One Hundred Day Revisited

This one’s for you, Anne Walshe 🙂

Carina at anchor in Tralong Bay

Time has galloped past since I ruminated on having only one hundred days until the end of my work contract. I’m now down to thirty. It’s been a busy seventy days, that’s for sure. But during that time I’ve managed to achieve quite a few of the tasks I set myself. Some were going to happen anyway, but others took perseverence. There remain a couple of items to tick off, and some things are ongoing.

I can’t deny that I enjoy undergraduate teaching. But between January and March I gave so many lectures and ran so many tutorials that I never wanted to hear my own voice again. Indeed, I almost got my wish as, by the time I flew to New York for the undergrad field trip in late March, I had developed an infected lump in my throat, making talking (and sad to say, eating) very painful. I suppose it was my body’s way of telling me to shut up. I tried, but I can’t stay quiet for long. (The joke in my house when I was young was that I would one day join a silent order of nuns). The combination of attempting to not talk and a heady mixture of over-the-counter throat medicines seemed to work, and by midway through the week in New York I was feeling much better.

New York was incredible. Last year I was overwhelmed (in a good way) to be there. This year, I was more relaxed and, with one exception, my memories are of good food and drink. The margaritas and food at Casa Mezcal in the Lower East Side, Cannibal on East 29th, and Bis.Co.Latte in Hell’s Kitchen playing Nina Simone singing Bob Dylan were highlights. At the American Museum of Natural History I stood before the cast of the partial skeleton of Lucy, the 3.2 million year old australopithecus afarensis fossil. I have imagined Lucy since I was 15 years old, and to finally stand in front of her was about as close to a spiritual experience as I’m likely to get. I stood gazing at her and a woman, about sixty years old, came and stood beside me. ‘You feel like you want to take care of her, don’t you?’ she asked. We smiled at each other, kindred paleoanthropological geeks! Afterwards I walked over the cast of the Laetoli Footprints, and walked back over them again, and again. Such rapture.

I woke early on my first morning in New York and walked to the post office to send the manuscript of my book to the publisher. I’ve been working on it on and off for far too many years, and since autumn 2013, determined to get it done before I set sail, I’ve been working on it in every spare moment. It was with a wonderful sense of a weight lifting off me that I handed the envelope containing the manuscript over to the postal worker. I would have sung for joy, except for that damned throat of mine. The manuscript is now being reviewed and I await comments (or rejection…yikes).

My other writing projects are progressing, but the less said about those the better, before they get sent out into the world. I’ve been plugging away – fifteen minutes here, an afternoon there – whenever life gifts me some spare time. Hopefully, all that work will start to bear fruit soon.

The on-going, long-drawn-out return to Carina picked up pace throughout April, and yesterday we finally loaded up a van and moved out of the house. Julian returns to the house tomorrow to collect the last of our stuff – all of which is going onboard. We have a car boot sale planned for Sunday, and the weather looks promising. At the moment we’re spending a few days with my father-in-law, and by the middle of next week we will all be home aboard Carina!

When I had one hundred days to go I wanted to explore Exeter Quay. So I took a day off work and Julian and I took a stroll after we’d brought the girls to school. We sipped coffee in the March sunshine and looked at the boats. And I returned to the Quay last week with Mammy and the girls to have birthday pizza.

I’ve had another visit to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, as I promised myself, and I have, on more than one occasion, enjoyed beers with my friends – and I have a couple more of those nights out planned before my thirty days are up. And I’m going to the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum next Tuesday with a friend.

I’ve packed a lot into those past seventy days. I’ve had friends to visit, and I’ve done some visiting. I’ve read a few excellent novels. I’ve seen some good movies.

The girls finished school at the start of April and we’re enjoying the new pace of life. They’re having a lot of fun visiting Grandad this week, but keep asking when we’ll be moving onto Carina. Very very soon, I promise!



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