as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast at all at that point), and I crossed the finish line at 1h 49mins.

When I finished my first half marathon, I was tired but I remember thinking I could have run another few kms. When I finished this half marathon, I thought I was going to pass out. I was knackered and when I got home I took a 2 hour nap and then went to bed at 10pm and slept for 13 hours. This was two days ago and I did absolutely nothing since. I pulled a muscle in my thigh, and I have two black nails and a blister on every toe.
I really don’t know how I did it. But I did it. And yes, I am that prick. But I don’t remember ever being as happy as when I finally saw the finish line two days ago, and I’m totally happy about being that prick.

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I’m running a half marathon tomorrow

I’m running a half marathon tomorrow, and I’m not ready for it. I try not to talk about it because I’m afraid I’ll keep on telling people I’m not ready and then I’ll somehow manage to finish it in under two hours and I would have sounded like that prick in school who says they haven’t studied before an exam and they still get top marks. You know who I’m talking about.

But this time, I really am not ready. When I started training, I was super motivated. I’d go running three times a week, two short runs (5 or 6km) and a longer one (10 or 12 km, 14 even a couple of times), plus I’d go for a long run over the weekend (I got up to 18km).
But then I caught a virus called costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage in your rib cage. This made me feel very tired and groggy, but mostly it meant that it hurt every time I took a deep breath. (Sometimes it hurt randomly. I would just be sitting there and suddenly feel like a needle was being pushed through my ribcage.) I played a couple of basketball games before I found out about the virus, and I would run out of breath immediately, panting like the wolf on top of the hill in The Sword in the Stone, and my chest would hurt like fuck.

When you have costochondritis there’s nothing you can do about it except taking Ibuprofen and resting. My doctor urged me to avoid any kind of exercise until I felt like the pain had disappeared. I obviously didn’t, as I got diagnosed right before setting off for a basketball tournament where I played seven games in two days (and almost died).
But after that, I did rest for two whole weeks, meaning I didn’t run at all and pretty much reset all my training up to that point.

In the past couple of weeks I (sort of) managed to get back on track and the longest I run was 16km. But I still feel terrified about tomorrow.

Last time I run a half marathon, I remember feeling extremely fit and good. You could have told me to go and run around the park at any given time and I would have been able to do it without batting an eyelid. I trained so much for that race, and was very careful about getting enough sleep and eating properly, and I remember having such a great time during the race itself.

Now, I feel shit. I can picture myself at the race tomorrow hating every single minute of it. My diet has changed drastically since moving to New Zealand because I simply can’t afford the amount of smoothies and fruit and veggies that I’d normally eat (thank you, island economy), so I’m basically living on cereals, bread and peanut butter, which I know is not what works best for my body.

So given the circumstances, I’ve been trying to embrace the Kiwi spirit and telling myself that I probably deserve a medal just for trying. After all, I don’t have to win this race. I just have to survive it. It’s not my fault if I got a stupid cartilage inflammation. I should be happy that I’m back on my feet and even if I’ll have to walk (possible) or if I struggle with the weather (likely) of if I don’t have fun (certain), it doesn’t matter, as long as I somehow make it to the finish line.

I’m still hoping I can be that prick, though.

Might as well do this

Just thought I’d shared a few of the reasons why I haven’t shaved in a while.

Disclaimer: if you like shaving, by all means do it. Also I’m not saying I’ll never remove my body hair again. These are just some reasons why I’m not doing it right now.

  1. It’s time consuming
    Every time I’m sitting there running an epilator up and down my calves, I can’t help but thinking about all the things I could be doing instead (never mind if that means hours of YouTube watching, at least that’s not painful).
  2. It’s painful
    Have you ever tried to epilate your pit hair? Or your bikini line? YEAH. Oh, why don’t I shave instead, you ask? Well, you see…
    I have sensitive skin, and no matter how careful I am, every time I shave I get a rash. Especially on my armpits and down there. It hurts as fuck, it’s itchy when it grows back, and I always, always have to deal with ingrown hairs. Plus:
  4. It doesn’t last
    I don’t know if this is just me, but if I start shaving, there’s no going back. I have to shave every day. Everywhere. And it never turns out as smooth as silky as you would expect. So fuck it.
  5. I don’t want to
    Bottom line, I just can’t be bothered. My life is still the same. Nobody seems to care. So again, fuck it.

Remember that being hairy doesn’t make you less beautiful or less feminine. IT. DOES. NOT. Fuck that. Women have hairs. Get over it.

Also, it’s not  “unhygienic”. I’m tired of people thinking that not shaving is synonym to not taking care of yourself. I still shower, wash my hair, clip my nails and brush my teeth. Plus the amount of sweat your body produced is not related to the amount of hair in your pits, so not shaving will not make you smell worse.

Overall, I’m now totally ok with having hairy legs and pits. This is just how I am. I don’t really care about what other people think. If they consider my body hair offensive, it’s their problem, not mine.


Book review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things

On my bedside table: I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid


Why I picked it up: Just one of my library raids.

What it is about: An anonymous narrator and her boyfriend Jake are driving through rural American to have dinner with his parents. They’ve only been dating for a few weeks  but she’s already thinking about ending things. At first it’s hard to imagine why she would, as their conversations are deep and filled with inside jokes, her noticing little details and reminding herself that the way he adjusts his hair or scratches the back of his neck are some of the reasons why she likes him.
But during the first half of the book we also find out about some dark secrets this girl is hiding. The Caller, for example: this mysterious presence that keeps on calling her and leaving the same mysterious message over and over again. And the strangest part is: he seems to be calling from her own number.

As they finally approach Jake’s parents’ house, a secluded farm wrapped in darkness, it’s obvious that things are about to go terribly wrong.
After an awkward dinner where you could cut the tension with a knife, the narrator finds some time to explore the rest of the house, which is pretty much what you would expect at this point: locked doors, mysterious presences, creepy paintings in the basement, and black and white photos depicting little girls that look just like her.

After dinner, the two hit the road again. It’s late at night and the snow is whirling. By now there have been so many omens that you just want to scream, GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE!!
When Jake takes an unexpected detour to an abandoned high school, things really take a turn for the worst.

Would I recommend it: MAN. I am not kidding you, this is one of the best books I have ever read (something I seem to be saying in every single review I write). I’m Thinking of Ending Things is one of those stories where you are in someone’s head but by the end of it you’re no longer sure whose head you’re in. I read it while I was dogsitting in a house I’d never been before, by the time I finished it it was dark outside and I couldn’t bring myself to leave the couch for how freaking scared I was. Brilliant.

Average – A Poem

I’m not beautiful or ugly
And my features don’t stand out
I don’t smell like peach and honey
But I’m not that bad throughout.

I’m not supermodel skinny
Nor I’m tall, for that regard
But I’m mirthful, smart and funny
And I’m not a ball of lard.

I sure have a lot of pastimes
None of which I excel at:
Drawing, singing, writing rhymes…
Anybody could do that.

But in spite of not being top-notch
I still hope to be remembered,
After all I will be watching
Even once I’m six feet under.

This is why I’ll die alone

So guess what! I stopped shaving and NOTHING HAPPENED.
Nobody stared, nobody commented, nobody cared. I’m not even sure anyone noticed.
The universe didn’t implode either, for that matter.

Long story short, I haven’t shaved/waxed/epilated my legs and pits for a couple of months (maybe longer? I can’t even remember). Before you ask: no, I’m not trying to make a point. I simply can’t be bothered.
One day I was late for my basketball game and realised I had hairy legs but had no time to do anything about it so I just showed up in shorts and furry calves, played some ball and went back home, and that was it. The fact that my legs weren’t smooth as silk didn’t impact my performance or anyone else’s performance. Nobody felt offended by my flocculent underarms (even though I’ve blatantly flashed them to everyone – good luck playing defence without raising your arms).
So after all that I thought, screw it. Since having hairy legs or pits has absolutely no consequence on any aspect of my life, I might as well stop worrying about it.
Since then I’ve been rocking my fluffiness at basketball games, yoga sessions, at the swimming pool, and of course in the comfort of my own home.

And let me tell ya, it feels so good.

Deciding to stop shaving (and more in general, to stop caring) lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m no longer spending endless hours epilating, or painfully tearing sticky strips of wax off my armpits. I’m not wasting gallons of water shaving in the shower, just to be left with bleeding calves and an astronomical water bill. I’m done with red patches and irritated skin.
But most importantly, I’m no longer worrying about what my body looks like. When Giac suggested we go to Fiji, my first thought was not, Oh no I’ll have to get a bikini wax. I just thought, Ok cool (and where are we gonna get the money).
I can’t believe how much mental space body hair used to take up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I just woke up one morning and decided not to shave and immediately stopped caring. I’m still quite insecure about it. I’m still mega self conscious about it. The idea that women should be hairless is so rooted in our social expectations and in our own minds, in the way that we are brought up, that you can’t just eradicate those believes overnight.

However, in these past months I’ve also learned that hair is just hair. What’s the big deal? My life is exactly the same. I’m still the exact same person. And me having hairy legs or pits is just me rocking my body the way it naturally is. My body hair is simply one of my body features, same as missing four teeth (yep) or having two extra bones in my feet (YEP). And I sure don’t feel like I have to apologise for or feel ashamed of those, so why should some pit hair make me feel uncomfortable?

The main reason why I stopped shaving is that I don’t want to. I’m not being a radical feminist. I’m not fighting gender equality. I’m just practicing self love. I don’t want to shave because I’m totally ok with having body hair. It doesn’t make me less beautiful or less feminine. Plus from what I’ve experienced so far, nobody really gives a shit.
So thanks to all the people who probably noticed but didn’t stare or point fingers or commented on my furry limbs. To everybody else: this is my body, and not shaving is my choice. You don’t have to like it, but don’t be a dick about it.