Blog Of Writing +1 · Moments In History

The One Ring (AKA The Engagement)

Oh?

Hmm, yes, it seems as though it’s that time again. Another fun blog post!

In case you hadn’t seen the previous post, catch up here, otherwise… read on!

Where was I…? Right! I finally had the ring and had to keep it secret, keep it safe. Well, for at least six days. What could possibly go wrong?

After showing everyone at work the fruits of my labour in helping to choose the design and explaining the meaning behind every choice, I felt ready. The holidays were fast approaching and Katie still appeared to have no idea. Only one big problem.

I was soooo tired.

This was an issue because for anyone who knows me they know I have a fake accent which is mostly an unconscious effort to not sound like “a complete hoser eh” and when I become tired it lets loose. That’s because my brain falls back to what comes naturally. In this regard, after every shift, I come home and fill Katie in with all of the goings on of my day. When I was that tired, I managed to catch myself on no less than three occasions ready to tell her some part of my day involving the ring. “Everyone wanted to see the ring.” “So and so asked about the wedding band.” “The ring arrived today.” Luckily, the part of my brain that was trying to keep this a surprise would catch me just as I was leading into the phrase and I would literally stop speaking. Katie would look at me and ask if I was okay, to which I simply replied, “I’m just tired.” Never a lie really.

After that we were roughly two days out when Katie’s lovely Nana, Joan, fell ill and she looked to me for advice. “TJ, we might have to cancel the trip.” She said, much to my inner dismay. I managed to keep cool, calm and collected, considering all the scenarios at hand. “Well babe, what do you want to do?” I swallowed my plans and my feelings, not wanting to be selfish and waited for her answer. “I don’t know…” She was definitely conflicted, but I couldn’t weigh the scales in my favour. If she knew or had an idea of what I had planned, she’d probably be all for New Zealand. “Well, this is a decision you’ll have to make. She’s your Nana, just be sure no matter what happens that you’re fine with your choice.”

The next day she spoke with her Mum, who told her she was in the hospital but in very good hands. Then she decided we should go. “She’s bounced back so many times before, I’d hate to cancel the trip and lose so much money if she did.” I breathed a sigh of relief, but only for a moment. “But what on the off chance that she doesn’t? Are you prepared for that option as well?” She nodded with a smile. “We did see her just the other day, so it wouldn’t be as bad as it could be.” “So long as you’re sure.”

After that scare, I was happy we were going but worried about Joan. I knew Katie would love the engagement but was worried that she would regret her choice if something bad happened. Pushing it out of my mind, I focused back on ensuring I had everything packed and ready to go for the trip. Nothing worse than trying to propose with the promise of a ring I forgot in Australia.

After a short forever, the trip was here and we made it to the airport without a hitch. The ring was stowed safely away in my carry-on luggage and I clutched onto it as we made our way through security. Luckily we were meeting a friend at the airport which distracted Katie from my bags as they went through the x-ray machine.

The plane ride to New Zealand felt shorter than expected (I slept) and finally we were at the start of our Middle-Earth pilgrimage! My bag never left my sight, even through security and when I went to the washroom. Upon collecting our bags and making it through the baggage scan, two security officers walked up to us, happy as could be.

“Can you come with us, you’ve been selected for a random bag check!”

I think we were chosen because I was probably being protective of my bag and Katie was too busy staring at the airport sniffer dogs who were, and I quote, “too cute”. So I feel as though random wasn’t quite the word for it. I thought for sure the person checking the bags would simply pull the ring box out (as it was made of wood and ask what it was and ruin everything. Luckily for us, the guy checking the bags was somehow (in New Zealand) a French-Canadian so we all had a lovely chat. Katie was distracted with the conversation so that when he was checking my bag we made eye contact as he pulled out the clothes on top of the ring and I glanced at him, then to the bag, then to Katie and then back to the bag and back to him with a simple head shake. I saw him pull the ring box roughly halfway up, flick it open quickly and then close it and put it all back the way it came. He wished us well on our travels and winked at me as we walked away. Needless to say, I thought the surprise was done. Another sigh of relief.

The first night of the trip was in Auckland (or New Zealand Sydney as I call it) and I’m glad we didn’t spend too much time there. Although Katie tried to give me another heart attack when she decided she’d shower first so she could straighten her hair. I thought to myself, who brings a straightener on a trip and why for tomorrow in particular?! Immediately my stomach dropped and I felt like she knew. The exchange went a little like this:

“Why do you want to straighten your hair?”

“I want to look good for the photos.”

“What photos?!”

“The ones at Hobbiton.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to look good?”

Convinced the gig was up, I gave in and let her go shower and straighten her hair. She knows… she definitely knows. I thought to myself as she showers. Why else would she want to wear her hair down on a hot day while we are travelling? She came out looking lovely, and I went for my turn to wash away the thoughts.

The next day was on the road to Matamata and Hobbiton! It was an early drive amid lots of traffic, but the cars were lined up way worse heading into the city. Felt like we drove by cars for thirty minutes or more before eventually breaking out and into the rolling hills of the North Island.

Arriving in Matamata we swung by our first taste of Lord of the Rings country when we found a green sign saying welcome to Hobbiton. The town information building was designed to have the signature round entryways and looked like it would have fit into a scene from the movies. From there we went to actual Hobbiton where a bus has to take you out to the actual location where they did the filming and you take a walking tour from there. Our tour guide was quite the legend (as you’ll soon hear) and we were beyond excited to start our journey!

Hobbiton itself is straight out of the movies. Sam (the true hero) had his house still there, among many other relics from the movies such as little props and clothing here and there. Eventually, we made our way to the house on the top of the hill, Bag End which apparently no one is allowed to go up to as it is still owned by the movie company itself. We were at the very front of the group (being as keen as we are) and Katie was starting to pull ahead. “Come on! Let’s get a photo before everyone else comes!” While she waited patiently for the previous group to finish up (her eyes locked ahead) I managed to get into my bag and retrieve the ring and box and shoved it into my back pocket. I could feel my palms getting sweaty, but not from nerves, more so the idea of dropping the ring down the drop in front of Bag End.

“Come on! Let’s get a photo before everyone else comes!”

While she waited patiently for the previous group to finish up (her eyes locked ahead) I managed to get into my bag and retrieve the ring and box and shoved it into my back pocket. I could feel my palms getting sweaty, but not from nerves, more so the idea of dropping the ring down the drop in front of Bag End. Her patience was wearing thin and she was beckoning me to come over to her. She offered her phone up to a lovely older Asian lady (or Indian lady if you believe Katie’s version of events, hotly contested to this day and most likely to our graves) so that she could take a photo or two. The ring wasn’t coming out of my pocket and Katie kept going, “TJ, come on, hurry up!”

Finally, my jeans let the box go. I clutched onto it for dear life and stepped forward a few steps. The Asian (Indian) Lady was poised. Katie was beckoning. My heart was pounding. Now or never, I suppose.

I got down on one knee with a smile. A whole year of planning, finally coming to fruition.

“TJ, what are you doing? She’s going to take our picture!” Katie scolded me.

I had to laugh, half nerves and half the absurdity of her ignorance, and smiled. I produced the box before her and she quickly became very aware of what was happening as she stabilised herself on Bilbo’s mailbox. “Will you go on this next adventure with me?” I asked nervously, very aware of the tour group before and after us. I opened the ring box and the answer was quick and everything became a blur. We were hugging, people were cheering, congratulations were coming from every direction. I slid the ring on her finger and she marvelled at it. I explained quickly that the ring was actually from the same people who designed the One Ring for the movies, so it only seemed fitting that she should receive her own “One Ring” at the same place as Frodo, and then I explained about the Canadian diamond.

With the burden finally passing from my hands to hers, I felt relief. I was never worried about the yes, I knew that. But two other things happened at the same time. The Asian (Indian) Lady handed over the phone with roughly four dozen photos of the engagement (what luck!) and then our tour guide asked us to stick around as everyone else passed by. Once they’d all left he grinned. “No one has ever gotten engaged on my tour!” He laughed and looked around quickly. “Would you like to go up to Bag End?” Both of us leapt at the chance. “That’d be awesome!”

He let us go up, he took some photos and we peeked in and then came back down really quickly since we didn’t want him to get in trouble. Next thing we knew, he was at our side with two of the fake leaves from the tree atop Bag End. “These things fall all the time but it’s a nice free souvenir for you to take from here.” We thanked him so much and went onward to the Green Dragon Inn where we shared a pie, tried the stout (hints of coffee and chocolate) and the cider (alcoholic apple juice, so delicious) and it all began to sink in.

“So how long have you been planning this?” She asked.

“Roughly a year.”

“But you can’t keep a secret!”

“I know. Not too shabby huh?”

Then I told her of all of the deceptions and fibs she’d been told over the months. Stories came forth of how I tried to measure her finger, then had to rely on her friend Emma to get the size. “So she’s not getting an infinity ring?” I laughed. “No, she’s not getting one at all.” (This she didn’t believe until we met up with them today and they laughed at her with a resounding no) Katie looked at me. “How many people knew?” As I told her the list she was blown away. “Mum and Ray don’t know though?”

I shook my head. “I wanted to tell your Mum, but I was worried about her giving it away… and then I was going to tell Ray, but then your Mum would be mad that he knew before her… so for the sake of the surprise no… are you mad?” Katie laughed. “Nope, that makes sense. She’s hopeless at keeping secrets.”

The rest of our pilgrimage into Middle Earth was fantastic, but not without some ups and downs. A few days after our engagement, Katie’s Nana passed away. Then we had an incredible time in Wellington! But then we found out her Grandad’s partner of a few years passed away. Then we took the ferry across to Picton, drove to Nelson and met the owner of the business where the engagement ring was made! Then I found out a family friend passed away at a young age. Then we found out the first-floor frame of our house was up! Then I found out my grandmother was going into surgery. Then we had an incredible time in Queenstown! Then it was time to come home.

It still doesn’t feel too real sometimes, a bit of a blur, but every once in awhile I can see Katie from the corner of my eye, staring at her ring and I know that it all was worth it!

 

Blog Of Writing +1

The One Year Plan (AKA The Making of The Ring)

April, what an absolutely crazy month… and it’s not even over yet!

For the next stuff to make sense, I will take you back roughly a year when I began a crazy plan to propose to my lovely girlfriend. You see, her and I have been travelling quite a bit since I moved to Australia in 2011. We’ve seen a ton of major tourist areas in Europe, and also visited the UK, Japan, and even back to Canada. One thing marred all these trips; They were all the perfect opportunity for me to propose. After our trip to Japan in 2014, I said I really didn’t want to hear about it anymore. It was becoming negative in my mind as every trip was a disappointment at the end when no proposal had taken place.

That being said, it was always in my mind but it was that disappointment, expectation and negativity at the end of every trip really made me not want to think about it. Then, fast forward a few years. My girlfriend hadn’t spoken of a ring or wedding or anything for two years. Then came a new problem, because she hadn’t spoken of it in two years I was in the dark. What the hell did she like? What diamond size? What price? What type of gold? Did she even want gold?

I started to sweat bullets. What if now that I was ready, I screwed it up?

Anyway, this time last year I began planning. For someone such as myself who gets excited and wants to tell my partner everything, this would be quite the challenge. Also, if she was expecting it on every trip… how would I surprise her if I began whisking her away for a surprise weekend? She’d be onto me for sure! So I skipped past some dates we could have gone and started looking into the April school holidays. Although I was pretty lucky we had the house building to keep us distracted and provide a fantastic reason not to travel, otherwise, she probably would have booked one of twenty or so deals along the way.

For Christmas, I planned a lovely surprise. We agreed it would be a light Christmas (hahaha) so I stuck to the budget and bought some travel related goodies and hid hints all around the living room and started her off with a card attached to a present she couldn’t open until the final hint told her she could. As each hint lead to the next, some special helpers (Lord of the Rings Pop Vinyls: Sauron, Gandalf and Smaug) hid secret presents in their areas that also could only be opened in sequence before opening the final gift. After collecting all hints and final gifts, she unwrapped them to find out we were going on one final adventure before building the house: A Pilgrimage to Middle-Earth (AKA, New Zealand)!

So that was Christmas 2016, and everything had gone according to plan. She was now distracted with planning where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. I’d already chosen where I’d propose (Bag End, in Hobbiton) and it was a no-brainer that she’d choose to go there too. You see, Katie and I are huge Lord of the Rings nerds. We watch the extended edition trilogy every year on our anniversary in a single day. It is both madness and determination that get us through the day, but the movies are just too good!

Now that the trip was planned I had to work on the ring. So if you’re a funny Canadian Hobbit, where would you get your ring from? I did my research and the jeweller who designed The One Ring for the Lord of the Rings movies (Jens Hansen) also designed engagement rings and wedding bands among a plethora of other things. I began what would eventually become a 50 or so odd email chain going back and forth with questions, crazy demands and changes.

I realised that my girlfriend only wore one ring and that she never took it off. How the heck would I get the size of her finger with nothing to go off? My initial plan was decent but flawed. I was making a pizza dough for dinner and asked her to knead it for me while I did something else. Without taking her ring off she reached for it and I snatched it back. “Nevermind…” I said, disgusted by the fact she would have rubbed her dirty ring through our dinner.  Then I had the brilliant idea to measure her finger in her sleep.

Then I had the brilliant idea to measure her finger in her sleep. First I used a string, which tickled her hand and annoyed her in her sleep. So that wouldn’t work. I next printed off a small piece of paper with a slit in it to measure the size. For awhile whenever I tried, she was sleeping on her hands. Eventually, this fell to the same fate as the string and she ended up ripping through it in her sleep. Two strikes… couldn’t afford a third!

Then I asked one of her good friends to help me out. If she ever wanted us to get married, I’d need the size of my girlfriend’s finger and I didn’t care how she did it. We discussed sedatives (apparently it’s still illegal to drug a person, even if it is for their benefit) but then she came up with a plan. Sometime later, the two went out looking at rings for her and managed to convince my girlfriend to try on some rings and get her finger sized too. Win!

Suddenly, March was ending and I realised that holy crap, I’d be heading off on my trip in a few weeks and I still hadn’t fully confirmed the design. So we knuckled down and I made some good decisions and got a final quote. The ring I’d chosen was a similar design to the only other ring she had that was designed by her and her Mum. I went two-tone and asked for a Canadian diamond for the simple reason that she loves Canada even more than I do… so now she would have a tiny piece of it with her wherever she went and set into a ring made by the people who designed the ring for her favourite movie.

Checkmate!

Or so I thought.

Roughly two weeks out or more from the trip, we are sitting at breakfast and my lovely girlfriend begins telling me she doesn’t want her birthday to roll around and still not be engaged. Of course, I knew it was going to happen but had to borderline upset her by giving her the ole “It will happen when it happens” and “don’t rush me” speeches. With a heavy sigh, she then told me a new budget for the ring because we are building a house. I nearly spat out my juice as the quote I had was definitely above what she was asking. I smiled politely and then first chance I got, emailed the ring maker to ensure we could get the price somewhere between the quote and what my girlfriend had told me.

The folks over at Jens Hansen mostly laughed at me and my new predicament. They said they would have to redesign the ring but it wouldn’t be too much of a difference. I told them that was fine but I would pay for it all so they could lock in the diamond and get it sorted and sent ASAP! They were prompt in getting back to me and sent me the bill, which I promptly paid but the diamond they quoted me for was sold by the supplier! Luckily for me, the jeweller selected a higher standard diamond and absorbed the cost just to get it started!

As the final week approached, I began to worry. If it was sent to me in Australia, I wouldn’t have to worry about New Zealand sales tax. But, if they sent it, there was always the possibility it could get delayed, lost or a billion other things. Anyway, I took that chance as I asked for the quote without sales tax to get a better ring overall. They finished the ring and sent it out on the Thursday with express shipping through Fed-Ex. The weekend would be tense without it, but at least it was on its way.

Friday came and went, the ring being en route and then I watched as it actually progressed through the weekend as well. When it came to Monday, it appeared to be on the truck for delivery. All I could think about all day was the fact that the ring wasn’t there yet and kept hassling the storeroom for updates. As closing time came closer, I ran out the back and hassled them yet again, to which they replied it probably would come Tuesday. Disappointed, I began to make my way back to the floor where I was greeted by an employee with a large grin on his face.

“Give it to me!” I told him, to which he obliged. His initial thought was to hide it or not tell me for awhile until one employee asked him if he really wanted to risk being the one to lose the ring. With that in mind, he brought it immediately to me. Now with the ring sitting in the safe and the trip only six days away, I just had to bide my time and not let the cat out of the bag.

Next up, would be the engagement, which I’ll separate into another post as this one is already a bit long! It’ll be up shortly, I promise!

Blog Of Writing +1

Happy Blogiversary To Me

Six years ago feels like an eternity into my past.

2011.

What a wild ride.

I was a Canadian who had just moved to Australia, slowly going stir crazy and watching what little savings I had evaporate before my very eyes. I was struggling to find purpose, let alone a job, and for some crazy reason, I decided to fire up my extremely terrible laptop and write. I pulled up the second-hand coffee table, to the second-hand lounge and typed up my first post on my three hundred dollar laptop.

2017.

I could tell you not much has changed, but that would be an absolute lie.

  • I not only landed a job at Kmart, but then got promoted.
  • I switched jobs to JB HI FI, and then got promoted there.
  • I wrote the first (extremely rough) draft of a one hundred thousand word novel.
  • We moved from renting, to owning and this year we begin building our home.
  • I wrote two hundred and fifty eight posts (not including this one) for the blog.
  • Pop vinyl collecting went from casual collecting to hoarder. Alas, I am not ashamed.
  • I began a second blog about building a home.
  • We got two dogs, a miniature dachshund, and cavalier king charles spaniel.
  • I’ve been to (in no particular order) Japan, Italy, Croatia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Insanity.

So much more to come with the actual building of the house this year, a final trip to New Zealand before we’re broke homeowners and that’s just the stuff I know about!

Where does that leave my writing?

Left for dead sadly. This year has not been a productive year for my novel. Each time I go back to look at it, I change it. I understand this is a good thing, however, it is also disheartening.

I mean honestly, when is it done? When will it be good enough to publish? I’ve paid for worse books, but does that justify my own novel not being at the level of the writers I adore? It’s really hard when the path ahead is so vague. I’ve watched a dozen Ted Talks and read a few books on writing a novel, but I suppose deep down I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to this point.

So in closing, after all four hundred words here, I have a question.

Does anyone have any good recommendations on editing your novel? Youtube Video, Ted Talk, book, ritual, sacrifice or even a new god to worship… I’ll take any and all suggestions!

Also, sorry for being super slack on the blog, as you can see above it’s been a hell of a time!

Blog Of Writing +1 · NaNoWriMo 2016

NaNoWriMo Day 12 – Struggles

I haven’t failed yet, but I am failing.

This isn’t a cry for help, nor is this me giving up.

This is me, admitting that I am behind (after being ahead).

 

This week has been particularly taxing and how easy others forget that what is important in their lives, may not be as important in another’s. In past posts I’ve discussed my job as a manager in retail and how often that can get in the way of my writing. Well, this week has been exactly that, but I’ll admit that I let it get between me and writing.

They say the first step to solving a problem, is admitting you have one, right?

My boss is away this week which means I get the fantastic task of stepping into her role which is the role I ultimately want as a store manager. However, this challenge also means I get to do my job as well as her workload. Ultimately, this works out to roughly a 90/10% split. I managed to run around, fix some things, chase up some stuff and keep things running relatively smoothly for operations and staffing without going too far into details. For my job, I managed to coach a few people and fix one of the tools that will save me a load of time going forward while I was on hold sorting out a customer issue.

How did all that work affect my writing? Well, not directly. But trying to do both jobs has been mentally draining as well as physically (I hit 10000 steps generally by midday). So all this week I’ve been coming home, walking dogs and trying to still do my stuff. This leaves me napping during the evening or too tired to write anything worth it. Even today was a full day (a great one though) but mentally I wasn’t 100%. Mix that with the heat and I find myself struggling to create decent scenes, or even write a sentence I don’t hate.

Tonight I wrote 470 words, after a few days on 0. So now my total is 17502 and I’m 2500 words behind. One strong day and I can come back, so long as the days coming up are at least 1700. That being said, I will have to be mentally prepared. I’ll keep you all posted, but how are you folks going?

Hopefully, you’re going better than I am!

 

Blog Of Writing +1

NaNoWriMo – Le Huitième Jour (AKA Day 8)

Wow, a day off but most of my writing still happening after 9 pm. Managed to surge past 15000 words to 16156 and if I wasn’t working tomorrow, I’d try and push for more.

The current chapter is about the protagonist trying to understand the character in his dreams and figure out if he is a figment of his imagination. I am excited to show some twists down the track as to why he doesn’t know of this person through the first two novels in my other trilogy while also there will be hints as to how important this character is way down the line. Four novels in the series and all very intertwined.

Sometimes I love time travel!

This week I have to try and get pretty far ahead as I have a family get together on the weekend and I’m not sure how long I’ll be out. Either way, a writer can’t go wrong with a buffer! As of right now, I’m nearly two days ahead of schedule wordwise so hopefully that continues on!

The one thing I have to say I love about NaNoWriMo are the posts and the open discussion about writing that happens. This is actually better than the local writer’s festival which seems more like a hipster gathering rather than celebrating writers or helping them out. This frustrates me as there aren’t many things I could either attend (due to their time and my work schedule) or they just aren’t for me.

That being said, at the moment NaNoWriMo is my home and I can’t wait to get to that 50000 mark! Hopefully by friday I’ll be well and truly past 20000, and then I can smash the 50% mark!

Fun fact, during NaNoWriMo’s I’ve written 180000 words! Not too shabby! Maybe soon they should have a NaEdWriMo (National Editing Novels Month). I could use one! Hope everyone is killing it out there!

Blog Of Writing +1 · NaNoWriMo 2016

NaNoWriMo Day 6 – The Catch Up

First thing’s first- the totals!

Today – 2371, Total 13618!

Very happy with the resulting word count for sure! My target for today was to make up the 670 words I was too tired to write yesterday. Honestly, I should have started earlier today and I would have absolutely blown away the word count but I’m actually walking away from the keyboard wanting more. That’s right, I could keep writing!

That’s right, I could keep writing and I’m walking away!

You probably all think I’m crazy. But there are a few reasons!

Number one: Actual paycheck work, I need to be coherent for that at 7AM, which means feeding the dogs at 6AM so I can make it work on time.

Number two: I don’t want to be as tired as I was yesterday. After rereading my last four sentences, I probably should have stopped six sentences before that. Lesson learned.

Number three: I’m at a pivotal scene where the protagonist is trying to overcome his past to control magic, which is his future. I want to write it with as much punch as I can, and right now he’s struggling. I’m loving it!

Bonus Reason: I didn’t post on the blog yesterday, and I wanted to since I had a serious increase in traffic yesterday! (Thanks for swinging by!) Hopefully you folks are coming by to share your wins and celebrate mine!

Anyway, that’s it for now, I need to sleep but I have another day off coming up shortly and I’m pretty excited to write tomorrow! Hopefully, this momentum carries on for the rest of this week!

I decided my target date for 50k is November 18th. Not because Pokemon comes out or anything… but because… you know… goals.

See you on the flip side and good luck in the word trenches!

Blog Of Writing +1 · NaNoWriMo 2016

NaNoWriMo Day 4 – So Tired Already

Ha ha! I somehow did it, but I made a mad dash as best I could for that 10k mark and I did!

10065 is my current count, with 2300 words written today! I won’t lie though, I’m not sure how the rest of this month will go unless I take up some sort of caffeinated beverage. Hopefully Coke would like to sponsor me for the rest of the month? Red Bull? Anyone?!

20% of the novel down for this month, but I think I need to pick up the pace of the story a bit. This first 20% has set the scene and nailed the protagonist down, but as of right now he’s alone and experimenting with magic which doesn’t feel as though in another 30k words I’ll be hitting the climax. I’ll keep thinking about it, maybe the next 30k will be exceptionally hectic as his powers get out of control! Who knows? Not me, not yet.

Anyway, thanks for swinging by and feel free to share your wins or challenges in the comments below. For now? I’m going to bed!