Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sad Things

A few weeks ago, I read this article about Pat Lam and the Blues. I didn't really understand it, so I asked Vincent to explain what people have been saying about why the Blues have been losing, and he did, as well as explaining what Andy Haden's hateful comments meant, and after he did, I was in shock. Today I read that the same thing is happening to Steve Kearney in Australia. How can people be so horrible? Who really believes that ethnicity has anything to do with leadership ability, or the ability to follow instruction, or to work as a team? Culture plays a part in how people approach these things - I remember the bit in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink about the airline pilots - but does not have any bearing on whether or not people can do them. I don't even know what I want to say about this, except that it really hurts, and that it makes me feel protective of all Polynesians, and a bit more separate from other New Zealanders. Sport is one of the few things in which I thought we were accepted - not much, and actually pretty aggravating (the only Samoans who have been claimed as New Zealanders by the media are or were All Blacks) - but it was something.

But today I'm especially sad about Herman Curry. I can't stop thinking about him, and his family, and those boys who went the depot to steal, and now have this on their hands. I wish that the Currys will be okay.

(Update: The boys weren't responsible for Herman's death; they didn't even see him. I am still sad for him and his family, but I am glad for all of them that the boys had nothing to do with it.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Good Times (For A Change)


Read about it here. It's not a long time, but Vincent told me white collar criminals like him (don't you wish sometimes there was a lower lowercase so you could do the opposite of what people do with god and god's personal pronouns?) rank just above paedophiles in prisons, so I'm hopeful his stay is as much about quality as quantity. As Vito Corleone would point out, this sentence is not justice, but maybe if you crossed The Money Or The Bag with Would You Rather? then it might come close-ish. At any rate, it's something.

Thatcher, I'm still waiting on your day - and it is coming.

Another Day, More Wifing

I cooked again. Walking from the supermarket with an over-flowing bag of shopping over my shoulder plus two other bags of bits (including a mat I bought from Trade Aid - grown up shopping!) in my new boots nearly killed me (but I stand by my assertion that secondhand boots are still better than new ones in that they don't require breaking in) and made me want to throw everything out the window, but I didn't. Since Brazil's heart-breaking loss to France in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, which saw me, overcome by emotion and sleep-deprivation, trash my bedroom at five or six in the morning (concurrently breaking my new, fake Baby G watch - more heartbreak), and then sheepishly clean it up later when I woke up, I haven't been much of a smasher or breaker of things that I will have to fix up later. It just seems a bit lame (especially if the cleaning up part has to be done in front of an audience, or involves scraping bits of hamburger off a wall and then throwing up in the bucket you're carrying around with you). Instead, I sat, and recovered, and drank this weird coconut water drink I bought that is supposed to have more potassium than a banana/be 99.9% fat free/give you x-ray vision, and then I calmly made dinner for my family. This isn't going to become a regular Thursday thing, but I quite like making what I cooked, and it's yum and healthy (as long as you don't count cream or carbs as unhealthy), so I'm going to share the recipe with you, just like it's 1950 and this is my radio show. The recipe is one I ripped out from a magazine at my Mum's house (a bit Tony Soprano - sorry Mutter) but I added the broccoli and chilli powder because I am such a whizz in the kitchen and just love feeling my way around food. [Insert retching here.]

Cannellini Pasta

500g shell pasta
olive oil
an onion, finely chopped
garlic, chopped
400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup vege stock
300mL cream (does anyone else still write mL like we learnt in chemistry instead of ml?)
1/3 cup mint leaves, plus extra to serve
2 Tbsp lemon juice
chilli powder
2 heads broccoli
1/2 cup shaved parmesan

Music match: Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Cook pasta, drain well, and return to pot. Then boil or steam broccoli until just cooked.
(I have to do this last since we only have two elements and if I do it first, everything goes cold. Hopefully you are dealing with a fully-grown kitchen that will let you do all of this at the same time).
Heat oil in pan on medium. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Stir in beans and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for a few minutes. Add cream and return to simmer (I can't remember how long the recipe said, but the longer I can be bothered doing it, the better it seems to taste). Transfer to blender/food processor, add mint, chilli and lemon juice, and process until smooth. Season to taste, and then toss through pasta with the broccoli and parmesan. Serve hot with more parmesan and extra mint leaves.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ANZAC Day

I don't know how to start telling about the dawn service this morning. We walked because it was too early for buses, and arrived in plenty of time but still had to get a place on the hill because the area around the cenotaph was full, and although that made me happy, I became less so as it became clearer that lots of people were there for I don't know what - to borrow a feeling, I guessed, although I freely admitted to being very, very grumpy (I don't like early mornings). I tried to ignore them. A man walked by in the darkness holding two big flags over his shoulders, NZ's and Australia's, and the sight of him made me cry. Then the service began, and the speaker said NZ is the first place in the world to celebrate ANZAC day, and that made me laugh. There were even fewer veterans, and the people holding photos of their fathers were older. Less people sang; many of us didn't know the words to anything except our anthem (although we piped in on the line 'Advance Australia fair'). Afterward, I saw a man in a puffa jacket acknowledge another man, in uniform, and it made me feel happy.

For the first time it struck to me that a big part of people's participation in ANZAC day isn't really about ANZAC day at all; it's about having a national day that everyone can be part of. For some people, that day should be Waitangi day, but I still don't know how I feel about it, or whether I want to celebrate it; I feel a bit like it was the start of yet another chapter of Maori being betrayed and treated badly, and there is nothing to celebrate in that. Lots of us are relatively recent immigrants, and some just don't understand the significance of ANZAC day except in that it is something everyone respects - everyone.

I don't have any family who fought in WWI, or any war, for that matter. When I imagine what it must have been like, I think about the men I love, and how it would feel for them, and for us left behind, if we had been alive during the war. I look at the veterans, and think about what they went through, and what life might have been like when they came home, and what it's like now. The imaginings make me feel a bit removed from the day, and I start to wonder if I'm borrowing a feeling, before I allow that imagining is a way of remembering. But today, as the sun came up, I looked out over Auckland and thought how much I love this place, and how everyone there was bound by that feeling, and that whatever we were thinking about, essentially that was what our presence meant. New Zealand frustrates me, and sometimes breaks my heart, but I love it, and if I thought the way we live was threatened, I would be moved to action. ANZAC day is about remembrance, and peace, but it's also about having things that are precious to you, and being somewhere you have chosen to be.

I think lots of us who live here forget that every day we are here is a choice. Most of us could leave at any time, but we don't, and it's because something keeps us here. And I think we sometimes get stuck in our pretence that Australia is nothing but the devil we know. Today, I remember that Australia is the country I want to win when NZ or a small underdog nation can't, and where lots of people I love choose to live. And I remember that not travelling is a choice; it's not that I don't want to see other places, or that I just haven't gone. I have stayed. I chose to stay.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Amazing Ethnicity

Doesn't quite work the same as it would if I used 'race', but I don't use race because the term comes from the entire idea of an ethnic hierarchy ie racism. Besides which, I like ethnicity; it sounds better to me, and makes it easier for me to separate culture.

Last week my sister commented that I am very colour conscious. I was surprised; I speak openly about ethnicity and culture all the time, and no-one has said that to me before. I wondered if she was right, and decided she was. Then I wondered - and discussed with Vincent - whether that was a bad thing, and we decided not. Actually, we decided How can I not be? I bang on about lived experience; everything we do is done through the bodies we have and is shaped by the bodies we have, regardless of what our minds are like. To me, not being white shapes my experiences as much as not being a man; it is natural to me to be conscious of the differences between the way I am understood in the things I do and what is expected of me, and the way things would be if I were not a woman, or not brown-skinned. The fact is, I am a brown-skinned person living in a world (and a country) that is dominated by white people. Not being part of this group means I am always the Other; even if my habits and culture are the same. For years and years I thought I was the same as all of my friends, and everybody else, but I never was; they knew, but I didn't - you can laugh at their jokes, drink with them, fart with them, but you will never be in the boys' club if you were not born a boy. And if I am something - a woman, and a member of an ethnic minority, then I am not going to make you nothing, because that means accepting you are the default, and I am not going to do that. I know Cixous. I know Beauvoir. If I am something, you are something too.

I'm already way off what I came here to talk about. Over the last couple of days I've been reading about the experiences of other people who are not white but live in countries where most people are. One of the funny things about New Zealand is that because we are small so we live within short distances of each other, and we don't have riots, and a million other reasons, most New Zealanders think our country is not racist. If for you, as for me, racism is a not irregular experience, this can make you think you are crazy. A few years ago I read an interview with Ian McKellen (am I meant to say sir?) where he talked about a bbq he was at with Helen Clark (in the good old days, when the ol' ship was under her command), and complimented her on NZ not being a racist place. She told him that actually, NZ is very racist (but that she was determined to change that as much as she could during her time as PM). I was so grateful to read that, and relieved to know that whatever everyone else seemed to think, the lady at the top knew what was happeneing. But anyway, because people don't see NZ as racist, they don't worry about what they say, how it might sound, and what they mean when they say it. They will say things about a lifestyle (meaning a culture), or a place (meaning a socio-economic group and, often, by default, an ethnicity). Bollocks, I'm off topic again. 

Okay, the first thing I read was this article on Jezebel, about institutionalised racism on tv, and terrifyingly racist attitudes in America. The part I found most horrifying was the result of a poll taken last year that showed that 40% of Mississippi Republicans believe inter-racial marriage should be legal. What, now? But this isn't just an American thing. When I was at uni, a girl I had worked with forwarded me one of those email quizzes that people did before facebook was born, purportedly to get to know your acquaintances better. In this instance, it was more a case of get to know your workmate's frightening bigotry. One of the questions was (fuck knows why) Do you believe in inter-racial marriage? And her answer was No, plus some reasons why. This was a semi-educated (she was at uni, but she may have studying property management or something), young (I think three years younger than me) woman who had lived her entire life in NZ (albeit in one of those far eastern suburbs which seem to be favoured by immigrants from countries with histories of de jure racism - you tell me why). Not only do I think this is just inherently fucked up, I take it extremely personally, both being a Samoan with an English surname and married to someone of a different ethnicity (who, needless to say, is as angry and offended at these things as I am). What is so scary about people whose ancestors came from different parts of the world, getting it on?

The next thing I read, also on Jezebel (it's so much better reading than the weekend papers, and not only does it have the Hollywood gossip stuff that I pretend not to be reading when we have the paper, it makes fun of some of the people), was this article about the mono-cultural world of Lena Dunham's new HBO series Girls. I'm not going to repeat all the stuff I've said before about this kind of racism on tv (yes, exclusion absolutely is racism). Nor am I going to go on about how the fuck did she get to make and star in an HBO show after the awfulness that was her debut feature Tiny Furniture, that Vincent and I went to see (but didn't walk out of, for some reason; I can't remember if it was because we were wedged in or because I had sore legs). So I'll just say this is Not Fucking Good Enough. The bit about universal experiences on tv only ever being those of white characters is something that bugs me all the time, as is the fact that tv and movies aimed at both men and women always centre on a male character. And yeah, I can boycott, but what does that leave me with? Not much. I can only watch The Wire so many times before I have some kind of breakdown.

Lastly, I read this conversation between two writers on Rookie, which I really liked. Rookie is meant to be for teenage girls, but I dunno, I think maybe I'll always have a bit of the teenage girl in me. Besides which, any person could get a lot out of the website; above all it's about figuring out who you are and how to be yourself, and everyone can use a bit of that. Anyway, the two writers are what they term bi-racial, and I think the article is incredibly important - even at 28, having experiences like mine shared means a lot to me because it so rarely happens. As you know, I am frequently asked where I am from, and it drives me completely beserk. 1. Do you mean what is my ethnicity? 2. None of your FUCKING business. 3. Can I gift-wrap any or all of this for you?

Ethnicity is both amazing and unremarkable. It can be central to who we are, but that should be up to each of us; not the people who look at us. I think lived experience really refers to reactions to our beings, but I dream of the day when it is about our mental and physical capabilities, and nothing else. Simon de Beauvoir talked about an open-ended future - and I believe it's our birthright. Not as women, or anything else, but just as people.

This is completely unrelated, but I've been watching this clip and I'd be interested to know if you think it's funny - I do. The movie was kind of an epiphany for me (I always seem to have them during movies that I didn't really want to tell people I saw; maybe part of the lesson), and I remember enjoying it. Here it is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What We Do On Mondays

Actually, we were reading, but then we decided to look things up on wikipedia that we'd been wondering about, and then we ended up looking at dogs (we always end up looking at dogs), and then Vincent showed me the first video, which is nothing short of incredible, and then we watched the second, which is possibly the most gripping thing you will watch this week.





God, I love dogs. I LOVE them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Little Things

Last Sunday, I slept in a little bit and then got up and ate breakfast alone in a sun-bathed room while I finished my book. Then I had a bath and read about Hekia Parata and Gordon McLauchlan, and then I threw them on the floor and looked at the expanse that is my stomach. When I was dressed, there was a toasted sandwich waiting for me on the table. And then we took a drive in to Dunedin to visit the museum, but before going to see anything, we sat down at the cafe and ate lolly cake. It was a lovely, lovely Sunday.

Today I am festering in yesterday's filth, and in spite of waking at half past eleven, have already had an afternoon nap. There is nothing remotely poetic about it, and if I could choose, I'd be doing last Sunday-type activities, but there is something nice about being hungover and disgusting and just revelling in it.

Yesterday, walking from the train station to my recently aged friend's house, we passed a church hall where the choir was practising, and it made me feel warm and happy. I don't know why I'd assumed church choirs just sang like that; tv programmes always have choir practice. The street smelled like smoke from wood-burning fires. When we got to my friend's house, we ate cheese and drank beer and borrowed books and talked about museums.

Justin Townes Earle was a disappointment, but that's okay. He has a lovely voice, and plays well, and is capable of writing good songs; songs you want to slow dance to. But he also sings songs about things that just make you mad at this spoilt kid bitching on stage in front you, in spite of the fact that he travels the world playing music, and you are trying really hard not to spill any of your whisky on the ground because you don't want to waste it, and were cheersed earlier for your fifty-cent payrise. Still, there were moments I really enjoyed; listening to a love song (the name of which I knew I'd forget) while holding hands with my favourite person, making fun of the audience while we sat out in the courtyard, and then leaving early (taking back the power!) and doing Dixie accents while complaining about stupid things.

On the way to our next stop, a joint goodbye and birthday party, we talked about mashed potatoes and peas and something with gravy (we don't eat lamb anymore, and Vincent's off sausages since reading about their production - I don't want to know), and now Vincent is in the kitchen cooking them while I keep an eye on the time, and drink ginger beer, and think how much I like my life. When I was little, I think I wanted my life to be something spectacular; to do big things that everyone would see, and be important to lots of people. Now I don't want that even a little bit. I like that concerts are special, and that walking out of one is a big deal to us. I like catching buses and trains and walking to get to people's houses, instead of catching taxis (regardless of what I said to the contrary last night). One day I will do something big, but it won't be for an audience. I'm not done growing yet (self-improvement being, as we know, a life-long commitment), but I know I will always like the little things.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Port Chalmers and Dunedin

Until last weekend, I couldn't really see myself living in the South Island. We've talked about it; starting a cinema in Kaikoura, or growing fruit in Blenheim, but I don't think I really thought I could do it. Then, last Friday, Vincent and I went to visit his family in their new digs, and I am happy to say I have found somewhere on the cold side of Cook Strait where I could happily pass my time. In fact, I've spent not a few happy hours imagining us (Vincent, me, and a baby that seems to be part of this reverie) there in a little house, and in a little shop (there were some beautiful empty shops on the main street just begging someone to take possession of them and sell vintage clothes they bought ages ago but have never worn, or maybe cakes and records). The somewhere is Port Chalmers.

I freely admit the beautiful weather (cold, so I could wear hats, but sunny so I could also wear sunglasses - I looked like a mafia wife but I felt like Jackie O), the fact we were on holiday, and with people we love may have given us a rose-tinted view of the place. But there's something special about Port Chalmers. Maybe its roots as a workers' town - it used to be called Dogtown (which we think is awesome but, understandably, some of its inhabitants do not), or the fact that the other side of the harbour is supposedly more desirable because it gets more sun. Or maybe because it's fifteen minutes from Dunedin, which is beautiful and a Labour stronghold, where people kind of just do their thing.

Anyway, I loved it. I realise now that I forgot to take any photos of the shops in Port Chalmers, which are so pretty it's a bit ridiculous. They run down towards the port; two vintage clothes shops (one of which yielded a bag and hat), a few bits and bobs stores, two or three cafes, a jeweller, a dairy, and, best of all, a secondhand bookshop crammed with finds and a strange smell of old food wafting through it.



These geese are famous in Port Chalmers. There were ten of them until recently, and they're kind of like a local gang.




I don't know what happened to the kiwi to put it in a wheelchair.



We met the puppy outside the library, waiting for his Mum or Dad. He made my heart melt, and the melted bits start singing. Now I understand the whole biological thing of loving what resembles you; this puppy looked so much like Oscar that I immediately loved him, and he could feel it.


Port Chalmers rugby. I'm not sure how good the team is, but with such lovely surroundings to distract them, you can't really blame them if they don't win.




These were taken at the train station in Dunedin. The building is amazing; I don't remember seeing detail like that anyway. We also went to the museum again, and I learnt about digestion from the back of a toilet door. Then on our last day, I shopped. And shopped and shopped and shopped. Some of the shopping was done in South Dunedin, which is full of secondhand shops, and a bit like Onehunga or Glen Innes. Vincent and I had cheese rolls at a little tea-shop called Forget-Me-Nots, and we saw a funeral procession stop outside the pub, where mourners were waiting, and people drank beer and cheersed each other on the street and in the back of a ute playing Bob Marley, and cars behind just went around. There were pitbull-looking dogs, and lots of old people, and poor people, and it felt like everyone belonged. I like South Dunedin a lot.

Anyway, we're back now, and while it's nice to be home, I can't wait to go back and see what the port looks like in a cape of snow. I'll leave you with this, something my awesome Port sister introduced us to, and which we have watched many times since coming home. Happy weekend, mi amigos.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wifing

Perhaps because I am the daughter of a woman who detests doing it, I have never enjoyed cooking, and if it seemed like I was, I was probably just enjoying imbibing, and then enjoying being drunk. To me, cooking is akin to leg shaving. I will do it when I have to, because I have to, and although I'll enjoy the results, I'll never be sure if they're worth the exertion. This is why when my sister and her partner went used to go away, I would eat mi goreng noodles three times a day (lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner), and when Vincent djs, I go to Food Alley. Cooking for myself just isn't worth it. Cooking for others is only barely worth it. The probability of burning things always seems to increase when the people eating them don't live with me. Furthermore, the only time I have ever had food-poisoning was when my sister was away and I decided I would cook and invite friends over (both of whom also threw up later that night). Avoiding the kitchen is a safety issue.

However, I am now a wife. I have responsibilities. Usually these responsibilities are confined to not being too obnoxious in public, and buying the Christmas presents, but when Vincent has been cooking for weeks while I have sat on the couch watching Gilmore Girls and surreptitiously picking my nose, making dinner becomes one of these. And sometimes it's not so bad. It takes me all afternoon (possibly because I ferry everything to the couch and chop it while watching Gilmore Girls), and I always make a bigger mess in the kitchen than he does, but it feels good when the person you love best walks in the door and feels happy because something smells nice.

Tonight I made one of our favourite dinners (and day-after lunches), Vegetarian Lasagne, and I'm going to share the recipe with you. It came from my dearest Mother-in-law, who makes lots of yum and nutritious food (one of my cooking weaknesses is having no idea about protein or anything like that), and has given me, on request, lots of recipes (which I fully intend to use one day). I have tweaked this one to my taste but I can't remember where; maybe the chilli or the number of aubergines? Anyway, it can be expensive to make, and is time-consuming, but it's pretty easy, and no animals have to die for it.

Vegetarian Lasagne

Music match: Billy Bragg - Worker's Playtime

1 or 2 aubergines, cubed
2 courgettes, cubed
2 capsicums, cubed
2 bay leaves
1 can kidney beans, drained and washed
2 cans (or 600g) tomato puree
1/2 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
400g can diced tomatoes
2 tsp each dried basil and oregano
chilli powder
1 tsp brown sugar

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pan and cook onion and garlic until the onion is transparent. Add the vegetables and bay leaf, and saute for five minutes. Add everything else, plus salt and pepper, stir to combine, then cover, reduce to low simmer, and cook for fifteen minutes.

1/2 cup grated cheese
250g sour cream
500g ricotta
2 tsp flour

While the other stuff is cooking, combine these things in a bowl, plus a bit of salt.

Spread half of the tomato sauce over the bottom of an lasagne dish, cover with pasta, pour over half of the cheese sauce, and repeat, ending with cheese sauce. Cover the sauce with grated cheese, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 for thirty to forty minutes. We have it with green leaves and occasionally those little dinner rolls that you heat up, but you probably know how to make better accompaniments than those.

But I defy you to find a better accompaniment to stirring the vegetables than Billy Bragg, or more involving thoughts than when is the next (and actual) Great Leap Forward. Over to you, Comrade.



PS Cooking isn't strictly wifing; at least not the way we do it. That usually involves some kind of sixties manipulation - I'll tell you another time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cousins

If you're a Samoan kid, before you start school, you don't have friends. You have cousins. You have lots and lots of cousins, some of whom are older than you and have to look after you and whose conversations you'll want to hear so badly you go outside and listen outside their windows, some who are younger so you speak gibberish to the others so they don't know what you're talking about, and the ones who are the same age as you, with whom who fight the most but will still be playing cards and laughing with when you're both ninety.

Last week I got to hang out with a whole bunch of my cousins when one of them got married, and another when she visited from Melbourne. We don't play like we did when we were little, but mostly things haven't changed at all. The difference between friends and cousins is that whatever happens, you will always be in each others' lives; you have to be, so even when your relationship ebbs and it might make you sad, you can take comfort in the knowledge that it still exists. I've had ups and downs with all of my cousins, especially my cousin with whom I'm closest, and it really doesn't matter anymore; all that matters is what we do now. Some of my cousins are the offspring of people I think are terrible, which makes me love them more, and that reassures me; it makes me feel like things can grow from seemingly barren ground, and that those things can be beautiful. As I get older, I worry that without my parents my relationships with my extended family will become tenuous, but seeing my cousins makes me feel better about it. As long as they're related, there's a relationship; I just have to build it up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In The Pink



We've just returned from The Specials, and I have to say, there ain't no party like a 30-to-50-year-olds' party. They want their money's worth for the baby-sitter (but can afford to get properly boozed), they aren't embarrassed to wear the current tour t-shirt, and they know every blessed word to every song, plus - they get mad at people who push in (pushers-in make me want to slit their ankles with a swiss army knife). We've been to some amazing gigs this year with equally good crowds but none equalled tonight's; they sang, they clapped, they roared, and if they were anything like the little man beside us, they sweated up a storm (while yelling "Rude Boy!" - dude was awesome). The band themselves - all of the originals, minus Jerry - were in impeccable form; they sounded incredible, had the energy of kids a quarter of their ages, and were just massively good fun. They played four of the five songs we most wanted to hear, Too Much, Too Young and Enjoy Yourself back-to-back which was brilliant (and why I have the husky voice I wish I always had; I don't even think there's a name for the key I was "singing" in), and if we weren't living in a tiny apartment and hadn't had noise complaints in our tenancy history, we certainly would have heeded Terry's call for a house to host the after-party. But considering the median age of the crowd, I'm pretty sure he found one (and one where the landperson is also the host).

On our way out at the end, a happy guy a bit younger than us in a plaid shirt stopped me to high-five me, and said I looked like I was having the time of my life, and then told Vincent he looked like he was enjoying himself even more. He was right. I've come home with piss on my shoes instead of lipstick on my shirt, but it doesn't matter a bit (and, to be honest, if Vincent had been wearing lipstick, my face would be too). The Specials are The Best.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I See Red

1. I have never liked the North Shore. It never seemed like Auckland to me; it's mono-cultural (and proudly so), conservative, right-wing, and has always struck me as a pretty jumping off place, like Orewa. So you can imagine my feelings when I read this article about Devonport residents protesting the Treaty Settlement granting Ngati Whatua 3.2 hectares of land; these smug, selfish, uninformed Coronation Street-watching old biddies threatening to occupy a fucking naval base because they believe it to be theirs. I can't really even write about this because it makes me so mad; I want to divorce my beloved Auckland from Devonport, but also to move there and host family parties with pigs on the spit and people-movers parked all over my un-mown grass verge, and I want to force every person at that meeting to read about Auckland's history and then, if they still want to occupy the base, to go and kick their garden gnomes and put holes in their garden hoses and maybe even pee on their outdoor cane furniture.

2. Under new anti-pornography laws, women in Indonesia will no longer be able to wear mini-skirts. What. The. Fuck. According to the country's parliamentary speaker, a piece of shit called Marzuki Ali, "there have been a lot of rape cases and other immoral acts recently and this is because women aren't wearing appropriate clothing". I want to tear out my hair, and while it makes me feel very lucky to live in NZ, and this is the logical conclusion of what opponents of Slutwalk were saying; that women are responsible for the "immoral" (um, try despicable, abhorrent, and illegal) act of rape. I grew up attending a Christian cult, and I distinctly remember a night at youth club when all of the girls were asked to come into a separate room for a little chat. The little chat, given by a fuckhead who had absolutely no business being in charge of impressionable young adults (and I am happy to say has since departed this world that he found so wicked), was about the way we girls were dressing, and our responsibility as women to dress in a way that would not "trip up" the boys, who were biologically programmed to look and want (science occasionally had a place at Church of Christ). Aside from the fact that this was Fucking Ludicrous, the cult was so strict that the "inappropriate dress" was tshirts that showed a bit of stomach when the wearer reached up (probably during volleyball, which we were forced to play all the fucking time) and singlets that weren't baggy; it was a given that girls would wear tshirts and boardshorts when swimming at events with boys present (even the annual church picnic, where the timetable for the pool separated men and women anyway. I am not kidding). What caused me most pain, however, was the rule that women must cover their heads in church. I remember reading (in the bible) that hats were a sign of submission to men; that was why men were to remove their hats, and why women were to wear them, and while I didn't understand the anti-feminism of being told to dress in clothes that wouldn't "tempt the boys" (his words, again), even my fourteen-year-old feminism understood that perfectly. I didn't wear a hat, which may not seem like much now, but that church was the biggest part of my life outside of school and, in spite of fools like the youth leader, I wanted to be a Christian, and boy did I fucking try. Not wearing a hat exposed me to criticism (from people who didn't even know me), and marked me as a questioner, for whom faith wasn't enough. For my last few months there, I conceded and wore a headscarf, but if anyone had actually known me, it would have been clear that this was worse than when I wouldn't wear one; I didn't care about being sincere anymore. Jeez, now I'm way off what I was talking about, but anyway, you can find the verses in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11.

3. But what makes me see crimson (or scarlet, whatever's redder) is the white nationalist march that took place in Christchurch last week. And worse, it scares me, and I hate being scared because it makes me feel powerless. When I was young, all I knew about Christchurch was that there were skinheads there. When I finally went there, I loved it; it was beautiful, some of the people (and the person) I love best in the world were from there, and I could see the things about the city that had made them. But I never forgot the things I had heard about the skinheads, and the people who weren't used to non-white cultures, and I was never completely easy. My now-Dunedin mother and I would talk about the culture of violence among young men there who felt disenfranchised and alone, and she explained how the size of the city, as well as the ethnic make-up contributed to this, and I thought about the skinheads, but mostly thought of them as teenagers who would grow out of it, or isolated men who would play video games and watch violent porn. Marches like this mean these people aren't isolated, and when white supremacist groups have any media attention, membership rises. Some of the views expressed in this short article are pretty much the same as ACT and a million other groups; emotive (and nonsensical) statements like "It's alright to be white" and "We want our heritage back". Vincent has been patiently telling me that this is a very small proportion of Christchurch's population (my ire at Sophie Pascoe declaring her surprise at how nice Aucklander's were - after an Auckland club paid for her to come and train here after QE11 was closed! - included a few choice epithets about Cantabrians going somewhere hot and fictional) and I know it, but I can't help being mad at the the city for fostering these attitudes (yes I know that is crazy and that Devonport is part of Auckland and blah blah blah).

Why can't we all just be nice to each other; or, at least, leave each other alone? Why does difference always have to mean a better and a worse? I know I called a dead guy a fuckhead two paragraphs ago, but I truly wish we would all just get along, and get on with it. I feel like Holden Caulfield. Don't you? Except today, when I want to roar, and rampage, and get bloody satisfaction, and have babies who will roar and rampage with me.