super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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13 ways I’ll try not to screw up 2013

new year's

It’s that time of the year again. Yes, that exciting time when you make a bunch of plans and compose a list of things you will achieve in the new year. All of a sudden, life seems all organised and put together and you feel like you have it all under control and exciting times lie ahead. Then comes the new year celebration and the resolutions get forgotten down that third bottle of cheap sparkling wine.

I’m exaggerating, as usual. I actually did pretty well in 2012 (*pat on the back*), all things considered. So there is hope for me. And if there is hope for me, you know what that means, right? There’s hope for anyone. Even you, Lohan.

Grab the cheap sparkling wine, call it champagne like I do – it’s time to write those resolutions down.

I’ve decided to keep it simple this year. It was the formula I used last year and it seemed to have worked. I’m not going for huge unattainable goals here. If I bag some of those, bonus. But that’s not what I’m going after. Resolutions are about motivation and there’s nothing good about setting myself up for failure with big scary goals. So here’s 13 things I want to focus on this year, in no particular order:

One Hike the Tongariro Crossing again. It is still my absolute favourite day hike in the country, in spite of the horrible second experience I had on that mountain. Time for a third go at it.

Two Run a marathon. This one is sort of cheating because it’s already lined up. But hey, it doesn’t count until I’ve crossed that damn finish line and, right now, that’s looking pretty unachievable.

Three Volunteer at a running event. It’s time to give back, even if giving back just means giving people plastic cups full of water as they run past.

Four Run an ultra-marathon. Let’s talk about this one later. It requires more than one bottle of cheap wine.

Five Enter all as many XTERRA trail running events as I can. And basically every other trail running event within an acceptable radius from home. Essentially, I want to run events at a faster rate than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends but I do realise that might be a bit hard to achieve.

Six Dust off the camping gear. I haven’t camped since the beginning of 2012. Enough of this roof over my head kind of stuff.

Seven Discover 5 new authors/ read 5 excellent books. It’ll take me a few average reads to get this number but I really want to get to the end of the year with some new favourite books. 2012 was not a bad one in that sense but there’s a lot more to discover out there. Got a favourite? Let me know!

Eight Do a 30-day photo project. It’s all about discipline, people. And I need lots of that.

Nine Go to the gym at least once a week. This year, I shamefully paid for at least 5 months worth of gym membership without showing my face there. Then I went back, tried weight training and kind of liked it. So more of that in 2013.

Ten Make at least 10 more Kiva loans.

Eleven Add more recipes to my recipe journal. I’ve been real lazy writing them down. My future offspring – if cats can be called offspring and ever develop the ability to read – needs to know how to make the perfect packaged meal or precisely how much cheese to add to <insert any food item in the universe>.

Twelve Buy my groceries online. I don’t know why I’ve been putting this off for so long. I like picking my own stuff from the shelves. But I also like staying home and not have idiotic children bump their trollies onto my legs. So I think that wins.

Thirteen Declutter (but for real, no mercy). About 5 years ago, I reduced my entire life to 2 suitcases and moved to New Zealand. Those 2 suitcases magically expanded into, well, a buttload of stuff. No human being needs the amount of crap I’ve accumulated over time. Time to scale down. You get to read all about it here, just to keep me motivated. I know, riveting stuff. Try to contain your enthusiasm, kids.

So there. I’m sure lots more will happen but these are just a few things that’ll keep me motivated once the January 1 hangover is gone and all the After Eight mints have been consumed.

2013 is going to kick ass.

What are your plans for 2013? Tell me all so I can either nag you about them throughout the year or feel less sorry for myself when I see you’re doing just as badly as yours as I’m doing at mine.


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[Travel Thursday] Ich Liebe Liechtenstein

 

Liechtenstein is one of those countries I had always wanted to visit. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s a tiny landlocked country I never thought I’d have a real reason to visit so it seemed kind of an unattainable goal (when your list of countries to visit in your lifetime includes all the countries in the world, you kind of have to prioritize). It was one of the pitstops of this year’s European road trip and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It’s tiny. Really tiny. No, tinier than that. 160 sq kilometers in total (62 sq miles). And it’s cute like all tiny things are. You know, the same way mini pies are yummier than bigger pies and puppies are cuter than big dogs.

Some facts about little Liechtenstein:

~ It is the only country to lie entirely within the Alps, stuck in between Austria and Switzerland.

~ It is not part of the European Union so even if, like me, you have a European passport, you’re still exiting the Union when you enter Liechtenstein. They’re nice and don’t make you show them your passport. If you want, just for the hell of it, you can pay them a couple of Euros to go to the Tourism Board and get a stamp on your passport. Being the cheesy tourist I am, I had to do it.

~ It is the sixth smallest independent nation in the world

~ It is only one of two double landlocked countries in the world (a landlocked country surrounded by other landlocked countries). The other country is Uzbekistan  This means no short beach trips for people from Liechtenstein. Bit of a bummer.

~ It has more registered companies than citizens. Tax haven, anyone?

~ It is one of the few countries in the world that has no army. In fact, the Liechtenstein National Police, the only force responsible for keeping order in the country, consists of only 125 employees (87 field officers and 38 civilian staff). Back in 2007, during a military exercise, Switzerland accidentally invaded Liechtenstein. The Swiss soldiers got lost at night and went 1.5k into Liechtenstein. Switzerland later apologised for the mistake.

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Click on the photos if you want to see them bigger!


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Christmas Day run

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Santa came a little early for me this year and instead of what I’d asked for, he brought me a cold. Jerk. Anyway, he redeemed himself on Christmas Day, the first day in a week when I woke up without a sore throat and a nose full of snot (descriptive enough for you?) so now we’re back on speaking terms. (Love you, Santa! xoxo)

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Since I had been laying low for a few days and was spending Christmas in one of the prettiest places in New Zealand, I thought a run would be the best way to work off the 439374 (approximate figure) Cadbury Favourites I’d eaten at about 2AM the night before (I take Christmas very seriously).

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I failed to pick an appropriate time for a run and ended up starting at lunchtime, sweating bucket loads (you got over the snot part, you can get over the sweat too) in the short 6k around Turangi, from near the town centre to just past this bridge over the Tongariro River and back.

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I managed to make some friends along the way like the stunning fellow you see above. Now, for some unknown reason, I’m nursing a sore knee so it looks like my only workout this Boxing Day will be unwrapping some more of these chocolates and getting up for second servings of Christmas desserts.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


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No such thing as a free (photo of your) lunch

If it hadn't been for Instagram, the world would never have found out what I had for dinner last Saturday. I'm so worried they're going to pass this image onto a pasta sauce company. Not.

If it hadn’t been for Instagram, the world would never have found out what I had for dinner last Saturday. I’m so worried they’re going to pass this image onto a pasta sauce company.

One of my favourite ways to break up a run is to take photos of what I see along the way. As of a few months ago, I started using Instagram as yet another way of sharing them (not the only way). As shown above, I’m also often guilty of the food picture internet sin. It makes me happy, whatever.

Yesterday, the internet got its virtual panties in a bunch over a change to Instagram’s Terms & Conditions (to come into effect in January). I have been trying to figure out what people’s problem with it is but I think I’m failing. From where I stand, it looks like people complaining about Instagram handing their photos over to third parties expect to use the Instagram service for free. Instagram T&Cs don’t actually say they are going to sell your photos anyway.

When exactly did Instagram become a charity? Instagram is a business (owned by Facebook but still a business), it employs people and it needs to somehow make some money so that those employees can afford luxuries such as food and other stuff. Why shouldn’t we pay to use it, whether through a joining fee, advertising or any other way? Because we don’t wanna? Sounds a little whiny.

The number of paid apps I have ever downloaded from the Android App store (it keeps changing names, I can’t keep up) amounts to around about zero. Instagram is just one of the many free apps crashing my phone on a regular basis. Since I’m not willing to pay for it but still want to use the filters and sharing capabilities, shouldn’t I be charged in some other way? Absolutely. What a self-entitled prick would I be otherwise.

Perhaps the solution would be to offer users a choice – a different set of T&Cs for those who agree to pay a fee to use the service. I know I would rather allow Instagram to hand my photos over to whoever wants them, especially because chances are no one wants dozens of photos of my cat anyway. And please, for the love of all #catsofinstagram, stop saying Instagram wants to hand over your photos “without your consent”. By using a website, you abide by that website’s set of terms and conditions (in case of supergenericgirl.com, there’s only one condition: no bad words about cats, brownie or Ryan Gosling). It’s not Instagram’s (or any website’s) fault that we’re lazy users who never bother to read those things.

One way or another, we should all pay for the services we get to use. Stop expecting free shit. If you want to #quitinstagram or #boycottinstagram or #whateverotherangryhashtag, go ahead. Plenty of other services out there you can use. But don’t be silly to think that there is such a thing as a free lunch. Or a free snapshot of your lunch.

Also, aren’t we all supposed to die on Friday anyway? Chill out, internet.


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Okura Bush, spring tides and morning crankiness

Okura Bush Walkway

After feeding you all that crap about becoming a morning person just days ago, I woke up on Sunday really angry at my alarm. The stupid thing was going off and it wasn’t even 7AM. And did I mention it was Sunday? I was exhausted and woke up with a sore throat and a headache. And it was Sunday. I may have mentioned that. I really wanted to sleep. Until midday. Possibly 4pm. Instead, I dragged myself out of bed, put the bread slice in the toaster, turned the coffee machine on and proceeded to hate life and everything it comprised.

S. was also already up and we were getting ready to finally head north and run the Okura Bush Walkway, a run we had been talking about doing for months. We were both cranky for most of the way there, questioning why we were even doing it, if it was putting us in such a bad mood.

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But then we got there and had these views and we weren’t so cranky anymore. Amazing what some nice scenery can do for you.

I had walked the 16k of the Okura Bush a couple of years ago but failed to remember that it included a stream crossing if you are running/walking the entire length of the walkway.

From Haighs Access Road, the Department of Conservation says walkers/runners have two options: 4.8k to Dacre Cottage (9.6k return) or 8k to Stillwater (16k return).

The spring tide this weekend meant that high tide was really high, and, being the organised little runners we are, we forgot to check the tides and managed to hit the stream just an hour before high tide. We crossed, with water already up to our knees, but after realising that we would not have time to run the 8k on the other side and loop back in time to avoid high tide, we decided to run back and make it a shorter run.

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On a scale of “really dense confusing bush with tracks going off in every direction” to “are you kidding me? Not even Vera could get lost here”, this track is definitely an easy one. It is, however, far from flat. Note the description on the DOC site includes words such as “20 minute hill climb”, “the track drops down”, “then climbs”, “dropping quite steeply”… I think you get the point. It’s hard work for someone who loves nice flat courses like Lindsay Lohan loves Jagermeister – which is why I was more than happy to turn around at the stream crossing and only make it an 8k run. It may have been a short distance but it was definitely a good workout and the amazing scenery made it worth bitching about life before 7AM, proof that there’s nothing a good run and some beautiful scenery can’t fix.

Next time, though, I’ll try to do the whole responsible trail runner thing and check for tides and stuff. If I remember correctly, there is a whole lot more prettiness on the other side of that stream.

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The big 2012 highlights post everyone is writing too

 

I logged onto Facebook* yesterday morning (I swear it’s not the first thing I do when I wake up… not always, anyway) and it presented me with the option of viewing the highlights of my year, according to Zuckerberg’s fancy algorithms. My first realisation was that the year is, indeed, almost over. The second realisation is that this year was actually a pretty good one. Facebook got some stuff right – my cat’s birthday really is that big a deal – but it failed to mention others. So screw you, Facebook, how about  I decide what the highlights of MY year are?

Well, it turns out that, without fancy algorithms (or proper short-term memory), coming out with a “year in review” post is quite a bit of work. But it’s also a good way to get me to reflect on everything that has happened so bear with me here.

I ended 2011 with an early night in a bungalow on an island without electricity in Vanuatu. By the time New Zealand started letting off fireworks, I was asleep. In fact, I soundly slept my way into 2012, having spent the last evening of 2011 on top of a volcano spitting lava everywhere. That new year’s eve experience is so hard impossible to top that I haven’t even made any plans for this coming December 31. What’s the point? Ryan Gosling could kiss me at midnight and it would still pale in comparison to last year’s experience (sorry Ryan, I still love you).

I went ahead and spent the first day of 2012 with a kastom tribe on the island, making January 1 2012 the best January 1 in the history of January 1. A couple of days later, I flew back to New Zealand and, just a few days after that, it was off to Las Vegas, a trip where I got to see the opposite world of what I’d seen in Vanuatu. Also, my first time flying business class long-haul (full sized bed and unlimited alcohol on the plane? Yes, please).

February was a quieter month and was also the month I ran my first half marathon of the year, the Cathay Pacific Half Marathon, in Auckland. It was a great summer day and I was happy to be ticking off 1/4 of my half marathon goals for the year (little did I know I’d go beyond that goal in the end). March seems to have been a little less eventful on the running front (and I can’t remember what I was doing instead) but, by the end of the month, S. had convinced me to sign up for a 35k trail run in May. Shit was about to get real.

April was all about freaking out about May. It started with a bittersweet PR at the Whenuapai Half Marathon before a first (and non-official) off-road half marathon. I squeezed in a work trip to San Diego (where I got to run in both Balboa Park and along the city’s stunning waterfront) before returning to New Zealand and getting into full on trail running training mode. It was also in April that we decided we needed bigger motivation for this run and so we started fundraising for KidsCan. The response from people we know was amazing and we even got $20 beyond our goal, in spite of starting fundraising so late.

May came and, with it, the final stretch of the big training plan. And then it came – May 26, the big day. The anniversary of my move to New Zealand and the day of the biggest physical challenge I’d had to date, a 35k trail run with a heart-attack inducing elevation chart. It was every bit as amazing as I had hoped it would be. After that, I didn’t think the year could get much better. But of course it did.

The next month, we flew to Wellington to run the Wellington Half Marathon. It was the first time we flew on purpose for a race. The weather wasn’t fantastic and my body wasn’t exactly up for a long run that day but it was still a great experience. In August, it was time to finally head back to the trails and get some mud on our shoes. And our shorts. And our shirts. And our underwear. And everywhere else. It was great.

The really amazing month, the one I wait for every year, was September (I mean, rocktember). I got to finally fly home and see my family and friends again and, this time, the long way around, with the final leg of the trip being done by car (after two flights), via 13 countries in 6 days, in an epic European road trip I won’t forget any time soon.

In Lisbon, I entered my first urban trail race (and a night one, to make it even cooler) and loved every second of it. A week later, I ran the hardest and simultaneously most amazing half marathon of my life, along the waterfront of the city I was born and grew up in, with my family cheering me on. The finish line took a while to get to but the reward was grandma’s tomatada so life was pretty much as perfect as it gets right there and then. Back on this side of the world, later that same month, it was time to finally run the Auckland Half Marathon and cross the bridge in a bright green tutu. People were extra cheery thus scientifically proving that costumes are definitely the way to go.

Then November came and I didn’t think I’d be running any more half marathons this year. Turns out, I was wrong (I was shocked too). The ADRA half marathon in Auckland was a last minute decision but resulted in a PR and one of the easiest and most enjoyable half marathons I’ve ever run. I know the year isn’t over yet but I think I can safely say that I closed my half marathons cycle for the year, with a total of six official road half marathons run this year, two over my initial goal of running one every season.

It was also in November that S. and I decided it was time to bite the bullet and commit to bigger challenges. And so we registered for our first full marathon. Come next March, we’ll be seen running/walking/dragging our asses along the course of the Mountain the Surf Marathon in New Plymouth. It sounds maddening to me still but, then again, so did that 35k in May.

December has been a quieter month, with lots of training runs but less long events. We had an amazing time running from one coast of Auckland to the other and I chased my Christmas spirit in the rain in a santa suit.

There were a bunch of other awesome things that happened this year and I’ll probably write about them as soon as I find the time/patience/inspiration to do so on here (must. record. everything) but this is the recap of the stuff I managed to keep writing about as the year went by. Winning lottery has, apparently, been put on hold once again (your move, 2013) but, all in all, I’m happier and healthier than I was last year. Wasn’t that the whole point to begin with anyway?

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*Speaking of Facebook, I decided it was time to stop annoying the hell out of my non-running friends with my running-related posts so created a page for the blog on there. It’s actually a secret plot to unleash my running geekery onto the world guilt-free, since I noticed I had to stop myself from sharing running-related links there (remember?) because, apparently, not everyone in the world is as interested in them as I am (whaaaat?). Check it out if you want, like if you like.

P.s.: For a really cool and almost tear-inducing video about this year, check out Google’s Zeitgeist 2012.

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