Sunday, March 12, 2006

August 4, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

Just about done

March 10, 2006

Waiheke Island, New Zealand


I have no more tales. No more anecdotes. Even though we are here three more days, I know I am done. Done talking about the small things. Done talking about the funny things. Done talking about the dirty things. I am done waxing on sometimes tritely about the massive scenery and unstoppable imagery this country is lucky to have. I am done trying to poetically capture the harmonious lifestyle New Zealand families seemed determined to possess.

I am finished with earnestly expressing the explosive love I feel for my wife and my son.

Now, if you will, I would like to talk about me.

March 19th 2005, in a plane on its way to Nadi, Fiji through LA, I let tears seep quietly down my cheek listening to a choir group practice on their way to a competition at Disneyland. They were good yes, but it was the sinking in of the journey I was now really on that caused me to silently lose control of my emotions. It was then I was leaving the old Jason behind, ready to let all the things I hated about myself to rinse through my body, to slide off my cheeks like those melody induced tears. Gone were the days of self inflicted incompetence and cubicle hiding in a job I held on to for pure easy comfort. Gone were the days of yearning for childish moments of bathroom stall debauchery with all my friends who I place so much value on, while constantly questioning the same value they have for me. Gone were the days of shirt yanking over bulbous stomach to hide the very apparent fact that I have a weight problem, as if a stretched shirt could somehow conceal the three cheeseburgers I managed to eat. Gone were the days of oppressive insecurity, bloody fingernail spitting anxiety, knee wobbling self-confidence issues. This was the opportunity for me to change all of that. To set my life on a path of pride, of integrity, satisfying my desire to be true, to be real, to be utterly and eagerly great. Not great at something. Just great.

The choir stopped singing. I stopped crying. The plane landed in Los Angeles.

And… scene.

So here I am. Ten months later. Under a moonlit sky, overlooking a very large ocean, questioning how much of that idealism I was able to turn into reality.

Er. Problem. I don’t know. My yearning for the bolt of lightning to flash from the sky and change me from a type I-don’t-fucking-know personality to a grinning, flashy do-it-all type ‘A’ personality was fleeting and immature. I recognized this after one of my many internal anxiety attacks in the past year. I also realized that losing fifty pounds and writing a punchy 429 page novel did not give me the sense of accomplishment I thought it would. I have yet to stop and look in the mirror and wink and pose and nod and congratulate myself for these two admittedly significant tasks. Is this the quiet desperation I have heard so much about? The ability to never satisfy ones self? Of course it was easy to surmise it is difficult to find perspective living in the family bubble as I do. I argue that easily because it’s Steph’s pride I seek more than anyone, and eventually Hud will be a very close second. Yet sadly, they did not matter. To think the confidence will return with a couple you look greats and wow, you wrote a book from my family and friends are bunk with no insult intended. It means nothing because it should be rooted within myself. I remain cowering in the corner. And the room is about to get bigger.

So did I change? Did I get better being away from my old life for this long? What will happen when I return?

Answers, I do not have Skywalker.

Maybe I should approach it from a different angle. What good came of this trip? The first answer is predictable and easy. I was able to spend an enormous amount of time with my wife and son.

What a luxury. And it is a luxury, to loll and lounge and leisurely get to know your wife again, without the pings and pangs of everyday life getting in your way. To love her for being able to sleep in, for the way she looks like meandering out of the ocean, or knitting a sweater on a random, plucked couch. She is a marvel and a wonder and a mystery and a true goddess. She was my best friend before we left. After spending 99 per cent of my time with her in the past year, she is now and will always be the complete love of my life.

Hud. He went from a diaper-clad baby to a blonde boy with a way too big heart like his dad. He is sweet and emotional and funny, so funny. Not only was he burdened with over emotion, but also he is blessed with the compulsion to make others laugh. He is a ham. A big, baked, pineapple ring laden, clove dappled ham. I can’t wait for everyone to see him when we get home. I can’t wait to see his and all of your expressions when he says something so wise and old and smart you can’t help but laugh until you cry.

He may forget this trip, but there is no way he was not influenced by the showering of warmth and security and comfort by both Steph and I. His roots are firm. His roots are juicy with love.

I also learned that it is easy to put family first, and let everything else fall into place. I am not so idealistic to think money is not a very real issue, particularly when Steph and I still like nice things. I do think this trip will be a reminder to what is really important, making it easier to make future sacrifices. Easier, not easy. This we learned from the families we met here in New Zealand. With lots of kids and nothing jobs they make it work, everyone in the family so happy and healthy, not left wanting. It was refreshing. We were lucky to meet each and every one of them. We will never see them again.

So I didn’t change as I thought I would. Looking back now it seems like I was both literally and figuratively with my head in the clouds on that first airplane. It’s ok though, I am ready for the next chapter of my life. I am scared shitless but ready. I know we are fortunate to have a wonderful circle of love and support from family and friends.

We are so eager to see you all. Smile and laugh with you all again. See new babies. See new marriages. Touch hands. Hug. Raise a glass. So much to catch up. Hear about all the little things that made up your past year. Quietly. Listening to every word. Not saying anything.

I am done talking. I am done writing.

Writing this at least.

Except for one more short picture post after this one the day we leave.

Do me a favour, leave a comment, and tell me who has been following us this past year.

Love to all,


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hey is that a pear with no skin?

March 8, 2006

Waiheke Island, New Zealand


Well, I convinced her.

Actually it wasn’t that hard, and of course, as I giggled through every minute, Steph managed to disrobe and flaunt the top shelf with a certain elegance and natural grace. Beneath the equator remained concealed; she is a free bird, but still a bit of a lame duck.

I, on the other hand, dropped my shorts (no underwear, I think the last time I wore them was back in Christchurch in November) and faked being relaxed all the while trying to telepathically convince the hammer to quit receding into my pear shaped body and come out and see the world.

Of course like every other nude beach I have been to (last count? Two), the majority of the patrons were people in their mid to late sixties. Sure there were a couple of people our age or younger, but mostly they were single guys lying in poses where nothing is left to the imagination.

As mentioned prior, a number of Waiheke residents are true hippies from the sixties, thus the reason for the people sixty or over dappled up and down the nude beach. My reasons for coming to a nude beach are equally split into thirds, captured perfectly by Stephanie the first time we discussed potentially coming to this beach. One third is strictly voyeuristic. I don’t care the shape, or the age, or even admittedly the sex; I just like seeing naked people. The freedom is sexy to me.

The next third is me being this free, not caring about what I look like, feeling less inhibited then if I was wearing a simple bathing suit.

The last third is so I can tell people I went on a nude beach, which I guess I am doing right now. I am not a complex man.

You may question the bringing of Hudson to this type of beach, but I don’t. He chose to wear his suit, and couldn’t care less about the naked people, ages ranging from three to 75. A cynic may peer down the beach, looking for the pedophile, but I choose to believe in the ideal that people sometimes like being naked, lying on a white sand beach, occasionally swimming in a clear blue ocean. It is a special feeling.

I would be remiss in mentioning that just prior to leaving a couple of young hippie chicks arrived, disrobed and galloped into the ocean. They were not old. They had no tan lines. Ahem. Down boy.

Before embarking on our nude beach adventure we took a drive to Whakanewha National Park and did a short loop walk which included some Maori relics and some very scenic lookouts back to Auckland and down the beach.

Hud always complains about this walks as they commence and thirty seconds later he is the happiest kid in New Zealand, poking at shells of bugs and running through dense, fern laden forests. Kids are fickle. Lesson number 3423 on this trip.

This is the third last post before leaving in six days. I will not keep up this journal after we return home. It was about the journey and I have other, more arcane writing outlets to release all my anxieties. This outlet was for me as well, but it was also to stay close to people back home, and to also force myself to record this 10-month trip in words.

We have taken close to 5000 pictures, but to me, sometimes the memory is captured so much better in words, even if it takes up more space.

On the page and in my heart.

Love to all,


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Finding Jason

March 6, 2006

Waiheke Island, New Zealand


As you can plainly see my ability to sleep has drifted away like a Viking funeral. My thoughts range from our new rental house back in North Toronto to my lack of employment to my unedited novel, to my poo that I had to hand in to the lab for analyzing. Actually Steph handed it in for me. What a wife.

So the anxiety has returned. Welcome back old friend. No offense, but you were not missed at all.

Yes, we have a place back home. Through the diligence of e-mail and my father and stepmother, we were able to secure a detached home in a nice part of the city for a price we can barely afford. We knew it was going to be pricey no matter where we got a place. In the city the places are expensive, out of the city transportation costs becomes an issue. What we did sacrifice by living in the city is space, but we can deal with that for now, and if we don’t like it? It’s only a year. And years can go by very quickly as I can attest.
My favourite part about this new place is we can get Alice back as soon as we are settled. It has a large fenced in backyard and the owners were cool with us having a small, mature dog as my father sold it. Woo hoo! Alice. I can’t wait to take you on my morning walks. When it gets warmer of course.

The last four days here on the island were spent reacquainting ourselves with all the little nuances that make this one of our favourite places in New Zealand. It has the perfect blend of hippie bohemia and yuppie amenities. Meaning you can drizzle your backyard grown organic mixed greens with $25 garlic and red pepper infused olive oil if you want. A perfect example of this blend was the Saturday market we attended. Good old fashioned alternative lifestyle dread locked people selling their old clothes right beside the bakery booth selling pain de chocolat. Other highlights included the very obvious transsexual with hands bigger than mine and a dress prettier than Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. They also had a small gathering exulting the benefits of bike riding instead of ugly cars. This was mostly for kids as there was a helmet decorating competition and a story, which we all watched intently, Hud occasionally growling at the other kids as he is prone to do.

Two hours at the market was enough so we went home, got our gear and made our way to Palm Beach as the sun was making an appearance that day. Being the general perv that I am, I suggested this beach because I read in one of the many brochures that the western end of Palm Beach is reserved for nude sunbathing. Very hippie, very bohemia. I was firmly denied my suggestion at the three of us going over there by my sometimes shy wife, so we settled on a spot too far away to see if anyone was actually nudie.

Hey Hud, do you want to go for a walk down the beach? Snicker snicker. Sure dad.

We were off, rounding the rocky corner and lo and behold there were all the naked people, about fifty of them, totally intertwined with the clothed people, all very relaxed and down to earth with their nakedness. Of course I have been on a nude beach before, both Steph and I braved our respective modesty and shunned our clothes for a full week on our honeymoon in Jamaica. It is quite liberating to dangle down the beach and jump into the ocean buck. I was up for doing it again, but Hud wanted to build a sandcastle and all his sand toys were back with his mother. Another time perhaps.

So. My poo. Here goes. On Thursday I finally broke down and with Steph’s help we entered the medical clinic to book a doctor’s appointment for me regarding my sour tummy. Since Northland, and my spastic weight loss, I still have some pain in my stomach and a lot more activity than normal. And normal for me was never normal. We were both surprised the doctor could take me right away and five minutes after making the appointment I was sitting on a cold chair talking to a warm doctor. He made numerous suggestions about what my gut rot could be, none of which seemed that bad, and explained to me that before he could accurately diagnose my sickness, they had to test my sample. This is when he passed me the small plastic container.

I will spare you the details of the actual “catching” of the sample, just know that I firmly believe that it should be more funnel-like than the prescription size bottle they gave me.

Now I want you to imagine the discomfort of having this sample in the house prior to drop off. Thankfully we did not let Hud in on the gag, or he would have been juggling it like a clown. Steph, on the other hand, was rightly disgusted by the little bottle. She was going to yoga that morning and I asked her if she could drop it off as the lab was on the way. Reluctantly, she agreed and I made the mistake of leaving it next to her purse, on the table where she was about to eat her breakfast. Well shiver me timbers did she tear a strip of this pirate, and made me place it in a plastic bag so she did not have to look at it while she ate thank you very much. Fair enough. She still dropped it off without further incident. Poo is poo is poo. I get the results back on Wednesday.

So we are literally counting the days until our return. It is difficult to enjoy the Island as much as we would like, the weather has been iffy as well, leaving us housebound a couple of days. With eight days left before departure you almost want to pack now, getting ready for the 24 hour journey back to Canada.

Got to get to the nude beach though. Got to let it dangle like shark bait.

Shark bait ooo ooo ah.

Love to all,