about fonts, packing and being young

I just spent an odd amount of time (2 hours) compiling a list of items that I’ll need to bring with me to Nepal. Granted, about 20 minutes of that was spent formatting a document that only I will ever read but what the heck, it makes me happy. I’m still looking for the perfect font to rule my world though.

2009 was Georgia.
2010 was Calibri.
Unfortunately, Helvetica never impacted me much. My apologies to all designers out there.

But back to packing. Rule that Curious Penguin gave me? Don’t bring anything that has less than 2 uses for it. That wasn’t a problem. What bugged me the most was what do I wear?

Thankfully, I tried on some of the outfits and I must say, I look good. Well, as good as a hippo wearing baggy pants can look.

In choosing clothes and shoes, I realized that there’s this odd thing about Gore-tex. It’s the magical word that makes all things good.

‘Check out my new shoes!’ I say.

‘Are they Gore-tex?’ The designer asks.

‘I managed to get some tees! And a jacket!’ I exclaim.

‘Are they Gore-tex?’ Someone else questions.

After a while, I find myself defending dear old cotton… which many deem is evil. That rules out most of my wardrobe.

Then there’s the subtle thing about brands. Heading out to buy a new pair of shades for the hike, I actually grew tired of donning so many. Oakleys just didn’t fit my face. Neither did Bolle, Ray-Bans and even Adidas. I ended up with a pair from Nike because it rested well on my face.

‘Nike?’ Scooter Girl wrinkled her nose in disgust.

‘Nike?!’ DigiBoy looked at me in horror.

Yes dear friends. Nike.

Hopefully, my Marmot backpack and jacket will redeem me from the wrath my Nike shades bring.

*


My mood also has been weird, fluctuating between happy, irritable and dead tired. Explains why I have been crashing into bed and now, I finally get it, the sharp thinker I am.

I need sleep.

Without proper rest, I don’t function as well as I want to. What happened to the young girl who used to party till the wee hours of morning, only to get up and head to school the next day with no side-effects whatsoever? Damn.

I’m still young. At least, I think so. Although sometimes… my body disagrees. Especially after a tough workout session with Flex, it groans like an old lady.

An old lady who tries to squeeze into pants one size too small.

*

‘Why are you suddenly doing all this?’ Miss Adventure asked me.

‘I don’t know… I guess I just want to do something new and different this year,’ I replied. ‘I want to know I can do this.’

‘I’m proud of you,’ she smiled in reply. ‘Next time, head to Sikkit, and the Everest Base Camp. It’s gorgeous!’

‘I will. I don’t think this will be the last of my trips…’ I answered.

And I truly believe that.

Heading out to Nepal is just the start of a brand new approach to life.

One I’m doing with a big smile on my face.

getting ready for Nepal

Status: Officially freaking out

It’s less than eight days before I leave for Nepal and I’m not packed, immunized nor ready. In sheer terror, I pulled out an old email from Spike, which he’d kindly sent to me because he felt that I needed ‘help’.

Things to pack (a list courtesy of Spike, who’s leaving for Nepal ahead of me):

01. Duffel bag (with lockable zips) – borrowed
02. Backpack – to borrow from Cutesy?
03. Daypack – I’m confused. What’s the difference between that and a backpack?
04. Rain covers for backpack and daypack – black garbage bags work, no?
05. Sleeping bag – to buy in Nepal
06. Sleeping bag liner – to buy in Nepal
07. Trekking poles – they cost so much! *argh* I wonder if wooden branches work well?
08. Hiking boots – just got them from North Face
09. Sock liners – do I really need them? Maybe I’ll buy a pair. Just in case.
10. Woolen socks (3 pairs) – more money *sob*
11. Normal shoes – wait. Aren’t trekking shoes ‘normal shoes’?
12. Slippers/scandals – Spike’s typo. I have both. *mad laugh*
13. Glove liner – huh?
14. Glove (breathable) – again, I’ll need to buy a pair. My suede ones are too pretty.
15. Undergarments (quick dry) – umm…
16. Thermals (2 sets) – finally! Something I already have!
17. Trekking trousers – to borrow from Cutesy. Darn it. I think she’s a size smaller than me.
18. Rain trousers – wait, wait, wait! If it rains… do I change mid-way up the mountain?
19. Shorts – got it!
20. Fleece pants – can thermals work underneath normal trekking pants?
21. Fleece jacket – to buy in Nepal
22. Wind/Rain jacket – I’ll carry an umbrella. Or wear garbage bags. I’m serious.
23. Beanie – need to find the one I wore when I traveled to Israel…
24. Wide brim hat – ooh nice. Finally. A possible fashion statement.
25. Scarf – I got plenty!
26. Sunglasses – *sob* Another purchase to make. I don’t usually wear wraparounds.
27. Pocket knife – beg, borrow or steal
28. Torch light – to buy tomorrow, maybe
29. Head torch – funny as it may seem, these come in handy for midnight toilet trips.
30. Batteries – for torchlight, camera, and whatever else electrical I’m bringing
31. Towel (quick dry) – to buy tomorrow, maybe
32. Toilet paper/Wet wipes – I’ll carry loads. I’m considering less bathing, more wiping…
33. Talcum powder/prickly heat – I’ll get them tomorrow! To the pharmacy!
34. Hand sanitizers (some swear by this to avoid diahoerra) – got bottles at home. *whee*
35. No rinse (body wash and shampoo) – dry shampoo I have. But body wash? Isn’t that what talcum powder is for?
36. Moisturizer – got loads! Rosken. Amazing stuff.
37. Toothbrush/Toothpaste – finally, we’re coming to the part of the list that I am prepared for.
38. Lip balm – Elizabeth Arden 8-hour lip balm. One of the best!
39. Sunscreen – got it!
40. Insect repellent – will it work? Or are the insects there somehow, immune to the repellent?
41. Lighter – friend should have these. She smokes.
42. Mirror – who’s gonna see me? I’m lying. I know I’ll still be vain up there…
43. Water purification tablets – alright, the list is changing. Now it’s stuff I need to get tomorrow.
44. Diahoerra pills – Spike has very interesting spelling…
45. Hydration salts – to the pharmacy I go!
46. Vitamin pills – always packed, always ready.
47. Panadol – ditto
48. Blister kit – what is a blister kit? Plaster?
49. Nail clipper – doesn’t higher altitude stump nail growth or something?
50. Tweezer – eyebrows? Splinters?
51. Ear plugs – what for?! In case my friend snores?
52. Travel adaptor and device chargers – definite must. Although electricity up there is supposedly intermittent and scarce. Maybe I should pack a solar power system.

Somehow, I’ll manage to pack everything into my bag, including snacks for the needed burst of energy, and carry it all up the side of Annapurna. Right. I’m so freaking out right now.

*

On a happier note, I met Flex today for another session at the gym and nearly cried each time he told me to do another set of exercises for my legs and butt.

‘Are… you… mad?!’ I managed to pant out, as he took a heavier set of weights for me to lunge with.

‘Yes! You can do it!’ He very cheerfully bellowed in the near-empty gym.

‘Dammit Flex, the exercises are tough!’ I bellowed back. Just for fun.

‘No, it’s not tough. You’re tough! You can do it,’ He chided me.

‘What was that?’ I looked at him in horror. ‘You get those lines out of a PT manual?’

He laughed and handed me the weights, nearly causing me to keel over.

‘Tell me I’m improving,’ I begged as I hoisted the barbells above my shoulders.

‘Yes, you are. You know… you’re actually quite strong,’ he said, ‘as if you’ve done all this before.’

A little encouragement. That was all I needed. And I finished my set without further cussing. And like a good girl, came home with very sore and aching muscles.

*

So. I still have to manage a re-write of the article I handed in last week. Then there’s shopping and a little detour to the travel clinic for my necessary jabs. There are also some urgent house matters to finish and more work for upcoming events. Then… I’m off.

I may need a holiday after this holiday, to recuperate.

‘Do you feel guilty that you’re going off amidst all this?’ The Mother asked me a few minutes ago.

‘Well, yeah,’ I admitted to her. It is hard to up and leave when I know people are depending on me for work and family matters.

‘Don’t feel that way,’ she said. ‘It’s been more than 11 years since you took such a break and coming from me, I’m happy you’re doing this for yourself.’

‘Really? You’re actually happy I’m going off for no real reason? I mean… there’s no necessity in this trip,’ I was a little surprised.

‘Yes, I think it’s time you took a break and lived a little,’ she smiled as she hugged me tight.

‘Thanks… I needed to hear that,’ I said.

So Nepal, are you ready for me?

a wedgie of a problem

No! No! No! No! No!

I just came back from a run and although my knees didn’t feel awful while I was out on the track, they ached when I climbed the stairs up to my apartment. To be honest, they ache all the time, especially when I wear heels. And I wear wedges and platforms a lot (they are my magic ‘fat-day’ solution). Thinking that I’d better do a little research on the types of exercises I need to strengthen them, I found out something I wish I hadn’t.

Now we all know heels are bad. Whatever. The results (I tell myself everyday I come home with sore feet) are worth tottering around on my 4-inch wedges. But in a study performed in 2001, both American and UK scientists found that compared to thin heels (killer stilettos), thicker heels actually put more stress on the knees as it adds way more pressure on your quadriceps – 30% more than walking barefoot – which in turn, deteriorates the health of your knees.

Their advice?

Wear trainers, walk to work and lose weight.

What the… ?!

No. I cannot accept that. I am going to work on strengthening my knees with exercises that sound very futuristic instead.

Every morning now, I shall devote at least 15 minutes to 3-D Matrix Hops, 3-D Matrix Lunges, Single-leg Balance Squats, Mirror Matrix and Two-legged Jumping. I will put my row of wedges in a line and stare at them (in case I lose the will to do the work) and do this for my shoes.

Oh yes, and for my knees too.

*sob*

This cannot be happening…

Just in case though, I have planned a week’s worth of outfits that match flats instead. I guess a part of me does recognize that when I wear the heels, my knees do ache that little bit more. I was just hoping it was my imagination.

(See the original BBC report here)

*

When I began overhauling the state of my health life, I never expected that it’d extend into my wardrobe. You see, like any other girl, I love my clothes and shoes. I have carefully collected a very wide selection of garments that span almost 15 years of devotion to personal style.

My wardrobe now takes up an entire room and to be honest, there’s not enough space there. My clothes have somehow creeped into other parts of the house and there are pieces of random jackets, tops, dresses and bags hanging everywhere. This has been made worse by the recent renovation works I had to accommodate in the bedroom/closet.

When I began running, I realized with a little sadness that I stopped styling myself every morning. There were days when I was contented to leave the house in a simple top, cardigan and jeans, sans my arm-filled bangles and various accessories. These things became less important as I focused more on preparing a healthy breakfast before I left the house.

I used to rush out in a hurry after spending almost an hour dolling myself up. Now, I spend about 20 minutes extra in bed, 20 minutes on myself and 20 minutes on breakfast. I have become (horrors!) a little slack in my personal style.

Now to lose my shoes too?

I guess I just have to ask myself… what’s important to me now?

*

My first thought as we confirmed our trip to Nepal (we’re doing the Annapurna circuit) was ‘how am I going to style my hair every morning? Can I bring my flat iron? Do they even have electricity in the cabins?’

Don’t mock me now.

I want to ride…

I didn’t die.

That was a good thing.

But I watched others do it while I cycled.

I am on a new diet and exercise regime as I have a new goal. I am going to climb a mountain.

Last year, I planned on doing the touristy Mt. Kinabalu but a work event came up at the last minute and I didn’t manage to get away with the rest of the gang. I wuz robbed. This year though, I want to fly to Nepal. The exact itinerary hasn’t been firmed but I prepped the boss beforehand and it looks good so far.

As part of the new physical training, I was supposed to run today but the heat wave was terrible. I know myself well enough – I don’t have the mental strength to run when it’s terribly hot, and watching the elderly pass me by while I huff and puff away isn’t the best form of encouragement. So I opted for an easier way out… I stayed in my air-conditioned room, wore my trainers, laid my laptop in front of me (with CSI playing – which explains the bit about watching the dying) and cycled on my stationary bike in solitary bliss.

Before the experts around me start mocking (thinking of Smiley & JP right now), I stayed at a safe 70% of my maximum heart rate and cycled for a full 45 minutes. I am proud of me! But I know I did it easy today.

Tomorrow – a little weight training! I so do love the sore feeling I get after a good workout. It’s the only indicator that I did anything at all…

And then in October, I’ll conquer the mountains. Well, to the base camp at least.

*

‘Are you a creature of habit?’ a friend asked.

I honestly did not know how to answer that question. I like being impulsive with life. I enjoy rolling with the waves and perhaps, I am a sucker for the thrill of the unexpected. That said… I love (and cannot live without) my daily 2 hours of writing and ‘me’ time with the computer. I also dislike having my personal plans derailed by surprises. Which is odd, considering I just said I like being impulsive.

There are a couple of things I want to do before I die:

1. Do a bunjee jump

2. Go white-water rafting

3. Stand right at the top of a mountain and sing loudly

4. Start a cafe

5. Release a children’s book

6. Take the maddest, craziest roller-coaster ride till I nearly throw up

7. Hug a tiger

8. Sit in a tree

9. Stand in the middle of traffic and just watch the cars whizz by

10. Life life… completely unafraid

So… does planning these things count as being a non-creature of habit? And is it mad that I’m wondering if I can bring my laptop and blackberry to Nepal?

*chuckle*

*

‘Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.

Life is just like an old time rail journey … delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.’

– Jenkin Lloyd Jones

What a ride 2010 has been. It’s been a good mixture of the droning and the craze-ing.

At the start of the year, I asked for adventure.

And seeing how the past 5 months has been (my god… has already been that long?!), I just know that there’s more to come.

Hang on tight.

While I ride my stationary bike.