Sad and socially isolated, Wellington writer Lauren Keenan realised her life wasn’t working. So she decided to try something new.
In her first full-length book, The 52 Week Project, Lauren documents the 52 new things she tried over 52 weeks, and the surprising results.
We caught up with her to talk waffle fries, biggest regrets, and what’s still on her to-do list.
What is “home” for you?
Wellington! I lived in Titahi Bay until I was nine, and have been in Wellington most of my adult life. I’ve lived overseas four times and elsewhere in New Zealand, but Wellington is the place I always loop back to. I love Wellington so much I even forgive the weather. As far as I’m concerned, the cheese scones more than make up for it.
What’s your favourite dining-out dish?
The waffle fries at the Pickle Jar in Karori. This year was the first time in many years I didn’t go there for my birthday, and it just wasn’t the same. I’ll have to have a double order next year.
Of the 52 new things you tried in 52 weeks, how many were done in the Wellington region?
Most of them! The very first new experience I had was at Adrenaline Forest just north of Porirua, I fed lions at Wellington Zoo, tried mountain biking up Makara Peak with a bike hired from Mud Cycles, rode horses in Ohariu Valley and did the Zealandia night tour (to name a few). Not to mention riding the mechanical bull in Dakota Bar and doing standup comedy in the Fringe Bar. One of the best things I learned from that year was just how much you can do in your own backyard. Staycations for the win!
What’s your biggest regret?
Having once had a mullet. Second biggest regret: not owning the photographs of aforementioned mullet thus living in fear of their online revival.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Choose your battles wisely, which is something my Mum always says. Although, like other such sage advice, it can be easier said than done.
What’s your bad habit?
A lifelong addiction to $1 mixtures. Shhhh, don’t tell my dentist.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to try?
Sky diving! I thought about it for my 52 things in 52 weeks but was too much of a wuss to see it through. I still like the idea of trying it again sometime. I’d need friends to join me though, as if it was just up to me I’ll always find some or other excuse not to. It would continue to be like the life drawing I write about in The 52 Week Project – when my excuses not to do it became more and more creative as the year went by.