Monday, December 9, 2013

(just slipping in quietly)

Can we just pretend it hasn't been a month and a half? If you read the Dogtown blog, you'll know that the shop has been taking all of my (limited) energy; when we get home in the evening all I can do is flop on the couch and wait to be fed, and I spend at least one full day of the weekend in bed, napping and reading. One of the aspects of parenting that pregnancy is really preparing me for is being tired all the time (and I'm aware that I don't even really know what tired means yet), and that means I have to be really selective about how I expend the resources I have. It's actually quite fucking boring; picking having a shower over going for a drive.

Anyway, it's just over two weeks until Christmas, and just under two weeks until we get to Auckland. I can't wait for either; talking and reading about Auckland makes me so eager to get there and hug the city (or its representatives; look out council workers, homeless people, and people of Asian, African, or Polynesian descent - I am coming for YOU), and Christmas means being with my family for several weeks, and eating a shitload of food and listening to carols incessantly. I'm both nervous and excited to see how much I manage to eat without putting room/time aside for alcohol. It could be amazing. It could be UGLY.

I also think it's time to get away from Dunedin for a bit, even though that means being away from our house, and Joe, and Vincent's parents. I feel like I have more love for the city than it has for me at the moment. We went to a Christmas market on Saturday and came across two stalls selling Golly dolls - one devoted to them, and it made me feel a bit sick and very ashamed. Racism exists everywhere but it doesn't make it feel any less awful when you come across it, particularly in such a setting; with school choirs performing, and Santa walking around giving out lollies. A week ago, Vincent and I passed a group of anti-abortion protesters outside the hospital; almost ten of them (most being men), holding up hateful signs accusing women who undergo terminations as murderers, and it was clear that nothing either of us said made a difference to them - in fact, they seemed to derive pleasure from it, even my obvious pain; smiling, and chanting prayers. This happens everywhere too; both Vincent and I have had run-ins with men in Auckland doing the same thing, but never had I seen so many, and never right outside the hospital doors. I've always felt strongly about anti-abortion protesting (I won't call them pro-life; they're pro- one kind of life, but completely disregard the lives and rights of women) but never more so than now, when I have a baby inside me. Pregnancy is hard - no doubt about it. I've come to realise what a personal experience it is, and that it must differ for every person who goes through it, but I can't believe that it's ever easy. For me, it's as easy as it could be; I'm thirty, in a relationship that defines the words stable and loving, I'm healthy, I have my own house, and I have family and friends to support me. And yet it's still hard. If any of those things were removed, I don't know how I would handle this; even if I had all of them but was five years younger. No-one, and especially no fucking man, has the right to tell me or any woman who finds out she's pregnant what we should do, or that her decision not to continue her pregnancy is wrong. After taking an applied ethics paper at uni, I realised I'm not clear on where I believe life begins, and I understand how some people feel about a foetus, but when it comes to the foetus in someone else's body, it is none of anyone else's business.

I sound angry, but I'm not; not at this moment, anyway. I feel displaced. I haven't found my people down here yet, and I'm starting to realise that I need friends here - having wonderful friends in Auckland isn't enough. I need to know that there are people like me and Vincent down here; our age, with similar interests and values, who want this place to be what we want it to be.

Anyway. In an hour we'll go to Vincent's Mum & Dad's and eat vegetarian lasagna and ice-cream and strawberries from the garden, and we'll talk about politics and people, and I'll feel better - as far as friends go, we couldn't find better ones down here than they are to us. In two weeks, we'll be in my city, either at our friends' house, or at my parents', or at one of our favourite bars in the city, where I won't even care that there won't be alcohol in my drink and that I'll be twice the size of every other woman there. 

And then, after a time, I think I'll miss here. And then I'll realise it's home.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

the actual deal with pregnancy

Since first learning about him, I've always thought Descartes was an idiot. Mind/body dualism made no sense to me; who I am is so much about lived experience - lived experience is how I understand feminism, and the experience of ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ community. It's how I make sense of the world, and where I fit (or don't fit) in it.

Then I got pregnant. And my body began to change. Fast. And all of a sudden, there was a gap between my mind and my body, and I started to feel like a crazy person, without cohesion, unable to make any sense of myself. In my mind, I'm still me; the same me I've fought to be since I was listening to Channel Z in the dark until midnight. But my body is someone else's; I wake up sore from someone else's movement, and my stomach and boobs get bigger with someone else's growth. I feel like they don't belong to me anymore, but I have to carry them around and be judged by them; defined by them. People who don't know who I am look at me and see a pregnant woman; that's all I am. And my dissatisfaction; my desire to be seen as me first, makes me feel like a bad mother.

I've been trying to figure out if this is what a feminist pregnancy is, or if this is anti-feminist pregnancy and all about feeling sexually invisible and undesirable, and really, I don't know. Maybe it's both. I do know that I want to be pregnant, and that I want my daughter to have a completely open-ended future, and that I will fight to the death for her to have it. I know it's a privilege to be a parent, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a particular privilege to be her parent. But I don't want to be defined by her; especially not by her not as an individual but just as something that came out of me. I realise now that as much as I love my relationships; being Vincent's wife, my sisters' sister, my parents' daughter etc, that I've never felt defined by them, or ever wanted to be. Being a parent; more specifically, a mother, threatens to define me. As far as I can tell, the women around me accept that, or welcome it (unless they just don't think about it), and it makes me feel separate from them, and think I'm doing this wrong. But I don't feel entirely wrong. I feel like being a separate person, undefined by my reproductive choices, is a fair thing to want. And I feel angry that I didn't know it might feel like this. Pregnancy is an incredibly personal experience, and one that must be different for every person. But I can't believe that there aren't more women who have been through it who haven't felt this way, and if there were, that they didn't say anything about it. In all of the conversations I've had about pregnancy, I've found one woman - one, who is struggling to reconcile head with her changing body. And I've been too afraid of being judged to say to the rest that I resent some of this; that I hate not being me, and that I want to do it all differently.

I don't know if this even makes sense; it's come out weird because I feel it so strongly, and because just saying it feels like an act of defiance. In the same way that it feels like a betrayal of my daughter in what she might see as the role of a traditional mother, it also feels also feels like I'm protecting her and her right to be herself, independent of anyone, including me. My feelings are about me - I'm not pretending they're about anyone else, but my right to feel them go so much further than me, and the best idea I have of things going further than myself right now is my daughter, in my uterus right now. My emotional state makes it hard to think about what I want for her for too long because the waterworks start, and it makes me feel guilty because I can't bond with her in the state she is now and I don't really know why; people always say a woman becomes a mother when she becomes pregnant and a man a father when the baby is born, but it's not true for me - I'm just an incubator who feeds her and carries her around and tries to bond with an idea I have of her, which is her in a few years, not her now, and I try to pretend she's strong and defiant in there and doesn't need me to be all maternal but I can't help feeling like she's on her own and vulnerable because I'm thinking of her as an idea and not what she is. But I know I want complete freedom for her, including gender fluidity, and the chance to be whatever she wants.

I'm going to end on a rant so I don't feel so sad. Since being pregnant, I've noticed more and more that people are using sex and gender interchangeably; from the research I've done, it seems to be an American thing, like saying disoriented instead of disorientated. Except that it's really different. I'm so tempted to be an asshole when people talk about a gender scan, and ask them what the machine looks like, and how sad I think it is that even babies in utero are subject to social construction. The reason it bothers me so much is because understanding feminism and LGBTQ rights depend on the distinction between the two. Sex refers to the junk a person is born with. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles conferred on the sexes, or a person's personal experience of their sex. When we use the two interchangeably, we make sex seem like a biological destiny that determines who we are and what we are able to be like. I completely reject this for myself, and the thought of my daughter having this foisted upon her makes me want to go off into the Amazon rainforest right now.

It's so much more comfortable being a cockhole than an isolated mind with a baby on board.

Friday, October 11, 2013

don't judge me

1. I'm almost certain people aren't judging my food choices, but I can't help feeling like they are. I bought a coffee for my mother-in-law yesterday, and because I didn't want the person behind the counter to think I'm drinking coffee during pregnancy, I got a drink for myself, even though I didn't actually want it. Today I got a burger from a takeaway bar (I feel like I'm going to be stoned for just writing that), and I felt like people were watching and disapproving the way we all did when those photos of Catherine Zeta-Jones, smoking when she was about to pop, came out. The thing is, I actually eat pretty healthily but no-one ever believes me - which is can be hilarious and frustrating, like when my Dad gave me a lecture about my health and diet and then served up dinner; a (yum) seafood curry and rice with NO vegetables in it. Since being pregnant, I've eaten even better, but no-one ever sees it, and then when I'm sitting here eating Doritos (which have never tasted so good), I feel as if someone's going to bust down the door and say "do you know what's IN that?!". So: I am eating lots and lots of vegetables. At least two servings of fruit. Tons of other good stuff. And I am also eating lollies (a little dollar bag from the dairy every other day). And Doritos. And today I ate a pineapple burger from the takeaway bar. So.

2. I'm watching X Factor. I watched it last night. I will probably watch it next Thursday and Friday too.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

then/now

I wish I was the kind of person who does those visualising exercises to help clarify where she would like to be in however many years time, and that sort of thing. Not that I don't like seeing life unfold as if it's just happening and not the result of a million little choices and chances; I just think it would be interesting to see what kind of person I was to want whatever I thought I wanted, and how much of a fortunate failure I might be. What I'm really saying is, this time last year I don't think I had much of an idea that right now I would be sitting in a deck-chair pretending to be a pregnant Sophia Loren (I really just mean that I'm barefoot with sunglasses and an off-the-shoulder top, and that I bothered to fix my hair - okay, I bothered to fix the front and sides, which I thought was normal until my sister told me otherwise) in the afternoon sun, watching Joe bask and eat his paws, waiting for Vincent to come home with the dinner his Mum is making for us, with a faint smell of cat shit riding the breeze (Joe chased a cat into the shed earlier, and it seems the cat may have shat itself while waiting to make its esacpe, which it finally did about ten minutes ago, two hours after Joe chased it in. Cat lovers may not enjoy this story, but I think the whole episode was hilarious, and life and tv being as they are, you have to get your kicks where you can).

I remember the feeling of being young so clearly. Vincent played a quintessentially '90s sounding song the other day, and the feelings of being an adolescent came flooding back with it; those of longing, and desperation for life to start. That was the last time I think I visualised my future; but it was never a specific place, or situation. It was always a vague sense of glamour (HA HA) and ALWAYS dominated by Shakespearean romance, although rather than being an active participant, I always seemed to cast myself as an object of loving obsession. I shudder at the patriarchal traditions associated with weddings, but I should be more forgiving; though a feminist now, the time when my mind was most romantically active, all I dreamt of was the male gaze.

The male gaze is not a problem for the pregnant woman, except in that the fact it isn't a problem is, really, a problem. When you become pregnant, you start to become invisible; like you're being benched for a while. I've been watching Sex And The City when Miranda's pregnant with Brady, and being benched when you're single and really not wanting to be benched looks like a fucking pain. The general perception of pregnant women is so incompatible with the tidal wave of hormones and blood booming around her body. They dance around the subject politely and allude to it as delicately as possible on pregnancy websites, and it does no-one any favours. I think the real reason women used to go into confinement was because the men they were tied to lacked the time, energy, will or ability to have sex with them when the women wanted it, and times were such that no-one questioned them when they said it was for decency and health. Foiled by men AGAIN.

On Sex And The City, I've just had epiphany after epiphany while watching. I wrote a long post about what I realised about singles and couples and how much sex they have and why they sleep with the people they sleep with, but didn't publish because I'm not sure if it's a revelation or just crazy-talk. In any case, I think I know now why single people sometimes sleep with idiots, and it makes sense. (I'm still confused as to why people who are usually in relationships do it.) I also think I realise now how much more sex people in relationships probably have than most single people (that might sound obvious, but I truly assumed that most single people were having maybe less weekday sex, but just as regular weekend sex, just with lots more people. Generally speaking, I now believe that to be untrue. I think my views were swayed by how much sex my best single girlfriends have - more than other singles - and how desirable I think they are. If that makes sense.) Anyway, it's all kind of information I could have used yesterday. I'm afraid now that I was one of those awful smug-marrieds at Magda & Jeremy's house, who thinks their mostly coupled experience is the norm. Now I realise if there's going to be any kind of norm, it should be that of a single person, because that's how we all start out, and while some people have never been in a relationship, no-one in the world has not been single.

Now I think I was best not to publish the last epiphany, because that one looks like a huge, ridiculous generalisation - I know some people don't care at all about sex. However, it is what I learnt from Sex And The City, so it sticks until I learn something different from Girls. (I'm joking. Mostly.) Watching has also been making me really miss my girlfriends, and cocktails (which, with the exception of Tom Collins, I haven't drunk regularly for years... mmm, Tom Collins), and cafe breakfasts, and being bothered getting dressed up, and a relatively flat stomach. Those were the DAYS.

Now I'm sitting on a deckchair in the evening sun with an empty bag of Doritos and a glass of water that was mine until Joe started lapping from it, having only brushed my teeth (since getting up) two hours ago. Two of my best friends turn thirty tomorrow. I'm not wishing to go back in time (although that would be fun), though I'm thinking of ("some", crucially) of it wistfully. But I am really looking forward to when we're together again, maybe in our mid-thirties, like the SATC girls, with all of the knowledge and epiphanies that will make us better people and better friends (I had more to learn than any of them), drinking cocktails made with less and better alcohol than we used to use, dressed in more and looking a million times better for it, and hopefully not having to put fingers down each others' throats at any point during the night.

I really want to post THIS version of THIS song but record companies blah blah blah so...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

where we're at

The other day, we discovered a talent we didn't know I had. I am awesome at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Except, the way we play doesn't end with Kevin Bacon; Vincent names two actors, and I try to link them in as few steps as possible (and never more than six). It makes me feel like my freakish propensity to remember actors' names and from whence I know them is actually very important and could one day win me a million dollars, or a car, or something.

I know it's been quiet around here. I've found life a bit overwhelming lately, and I think I've been avoiding coming here in particular because this is a place where I really think about things, and while that's how I like to live - an examined life - there are times when it's all I can do to just to shower and change my top.

In two words: I'm pregnant.

I'm happy about it; immensely happy, actually. But I'm also shit-scared, and I'm tired all the time, and I feel so responsible, but not responsible full-stop; responsible for. I realise that's how a lot of people live their lives; kids who are their family's big hope, guide-dogs. Parents. But for much of my life, the goal was independence; limited responsibility to, and responsibility for myself only. Now everything I do affects someone else, and by extension, someone else too. Sometimes it paralyses me, and then sometimes I wonder if it's a crutch and if I was already paralysed but now have something I can point to.

Now that I'm here, I realise I need to keep coming back. Before this happened, but after we'd decided we wanted it to, I had begun writing a book about it. Since it happened, I haven't been able to write a thing, and I don't really know why. Do you ever feel as if everything is happening, and nothing is happening? That's how I feel, right now.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

two things, one song

Number One: Today is my big sister's birthday. I have to whisper her age because she looks younger than she is, and might be following the time-honoured tradition of lying about it because we live in a patriarchal world where women have a very small window where all positive characteristics are allowed to overlap. HATE THE GAME, COMRADES. (She's forty.) I know I'm freaking out a little bit about turning thirty so it would be hypocritical not to allow my sister a freak out, but she needn't have one. She has been a fully functioning adult for a long time. By that, I mean all of the things you might think I mean. Examples: She has a career she likes, and she also has outlets for things her job doesn't include. She cooks food with vegetables in it but will eat cake for breakfast. Etc. Anyway, she used to really love this band, and got to go and see them when she was about sixteen. That was before Bono became cringe-worthy. It was when these guys were at their peak.

Number Two: Today George Zimmerman was found not guilty of the second degree murder of Trayvon Martin. It seems that the jury agree that being black, male, and in Florida is just cause for homicide. This makes me sad, and FULL of rage. I am trying not to think about it but my mind keeps coming back to it, even in a roundabout way. I was in the shower about fifteen minutes ago and realised this song was in my head, and the first line was looping around and around.

The thing is, I can believe the news today. Many of us were bracing ourselves for it.

A happy thing to celebrate, and a terrible thing to rue. Both on a Sunday.


Happy birthday M. I'm glad I have you to celebrate today xx

art vs exploitation (or: what makes me feel weird)

Did you guys read this article on Jezebel about the secondhand tshirt trade in Haiti? It's in response to this project by two Haitian-based photo-journalists, Paolo Wood and Ben Depp, who documented Haitian locals wearing secondhand sloganed tshirts from America.

Here is one.


The pictures, and the tone of the accompanying text, make me feel really uncomfortable. I even feel a bit uncomfortable posting one of the pictures here, but I hope that the respect I have for this man makes it okay. I assume there was an ethics process with the project (though I wonder if artists consider ethics a form of censorship?); I really, really hope so. But I'm not sure, not least because the text says that the slogans would be "amusing and ironic" if not for the fact that tailors in Haiti are rapidly going out of business because of the tshirts. I don't find anything in this project amusing, and I find the idea of amusement at these pictures repulsive. These are PEOPLE. Not "subjects". PEOPLE. According to wikipedia, radio is the primary information medium for most Haitians. How many of the people in these photos will ever see the project in its entirety? I don't know.

The fact that the pictures are on the internet makes me feel incredibly protective of the people in them. In a gallery, most people who viewed them would see them in some kind of context; at the very least, most people would have gone there to see "art". People browsing the internet... could be looking for anything. I don't trust enough of them not to look at the photos and laugh because someone "ignorant" (ie understands a language other than English) is wearing a tshirt incongruous with their appearance.

I agree that the  accessibility of the tshirts putting local tailors out of business is, as an isolated fact, sad (and a phenomenon see all over the world, although in countries like NZ, the tshirt sellers are KMart, or The Warehouse). However, I think that's also only part of the story. Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day; cheap clothing is, for most Haitians, probably a means to spending more on other things, and that's not sad. Someone outside Haiti saying that it's sad is, I think, out of line. Our local Marbecks closing because it can't compete with Amazon and JB Hi-Fi - that's sad and unnecessary, because what they sell is not essential; it's a luxury (though many might disagree), and as such, people buying what they sell are more likely to have a choice. If they want that luxury, they can allocate their money accordingly. People in Haiti, living on $2 a day, are barely in a position to do this, and the item in question here is necessary; clothes. So this observation about the tailors seems, to me, simplistic and verges on judgemental. Projects like this are supposed to enlighten, but I feel as if so much here is left shadowed, and shadows allow for confusion.

I agree with the issue the Jezebel writer raises about being aware of what happens to your clothes before and after you're done with them, but again, I'm uncomfortable with this issue having human faces... It feels crude, and exploitative, which is a good description of my feeling about the entire series.

I want to explain that I'm posting them here because I know my main readership to be comprised of thoughtful and intelligent people, whom I trust, and I'd really like to know what you think about the project. I still have a lot more to work out in my head about it all (and I'm struggling to work through everything in my head at the moment; more on that soon).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

flotsam

I had a funny university career. I loved my papers and when I was physically at university I was engrossed in what I was learning, for the most part, at least. But it didn't translate to working once I'd left for the day; as soon as I got home I'd become equally engrossed in what was happening there. It's a shame, really; my marks don't reflect at all how I felt about what I studied, or how much I think about it, or how much it all affects my life. There were a lot of papers I shouldn't have taken (most of which I stopped attending), and lots of work I didn't do. Lots of marks I didn't get. But I don't regret it.

I was a total loner at university, and I don't really know why. Part of it was shyness, I suppose, a hangover from my year at AUT where I felt like a fish out of water, and part of it was laziness and maybe a bit of arrogance; I was really happy with my group of friends outside uni, and didn't really feel I needed any more. I was also going through a stage where, with the exception of my best friends, I preferred the company of boys, but was in relationship, so making new friends that weren't girls was awkward. The friends I did make were not exactly friends; friendish, maybe? With the exception of one, as soon as the papers we had together ended, we never spoke again, and I'm not sure I'd recognise most of them now. Still, something made me think of them.

1. Andrew and Josh. These two guys were in my first philosophy paper, which was an introduction to metaphysics and an overview of continental philosophy (which was later separated into two separate papers, as the philosophy department got bigger). Josh was like the silent partner; he always wore a cap and didn't say much. His attendance was also erratic, whereas Andrew seemed really conscientious, and I loved the paper and didn't want to miss a minute, so I was always there. I don't remember a great deal else about them, except the following:
- Josh was brown and had black hair. Andrew was white and had dark blonde hair.
- Andrew always smelt like expensive cologne. This was because he lived with his Dad in an apartment and had to dry his tshirts in a dryer so they shrank and fit closer than he felt comfortable with, so he was liberal with the cologne, and he worked at Smith & Caughey, so he got discounts on fancy stuff.
- Josh always wore hoodies, and he had a gold tooth. Andrew always had headphones on. That might be why I liked them; like they were signifiers (our lectures were enormous; you had to look for signifiers). At the time, I only wore jeans and hoodys, and as you know, I have always been a big music geek. They also just looked normal. You'd be surprised how many people at uni don't look normal. Boys in tshirts with surf logos emblazoned across the fronts. Or jandals in winter.
- Andrew had a girlfriend. (This made me feel like it was okay to sit with them.)
- Andrew also wrote articles and reviews for magazines about hip-hop. We went to the bfm office together to fill out volunteer forms. He heard back immediately, and started doing bits and pieces up there. I never heard back. I tried not to take that personally, even when he came to class with bfm collector cards. Damn you, b.
- Andrew had round handwriting. I don't think I ever saw Josh's.
- Later that year, I read an article Andrew had written about P Money in Rip It Up. It was good.
- Josh and I had another paper together, so we sat together, but then one of us stopped attending. I think it was me.

2. Matt. Matt was the lone male in a couple of my feminism/women's studies papers. He was reed thin, pale, and had stringy black hair that hung down in his eyes. He had a very good sense of humour about being in a class of women talking about vaginas as receptacles, and while no-one really talked to each other, I think we all thought of him as hope for men. His contributions to discussion were always very interesting, and he took the papers seriously. I wouldn't be surprised to learn he got the highest marks in the classes. I don't remember how we became friendly, but I do remember we would usually sit together in one lecture. I used to worry about Matt. He seemed like the most intelligent and sensitive person in the entire university, and as such seemed so vulnerable to me. I worried that someone would hurt him, or that he would become so disillusioned with the world that he would hurt himself.
- One day he was late for the lecture; like, I think he arrived shortly before it ended. He explained that he had been sitting in his garage and become transfixed by the way the light was coming in the window, so he'd sat, and sat, and then realised he'd been sitting looking at it for almost an hour. I really appreciated knowing someone who could look at light for an hour.
- One day we went for a walk, and he told me about a time he went out by himself late at night. He found himself at a supermarket carpark, and starting riding around in a trolley, and having tons of fun. Then a group of guys turned up, and beat him up.
- He would get so carried away talking that he would frequently lose track of time and where he was supposed to be. I think of him as gesticulating a lot as he spoke, but that might be me confusing him with someone else.

3. Fia. Fia was in a couple of my papers, but I think we met on the bus. She had a gloriously loud laugh, and was incredibly friendly; everybody knew who she was, even if they didn't know her personally. All of our lecturers and tutors knew her, and if you sat with her, they'd know you too, which was kind of funny, but not bad. Fia never missed a class, and had extensive notes on everything.
- In our enormous pop music paper, Fia pretty much had her own row, sixth row, centre. I don't know if she just arrived really early or if people just left it for her, but she always, always had it, which meant even if I was late I didn't have to worry about trying to find a seat (the paper was that popular); she'd be there waving to me to come and sit down. It was pretty awesome.
- Fia had been through some really hard stuff, but was kind and cheerful and took people as they came, including me. She was open, and interested, and even when she was stressed with school or family stuff, she still managed to make people laugh.
- Fia invited me to her graduation party, but I couldn't go. I don't remember why, but I wish I had. The invitation, which she left in my letterbox (we lived near each other), had lollies in it.
- When I finished uni, Fia was in her first year of law. We're friends on facebook, and her updates, standing up for people or keeping everyone up to date on Hollywood, are always entertaining.

And that's about it. I don't know what made me think of them.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Owen

My Dad is an early riser. He has a great respect for time; to him, less than fifteen minutes early is late. I used to think it harked back to his years in the police, but I'm pretty sure now that he was born that way. Dad likes to know what to expect from things. He likes to know exactly how to get somewhere before he gets in the car, and he likes to take the most direct route there. He takes pride in beating the prescribed travel time to a destination. He times long car trips on his watch's stopwatch feature. I like that about him.

Dad cooks. He's always cooked. That's not such a big deal now, but when I was growing up, lots of dads didn't know how. He used to make Samoan food for family dinners; Mum would make chop suey, and he would make fa'alifu fa'i, often the proper way - scraping out the coconut straight from the shell, and squeezing it through that stringy stuff. When I picture the way it's done, I see his hands, and the coconut water running through them. Dad has really pretty hands. Later, he began making Thai curries, and experimenting with Christmas ham glazes. His specialty is smoked salmon, which he's frequently asked to do for special family dinners. He does this out on the brick bbq area in the back yard, with the smoker he's had for years, lit underneath with alcohol-filled tuna tins. He always has to bring in the washing first. Dad loves to feed us. He likes everything to be just right, and you kind of have to eat his food on his terms; you're not going to get away with eating garlic prawns without dipping them in his thousand island sauce. He loves seeing us really enjoy food; I think he gets more satisfaction watching my Mum, my sisters and me putting away oysters than he does eating them himself - and he loves oysters as much as any of us.

Today my Dad turned 64. I set my alarm for 7.45am to call him, but he had already gone to work - I didn't know it, but he leaves the house at 7.20am every morning. He didn't get home this evening until almost 7pm because of a late conference. The fact that it's his birthday won't have made any difference to anyone at the conference. The young offender won't have been any more likely to listen even if he did know. He won't know that my Dad is my Dad, and he probably doesn't know his Dad as much beyond his Dad.

For a long time, neither did I. I feel sad and sometimes guilty about it, but I think that's just how life goes; you have to grow up before you can truly see your parents as people in their own right, and not just your parents. The more I get to know my Dad, the more I worry about running out of time to get to know him more. Being away from him on his 64th birthday is hard.

Anyway. This song popped into my head before I started writing this, and when I looked for it on youtube, this version by Eva Cassidy popped up, which is perfect - my Dad, inexplicably, loves Eva Cassidy. I don't understand it; I don't particularly care for her voice or her arrangements myself. But that means that anytime I listen to her, I think of Dad, and I like that.

He doesn't read this blog (thank goodness!), so rather than tell him, I'll tell you guys. I love my Dad. Happy birthday, Owie.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


I love this picture. It has the feeling of a pap shot in that it's such a private moment; I don't feel intrusive, exactly, but a little bit voyeuristic... a bit like when you see two people in love who are oblivious to everything around them, and you feel like you should look away but it's so sweet and lovely that you don't want to. That's one of the nice things about animals and kids (to an extent); they have that sweetness, and you can look at them as long as you like (I also find the usual rules don't apply; if I smile at the kids, they seem to be more creeped out than if I just look).

Anyway, apart from that, Marlon Brando is one of my heroes (whom I'll write about in more depth another time), and my love for dogs is well-documented, so even if they were staring daggers at each other, there would still be something to like in this photo. My own little furry man is lying by the fire, completely tuckered out after an afternoon pine-coning and then at the beach; smelly, and very happy. Let the snoring begin.

Tomorrow, birthday month begins. Sitting here, warm and sleepy, I feel like the eye of the (welcome) storm is winking at me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

the perks of ageing

It's Saturday night, and I am home alone with Joe. I put a load of washing on - which stopped for a bit, and said ie, but because I'M AN ADULT, I looked that up on the internet, found out it meant an inlet error, and fixed it. I am wearing pajama pants, because I don't need to pretend I am going anywhere, and my hair is dirty and I have done nothing about the two pimples on my face, or my bikini "line", because SO WHAT. I tried to coax Joe up onto the couch he's not allowed on because I AM AN ADULT, and no-one can tell me off (but he doesn't believe me, and is looking at me strangely, from the couch he IS allowed on). But anyway. To my left I have a little bag of chocolates from Vincent's Mum, a bowl of one of the three types of desserts in the house, and a glass of wine that I would not be at all embarrassed to take to a friend's parents' house - PLUS I actually wanted beer but it must have been drunk already but that was fine because there was wine that was in the cupboard because I am SUCH AN ADULT that I can have alcohol in the house without being halfway through it.

Now I am going to watch Sister Act and/or Pretty In Pink, and eat chocolate pudding drowned in cream, and drink wine (and occasionally water because I AM AN ADULT WITH PLANS IN THE MORNING), and fart out loud.

Elsewhere, my friends are at bars, rugby games, each other's houses, movies, and one is at Glastonbury. I wouldn't swap with any of them. And just five years ago, this kind of Saturday night would have made me feel like a loser. Today, I feel like a WINNER.

Friends, GETTING OLD is NOT ALWAYS AS BAD AS I MAKE IT OUT TO BE.

Off I go to sing at the top of my lungs, and see what's so great about Molly Ringwald. HAIL, GIRLS!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

little things

1. I was messing around on wiki-something-or-other the other week, and came upon a test to see which Mad Med character I am. I love this kind of stupid quiz, so I did it, and unlike my youth when I tried to rig my answers so that I'd be the extreme of whatever the test was, I was as honest as possible. And do you know who I am?


Harry Crane. HARRY CRANE. Harry "You weren't even there" Crane. I hate Harry Crane. WTF? (I did the test again and got Megan. Too late.) See where honesty gets you?

Mad Men finished this week, and I'm left with so many questions. Why do shows always get so much better just before the season ends?!! What is going to happen with Megan? And Peggy? Will we ever see Trudie again? (Big Alison Brie fan here; she just seems so real, you know?)

2. Bit excited about the underground rail loop getting the green light. It would have been incredible having it when we were inner-city dwellers, but this is waaay bigger than us (and it won't be up and running until about 2020 - who knows where we'll be?). Auckland city is going to become more accessible. The implications of that are wide and wonderful. Hip hip!!!

3. I just started Ranginui Walker's Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou - Struggle Without End, and it's already affecting me. I usually think of Waitangi Day as a reminder of the injustices done to Maori, and as such, don't usually see reason to celebrate. Conversations with my friend, and this book, are making me realise it's an opportunity to remind everybody about the importance and relevance of the treaty, and a time to honour Maoritanga, and that the treaty that Maori entered into was something to celebrate; it's the English version and what happened afterward that aren't.

4. Joe and I went to Long Beach this afternoon for a walk. It's so beautiful out there; the light, and the rocky cliffs, and those dunes. We're not even halfway through winter, but I started thinking about summer, and how lovely it will be having so many beaches so close, and with extra-long South Island evenings to spend at them. Just got to get through the extra-cold South Island winter...

5. Making my way through the festival booklet, and am so, so excited to see this movie in there. I'm not sure if you'll remember me writing about Charles Bradley last year after Vincent told me about him, but anyway, his is a story begging to be told through film, and now it has been. If you think you'll see the movie, I reckon it might make more impact if you go in blind; otherwise there's a link to an article about him in my post here.


I haven't been through the booklet properly, but these are also on my must-see list (somehow; the times for several of them don't fit with our Auckland trip, and the Dunedin programme is much smaller.) So many movies! Glorious.

This one is from the same director as I Wish, one of our favourites from last year:


Jim Jarmusch and Terrence Malick (not sure about Ben Affleck - he always seems to be Ben Affleck and I'm mad at him after Argo, but I thought Malick's exploration of love in Days Of Heaven was mesmerising):




And this, which looks AWESOME:


There's also a doco about Big Star, that one about Liberace (which looks great), and probably about a million other winners. Oh happy day!

Monday, June 24, 2013

sound and pictures

I'd forgotten about this bit in Romance And Cigarettes. I love when a movie surprises you with something unexpected; it's partly why I like seeing movies without knowing too much about them.


The other week we watched My Sister's Sister, which was one of those nice surprises - at first I found it a bit hard to get my head around because the acting was so convincing I couldn't stop cringing, but that made it so easy to get swept up in, and halfway through I was totally involved, and really enjoying it. Voyeurism isn't so bad, in its right place.

Tonight the online programme for the Auckland International Film Festival is released (the hard copy comes out tomorrow), and what I've seen of it so far looks good. Oh, the times we will have.

If you're looking for a dvd, here are the best six I saw at last year's. I can't wait!!!






Hurray hurray hurray!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

the Catlins

Yesterday Vincent, Joe, and I went on a little adventure to the Catlins (or Catlands, as Joe calls it; we're those pet owners who do our dog's voice for him - in our defence, I did read about a study where dog owners proved they could correctly identify their dogs' emotions... if that's a defence). Our plan had been to get up early and drive inland until we hit snow, to make up for not having had any, in spite of the forecast; but when we woke up, we discovered nearly all roads inland (and north) from Dunedin were closed, besides which one of us was very cold and grumpy and demanded she stay in bed longer and watch some 30 Rock. The road south was open, and the weather better than it's been all week, so once the grumpy bear had been fed and washed, we packed up the car and went south. The flooding in the outer parts of Dunedin was incredible; at one stage we thought we were looking out a lake, until I noticed fence posts sticking up. Poor little sheep. They looked so cold! And have you ever seen a whole bunch of them feeding from a massive bale of hay? This townee hadn't; the hay looked like a big mum - it was very cute. The cows in the next paddock doing the same thing, not so much, especially after last week, when we discovered cow shit in the estuary behind Allan's beach. We have to give up dairy! If only soy, rice, and oat milk weren't so gross.

Anyway, apart from nodding and agreeing when people talk about how stunning the place is (I don't know why in some situations I just agree, even if I have no idea), most of my knowledge of the Catlins comes from Two Little Boys, a pretty bad movie that came out last year. The place looked wild and beautiful, and with that yellow and blue lower south island light that makes even new buildings and cars look like leftovers from the 60s-80s.

To totally over-simplify our little visit, that's exactly what it was; wild, beautiful, and frozen in time. Besides the fact that the places we went were full of baches, it was 3°C, muddy, and gusty as hell, so we hardly saw anybody, which made it even more moody and desolate. I only took photos at Jack's Blowhole, a crater at the end of caves 200m from the sea, where the waves boom in, and those aren't great, so all of these come from the Pounawea Accomodation Centre website. Pounawea is a gorgeous little settlement in the Catlins, with little jetties, and a house with a bird-feeder that had at least twenty tui around it. The last four photos are from the Keswick Park Campground which looked perfect; I can't wait to go back and stay there in summer (and hopefully before that, although it has some serious scary movie potential in winter light). The early dusk and our late start meant we didn't make it further than Owaka this time, but we'll be back in the Catlins soon







 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

james gandolfini (and me)


James Gandolfini just died. He was in Italy, on holiday, and suffered a heart attack. He was only 51.

It's so strange when somebody famous dies; someone you don't really know, and yet... 

Over the last few years, I've spent more time with James Gandolfini than I have some of my closest friends and family. Hours and hours and hours, rewatching the entire series of The Sporanos, then starting all over again, and trying to watch everything else that he features in. He's one of the very few actors whose name attached to a project actually means something. I trust it.

The first thing I remember seeing him in was The Mexican. My secondary school had a fundraiser screening of it at Village Newmarket. The movie was average - Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt made a strange pairing, plus the theatre was full of schoolgirls talking to each other - but I remember James Gandolfini. His character, which could have been hammy as hell, was really sweet. The Sopranos had begun but I hadn't started properly watching it yet, and I'd seen The Mighty but didn't remember him from it, which is funny, because I always remember things like that.


The Sopranos is a frightening body of work. Playing Tony Soprano for six years must have been exhausting; not just the acting, but resisting Tony. Inhabiting a character like that, in a way that makes him so relatable in spite of the horrific things he does, must compromise a person's sanity - to imbue them with enough humanity, but not to humanise everything they are, or to take on some of their character in return for yours. Tony Soprano is one of the most unforgettable characters, ever. Vincent and I reference him all the time; when I took my first ethics paper at university, I frequently used him as an example (proudly wearing that rookie badge). The character, on script, is brilliant. But James Gandolfini truly makes him. He is Tony Soprano. He will always be Tony Soprano, and that makes me happy; that to people like me, who don't know him personally, that he will be remembered as an incredible artist, by an incredible role.

Some people don't realise he was the voice of Carol in Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are. His voice was part of why I loved Carol. And it was a voice I knew best as an amoral, psychotic criminal. Ordinarily I struggle to separate actors from previous roles, particularly when a role has been so huge, but this was different. If the association brought anything, it was the side of Tony's character that wasn't so mean - the playful side, and the side that felt pain. For James Gandolfini to do this with just his voice is, to me, amazing.

My favourites of his movies are Where The Wild Things Are, In The Loop, Welcome To The Rileys, and Romance and Cigarettes. I know he had a ton more work in him; not only the series he was working on with HBO. He won't get to finish that.

Nor will he get to be at the first birthday of his little girl, this October. She only had him for a minute; her mother not much longer, in the scheme of things. They only met in 2006. He also has a son.

Knowing that makes me feel as if I don't really have the right to be sad. But I do feel sad. And not an abstract kind of sad. I feel sorry for his family and friends, and disappointed for the film and tv loving world. But I feel sad for him. And I'll miss him. James Gandolfini.


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

five songs

When Vincent and I hadn't been together very long and were apart for a few of the longest months in history (broken up by the occasional magical weekend), we used to play this game, via text, that could be called Five Songs. It was pretty simple: one of us would pick a theme (one that I remember was 'Baking'; another was 'American cities'), and then we'd each come up with our five favourite songs in theme, without using the internet or an ipod or anything else as reference. It might sound geeky, but we are a pair of music nerds. I got so very lucky.

I was thinking about it on our way home from town tonight, sipping on my milkshake and feeding Joe fries, and decided I'd do one with him tonight, and post the songs here.

FIVE SONGS FOR WINTER

Vincent:
1. California Dreaming - The Mamas and The Papas
2. Fire - Jimi Hendrix
3. Pink Frost - The Chills


4. Misty Mountain Hop - Led Zeppelin
5. November Rain - Guns N Roses

Me:
1. Pink Frost - The Chills
2. Stormy Weather - Billie Holiday



3. Purple Rain - Prince


4. Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan



5. Shelter from the Storm - Bob Dylan

Is there anything better than a cold night in front of the fire with the person you love and a dog wearing a child's hoody, with chocolate in the fridge, wine in the cupboard, and snow on the horizon? Maybe there is, but having all of those things at this moment, I can't think of it.

Monday, June 17, 2013

more epiphanies (ick)

There has to be a way of getting all of the benefits of running without actually doing it. I just read a surprisingly good editorial/bloggy thing on stuff about a woman who started running two years ago (from a fitness level similar to mine, ie zero), and is now able to run 10 km in less than an hour, eats less chocolate, plus all all of the other stuff. I want that. I think it would be good for my head, and I know it would be good for my body (although guess what, I shaved my thighs for the first time in almost six months! That was when Vincent switched to an electric razor, and I thought how hairy can they really get? Answer is: pretty hairy. Then the supermarket sent free razors (to only us? I wouldn't be surprised), and now Bob's my uncle again), and yet...

I did actually run a few years ago. Canvas or Sunday had this running guide in it, and it was far out enough from Christmas to feel like I might actually be able to get into it and not have my usual Oh Shit It's Time To Put My Togs On December attack (which always ends in me doing absolutely nothing about it anyway), and I figured it was also a good way to get my base tan. I do like efficiency.

So I started running, and although when I began I was being overtaken by people walking (this is the truth; the guide said to keep running and not to walk, whatever your pace), and the sight of me in exercise clothes would reduce me and anyone else who knows me to giggles (I think I've said before my sister euphemistically describes me as 'sedentary'), and I was so sure real runners would make fun of me that I'd speed up when any of them were in view and then die when they were gone, eventually things began to happen. My ears stopped ringing. My bum remembered where it's supposed to end. My flush became almost becoming. I learnt all of the lyrics to Buhloone Mindstate. And I felt good. Not just the good you feel when the only worry you have when playing strip poker is that you're wearing tog bottoms because you ran out of undies. I mean good like you're at one with the world, equally in and out of your head, and strong.

I'd really like to feel like that again. But it rains. And there are so many hills around here. And I like being conjoined twins with the couch. There has to be another way. Because if there isn't... I'm going to have to start running. At twenty-nine. Lord.

Maybe I could get somebody to chase me...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

musings

1. I like light and pretty stuff, but it bores me pretty quickly. It's fine for a while, but eventually it feels disingenuous; I'm a firm believer in Nietzsche's amor fati, and the fact that life and its beauty are in everything, not just the nice stuff. On the internet in particular, I get really tired of stuff that completely removes context, and presents light and pretty stuff as whole life. It ain't. And while I understand people using the internet as a form of happy escape, I also think those people miss an opportunity and occasionally shirk responsibility (most style and design blogs, i'm looking at you).

Two of the blogs I enjoy the most are art based, and they manage over and over to present beautiful images, words, and music, squarely in the context of real life, with all of its flaws. The women who write them get mad, and sad, and excited, and celebratory, and I go away feeling fulfilled and alive (in stark contrast to the listless and empty feeling I get after scrolling through screeds of lovely photos, elsewhere, with no commentary save "these are pretty"). I find their work intimidating, and sometimes go away feeling a bit inadequate, and I think that's so great. The fact that one of them is my friend makes me feel really proud.

So anyway (and without further ado, as awful speechmakers always say; oh no, and the ones who say 'adju' instead of 'ado'!), that was a really long-winded and unintentional introduction to these links:

The Benefits of Grumpiness (and yesterday's Justifying the Humanities) on le projet d'amour

missing in action on the bulwark and the sunbeam, which is so beautiful it made me want to cheer

Honesty is beautiful.

2. I was playing on youtube the other day and found the following comment under a video of Louis Prima's Banana Split For My Baby. It doesn't quite make up for all of the sexist and racist fromunda stain comments that are usually on there, but, taking ones kicks where one can, it's pretty fucking awesome.


3. Next time that ad with the "doctor" talking about the deoderant she recommends to her patients who are worried about their "excessive sweating" that you can get "without a prescription!!!" comes on, or Stan Walker (who otherwise seems like a pretty nice guy) tells Gap 5 that they dress like "nice young ladies", I'm going to cover my ears and recite Quit fucking asking me questions to myself. What it's about isn't comforting. But the fact that someone wrote it is. PTL for Jezebel.

4. Good covers are one of my life's pleasures. I love the original of this song, but there's something about Aretha's version that makes me feel kind of religiously tearful and joyful.



5. I've decided to ease up on myself a bit. Once in a while I like to go back in my archives, and see what was happening a year ago. Usually it's an amusing exercise; I find I'm less embarrassed by the stupid stuff, and I can see where I'm at with the rest. This month, however, it just made me feel even more serious and isolated, and I was determined to suck it up and be my sunny self again, even though that's not really how I feel (I'm not against faking it till you make it)... until this morning, when I read an interview Stephen Grosz, an American psychoanalyst, and particularly this one thing he said in it.

"All change involves loss."

Earlier in the week I'd read and right-on'd Sarah's post about giving yourself permission. I'd also gone back to premises I'm keen on for the shop and had looked at back in April but not felt right about them. This time I felt completely different about them, and attributed my change in opinion to my change in attitude, having come out from under the bell jar I was floundering under then.

I guess I forgot that getting back on track is a progression, not an instant cure. I may be miles better than I was two months ago, and that makes me feel so much closer to the me I'm comfortable with, but I'm not there yet, and I need to let myself not be there yet. This change has involved a huge amount of loss for me, and mourning isn't something I can just do and be done with, like Jack Donaghy's immediate mistressy of meditation. And while I'm dealing with it, I'm going to be more sombre. As well as being happy, and mad, and everything else I am at any given second, I'm sad, and I'm trying to figure things out. I don't know how long it's going to take, but I'm going to stop looking at it in terms of time, and go by feeling.

So I'm going to stop trying to lighten up here, and feeling bad when what comes out is rough. This blog is so personal that it has to be whatever I am, and I'm going to let that be what it is.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

stop/start...


I've known this song since I was a kid, and yet it was only yesterday that I clicked that he's there on the dock in the morning. I've always associated it with pending darkness, and evening reflections. Hearing it as the beginning of a day brings something completely different, like when it ends, it doesn't end - it starts again, or something else comes after.

Last Saturday we drove about ten minutes into the hills between the harbour and the mainland to go pine-coning. We turned up a clay lane to a locked gate, where we parked, and then alighted with our potato sacks. I felt like a poacher as we slipped under the gate.

Once inside, it looked like the aftermath of the apocalypse, and we, the scavenging survivors. Trees had been felled and left through weeks of rain so that they were partly attached to the clay. Some cones appeared to be fossilised, and smelt heavily of dirt, and wet. The scene was one overwhelmingly of destruction. Everything was a greyed brown, like someone had painted a watercolour and then wiped a brush across all of it. The rare new shoots of pine came through the mud like a shock.


It's only now that I think of the new shoots we noticed, and our collecting the discarded cones, as an end having a beginning. I'm so focussed on endings, and days without connection, that I forget. An end has a beginning. All days are both isolated and connected. Things begin again, even if that just means the world keeps turning.


On the way home, muddy from falls, achy from bending, we stopped at a hotel. I got drunk on a single pint of cider. And I mean old timey movie drunk - I sat there and giggled and couldn't stop; I giggled all the way home, and every time it began to subside, the memory of it - even just the memory of how my face moved, would start me off again. I giggled until I fell asleep on the couch.

An end has a beginning.




PS I promise to stop taking everything so seriously any day now! Maybe I should start writing this drunk again...

Friday, June 14, 2013

heroes: Alice Walker


Until a couple of weeks ago, this is what I knew about Alice Walker:
1. She's a woman of colour.
2. She wrote The Colour Purple.
2. She wrote an article I saved to read ages ago, but still haven't.

Then I read her first novel, which I have already bored you silly about, but I owe it to you to recommend it to you one last time. The Third Life of Grange Copeland. Check it.

The book is loosely autobiographical (and, make no mistake; that is rough). Walker was born in Georgia in 1944, the youngest of eight. Her father, Willie, was a sharecropper, and her mother, Minnie, a maid. At a time when the children of sharecroppers were expected to work the fields with their parents (as in the book), Walker instead went to school from age four. She began writing when she was eight.

You don't need to read the book to know the basic things about growing up black in Georgia, under Jim Crow. (The Montgomery bus boycott didn't happen until she was eleven.) On top of that, when she was eight, little Alice was accidentally shot with a BB gun, and became blind in one eye as a result (the repercussions of which she credits the development of her acute observational skills.)

Walker went on to Spelman College (where she studied under the excellent Howard Zinn, became involved with the civil rights movement, and met Martin Luther King Jr), and then Sarah Lawrence, during which time she was one of the 300 000 who marched on Washington in 1963. After college she went back to the South to continue working for black equality. Walker and her then husband, Melvyn Leventhal, were the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi. And in the '90s, she went out with none other than Tracy Chapman.

She hasn't stopped fighting for social justice. Among other things, she speaks on behalf of the women and children of Iraq, takes part in anti-war protests, and is a long-time advocate of the rights of those in Gaza.

And her writing. Somehow, she manages to take you along with her and show you things, just as they are, in all their awfulness, and yet you don't feel hopeless. In fact, you feel hopeful. You see these things, and you realise that you're part of them; part of the problem, and the solution. Aware that there is good and bad in you, and that you have the power to choose which one is stronger. Her work informs, and it inspires. And it unites. In spite of the deeply personal nature of her subject matter, she manages to involve you in a way that reminds you that, while there are opposing forces, oppressors and oppressed, that we're all still one - an incredible gift. She tells a story that doesn't tell you how to feel, but still seems to know how you will feel; as if she's trusted your humanity, and your humanity has delivered. Am I even making any sense? Do I just sound like a sycophant? I don't know. I just know that her gift for showing something so honestly is rare, and that I value and respect it, and that I'm so happy to have found another incredible woman who hasn't just survived, but survived whole.

Some of my favourite bits from the book:

'A little love, a little buckshot, that's how I'd say handle yourself.'

'he could not clarify what was the duty of love; whether to prepare for the best of life, or for the worst.'

'She felt that she was somehow the biggest curse of her life
 and that it was her fate to be an everlasting blunderer into misery.'

'And never blaming hisself done him weak.'

'She was not pretty, but only a standardly praised copy of prettiness.'

'when they got you thinking that they're to blame for everything 
they have you thinking they's some kind of gods!'

'Each day must be spent, in a sense, apart from any other... 
Each day must be past, present and future...
 Her future must be the day she lived in.'

'Instead of inner rage she had an inner sovereignty,
a core of self, a rock...'

'Survival was not everything. He had survived. But to survive whole was what he wanted for Ruth.'


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Thursday, June 13, 2013

me vs time

Reproduction really bums me out. This ageing thing just gets worse and worse; honestly. It's like a cruel crossover; you have your youth, when your body is strong but your mind is a bit iffy, and then ten glorious minutes when they're both functioning excellently... and then your body begins its descent, and your mind does its best, in spite of the lack of cooperation from everything else. I feel as if I squandered my fertile years, even I wasn't ready in any -ally way, except physically (and even then, my fitness was still so bad that walking around with a bag of potatoes attached to my front wouldn't have been any picnic; maybe a picnic up Everest). I didn't find Vincent until I was almost twenty-seven! And for the first few years there was no time for a baby; there was barely time for the people we love already in existence! And now I'm walking up 30's path, getting ready to knock at the door, and wondering if those are cobweb patterns in my periods.

Is it when you turn thirty or forty that the risk of birth defects increases? That used to sound so far away. I remember asserting, at sixteen, that I wouldn't have kids until I was forty. And I meant it! How did I know that I would meet someone who would make me acutely aware of mortality, and wish to make many reproductions of him, while I could? (Also that I wasn't going to be whatever kind of career-driven person my sixteen-year-old self was expecting.) Why haven't the people doing all of the impressive science stuff figured out a way to reconcile our life expectancies with our baby windows? The baby I might have had as an eighteen-year-old might have had technically good parts, but the damage inflicted on it by having a moron for a mother must mostly cancel out the good of those parts.

I know I'm rambling. This happens to the elderly. I know I'm obsessing over this ageing thing too. That also happens to the elderly.

It's just that this aware, examined life goes so fast. It seems that the minute you become an adult, you realise you're running out of time; delusions of immortality are the privilege of the young. I only woke up from that coma a few years ago, and now I look at my parents and freak out that they're going to die. I look at Vincent, and worry that every year together is going to pass as fast as the last one did. I look in the mirror, and hope beyond hell that I'm not one of those faces that peaks at twenty-five. I look at the world, and kick myself for not having done more. And I look at my stomach, and berate it for being empty.

And yet I kind of want it to be empty, too. Because not having something that we want, and that I'm sure we'll have, seems to stave off time, if only a little. I can pretend that we have time, because something that should be ours isn't ours yet. I know that life doesn't work that way, but I can pretend. And try to be happy that I grew up, literally and otherwise, and haven't run out of time yet.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

dusky

I've always been one of those people who feels nostalgic for the present. This isn't to say I don't live in it; I do. It's just that whenever I feel really, really happy, I suddenly become hyper-aware of how temporary a moment is, and its uniqueness. I know I'll be just as happy again, but I'll never have that exact moment back, and it tinges the moment with a little bit of sadness.

When Vincent and I started living together, I felt like we were characters in a song or a book; as if we were the first, and the last, and every couple in between who has been in love. I hoped that I'd settle into it, and believe that life can be happy every day and that I'd stop wanting time to slow down, but I haven't. I still want to hold on to all of it, so that I have now as well as all of the happiness that's yet to come. I start to wonder if the feeling of nostalgia is a shadow of the future, when something awful happens and I look back at these years as when life was perfect. Which is funny, because even when I am so happy I could burst, life is never actually perfect. I suppose when life is perfect, there's nothing left to dream...

I wished on the moon
for something I never knew;
wished on the moon
for more than I ever knew -
a sweeter rose, a softer sky
on April days that would not pass by.

I begged on the stars
to throw me a beam or two,
wished on the stars
and asked for a dream or two,
I wished for every loveliness;
it all came true.
I wished on the moon for you.

Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

things


Right now, there is a bizarre strip of fog obscuring the middle of the view from our window, reminiscent of the censoring plastic packets shop owners sometimes put on porn magazines. I can see the hedge at the bottom, and the top of Harbour Cone sticking up at the top, and behind it I imagine the sea making patterns of boobs and penises. It's all very silly.

I've been thinking this morning about balance, the difficulty in maintaining it, and even reconciling two different things to find a balance. By the latter, I specifically mean my cynicism and my cheesiness. How do you find a balance with these? Sometimes I don't even know what will amuse me, and what will make me roll my eyes so far back into my head that I can see my brain, so how will anyone else know? Example: today I saw an article someone on style file had written about dog leads. Fine. Then I saw she had named her dog 'Hope'. Eye-roll sequence began. Really?! 'Hope'?! For a dog?!! Come on! Yet I'm the first person to cry at a wedding, or when someone sings I Can't Make You Love Me at karaoke. I'm having better luck with finding a balance between my proclivities to let my emotions run me, and to over-rationalise. Within the balance lies a happy place, where I can co-exist with others without wanting to hit them, or myself. I wish we'd spent more time in health class talking about coping strategies like this, for things like anxiety and stress and all of the other things that prey on young women, and a little less on STIs. Not that being able to identify gonorrhea isn't a useful skill, but I guarantee more of us have had to deal with head issues than cootch problems, and sexual health clinics are free. Unless you're at uni (where you only get a prescribed number of them, anyway), therapy costs an arm and a leg.

I realise this is all very disjointed. Sometimes that's just how it is.

As for this song, it's one I've always loved, but only recently realised how beautifully dark it is. Who hasn't made friends of heartaches? The problem with them is that they'll always be there for you, if you let them.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

life and stories

One of the things I miss most about my old life is the little interactions. I get them here (and will get them more when I get my shop up and running); I've actually held people up with conversations with shop ladies, and been held up in turn, and I really, really like that about Dunedin. 

But it's different when you're familiar with where you are, and you don't feel like a visitor. I miss the little conversations with customers at my old work. I miss the little ones about inconsequential shit, but especially the occasional one with someone who would leave a lasting impression on me with their manner, or by saying something strange or funny or insightful or just something that I needed to hear. I miss the lady at the post shop who would greet me with "Hey, girl!", and Richie our courier who seemed to have a friend moving house every week who needed his van. I miss walking down the street and having people to wave to. It's fun knowing there might be something wonderful waiting for you in someone you don't know, or from whom you don't expect much because your tie is so weak.

My sister is a champion at making friends of strangers, and pulling out their stories. She's the one who goes out for a cigarette on her own, and when you go out to see why she's been so long, she's surrounded by people she has to introduce you to, and is convinced of what makes them special.

Two Sundays ago we went to a book launch at a local community hall for Adriaan, Vincent's parents' 84-year-old neighbour, who has laboured at and finally published his memoir, which tells of his life during the war, his emigration from Holland, where he left his heart, and his many travels and adventures. Some of his exploits are hair-raising, some heart-breaking, and all remind you that everyone has a story.

Anyway, it was reading about Lucy & Gina on the man repeller that made me think about all of this. Read it, and feel warm, and hopeful. There's life everywhere, and stories, and the potential to be that awesome old lady yelling to people she can't see properly from a stoop. Just gotta live long enough.