Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Can't Get No...


It's not true; I can. It's just that there are so many nice things around at the moment... I can go years (and frequently do) without seeing anything in a (non-secondhand) shop that I would ever want and then BAM! everywhere I look are things that would look just right hanging in our wardrobe. Yesterday my shoes arrived and they are all lovely and fit but I'm already looking at bikinis and other things like these pants, which aren't leather but are still a-ok in my book.

Vincent and I are madly pomandering tonight; it's two days until my lovely mother's birthday afternoon tea, and the large orange I had almost finished went completely mouldy on the un-pomandered bit so I had to dispose of it; all that time! and all of those overpriced cloves! We've been waiting for cheaper cloves but a Lazarus-type event in the family meant they never arrived, so Vincent bought out one supermarket's clove stocks this afternoon and, we having finished them already, has run to get more from another while I show you our pomandering night. He thinks it will be the one and only time he engages in this kind of behaviour but I hope he's mistaken; he is a natural, so natural that if he was just a little bit older, he could easily be our missing sister Ann.








Pomander balls are a sweatshop-like task and require indentured-type commitment, but my Mum and her friends are Worth It. They all have lovely old names and are all around sixty and every couple of weeks they go out for coffee and don't go home until well after midnight. They are the kinds of ladies who are upright but still up for a giggle, and genuinely kind, not duty-bound or patronising. And they make my Mum feel cherished, and that's best of all. Anyway, Vincent will be back any minute so off I go... deadlines are a horse of an entirely different colour when you have company.

Monday, August 29, 2011

In The Real World

Today I saw a dog wearing spectacles; a real dog, wearing actual spectacles. This is the kind of thing that makes me glad to live and work in the city.

I also went to an exhibition that is part of Auckland's Heritage Festival, and saw some beautiful pictures of the city from the early 1900s. At first I felt sad, seeing places and a way of life that no longer exist. I thought about how we are just a blip in the space/time continuum, and how insignificant we are except in that we are a link in the chain. Then I saw my building, where Vincent and I live, and all of a sudden I felt happy. I realised it's not so much that the city is part of our lives but that we are part of the city's, and I tried to imagine how it is for our building, and all the changes that have happened around it, and how beautiful it is that it is part of what was the future (when the photos were taken). Then I thought about how landmarks like my building make me feel connected to the city, and how Christchurch doesn't have that anymore, and I felt sad again. In the end, it's really just the land, and for some cultures, the rising sea means that may not even be something to rely on. Which means that in the end, it's actually about us, even if we are just a blip. Christ that's sad! And possibly nonsensical; I'm very tired.

It struck me on the way back to work that I spend most of my time in heritage buildings; I've always been attracted to them, probably from having a Mother who loves everything that is old. The building where I live was built in 1914-1918, and was one of Auckland's first high-rise office blocks. Both Vincent and I were so excited to move here, and I never come home without being struck by the beautiful lobby. The building where I work was built sometime in the 1930s, and like home, has gorgeous steel framing. When I look at it from a distance, I fancy I can hear typewriters humming. Finally, the pub where I spend my Friday afternoons is in Auckland's oldest commercial building; a two-storeys of stone where once upon a time Kiwi shoe polish was made.

I have to go now. But if you have a chance, go and see the exhibition, and pick up a Heritage Festival booklet. Or, next time you're walking down Queen Street, or Customs Street, or anywhere in the city, do look up. I frequently forget, being distracted by people and thoughts, but Auckland is a beautiful city.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sharing Time

I used to get really nervous before sharing time at school; I think because of my competitive streak and my need to be the best. Once I had taken an old police helmet of my Dad's but when it got around to me it all of a sudden didn't seem quite enough, so I threw in an add-on that my cousin had won the Pepsi MC Hammer competition. Obviously this was a lie. And probably led to the feeling I sometimes get when I'm telling a stranger than fiction story about myself that I'm lying, even though I know I'm not. Maybe these little add-on lies actually had a boy-who-cried-wolf effect and are part of the reason why unusual things seem to happen to me; I've wondered if more of these things happen to me than other people or if it's just that I take more notice of them, or are more likely to tell them, or tell them better?

Anyway, because I am sick and in bed I am inside my head something ridiculous - I've written a dozen responses in there to the films I've been watching - but I think after my last post we all deserve some things that have absolutely (well, almost) nothing to do with me: some things I've been nosing at on the internet that might be of interest.

1. This, and pretty much every post on Style Rookie's blog. I enjoy her writing so much; she's funny, insightful, and just very entertaining.
2. I've often thought that people who don't love each other anymore is one of the saddest things. Here is an exhibition of things that symbolise the end of a relationship; I'd really like to see it. I really like the idea something that is awkward or sad or inappropriate to keep having a place where its significance and sacredness is preserved but where it's obviously part of a past. I've spoken to a friend about the ring from her first marriage and how it fits into her life; I don't know what I'd do with something like that. It's maybe why I like tattoos so much; there's no denying that whatever it is was once important to you and has made you who you are, even if it isn't a big part of who you are now. (Obviously the guy who was in the news recently with the swastika on his forehead disagrees.)


3. Short tops with high-waisted bottoms (here seen on Raquel Allegra in Closet Visit). I tried doing it last year with a thirties-inspired bikini top but I'm not sure I quite pulled it off...
4. This Jamie Oliver risotto recipe, which I found this morning and Vincent just made, with the addition of shredded chicken and mushroom. It's delicious; I haven't wanted much besides fruit and cake (and the chicken soup my Mum made) since I've been sick but this is going down a treat.
5. This made-up film trailer on Jezebel. I don't know if it's because my contact with the outside world has been minimal, but I thought it was very funny.

Two Years



Yesterday was two years to the day (not date) since I flew south to bring back my bride(-groom). The preceding week had been a trial; I was premenstrual and completely distracted by our separation, and trying desperately to find a house for us to live in, while working and eating to maintain my steady weight-gain (peaking at 15kgs; ask me how!). The morning prior we had signed the lease on a dingy little place in Kingsland - although at the time, through hopeful and excited eyes, it looked anything but dingy; I could see us everywhere, and in every run-down little part of it - and after work had begun moving in my things with my excellent niece, Oscar, and my always helpful brother-in-law. Though rushed, things went smoothly... until the couch became wedged in the door, and in trying to force it through we accidentally hit a water-pipe, from which water spurted everywhere, much to the delight of Oscar, who danced in it like a child at a fire-hydrant in a New York heatwave. We were forced to turn off the water mains for the entire property, rendering my four sets of neighbours, whom I had not yet met, waterless during a time they were likely trying to cook and shower, and when I went to explain the situation, I discovered Oscar had already been up and made himself known...

That night I got my period, snapped at my Dad, and epilated myself a brazilian (having had no time to visit my waxer during the week, and thus earning myself honorary Viet Cong status for Outstanding Hardness and Resourcefulness) before crying myself to sleep on a bed of couch cushions in a corner of my old bedroom. I don't know when I've ever felt so displaced... except maybe for the first night I'd spent back at my parents', when I arrived home to find no-one had expected me and there were no free beds so I had to sleep on the couch in the dining-room, blanket-less, to the sounds of the dishwasher and Oscar's clear-conscience snores. The next afternoon my sister let me drive us home in her car after which I put her car-keys in my pocket, sparking a series of unfortunate events; her spending almost twenty-four hours searching before I discovered them when going through my bag in Wellington (we still laugh at the memory of my stricken face; I fear few people, and my beloved sister is one of them), and me only making my flight because of the kindness of a rule-breaking check-in attendant and the breakneck driving of my other beloved sister who came to my rescue and counselled me while I poured wine down my throat to calm myself down. I felt like anything that could go wrong would, and that it didn't bode well for Vincent and me.


As always, everything changed when I saw his face. I was still scared, and stressed, but I felt like everything was worth whatever might happen. We took three days driving up to Auckland, got back to our little place, and lived there for six months before moving here. In the two years, we haven't spent a night apart. It's my hope we never will.


One night this week when I couldn't sleep (and wasn't imagining summer), I lay awake looking at Vincent sleeping, and this song popped into my head. It's a strange and incredible thing to find songs you have listened to all your life, and dreamed about being possible, all of a sudden applying to you, and all because of one person; it's at once the most reassuring and the most terrifying thing. I'm not sure if you're supposed to feel it for anyone except your children; it doesn't seem conducive to long-term survival or societal adjustment or the greater progression of humanity. Maybe I have an extra duty to the world to help us all get closer to the goal because I've strayed from the system; if that's the case, I'm happy with that. More than happy, in fact. For two years, whatever happened, I've slept anchored. I think I may be the luckiest girl in the world.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

High And Dry



I don't remember the first time I heard this song. My cousin was very into Radiohead (and so was my sister for a while), and I was at an age where whatever he thought was good music was fine in my book; I'd followed him into Oasis and that had turned out brilliantly. Then I heard this song, and all of a sudden it was my own, like the birth of something; I didn't need him anymore. I'd always loved music and felt pretty confident doing my own thing (oblivious in standard three to the fact that no-one else gave a shit about the sixties and seventies when I was getting down to Kool FM 24/7. It was actually under threat for a while and you had to call up and register your support - yeah, I was there, with all the cats and chicks), but I felt so strongly about this song, every time I heard it, that all of a sudden music and I had our own thing, and I've felt like that ever since; confident in what I like, and what I don't, and completely affected by what I hear. Years later I read that Thom Yorke hated the song and said it was for people who don't really get their other music (Wikipedia says the band thought it sounded like a Rod Stewart song - ouch!), and I was mortified, and pretended it wasn't my favourite Radiohead song. They were my favourite band at the time, and I felt as if the cock had just crowed. But I don't feel that way anymore. I understand what he meant, and I know it's not his best work. But while he thinks its pop-ness is its weakness, I think it's why I and so many other people feel so strongly about it; pop music does that to people - it's emotional music, even if that means it can be basic. I recognise that Radiohead's other work is far superior, but when I listen to it I'm not personally moved by it; it's more like a technical appreciation of a genius I can't completely relate to, except on a lyrical level, and I like to be moved. I know The Bends is not one of Radiohead's better albums, too, not making the contribution to music their later albums like Kid A did, but I still love it, too; most of their others transcend time, a bit like some of Hendrix and Helter Skelter, which is amazing, but I like how The Bends sounds just like 1995/1996, when I first heard it. I suppose in reclaiming it after the cock crowed on me, the song became more meaningful in that I didn't need Thom Yorke's or anyone else's blessing (yes I threw salt over my shoulder). I love this song. When I hear it, I feel like I'm drifting on unseen hands; a bit like I'm crowd-surfing but I can't see the people below me, just the ceiling, but I know I'm being held up by people. I don't feel entirely easy; the song has a melancholy about it, and the lyrics are mournful, but I don't feel unhappy either. It reminds me of being on my bed at my old house in Avondale, and of lying in the sun at the top of the hill at the dog exercise area near my parents' looking at the sky with Oscar sniffing in the bushes nearby, and of singing along drunkenly to my lovely soon-to-be-wed cousin playing it on his guitar while tears rolled shamelessly down my face. It made me feel acutely how lonely I was, but also that I was surrounded by people (sometimes the people round made me feel even more lonely but not in this case; I just felt separate, and like I was waiting).

I wonder if I would be disdainful of someone who liked my hideous old poetry (I use the term very loosely) - not that I think Thom Yorke would be disdainful of me for liking High And Dry. Maybe I would. Or maybe I'd think they saw something that I was too close to see; I remember once reading or seeing Springsteen say that once you release a song (or any art - I don't know if he said that or I thought it) that it's not yours anymore; people will do what they like to it and that's part of it. It's a lot like the relationship between reader and writer, and reader also being writer (I think Jeanette Winterson talks about it).

Anyway, just wanted to write about something nicer than phlegm and clammy feet. Gross. Take that and make it your own.

PS I can't decide what I think their best song is, but this one is up there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And They Shall Name It BRONCHITIS

I will live another day to persecute old man anti-abortion protesters, and Vincent says the world is a better place for it. I don't think the old man and his two retarded henchmen would agree, neither the motorists who had to stop and let me cross backwards in front of them doing the fingers with both hands and yelling "fuck off" at the old man because I'd been so busy yelling/being yelled at that I had missed the green pedestrian light. That may or may not be a true story. It may or may not be true, also, that two weeks later Vincent broke one of their signs and threw it into the road. I'm not confirming either story, but please don't tell my parents.

The exciting thing about today was that despite my best efforts to breathe good, my very nice doctor could still hear what has been going on in my lungs, deduced that I have been having trouble breathing, and offered me an inhaler. I had to try to hide my excitement, partly because I didn't want her to think I grew up under a rock and partly because Vincent and I had been sitting in the waiting room racking our brains to come up with prescribed goods we could request to make the visit better value and I felt like she might be able to see it in my enthusiasm. But I was enthused. Growing up, my favourite cousin was a constant source of envy for me for things ranging from her hair to her attitude to her school lunches, and in this basket was her asthma. I know now that asthma ain't no picnic, and that going off in an ambulance in the middle of the night wasn't the adventure I imagined it was (especially not when the reason the ambulance was called was an inability to breathe). But at the time, watching her insert that little capsule into the spinner, or pull the lid off her disc that looked like a mini plastic UFO, I was filled with longing. Maybe I didn't want her asthma, but by god I wanted her inhaler; to pull it out of a mini My Little School-Bag case and take it like I did that shit every day. Something inside me still goes teehee when Vincent gives me a puff of his to help me sleep (I would accept it even if I knew for sure it didn't). And today, I got one, an inhaler to call my own, in a box with a sticker that says Inhale the contents of ONE - TWO doses when required for cough/wheeze/shortness of breath and then MY NAME. Now, when I wheeze, I won't feel like an old man anymore. I'll feel like my six-year-old self, living the dream.

Vincent is waiting for me so we can keep watching Sopranos; he got up and went to work early instead of writing, so he could come home and be with me but then I fell asleep and we only got to watch one before it was time to go to the doctor and bankrupt ourselves. This morning I watched The Graduate for the umpteenth time but it deserves its own post; what a film. So I'll leave you with these bad boys (yes, I said it). Every day on my way to and from work (which makes four times a day), I pass a shoe shop, and for the past month, this shoe shop has had a window display of brightly coloured shoes that look like lollies, and as with lollies, I can't keep away. I love them. I even had a rude dream that was mostly based around a pair of them. These aren't those shoes, but they're similar in that they're impossibly high, beautifully bright, and coveted by me. Enjoy.





Shoes from http://www.tonybianco.com.au

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Signs And Refuges

When my dog is sick, if we haven't noticed anything funny we know because he gravitates to my Dad's bedroom, which is strictly out-of-bounds. Oscar will risk the unleashing of hell and push his way in there, even hopping onto Dad's bed, just to be close to and secure in the scent and domain of the pack leader. I was thinking about that today when I felt miserable, and asked Vincent to put on Breakfast At Tiffany's for me before he went back to work.



When I'm sad or sick, I listen to Bon Iver and maybe Iron & Wine, for quiet and soothing. I read I Capture The Castle, although I find the book incredibly unsettling, in spite of the humour; the point of the book is that it is a journey, but the start is where I feel happiest, and in spite of Cassandra's hopefulness at the end, I always feel sad and nostalgic for the beginning. Nevertheless, its familiarity and the enjoyment I get from it makes it comforting, and by the time I get to the end I've usually perked up enough to accept that life is not always the way I might want it to be.

This afternoon I thought about what Breakfast At Tiffany's does for me. I first watched it at a very impressionable age, when I had no idea of the book (which I actually still haven't read) and Capote's unhappiness with Audrey Hepburn's casting (although I have never had any defense for Mickey Rooney's Mr Yunioshi - Jesus Christ). I don't know how much of the story I really understood; I was just dazzled by the apparent glamour of Holly's lifestyle, especially her beautiful clothes. (I've never understood the huge fuss over the dress she wears at the beginning; my favourite has always been the one she wears to visit Sally Tomato the first time, with the amazing hat and the alligator shoes.) I thought it was romantic; "amusingly and superficially", I now see. Watching it today, I thought more about the story, and why it makes me feel better when I'm unwell or unhappy, aside from being familiar and having a happy ending, and I came to the conclusion that it's because somebody saves her. (I hate the idea of a white knight; it's patriarchal nonsense, with origins in a time when women were not allowed to help themselves, but I think the story could work the other way, with Paul as Holly and Holly as Paul.) I don't believe in God to save me, and I know even when I try my best I can be my own downfall. Breakfast At Tiffany's gives me comfort because Paul's love for Holly is enough to save her from herself; she spends nearly the whole film pushing him away and trying to attain something completely unworthy and just makes fuck-up after fuck-up, but it doesn't matter. He tries to help her, and he loves her, without compromising who he is, and without any illusions about her; he knows her and he trusts himself in that knowledge, even when she's adamant she's something else. When I feel weak or disillusioned, it's nice for me to know that this is possible, even though it's a story; I always hoped it might be real, and now I know it is. Not "amusing and superficial" romance, but "deep and important" love.

By the way, I've also discovered having this person doesn't protect you from getting the mean reds. But having someone to hug you through them makes almost all the difference.

Image from delighdujour.blogspot

Meanwhile, On The Other Side Of The Equator



I thought my cough couldn't get any worse, but I was wrong. I haven't slept through the night since last Thursday, and after spending the entire day in bed, don't feel much better. This sucks. I'd actually rather be at work, and well. But anyway. When I couldn't sleep the other night I lay thinking about summer, when we won't need two duvets or to wear woollen stockings under everything (I realised last week that the only difference between woollen stockings and long johns are the feet), and getting dressed won't take nearly as long because I won't be wearing three layers plus a jacket every time I leave the house. I pictured New Year's at Hot Water Beach in the caravan Vincent and I want to hire, although my imaginings were a lot like a fashion shoot of myself, in which I looked fabulous.

The caravan looked like this:


Except it was white. And we had a bottle of tequila in it from which we kept filling our glasses, and there was lots of beer, and books, and SUN. I was wearing my new sandals:                    



Which should arrive this week, and something like this:


Seen here on Sunny Walker. I have been spending way too much time over the past week perving at her enviable wardrobe here. If you see me around this summer and think the look is familiar, it's probably because it's inspired by her (although I'm quite ready for it to be unrecognisable; she is very willowy, and I am... not very willowy. Unless we're talking about the trunk). And songs like this will be playing in the background:


Even though Vincent isn't really a fan of Best Coast. I can't help it; it's girly summer music, not great, but I really like how it sounds, and I have a little bit of a girl-crush on Bethany. I can't wait to have lots of big tattoos and not just two small ones, and moisturised skin. Unfortunately I'm sticking with my lifetime policy of Out Of Sight etc, so my limbs are a bit like snakeskin. Probably fairly valuable, actually.

Thinking about summer isn't at all in keeping with my preferred way of living in the present but with Vincent not home, it's all that's keeping me from tearing my lungs out and stamping on them. Winter and I have always been friends; I was born in winter, and I love hats and gloves and boots and fires and long hot showers and rainy nights and wind outside. But I'm at the end of my tether, pulling at it, so much that it will either break or choke me, and I don't care much which it is.

Come on, summer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Wish, I Wish

This cough is killing me. I feel like the old man in Le Quattro Volte, whom you couldn't help wishing would just hurry up and die, not least so you wouldn't have to listen to it anymore. It strikes at the most inopportune moments; in the middle of conversations with old or particularly clean looking people, when my mouth is full of food, or when Vincent and I are almost asleep. And even when it's not causing my body to convulse, I can still taste phlegm. (I should confess I don't completely hate the taste. I know that's gross. I just don't mind bodily functions.)

Combined with being pre-menstrual and having put on a very unwelcome 1.6 kilograms, the cough has me feeling very crabby and very frumpy. Even the good feeling from the hour of grooming I put myself through after work was undone with the donning of flannel pajama pants. I feel ridiculous, and hateful, and in limbo. I even had to turn off Gilmore Girls because they were pissing me off.

What do you do when your usual pick ups don't work? When you can't drink, it's not time to sleep, you have no money to spend, TV is annoying, and you can't concentrate enough to read so you can't escape yourself? You try to distract yourself. I intend to do so by showing you things I wish for. (Not world peace things - selfish things. I'm crabby.)


Brooklyn, New York. Next month two of our friends are going to New York, and I am very excited for them, and determined that sometime soon, Vincent and I will have our turn. I have wanted to go to New york since I was about twelve (actually probably since I was eight, when Home Alone 2 came out, but anywhere they'd chosen for that film would have been on my list). There's something so magical and intriguing about it; I feel like it's a place where things happen (if only because I believe that). And Brooklyn looks like the part of New York for me; a bit more run-down, a bit more historic, and a bit more real. We hope, hope, hope we can go at the end of next year.


My life-long fashion quest is to find the right pair of leather pants and the perfect fur jacket. I know it's terrible. I know if I'm who I think I am, then fur is not for me. But then I see the fur section in a secondhand store and something happens to me, and I'm running my hands over them and trying them on and feeling like the fast woman I always wanted to be. It's a poor argument, but if I'm wearing a vintage fur, aren't I making the animal's sacrifice even more worthwhile? Maybe not. But I can't help it. I love fur coats, and one day I will have the perfect one, and it will be wonderful.


Bob Dylan was a disappointment, but I still had to see him. I had to. And I don't regret it, even if I regret his performance. I know Bowie wouldn't let me down. One day, if I have my way, I will see him in concert, and I won't be disappointed.


I really, really hope I get to go to Brooklyn, find my fur jacket (and my leather pants - in my mind they're also magically bum-minimising), and see Ziggy Stardust himself. But what I want more than any of those things is for this person to never ever be more than a few minutes from me. Right now he's only a few metres away. You know what? I feel heaps better. Happy Friday, every one.

Images from planetware.com, humanitiesweb.org, livemusicguide.com.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

His Mother's Glory


This is my beautiful son, Oscar. I'm lucky enough to have lots of people who love me, a few as unconditionally as humanly possible, but there really isn't a love like that of a dog for its chosen ones. Oscar makes me feel brand new, every time I see him. He welcomes like it's been years (even if it's been minutes), and follows, and when I pat him he looks at me like I'm nurturing his soul. In my dreams, Oscar and I are able to speak to each other telepathically. In real life, I feel as if we communicate to an extent, but I wish I could really speak to him - in more than just love - and share ideas, and gossip. He is a true lover; a friend to all, even those he's not meant to be friends with, like rodent intruders. His first best friend was a little dog named Millie. He and Mille had a beautiful relationship; they trusted each other, and they had lots and lots of fun together, and their difference in size was never an issue. He was also best friends with a cat, Lucy, who used to curl up like his little spoon and they would just sit or nap like that. Our rabbit Bonnie had no fear of him; they would sit together in the yard, and occasionally she would indulge him in a little game of chasie, although anyone who knows Oscar knows he prefers to be chased.

Oscar was a huge part of getting me through the saddest time of my life. He stayed with me and even though he couldn't say a word, I could feel how much he loved me and wanted me to feel comforted. He slept with me every night (this wasn't so comforting as he is both a snorer and a dead-weight, as well as a bed-hog; many times I woke up on the edge of the bed with his back pushed right up against me), and sat in the seat beside me wherever I drove. When everyone was away, he made me feel safe and kept me company while I did everything (having my knees licked while sitting on the toilet was a strange sensation but one I got used to). And in my happy times, he has always been ready to celebrate; jumping up and barking and doing his dodge move. Since he was a puppy, anytime he's seen people hugging he's tried to be part of it. Nothing makes him happier than when everyone is well and everyone is together.

Every day with Oscar is a gift.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Let It Snow!!!

I've almost given up hope, but not quite; it's still cold outside, and I believe in magic. I feel like a traitor to my local homeless, but I want it to snow so badly that if I think about it too hard I get so excited I'm liable to wet my pants. My voice is croaky and I had to wear a tshirt to bed last night (in our toasty little apartment that is never necessary), but the possibility of snow makes those things completely bearable (or at least mostly bearable - my voice is pretty bad). In my twenty-eight years I have never been to the snow; snow coming to me, in my city, would be a dream come true.

Aside from that, I'm pretty grumpy, (not helped by the moronic South Islanders who think snow in Auckland is not a big deal. It is, and you will not spoil this for us). But I'm trying not to be. I've been watching Campbell Live, specifically a couple in Bexley whose house is completely uninhabitable and are living in a  snow-covered caravan. They were smiling and laughing, in spite of the fact they have to use public showers and use a shower-tent for a toilet. The human spirit has the potential to be amazing, and these two are totally fulfilling theirs.

Anyway, to avoid getting grumpy again, I'm going to write a list of some of my life's pleasures. I don't know if I'd call them simple ones, but they're pleasures that, while definitely enhanced by them, don't rely on people. Because of course my life's chief pleasures are te tangata. And they're not pleasures that define me, like books or music or movies. They're things that seem inconsequential, but give me great pleasure all the same.

1. Swears. There is nothing like a well-used obscenity.
2. Noodles. Cheap ones (although I recently discovered mi goreng noodles contain palm oil - what a blow. I loved those noodles; they kept me alive when my sister and brother-in-law were away and I was fending for myself. But I love orangutans more, so we have parted ways...) and not-as-cheap ones, they always make me feel a bit like a grown-up child when I eat them. I'm actually eating them right now.
3. Socks. Knee-highs or really fluffy ones are the best.
4. Beautiful Women. In real life and in magazines, they also make me feel like a child; a bit awed, and a bit happy. Today I was looking at pictures of these two, and marvelling. They're the kinds of beauties whose style I won't try to copy because I know I'd just be trying to look like them, and I never will. And they're so beautiful because they're them; they don't look like anyone else (except maybe their parents or siblings). The lesson here? Best way to beauty is being yourself. Or someone no-one knows.



5. Trees. Jimmy Bean pretty much says it all in Pollyanna. They're beautiful, they're fun to climb, and they give shade and oxygen and sometimes fruit.

And just in case you love mi goreng noodles and aren't convinced to give them up, check this guy out.


And one last thing here. My favourites so far: Wuthering Heights/Damn, This Servant Has A Good Memory, Sophie's Choice/The Worst Game Of Would You Rather? and The Holy Bible/Shit My Dad Says. Awesome. Thanks to Frankie.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In Honour Of The Jenga Queen



Who scored fifteen out of fifteen in her school Art-a-thon. She is a WIZARD.

Life Outside The Riots

Not that I'm not still thinking and arguing about them. The most disturbing response I've had is that some people are born a certain way, predisposed to lead useless lives; their environments have nothing to do with anything. A friend's facebook argument had one girl going further and making gender and ethnicity part of this equation. I had to stop reading.

I do want to say one thing about it today, though. Yesterday I was remembering when my sister told me her daughter (my wonderful niece) had just told her parents about a girl who had been bullying her at school. I was irate. I wanted to go and find this six-year-old and sort her out. I didn't think about why she might have been doing it, I just wanted her to pay. My sister told me more about the little girl. She has a difficult little life, and is very likely bullied herself at home, the place where everyone should feel safe. You know what? I didn't care. All I cared about was my niece. When I remembered this yesterday, I felt like a hypocrite of the highest order. I thought I should stop saying what I think about the riots, and just concentrate on applying what I believe to my own life. Then I thought, that's why people who aren't immediately, personally affected by the riots have to try to see the greater picture. Even if you're normally someone who would be able to do so, being in the thick of it impairs your judgement and gives you reason to be angry and perhaps irrational. I completely understand people who didn't necessarily have their businesses destroyed but had landmarks they loved burnt to the ground, being unwilling or unable to have more than just a desire to see people arrested. But we, with the advantage of distance, must. We have to keep our heads and learn from this. If we don't, it will happen again, and again.

Back to life outside the riots. There are many other things going on in the world and in my life. The crisis in East Africa, for one. If you can spare anything, you won't believe how much your money can do. Did you know you can join Red Cross and donate like twenty bucks a month straight from your account? That means they can plan and budget, and when something like this happens they can get moving straight away. Also that when you see people in the street trying to sign people up you can walk right by them and say I'm a member with a big smile, instead of crossing the road or faking a phonecall. Although I'm a member and still fake phonecalls in case they don't believe me when I say I'm a member. I have many problems.

And my life. On Thursday night, Vincent and I managed to get ten dollar tickets to the Auckland vs Counties Manukau game at Eden Park, and it was great. There wasn't a big crowd so we were allowed to sit anywhere, and moved all over the open stands to see the different views and figure out where we would sit for a Cup game if we had the choice. The crowd was fantastic; culturally diverse, lots of families, and lots of vocal supporters for both sides. We started off sitting in front of a Counties family, one of whose little boys had the best heckles we heard all night: "If you miss this, you're a stinky kicker!", and Vincent's favourite: "This is average rugby!" (which, for the most part, it was). I forgot my camera so I have nothing to show you, but Eden Park looks amazing. It was sad for me to see what used to be the terraces and think about the times I had there, and what a different beast the game is now. But it was exciting to see the old girl in her new duds, and to know that Auckland has a stadium worthy of the level of rugby NZ plays. And the toilets! Just you wait. The highlight for me had to be a portly little ball-boy whose arms were so short they barely reached around the back of him (sparking speculation as to how he manages to wipe his bottom). I wanted to kidnap him but I'm not sure we could afford to feed him... so I contented myself by watching him and sighing.



Finally, one of my favourite Fleet Foxes songs. It's been an interesting week. But it's made me realise a lot of things, one of which is that I'm the luckiest girl in the world to be married to someone who feels the same way I do about things, and backs me up, and encourages/eggs me on.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Ups And Downs Of Talking About It

On the upside, we all seem to agree Hurting People = Bad. Then we part ways because some of us think that a riot is the whole picture, or that whatever else is in the picture is cancelled out by the riot. It's been an eye-opener, but it really shouldn't have been. People are stupid. People are short on empathy and imagination. People who have comfortable lives are very angry when those comfortable lives are threatened. I can't help thinking these people have no problem with poor, forgotten people killing each other in poor communities, and would have little sympathy for the collateral victims in these cases, if they bothered to think about them.

Here are some interesting posts I read today, in response to the riots. I particularly liked the title of the last one as well as the feedback, from which I borrowed a quote to waste on the aforementioned incensed middle-class getting their tight little undies in a twist at me on facebook.

1. A Riot Is The Language Of The Unheard
2. Something To Add (You need to go halfway down to get to the actual post.)
3. Revolution Is The Name You Give The Riots You Like

I've found it interesting that every one of these people, myself, and the people I know who refuse to separate the riots from the environment from which they came, have all felt we had to say we don't condone the violence of the riots. I'm at the point where I don't think people deserve to hear that. If they are determined to make this into a black and white issue with one right and one wrong, I'm not going to make it easier for them.

I'm sick of talking about this now. This morning on The Nation, Duncan Garner interviewed John Key about unemployed youth in NZ. I'm really looking forward to him using them the way he used the residents of McGehan Close. Combined with half of the people I know using the riots to reinforce all of their racist and social prejudices, it's what I love best; people who've been shat on being shat on all over again. God helps those who help themselves, right?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Effect And Cause

I've been thinking a bit about what's going on in London right now. The media "coverage" has made it very difficult to make too much sense of what has happened, and why it might have happened (although right-wing media will never give the perpetrators of any riot much credibility anyway). With a lack of real information, NZ media seem to be relying on opinions, and mostly the opinions of people who are merely watching what is happening, without any real insight or connection. Without information I don't know exactly what I think, except this, in the wise words of Jack White III:



With the Stanley Cup final in the not too distant past, we all know what can happen when excited people get together in large numbers. They can forget who they are as individuals, and do things they might not usually do. But they're reacting. I'm not saying this necessarily excuses the action they take (in the case of the Stanley Cup: a resounding negative), but what I have seen on the news seems to be presenting the riots as the first action, rather than a reaction. People don't just get up one day, catch a train to the shops, and start looting them. Something happens to make them do things like this; if riots happened for no reason, they would happen all the time, or they would never happen. People might join in and not know why they are doing something, but somewhere, someone had a reason for starting this thing. The riots aren't the first domino.

I've promised to meet Vincent in bed at nine so we can watch a movie, so I'll leave you with two songs by some of the best bands ever who made excellent music in London. The first was in my head when I woke this morning, and the second came to mind when I was discussing ska with a woman in the shop today, and mentioned to her that I met Neville Staple almost exactly two years ago. She was impressed. These songs might make it seem like I'm on the side of the rioters. And you know what? Maybe I am. On the other hand, maybe I'm not. I'm on the side of the disenfranchised who get together and do something; anything. I'm on the side of young people who stick up for themselves. Now I'll just wait and see if these rioters are or not. (Impressed with my arse-covering? Me too.)





I might as well end on a show-off note and remind you I also saw Mick and Paul last year. Yep, pretty much.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Showing Now

Some things I'm enjoying that might amuse you too:

1. Dog Patrol, TV3's replacement for Kalgoorlie Cops, which ended with the usual banging around last week. Tonight a wonderful little dog was rescued by an eleven-year-old boy, and then was adopted by one of the dog shelter staff. It made me very, very happy. Monday nights have great reality TV; Dog Patrol is preceded by Road Cops which is not only an endless source of amusement but also shows that not all police are assholes.

2. Bob's Burgers. The other week I was in the kitchen baking, and Vincent was laughing and saying this was very good but I had to finish what I was doing so I pretended not to notice. I finally got to watch it last week and it was grrr-eat.



3. Mulholland - Everything's Gonna Be Alright. It's the first track on his new album, and every time it comes on the disc changer at work it makes me feel kind of new and happy in a crazy way (a bit like listening to T Rex).

4. Her Make Believe Band - Stay. There's something I really like about these guys in spite of the fact that they tick all the boxes for a band I would usually detest. I think it's a mixture of the harmonies (which sometimes work and sometimes don't), and the tempo, and the sincerity. What do you think?

5. Barry Crump - A Good Keen Man. There's an excellent story about a deer-culler claiming to have slept the night inside the carcass (wrapped in the skin) of a stag he'd killed, waking to find three feet of snow, the carcass frozen solid and his hands numb, and having to chew himself free. Marvellous stuff.

6. Michael Laws being king-hit in a bar. He says it was unprovoked. I say his existence is provocation.

7. McDonalds Hotcakes. I know McDonalds is the devil. But there is nothing like it. Every Tuesday I go out for breakfast with my beloved friend and we sit at pretty cafes and eat nice enough food that's made with fresh ingredients by friendly people who talk to us. But I can't think of a breakfast I've had lately that was as delicious as the $5.50 Hotcakes Combo I had yesterday. Whipped butter. Maple Syrup. Followed by a hash brown. I wish it was 6am right now just so I could go and get some.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Dangerous Past-Time



I've been mulling over the things in my last post a bit since I wrote it, especially the lyrics of Under Pressure, although my thoughts today have been a bit confused since the day started at six-thirty (I fell asleep last night at the same time as our young guest but it doesn't seem to have done me much good, although I am sick. She's so wicked though that even in sickness and exhaustion we had an excellent time). The part of the song that most stands out for me is the last bit when Freddie asks why we can't give love, and Bowie says it's because of the things love forces us to do. Most of what he says is fairly simple and self-explanatory, but I've been interested in what he might mean by "Love's such an old-fashioned word". It reminds me a bit of when I worked at World Vision and a friend of my sister, who has a kind heart, mentioned an interest in sponsoring. I took some sponsorship packs home for her to choose from (this might sound awful, like shopping for children, but rest assured most people don't specify, or else they go for the first child they see, and if not, I think it's important they pick a child with whom they feel some connection) and waited, and she kept deferring making a decision. Finally she told my sister she would probably go through another agency, and after some discussion my sister and I came to the conclusion that it was World Vision's image that had put her off. It's a fairly common reaction; people see the earnestness, and the Christianity, and overlook the good World Vision does because they perceive it to be uncool. I completely agree World Vision is uncool; I worked there. So fucking what. I might not be entirely down with Christianity but credit where credit's due: Christians are overwhelmingly the ones who will get in there and do something (Childfund, Salvation Army). And sometimes, being cool is just the stupidest thing ever, and that's what I think "Love's such an old-fashioned word" is about. We're so concerned with how we appear to each other (absurd anyway when we know we're all just a bunch of assholes) that we're afraid to put ourselves on the line for anything, even things that are important to us, or important to everyone. We don't want to associate ourselves with causes that threaten our status (look at how many people turned up to the 'safe' anti-mining march compared with the numbers at the protest against ACC cuts to funding for counselling of victims of sexual-abuse. I realise there is more to the difference than perception, but I know that it is part of a person's decision to take part or not take part in action). It's incredibly sad when we have to be dared to care, but that's how it is; caring is a daring act. My dad calls me a bleeding heart, and my friends think I live in something of a fantasy world. It makes it easier for people to make caring a novelty; something that only naive or especially kind people do. I'm not naive, nor am I especially kind. And as much as I wish I didn't, I do care about being cool and about what assholes think of me. Caring and doing aren't unusual and don't require you to be exceptional in any way, except in being a little bit brave, and it's easy to be brave when you know something is important. (And when you're in the company of Bowie, you've transcended cool anyway.)

(Something else I've been mulling over: someone's comment on Youtube that Bowie is both the girliest and manliest man he's ever seen. So true! Take that, binaries!)

Also, I've just been catching up on some of my blog-reading and found this: Beyonce suggesting we need a new word for feminism. Ugh. Again, people being afraid to be associated with something that matters and might define them. And why are people so threatened by the label feminism? Part of it is a misunderstanding of what it means, but so much of it is a fear of being seen as unfeminine and against men. For Fuck's Sake. Yes, we're against men. The ones who rape us, or refuse to pay us fairly, or use our sex to disadvantage us in any other way. And we're against women who do these things too. But anyway, who needs people who won't admit to what they are. Don't wanna call yourself my boyfriend? Then fuck off.

In case you think this is a grumpy post and that I need more sleep, you're wrong. I had a three hour nap this afternoon, woke up to eat two steaks, peas, and a mountain of mashed potato, and have taken panadol and been drinking water and juice. And this isn't meant to be grumpy. It's meant to be reassuring. They might outnumber us, but we're not the crazy ones. They are. We just need to get louder.

(Image from listal.com)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Few Things To Mull Over

1. The other day I was reading (in Pilot magazine; it's fairly shit but I feel like I should credit it) some things Stephen Hawking has said about the earth and the future of humans which was fascinating and extremely exciting. We all know (even those who like to pretend otherwise, like Lord Fish-man on The Nation this morning - pompous old fool) that the way we have treated earth and the number of us living here now means we can't rely on it to remain inhabitable for too much longer. The solution (or stalling tactic) most of us have chosen is to try to wind back the damage by treating the earth better and hoping for the best. Stephen Hawking has other ideas. He describes our efforts as putting all our eggs in one basket, saying

If we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space.

Wicked! Hawking goes on to say that what has limited us in the past (technology, life expectancy) can and must be overcome if we want to continue. This gives me so much hope. It makes me think of Nietzsche's ubermensch, and even though I know poor people are, as always, going to get the short end of the stick, maybe if we don't die out in the next hundred years we can become the best of what we can be, and the world (wherever it is) will reach its potential. Also I just love being able to say we're going to live in space and having Stephen Hawking to pull out if people think I'm being silly.

2. Something Jim Jarmusch said:

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination... 
Select only things to steal that speak directly to your soul. [Sorry.] 
If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.
Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. 
And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it.

Vincent disagrees with the part about originality being non-existent; I'm not sure. I think my openness to the idea is tied up with my belief that we could have been anyone else, and because the earth was formed after everything that didn't make earth had happened... Anyway, I agree that people should take inspiration where they can find it (although I'd be more likely to call it borrowing), and I think having a problem with it is nonsensical; everything is influenced by something. Jack White knows this. If people celebrate stealing/borrowing, more people might do it, and we could see exponential growth in ideas, and, with everyone experiencing things a little differently, maybe the ideas can be original.

3. Yesterday I listened to this song about ten times in a row, starting off emotional and ending up galvanised. Vincent and I sang it together at karaoke last week and it was one of those moments of performance perfection, he as Freddie and I as Bowie... I would go so far to say it was on a level with the incredibly unnerving expressive dance my friend Paul and I did to Tiny Dancer a few years ago. Anyway, I've been really listening to the lyrics and thinking about what it meant for Queen and Bowie to put this kind of thing out there. I do believe music is important just as it is, but when used to convey a message, even if the message isn't picked up by everyone, is when it goes to another level. Our duet also made me think about why my favourite person in the band has nearly always be the frontperson; I'm still thinking about it, but I'm pretty sure its because we get to know them better than anyone else. I've never really gone for "the guitarist with mystique" (please someone get the reference!) thing, just as in life I'm a bit impatient with people who make it hard to get to know them. Of course the frontperson is projecting a persona, but so does everyone, and the more that is out there, the more you have to work with to figure out what is real. Putting yourself out there is exposing yourself to criticism and rejection; it's brave. I like brave people. It won't surprise anyone to know Vincent was in a band and was their frontperson.

I've posted this video before but it was one of several songs, when it really needs to stand alone. Also I'm going all out on the earnestness and putting the lyrics underneath (although I've omitted the be ba oo bits). These guys had something to say. I don't know about you, but when Bowie speaks, I listen, and when Bowie and Queen speak, I put down what I'm doing and don't pick it up again until I'm sure they're done.



Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure - that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out'
Pray tomorrow - gets me higher
Pressure on people - people on streets
Chippin' around - kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out'
Pray tomorrow - gets me higher
Pressure on people - people on streets

Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love
but it's so slashed and torn
Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking
Can't we give ourselves one more chance
Why can't we give love that one more chance
Why can't we give love
'Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure

And with that, I take my leave. Our excellent little niece is coming to sleep the night and I have to get the house and myself ready while Vincent is at the supermarket preparing the cupboards. Hope you're having a happy weekend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let Them Eat Shares



Okay, so on Tuesday night we watched Inside Job. I was prepared to be angry, but what my over-whelming feeling actually was, was fear. In spite of being an idealist and an optimist, I think I'm fairly realistic about the world I live in. But now, I'm not sure I know anything about people, unless those I saw in the film are some other species. But what I think the film really reinforced to me was how much capitalism has to answer for. When we make money god, the like of Allan Greenspan become our priests and we are at their mercy; what they are doing is simply a result of capitalism. We can try to change our habits and our laws, but what we really need to look at is the structure of society.

Anyway, I'm very excited to present my first ever guest-post, written by Vincent. I haven't read it yet so what I just wrote which was supposed to be an introduction might be completely irrelevant (my brief was very broad: "that" after something he said when the movie finished), but no matter.

VINCENT ARRIVES IN MOBILE

If National wins the election they’re going to sell off some of our biggest state-owned assets (Meridian, Mighty River Power, Genesis and Solid Energy). Luckily for us, this policy can be summarised with a very simple (and highly patronising) baking analogy.

Selling the cake.

Our little bakery is broke, and we’re borrowing a lot of money to pay the bills. If that supply of money runs out, we’re in the shit. Luckily, we’ve got this special cake that makes us money, and does all these useful things for us just by sitting in the window (this is a stretch, but for this shitty analogy to work, it has to be a special cake). So we’re going to sell 49% of our special cake to make sure our credit rating stays healthy - so the people who lend us all this money at the moment still think we’re a good investment (people have stopped lending money to some other European bakeries that apparently look a bit like ours, and we don’t want that to happen to us).

However, selling 49% of our cake probably won’t help much; instead of a whole cake, we’d just have half a cake, and half a cake’s worth of money. So no better off in that respect. We’d also have lost the opportunity to ever make money from that second half of the special cake ever again. It’s unlikely that anybody would be terribly impressed by this. Certainly not impressed enough to lend us more money. It looks like the kind of thing you might do if your little bakery had a fire. The only way anybody might be impressed is if we used our new cake money to invest in a more profitable special cake, but that’s not part of the plan either, because we’re using the cake money to buy some new Internet cables.

Also, the cake is currently owned by everybody, rich or poor, because our little bakery owns the cake and we elect and pay all the bakers (sick of this yet?), so we’ve all got a little say in what the cake does, and what we do with the money that our cake makes. The National party says this won’t change, because they’ll offer the shares to something called Mum & Dad Investors, which means, Mums & Dads with enough spare money to buy shares, which is of course, rich people. Working class families can’t go around buying some magic fucking cake when they can’t afford to buy breakfast for their kids, or put petrol in their car (if they still had one…), and why the fuck should they, they already own the cake in the first place.

Also, there’s nothing stopping these Super-Parents from selling their little piece of the special cake to rich people overseas as soon possible. This is exactly what happened the last time our little bakery sold our special cakes back in the 1980s.

AND, the reason some of these Super-Parents can even afford their piece of special cake is because the National Party gave them all tax cuts a few years ago, AND raised GST (which is the why the other poor parents definitely can’t buy any cake). It’s also part of the reason we’re selling this fucking cake in the first place. The Labour party has come up with a different way to solve this money problem and (thankfully) it has nothing to do with cake.

VINCENT LEAVES MOBILE

(But he'll be back.)

(Image from ritzybee.typepad.com)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Perfectly Flawed

I was listening to Billy Joel the other morning, singing along happily to The Longest Time when Vincent told me some very surprising information. On the strength of Just The Way You Are and Uptown Girl, I had assumed our man Bill was a bit of a sap; you know, sentimental and whatever, and that was fine. Instead I learned he is a car-crashing, angry-letter writing hothead, and I was very pleased.

I hate evil people (come back tomorrow to read what Vincent and I thought of Inside Job; he's writing a guest post, about which I am very excited) but there are few things worse than someone with no discernible faults. There are the few genuinely angelic people who may have faults but are so good you don't ever notice them, but those people who are just insipidly and superficially faultless make me want to hit them really hard... I get a similar feeling with people who are too well-presented (although in that instance I'm willing to admit it's as much my sudden awareness of the bits of fluff stuck to my top and the hole I know is in the toe of my stocking as their apparent perfection); they come across so flat and boring, like Amelia in Vanity Fair. (For me, Becky was where it was at.) Perfect people don't interest me, and I can't be bothered imagining their imperfections. I want to see them.

While I am continually trying to improve myself and correct damaging faults, I also cultivate and flaunt others. All of my favourite people are flawed, and for the most part I like their flaws as much as their "good" qualities. Flaws are what make us human, and perfection isn't not having them; it's trying to make them as entertaining for each other as possible. Maybe not. Parenthood has started and I've completely lost my train of thought. Suffice to say, it's good and important to be your best. But I think "your best" can include the bits of you that aren't quite what they could be; as long as you're you, you're okay.

I'm sorry I'm ending this so badly. But I'll leave you with this by Tiny Ruins. I've been enjoying her album Some Were Meant For Sea very much on these cold days; I hope you'll like her too.

Monday, August 1, 2011

After-Birth(day)

The hard thing about your birthday is that, unlike Christmas when you have a holiday and it's summer and New Year's is in a week and you're exhausted anyway, everything is back to normal the next day. Because my birthday is the 30th, two days later it seems redundant to say it was just my birthday; "just" was last month, and it's somebody else's birthday month. And it's a whole year to wait until the next one.

But I'm not complaining; I had a lovely birthday. The night before, I drank beer:


And did karaoke:


On the day, I had a yum breakfast with Vincent, yum lunch with my family, yum dinner with my friends, and got thoughtful presents I love, including:




And my excellent niece made me:





And I really, truly appreciated everything everyone did for me without expecting anything. Of course, it's a funny situation when you are trying not to expect things but know you will be getting lots of things anyway. But being happy just to see the people you love and eat yum food really takes the pressure off the day, and then whatever else happens is a bonus.

I'm feeling very confident about this next year (no doubt this feeling is partly a result of all the nice things my birthday cards said; they're a better pick-me-up than reading over ones CV) and how much I'm going to improve during it. And I'm quite excited about getting older (not old; older). I like wanting to go to bed, and not vomiting all the time from drinking too much. I like talking to my friends about actual things. And I really love being married, and being old enough to have been in the state for two years without having had some freaky young wedding because our religion wouldn't allow us to have sex unless we had done so (but young enough that when we're sixty, we'll have been married more than thirty years). Old is still something I have to learn to accept, but older? Thank you, please.