Wednesday, August 29


Today I bought the tickets for what will probably be this year's bestest trip. I will be going to New Zealand for an advanced mountaineering school for two weeks. Then, following what looks and feels at this point like a stupid sense of responsibility, I will come back and mark my students' exams ... Hopefully this will not earn me too many bad karma points because after this, weather permitting, I will return to New Zealand to climb Mount Cook.

Following previous missed trips and flights and issues with dates etc. I did ask somebody to check my first New Zealand trip, only to realize after I bought tickets the for the second leg that I didn't ask anybody to check them. Ah well ... I guess I have to learn one way or another.

But enough about that little minor issue (who needs plane tickets anyway?) and more to the important one: Training must start yesterday!! Goodbye carbs, the few sips of alcohol that I had been indulging myself (I actually had a half glass of wine for my cousin's wedding), the tons of durians that I planned to consume while back in Adelaide (note to Dodo: I still want durian on Friday, ok?!), goodbye extra time spent with students, and, more importantly, goodbye dinners! ... and welcome  heavy backpacks, steep hills, stair repeats, early early morning treks through waterfall and chambers gully. Sigh. In a former life I was a queen.


Tuesday, August 28

One picture Tuesday

I went running yesterday around my hotel:

It was indeed a bit of a challenge to run in 90% (NINETY PERCENT!) humidity, but I prevailed and got where I wanted to get. Of course, I then proceeded to get lost on the way back. 

Eventually I made it to the hotel, showered and went for my first proper meal of the day, dinner!

Monday, August 27

If I ever have a dog

I will call him Mao Shan Wang, or Shan for short. Another possibility would be to call him "Durian" or, Kopi. Today, while researching about the awesomeness of Mao Shan Wang, I have found that "the coffee tasting durian" is indeed a variant, or a "cultivar" if you must of the durian. It's called Kop!

Regardless, there is something really really naughty about eating durians in a three star hotel, and I just done done it :)

Saturday, August 25


An article about David Graham contained this quote:

Never think you’re that cool. You’re still just climbing rocks in the woods with bugs, and everyone thinks you’re crazy.
I've always been humble when facing mountains. Especially when facing rock faces and/or ice waterfalls, a mix of awe and humility shoots through me and I'm stunned and just sit there with a stupid grin on my face.

In the past weeks something new has moved into the picture. I've become apprehensive. I'm not sure why, but while the perspective of facing (ahem) death, cold and/or fatigue is does no longer extract 100% squeals of excitement from me, but there is now a tiny drop of realization that if something happens to me, other people, i.e. my family, friends, and (!) students, might suffer in some remote way. Or maybe is the realization of just how good life is (see previous post) that makes me be apprehensive about losing it?

Or maybe, I'm just getting old.

Friday, August 24

Life is good

You take the plane over a sea (an ocean?) and arrive on a new continent. You're a tourist in your former home city and things are weird. You rush through customs, collect your bag, refuse the expensive cabs the uncles at the airport taxi stand try to give you, and take a normal cab. Arrive at the hotel, queue behind the 200 zillions iranians and their families that were just checking in, and then finally check in yourself.

A quick shower and change and you are out again. Wearing jeans, tshirt and running shoes it's only normal to run to the MRT station rather than walk. Your jeans tighten around your legs as you realize just how humid it is. You run and run, descend the 90 steps into the MRT station only to realize as you reach it that: a) you have no cash in the local currency; b) you may not have money on your MRT card; and c) you might have to climb the 90 steps back up. Luckily, the MRT god smiles on you today and your card works.

You reach the destination and roam around aimlessly realizing that you have no phone and thus no way to tell your friend you have arrived. Also, no way of spotting her as she is, like everybody else, short, skinny, and with black hair. Finally you spot her and give her a sweaty bear hug. Onwards for a Tom Yam soup and a chat and life is good again. I've missed you San!

Tuesday, August 21

One picture Tuesday

It was love at first sight.

Citing from wikipedia:
"Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, reaching 3,754 metres (12,316 ft).[1] It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. A popular tourist destination,[2] it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. Aoraki / Mount Cook consists of three summits lying slightly south and east of the main divide, the Low Peak, Middle Peak and High Peak, with the Tasman Glacier to the east and theHooker Glacier to the west."

With a bit of luck* and hopefully not to big of a negative karma from my students, in December 2012 I would have safely gotten to the summit and back. 

*And what looks like a ginormous amount of training.

Sunday, August 19

The curse of the fountain pen

While in communist Romania and during primary and secondary school, we were forced to write with fountain pens, apparently because fountain pens make for better cursive handwriting? This was a blessing and a curse at the same time. It was a blessing for the above reasons but it was a curse because
  • The goddamn things were expensive
  • They leaked
  • I kept loosing mine, so I always had to buy one and always had to hide that from my mother and always had to make the new nip stop scratching and I ALWAYS (because I kept loosing them) had to buy exactly the same one. Turns out, there were a limited number of blue fountain pens with golden nip that one could buy (that's because my mother wanted to be special and bought the blue one instead of the red one, damn it!)

After secondary school I stopped writing with fountain pens but developed a strong obsession for stationery that has followed me through my (4+5+6 = 15!) remaining years of school. (23 years of school OH MY GOD!) Until last semester, when I bought this beauty:
This has got to be the best color out there and the pen is just fantastic. And then my students gave me this:
I was so immensely touched that I put the ribbon from the pen box on the rear view mirror of Snow White. And. I. really. hate. ribbons.

 And then one day I couldn't find the green fountain pen. And then one of the students sent a silly email that sort of suggested (if you read the email while doing a headstand and scratching your back with your toe, or you were really really really HUNGRY) that me helping them out could be easily rewarded (WTF!?!) with more gifts. The red fountain pen was immediately banished to a place where it would not grade exams as I had been fantasising it would and I went the next day and bought a new Lamy green fountain pen. Although identical with the first one, it was not really the same as i had accidentally bought a medium nip instead of a fine one.

 The exams came and went (and five red ballpoint pens with them!) and the red pen sat in its box right next to my rising star in teaching award. I would see it every day thanks to its bright red color. Until one night when I had ran out of red ballpoint pens and I just had to use it. The students had finished the particular course I was teaching and if I had to wait until they graduated (seeing how I hope some of them would eventually do higher degrees) it would be a looong loong time, so what the hell?! I reasoned. And the next day (I kid you not) I found the initial green fountain pen under Snow White's seat. Scratched and dirty but alive.

Friday, August 17

Weekend questions

This past weekend we went to Reedy Creek to boulder. D found the nicest problem, I found the most powerful one and M, in true fashion, found the weirdest one (also the hardest methinks)

The greatest mystery remaining is still: while this is definitely the face of happiness:

Is this the face of constipation or extreme focus?

More photos here (also showing Stalin in action).

Thursday, August 16

A story of sorts

My grandmother, in her 80 years of living, had never travelled abroad. She had never boarded a plane either. The only words she knows in English are "OK" and "no". Until a couple of weeks ago when she boarded a plane for Istanbul, and then for Dubai, and then for Sydney, to come to her other grandchild's wedding. I look at her and still can't believe she's here. She looks at us (her two grandchildren), and while she says she's very happy to be here with us, she also says she's sad she can't talk to both of us (my cousin speaks very poor romanian).

She's here in Sydney now and she's having a blast. She is not moving as freely as she used to,  and she needs to do warm up exercises in order to get out of bed, but she remembers what pills she has to take (most of them natural remedies) and now she enjoys shopping at Target and watching the ocean. From Romania, she bought me some acne creams, an electrical ceramic pot*, and a herb-based thingy to improve digestion. For the life of me I can't understand how she made it past  quarantine, but there you have it. She also wrote me a letter detailing a face mask (2 teaspoons of onion juice, lemon juice, and honey) that she found in a natural remedy magazine (Formula AS) and finishing off with "PLEASE make this. Grandma"

*because I don't have time to cook (says she)

Tuesday, August 14

One picture Tuesday

A bucketful of stainless steel balls. That's what I need in order to get through that roof. Because you see, I start to lead and then I reach the middle of the roof (2m after the light) and I suddenly get scared and instead of gripping the big big hold I stick my thumb into the bolt hole. And then I can't move anymore and I flail like a wingless chicken and fall.

The story of my life: I could do so many things if only I had a bucket of stainless steel, shiny, balls.

Thursday, August 9

Not drowning

Last year around this time I decided to add further work on my plate and get in touch with my feminine side (snort!). So I joined tango! That turned out to be unfeasible in the long run, because after and during tango I got depressed and then started climbing and then work suddenly went from being busy to being FUCK THIS SHIT WHEN WILL I SLEEP AGAIN?! busy (and has not calmed down) . So then I stopped.

And then a month ago a climbing friend overheard me say that I can swim, if not drowning is considered swimming. And she decided that I will learn how to swim. Or else. She had also been a swimming instructor before getting addicted to climbing, so here I am, going to the Adelaide pool. Three buckets of water swallowed and four sessions later, and I am happy to announce that last night I swam about 1km of freestyle (using fins).


 If you have friends to support you and tools to make your job easier, things can be quite enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 7

One picture Tuesday

Friends, hell has frozen over. This is because over the weekend I went. to. a. spa. Incredible and utter relaxation came my way.

Thursday, August 2

Adult decisions

Apparently one of the things about turning 30 is the fact that you have to make adult decisions. Well, who the fuck would have known?!!!?

That being said, even though I'm 30, I still feel (and act, sadly) like I'm 18. "Nobody tells you", says a colleague, "that you still feel and act like you're 18! It's just that you look old and you act crazy! So damn unfair!"

Anyway, by adult decisions I mean decisions in which I do not get things to go EXACTLY like I want. To the dot.

The first one involves the Adelaide marathon that I was planning on running. It was supposed to be my first marathon on my home turf and I was really looking forward to getting a sub-4 on its very very hilly track. Turns out, I have to go to a wedding in Sydney. My cousin's wedding. Thing is, I would have normally not gone to the wedding, but my grandmother is coming from home. And as such, I have to go. However, I was thinking of flying back immediately after the saturday reception and do the marathon the next day. Not really achievable, at least not properly achievable because romanian weddings tend to be very tiring. So, I'm not doing the Adelaide marathon.

The second one involves my New Zealand expedition. It's going to be a three-week expedition that I will have to break in a two-week trip, followed by a one-week break, and finishing it with the last week. This is because my students have their exam in that period, and I have to be back to grade their exams. I don't have to, as I'm actually not supposed to mark their exams, but I feel so guilty (really, it made me sick to my stomach before I decided on the crazy 2-1-1 plan) for leaving them on their own (?!) that I. just. can't. It's going to probably cost me the Mount Cook summit (planned for the last week), but once I decided on this and emailed the guides I felt incredibly relieved.

To sum it up:

Adulthood, what the fuck?!