This picture represents the worst trick New Zealand played on me.
Sarah Quigley, who published TMI in 2009, is one of my closest friends. Imagine my delight when one of Christchurch's libraries sported a huge sign: "Writer Sarah Quigley, here tomorrow!"
Okay, it's really far-fetched that my Sarah Quigley would try to surprise me halfway around the world. . .but I wanted it to be true.
After a little sleuthing, I found this Sarah Quigley, the kiwi Sarah Quigley, who has written several books and is quite good. I sent this screen shot to 1977 to let him know that my Sarah Quigley hadn't come to surprise me. Also, two writers named Sarah Quigley! Fun coincidences!
Have I mentioned I'm a stickler for rules? The SSS rule is that I choose an image randomly. So this week our screen shot is actually a digital photo that wound up in the wrong desktop folder. But fair is fair.
In my house, we call this guy, "Michele's Turtle," because he and I shared a religious experience. Last October, while on holiday in Australia*, we spent a day on the Great Barrier Reef. I really wanted our girls to see it, and by the time we're back in the Southern Hemisphere, there may not be much of it left! Plus, who am I kidding, I love sea life.
While my family played on the beach, I snorkeled around the reef. Blue sea stars, dozens of sea cucumbers, lots and lots of fish. I even stumbled upon a blue-spotted stingray and terrified us both.
Nearly a year later, I still wish I'd snapped a photo of that guy.
At one point, before the ray incident, I turned to find this turtle hunting for his lunch. We swam together for the better part of an hour. His grace--diving for food and reaching upward for air--mesmerized me. Eventually he swam into water too shallow for me to follow. But wow, what a day!
*When you live in New Zealand, you have to go to Australia. Also, nothing else is remotely close to New Zealand. . .and 1977 and I hadn't visited for decades. It was a great trip.
So, we’re back in the States. Before our sabbatical ended (indeed, before we reached the one-year point,) Google nudged 1977: “want to work for us?”
So now he does. And now we live in Seattle*, which somehow feels further from our families than New Zealand did.
New Zealand was awesome. It was ten Christmases (Although Christmas in New Zealand was a low point. More on that later.) Had things been different for 1977 at work, we may have stayed forever. . .but they weren't, and now he's at Google, which would be a dream come true if he were the kind of person who dwelled on dreams.
You know how Google wins all the "Employer of the year/decade/century" awards? It's totally true.
We're settling into our new house. In a major coup, we got 2008 into an amazing school. Five months ago, sitting on my sofa in NZ, I was salivating over this school, but it's an option school, and we missed the window and I wrote it off because our timing just meant we couldn't get her in.
BUT, we got lucky. There was one spot. In May. We took it, and I could not be happier.
Seattle is pretty great. It rivals Christchurch for scenery, and my politics and lifestyle fit right in with our neighborhood. I miss my kiwi friends every day, but it's nice to be back in the States. Why hello, Trader Joe's! What's that you say, QFC? You have berries? Year round? For less than $20 a punnet?
I missed you, American economy. I'm not ashamed to say it. (I am ashamed of some other stuff, but we'll get to that.)
So, hi! What did I miss?
*I feel like Google Maps outed me! Cupcake Royale is on that map up there. Why? Why, Google, do you need to highlight that I may have gone there once or more than once since we moved here in April? Gregg's Cycles? Fine. Everyone in Seattle has a bike. But cupcakes? No one needs to know about that, GOOGLE! I am a loyal Google spouse. Be a loyal mapmaker.
I’m talking to you, New Zealand.
That’s me holding 2013* at a picnic table in a park adjacent to a beach on a harbor nestled between mountains.
There is no New Zealand without zeal! (and prepositions!)
Six months in, I finally feel settled, and I love it. LOVE IT, as in I would not be returning to the States if staying in NZ were an option. We found an amazing school for 2008. I spent the dwindling days of summer with 2008, 2010, and 2013 at the beach, and spring is beckoning us back to the beach already.
I have a lot to say about New Zealand (and it features prominently in my newest manuscript!**)
For now: hello!
*Oh yeah, 2013 is cute. She keeps me up nights, but she’s sweet, so we’re keeping her.
**Yup, finished the first YA manuscript, too. Well, the first public draft. It’s in the hands of my early readers, and the next YA manuscript is underway.
Remember how I’m having a baby in February? To make things extra special, we’ve decided to move to New Zealand. . .in January.
When 1977 was young, he spent two years living abroad, and we’re thrilled at this opportunity. I am especially excited about our destination, because for years I have wanted to visit New Zealand.
And now we’re going. . .for years!
Don’t panic; there’s a spreadsheet, and it already includes 150 items. Things to buy, things to sell, things to give away, things to do!
(Almost) needless to say, I won’t be blogging for a while. Perhaps I’ll blog from New Zealand. But, you know, don’t hold your breath. There will be a newborn and two other children and schools and beaches and mountains!
I imagine any writing time will be dedicated to the actual manuscript, but we’ll see.
This is merely a sabbatical. If I don’t blog from NZ, expect me to be back in autumn 2014.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: