all the things

I knew already yesterday morning that I wouldn’t be going to school today. It was an executive decision: I own that decision and I stand by it still tonight. Not that yesterday’s China Hash was particularly strenuous, as instead of running I got to hang out with the little dude below, before soaking in hot springs once the runners had returned.

Anyway, today I had a morning of luxuriating in the sunshine, dutiful stretching (working on rehabilitating my knees), tidying and packing, intermittent embroidery (whenever I felt the creative urge), working out (upper-body and core only! I am leaving my legs alone), and laundry. Far better than going to class…

Then in the afternoon I went swimming. First I picked up a real swimsuit and new, non-leaky goggles; as this is going to be my main form of exercise for the next few months, I could put it off no longer. I pushed myself through 1km of utterly agonising flutter-kick. 12 tedious lengths with the board float (thanks Nikki… I blame the French and their planche!), 4 of actual crawl (I thought I would drown) and then the last 4 on my back, clutching the float. It was nothing like the pleasant, meditative experience of swimming breast-stroke; I kept reminding myself that it will get better and one day I will actually be quite good at it. Advice on how to stop sucking at front-crawl accepted!

After that, spurred on by last week’s visit to the doctor, I swung by my dentist and he confirmed that both my lower wisdom teeth need to come out. One of them looks really nasty, I think it will need to be broken as it’s kind of weird and impacted-looking. I don’t particularly relish the thought, but I might as well get it done here in Taiwan where the entire procedure, including X-rays, will cost less than AUD $75 — the price of a simple check-up in Australia. So that’s booked for Wednesday after lunch. Fun fun fun…

And to end my day on a victorious note, I have finished polishing my CV (我完成了修飾履歷表 — sorry, smug alert, I just love when I know these things in Chinese) and cover letter for another job application in Hong Kong. I would send it off right now, only the library closed at 8:30 and now I don’t have access to a computer. It’s ok, I will do it tomorrow after class. And it won’t count as tomorrow’s job application (yes, standing by my decision to do one a day).

Now… homework. Yuck. I think I will run down to Starbucks, despite the late hour, because otherwise it won’t get done.



There are only a couple of weeks left here in Taiwan and it’s starting to really sink in. My housemate Silva and I just spent our evening blasting our rooms; I have determined that this time I will avoid the usual panic and hideous amount of waste. I have grown a nice big pile of recycling in the middle of the living-room and I am hoping it will all make it to its rightful destination.

Whilst sorting Silva’s rubbish I found this adorable nanoblock koala set, unopened! Also, a lavender-scented embroidery kit which Mummy gave me this summer before I left. I am going to need these distractions, as Facebook friends will know: after seeing a proper sports doctor and getting proper x-rays… the verdict is a stress fracture in my right tibia and very inflamed knee-caps. Turns out I had been doing EVERYTHING wrong during my time off. Those Nike Training Club workouts with their lunges and squats; those long kilometres on the stationary bike; those ecstatic China Hash runs — bad, bad, bad, as every step I took slammed my inflamed knee-cap harder into the bone and made things worse.

So… three months off from running and my other preferred forms of exercise — no cycling, no swimming breast-stroke. I am going to have to get seriously into swimming, except of course it will need to be crawl aka freestyle. Which I suck at. Oh well. And also I can do the elliptical machine, but unfortunately there isn’t an elliptical at the tiny school gym… So swimming it will be, for the next few weeks at least!

I have at last managed to liberate myself from that deer-caught-in-headlights paralysis and complete a CV and cover letter and APPLY FOR A JOB! I thought it would never happen but at last it has (much thanks to, in chronological order of assistance, Jed, Thilo, Ollie, Ben, and last but not least my previous boss, for their patient and repeated support whilst trying to drag my application into something presentable), and now I am determined to send at least one every weekday until I leave. I am still at that silly stage where I think I should only apply for ones I am “qualified” for, but I remember that after a couple of weeks of desperation one will apply for anything and everything… might as well save myself some time and start that sooner rather than later.

By the way, as you may be able to tell from the enormously oversized pictures on this post, something else emerged during this evening’s storming of the house, an old friend who has only ever taken 823 pictures, despite being over a year old…

Welcome back to the real world, Lumix! I found a few photos on there which I want to blog about but I will do a separate post for them.

I love lists

Today I woke up at 7:45 to do lots of useful and important things. Then realised that I didn’t really have anything urgent to do as I am still on holiday, and so I read my book until I fell back asleep, hypnotised by the rain drumming outside my window.

When I woke up again, it was nearly 2pm and after ascertaining that the library won’t be open again till tomorrow morning, realised nothing would get done without some form of motivation and so I composed a list, and I’m pleased to say it’s pretty much all been crossed off:

First: cook a couple of high-protein veggie recipes to keep in the fridge and freezer.

Recipe Uno was sweet potato and tuna cakes. These taste delicious. I ate three and it has been hard ignoring the rest.

2 cups of sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 tin of tuna in spring water or brine, drained
2 eggs, lightly whisked
half a cup of breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to season
(makes 8 cakes)

I boiled and mashed the sweet potato, mixed in the other ingredients, and then gently fried them in a drop of olive oil. I slightly burnt the second batch (remember Rosie’s rule of cooking?) but as I am a freak who likes burnt carbs (overdone toast, blackened pizza, brown and crispy bubble-and-squeak… carcinogenic LOVE), whilst they don’t look so pretty, as far as I’m concerned the taste is even better. I’m going to keep them in the fridge and hope that they heat up ok, to eat with a 7-11 bagged salad and a boiled egg. I don’t eat enough fish but this was pretty awesome so I’ll definitely make it again.

Second recipe was Sweet Potato, Spinach and Lentil Curry. I panic-purchased a lot of sweet potatoes in the run-up to Chinese New Year, so I had to use them up! I made the curry in my usual very unimaginative fashion, ie. sweat onions in oil, curry powder and cumin powder; throw in the veg and lentils plus boiling water; simmer until everything is melting and delicious. The spinach wasn’t exactly spinach, I think — it was the last, soggy-looking bag of greens left in the supermarket, but it’s not like wilted greens ever taste particularly spectacular, so I chucked them in for extra nutrients. I am full from the tuna cakes, so I just had a taste and decided it was good. Into the freezer it goes!

Second and third item on the list: tidy room and sort clothes. Done. This is fairly huge for me. Everything is on hangers! Nothing is on the floor! Even my underwear is sorted! Everything is clean!

Four: Nike Training Club workout. Done. I chose just a 30min workout hoping that it won’t leave me wrecked for three days like last time, but judging how my legs are shaking after all those squats… Still, I’m hoping I will feel good enough for a tiny little 4km run tomorrow.

Five: prepare characters for lesson 7. I haven’t finished this yet, but am getting into it now.

Six: Download ALL the podcasts. I actually did this first, as it was essential to achieving the other items. I listened to lots of Answer Me This and The Infinite Monkey Cage today.

Lists. Best thing ever.

achey achey

Strictly speaking I haven’t actually done anything for me just yet, as I’ve only been awake for a few hours, but my whole body is SCREAMING from yesterday’s workout and that soreness feels so good. I have missed exercise horribly — I cut down to just running about 18 months ago, when it became too expensive to keep seeing a personal trainer, and dropped the gym fairly rapidly after that. It was a huge saving but I do sometimes wish I had access to a treadmill, so I could try some gentle running and see how I go, with the option to stop immediately if it gets too much for my knees or shins.

Anyway, for the time being I am happy to spend the 40 days until I leave working out at home with the Nike app, but I think once I am in Hong Kong I will need to get a gym membership. Hopefully I can go to the same one as Cici and we can be Supermate-Supergymbuddies.

It was brought to my attention last night by a certain Alasdair (big-up Brussels!) that my 100 Push-ups challenge has slipped out of sight. I had lost interest after being kindly informed that my form was wrong, but I think, based on the gazillion modified push-ups in the workout I did yesterday, that I could probably start again and do ok.

Today however, I am going to bask in my DOMS and not do a thing! Mummy has given me access to her eBooks account and now I can read all her books on my iPad, which is exactly how I plan to spend the rest of the day — after reading 4 or 5 terrible cheap/free self-published crime thrillers on Kindle, it’s a sheer delight to be reading Death Comes to Pemberley, even if the concept of a detective novel/Jane Austen mash-up is so very, very middle-class! I’m halfway through it and enjoying it immensely.

training club

This morning I awoke to sunshine yet again, and had a pity party about not running yet again. Then I reminded myself that there was plenty of Chinese to work on still… I did reading drills for two hours, which was good, apart from how much I always kick myself for not doing it more often and specially before exams. Still, let’s not take anything away from that achievement.

I considered going for a swim, but as I was flicking though my iPad apps saw Nike Training Club which I downloaded the other day. I had initially thought it was something like miCoach (by adidas) but in fact it is exactly like a personal trainer — better than my old PT, in fact, because it doesn’t make racist or homophobic comments.

I am worried about my knees, and there were a lot of lunges involved in the workout I did, but I think/hope that the lunges will strengthen my legs which will take pressure off them.

Me, full of grim determination prior to starting the 45-minute “Stress Slammer” workout:

Stress was sucessfully slammed. I was planning to show me post-workout, but I forgot in my eagerness to get in the shower — just picture bright red, soaked in sweat, having got rid of the t-shirt because I was over-heating. That was HARD WORK. I haven’t done any strength training for ages, definitely over a year. Yoga does help somewhat but I have been inactive for over 2 weeks so I really felt the burn!

I have dutifully stretched and massaged my knees with the medicated gel. I don’t know if I can think of running again before I leave; the half-marathon at Shuangxi is in exactly a month and only an idiot would believe they can go from injured to 21km in a month. Right?

I want to believe. Despite my tendency to overthink, some things I have successfully gone years and years without thinking about (been many years and I still have never calculated how old those jellybeans would have been if they hadn’t been aborted). Until now I have refused to ponder whether I should forget about running Shuangxi. Let’s keep it that way.