Update: I do actually have a blog now: JaneCopland.co.uk
While this would have been a neat post to kick off my new domain (which currently boasts no content. At all), I must admit to not wanting a personal blog. In the traditional sense of the name, a personal blog tends to be a vanity domain of some sort (check) that a writer uses to document his or her life. Twitter without the weight limit. I like the professional-personal blog style a lot better. Bloggers taking this approach don’t write about what they cooked for dinner or whether their heating bill went up last month. People like Dean Chew and Kate Morris, who tagged me in this “7 things” series, combine their personal voices with professional subjects. I’m not even sure that I want my site to be a blog at all, but this could have at least been its About page!
However, I’m quite busy right now, moving to another country and thus I still don’t have a site of my own. What I do have, however, are seven small stories about myself. And who doesn’t like the sound of their fingers tapping away about themselves?
- I swam 800m without stopping when I was three.
It was the day before I turned four, but I swam sixteen lengths of Dunedin’s 50m Moana pool, non-stop, when I was still three years old. Just over twelve years later, I would win my first national open swimming medal in the same pool in the women’s individual medley. It was silver.
- Eleven of my 24 birthdays have taken place “overseas.”
Due to summer swimming competitions in Australia often taking place at the end of January, I spent my 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th birthdays in Sydney. Birthdays 19 through 24 were spent in the United States. I will fly to the United Kingdom to live the day after my 25th birthday.
- My family lived in the Caribbean for two years.
In April 2003, my father began working on the island of St. Croix, sixty miles from Puerto Rico in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was a huge change from New Zealand. The island was very strange. On every second corner, there was devastating poverty, boredom and disrepair, but around the next, there were resorts and restaurants and orange drinks with pink umbrellas. My parents’ condo had a swimming pool, and on the other side of the swimming pool’s fence, a beach and the Caribbean Sea. However, three blocks away, there were knife crimes and derelict government buildings whose windows and doors had been blown in during a hurricane that took place in 1989. It was 85 degrees Fahrenheit at five o’clock in the morning, the mosquitoes were relentless and no amount of rum could kill the feeling of isolation in civilisation.
This said, we had some fantastic times there. The rum! My God. The island is home to the Cruzan distillery, which makes highly-rated, award winning rum that I can finally find in the Northwest. It’s amazingly cheap at Christiansted bars. In fact, low-end stuff is so cheap that a Rum-and-Coke contains less Coke than rum because the Coke costs more. The beaches are as good as they are in the television commercials for Royal Caribbean cruises (even though cruise ships stopped coming to St. Croix years ago). My parents will tell different stories about St. Croix because they actually stayed there for the majority of those two years, whilst I came and went during university holidays. Good and bad, however, living in the Virgin Islands is something I’m really glad I did.
- The first time I arrived in the U.S. was the day I moved here.
I have a habit of doing that: packing my things and moving across the world. Well no, I’ve done it once and I don’t plan on doing it again for a while after I do it this once more. However, it is true that I’d never visited North America before I arrived in Seattle in August 2002 to go to university. I’d been to a majority of Western European countries (seriously), four or five places in Asia and a small collection of South Pacific islands. America, however, was unchartered, so what better way than to get to know these United States than to move to them?
- I can be a bit of a wimp, but
the most satisfying thing I ever said to someone who’d hurt me was to the former national coach of New Zealand swimming. When I was fifteen, he’d told me late one night after a long day of travelling that I’d never amount to anything as a swimmer due to a lack of physical ability and a bad personal coach. I should, he said, quit, as I was going to end up an embarrassment to New Zealand swimming. I was, to put it mildly, completely destroyed. We were well-conditioned to fear and admire and respect this guy, and he had a lot of power. He was a buddy-buddy, call me by my first name type on the surface, but he was nothing of the sort underneath. No official should have that sort of influence, but he did.
Eight months later, at the meet where I won my first national medal at Moana pool, I noticed this national coach making his way to me across the pool deck. We were going to meet face-to-face. He’d opened his mouth, big cocky smile attached, to say hello. But really, fuck that. I wasn’t even going to let him get the “h” out. “I think,” I said, as I moved slightly to the right to pass him by, “that you and I should maintain our distance. Mr. Naylor.”
The next time he spoke to me was two years later, presenting me with a gold medal at another national championship. He offered me a half-hearted, “congratulations”, but I like to think he was actually saying, “I was wrong.”
- I’m crazy about Top Gear.
This is well known to my friends and a number of the people who follow me on Twitter. I really love the British TV show featuring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and would give up a minor holiday (but not Christmas) to go to a filming. It’s one of the more popular shows in the UK and has quite a following abroad, but given that I don’t watch much television, my love of Top Gear is out of the ordinary. I have an unimaginable crush on Richard Hammond and can accurately recall the outcome of most of their challenges, especially those which involve cross-city or cross-country races. I didn’t even notice when Jeremy made those terrible lorrie-driver-prostitute-killer jokes at the beginning of Season 12. Why were so many people surprised? It’s Jeremy!
- Despite the places I’ve lived and my dislike of my accent, I’m a proud, and typical, Kiwi.
We don’t go home much and we hold residencies, citizenships and visas for numerous countries. I really don’t like my accent. However, we bore our friends by pointing out New Zealand wine and beer in the supermarket and we stay up all night to watch any New Zealand-related event on TV. We only figure out what New Zealand’s like once we’ve not lived there for a decade and then we’re sort of fascinated by it. I get a lot of shit for having lived all over the place and now having a ticket to somewhere else, but where I come, I’m just normal. We do this. So I’ll keep saying “sweet as” and not understand why you want to know what is comparably sweet, but the next international plane ticket I have is to Heathrow.
And now to tag some other people: