Sunday, January 30, 2011

Putting Yourself Out There

For all my big talk and attention-seeking, I really am quite a chicken, and I know I can be ridiculously over-sensitive, and, even more ridiculous, it's mostly with things that I actually think I'm good at, or put a lot of myself into. For example, I'm willing to give almost anything a go and I don't care (usually) if I look ridiculous. But I learnt piano for about five years, and even now if I am going to play for an audience - which I sometimes really want to - they have to be in another room or I just can't play properly. I've never let anyone other than my teachers read my writing, even if I wanted to share it, and, perhaps the stupidest, once I had been told I have a particularly nice singing voice when I was about twelve, I stopped singing properly aloud. I either sing funny or I'll only do it if there's music playing; if someone asks how a song goes I'll even pretend I don't remember or put on this stupid humming voice. I've been doing it so long I don't even know now if it's a fear of being perceived a show-off (penalty of death in both my cultures), of maybe not being as good as I think I am, or of being criticised (which I deserve, being very critical myself, although I flatter myself my criticisms are pretty funny).

Nonetheless, tomorrow I am being brave and allowing some little brooches I am making to be sold at a friend's stall at a market (well if you want to be pedantic, yes she's really the one allowing it). She asked three of us if we would like to be part of it, and when I heard, I was so chuffed, I blushed and giggled and said "Oh my goodness" over and over (when I'm really taken aback by something I forget my swears). She is extremely clever and creative, and when I heard she had been seen wearing a brooch I gave her, I was extremely flattered... until I realised she had been on a hen's night (although I was assured by my source that she was not wearing a feather boa or lace gloves and that it wasn't that kind of hen's party). I'm completely prepared for no-one to buy any; I'm truly just so pleased she thinks they're good that I don't care if anyone else does. But it's gotten me thinking. We don't grow by doing things we don't want to do. I think we grow by doing things we're afraid to do. Often those are things we really want to do, and we might be scared because they're different to what anyone else is doing, or maybe they're already being done well by people we know. I have a bad habit of doing things anonymously (hiding behind groups and pseudonyms), but I'm really going to try to put myself out there as myself, and see what happens. I might end up crying into my pillow, or getting very very drunk at a bar. But I also might find myself feeling very very good, and with lots of exciting little roads opening up in front of me (and I can always run away down one, change my name, whisper this song, and never been seen again anyway).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Big News!

I'm tired and have a lot else I should be doing (and instead have been at the pub), but I had to announce: Bob Dylan is coming. Again. To Auckland. Ho to the fucking ly. Just last night I was sewing, listening to Dylan, and trying to think of my five favourite songs (and then tonight, unprompted, someone asked me! Well, for my favourite... but I gave her top three). Being tired and a little intoxicated, I can't confidently give my top five, although even if I wasn't, I couldn't; we'd be here forever! Even a top three would be difficult. So, to make it easier for myself, I will give my top five Dylan songs at this moment, and in no particular order. And really, that's the only true list; I forget which philosopher said it, but we change so much each moment that we aren't the same, so how can our favourites be? So, my top five Dylan songs, at this very moment and in no particular order:

(I first began to love this song when I saw 'I'm Not There'. Then I heard this live version and the immediacy got me... And then we played it at my wedding. Brilliant.)
2. To Ramona
3. It Ain't Me Babe (also check out this Robin Peckold cover).
4.She Belongs To Me
5. All I Really Want To Do

Wow. Even though this is just a right now list, I want to rewrite it and argue with myself about it. What an guy. I can't wait to see him.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Very Good, Madam

Late last night Vincent and I forgot how old we are and, instead of going to bed, decided to watch a dvd. Forty minutes in we conferred on whether or not to stop it halfway, agreed not to, and then ten minutes later Vincent jolted out of sleep when I touched his stomach, and we decided we'd better go to bed. We both slept past our alarms, have been very tired all day, and now, waiting for the dvd to get up to where we stopped it (our dvd player has no remote so woe betide you if you pause it too long), I realise I'm functioning on such a basic level that I don't really have anything to say. Therewith, I am going to write a list of Good Things. I'm always describing things as best or worst, but today I'm going to celebrate things that I don't often think about, and then we cross paths and I think "You're Fucking Good".

1. Nuts and Raisins Chocolate
2. 'This Velvet Glove' by Red Hot Chili Peppers
3. Clothes that have been washed and folded by Mum
4. Vanilla Ice-Cream
5. Cheese Pizza
6. 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'
7. Walks (for exercise and air, not necessity)
8. Friday afternoons not at the Pub
9. P.G. Wodehouse
10. Baked Beans, cold and eaten out of the can

(I realise there is a lot of food on this list but I'm on a bit of an eat-a-thon at the moment and it occupies much of my mind. I've just had dinner but could easily go for a 1-4-5 combo, and I'm only omitting 10 because I had that while I was waiting for dinner, although I ate it from a cup for Vincent's benefit. He feeds and waters me like I'm his little animal, but I don't want him to worry I might piss on the carpet.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Weekends

I have just had one of those weekends where you wish you could hop on a little houseboat and sail off down a creek and live that way forever. And while sailing off, this song would be playing.

On Friday, Vincent and I went to Big Day Out and heard this live, and it was brilliant. The entire day was the most fun you can have, from drinking a lot of rum in a very short time in the form of Vincent's most excellent daiquiris (more fruit in an hour than I'd eaten all year), to watching extremely intoxicated people stumbling along while finishing our beers before going through the gates, seeing Wolfmother play Woman and then launch straight into Baba O'Reilly, going on rides that left us with bruises, peeing in shrubs, getting so drenched we could wring our clothes, and then all that music! This song was my favourite crowd moment; the rain was falling and everyone was dancing with each other and singing along... Oh I love a good shared music-moment. Vive la BDO.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Want

The shoe bug bit me later than it bites most. I lived most of my first twenty-five years in chucks, (the best shoes in the world), or maybe keds, (later on when you could finally buy them in NZ). I liked other shoes, but chucks go with everything, and seemed an inoffensive way of saying I don't care (even if I did). Chucks are more fun to dance in, easier to run drunkenly in (or walk anytime in; how do women do it in heels? how?! I'm like Bambi in them!), and I'd enjoy watching girls teetering in their heels while I banged around in the same shoes as half the boys in the room.

Then it bit, and I understood. I still can't justify spending lots of money on them, I still don't buy many of them, and I still wear chucks or keds every second day... but now I look at shoes and I see them. Perhaps because I don't often buy them, and then wear them into the ground (chucks and keds with paint-stains, tears, and permanently brown bits) or hardly ever wear them so they still look new (every pair of heels I've ever bought, although inept/drunken walking hasn't done them any favours), shoes seem to me to be things that last, like art, and not just because of their asthetic appeal/non-appeal. Shoes make an outfit look deliberate. Shoes keep your feet clean. And shoes make me want them, not necessarily even to wear, but just because they're so fucking pretty.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Happy Place

Is usually wherever Vincent is, but not always. For example, if Vincent is at work, then where he is is not my happy place. My happiest place, where Vincent often is (if I am), is our room.

This is what I would see if I woke up from a nap in the afternoon and I wasn't facing Vincent. Instead of bedside tables, we have bookshelves; partly because bedside tables are naff, partly because we both like to have lots of things (in my case, mostly books) within reach of the bed, and partly because we have lots of books and nowhere to put them. And I just love looking at books.

The teacup and saucer are the newest additions to my teacup/Crown Lynn collection, a very lovely gift from my very lovely father-in-law, who went to one of my favourite shops when he was visiting last week, learnt more in an afternoon about the lady who owns it and Crown Lynn than I have in a year, and came back with this beautiful set.

While he and my equally lovely mother-in-law were here, they also met my parents for the first time. In the hours leading up to the event, I was not in my happy place at all, and nor were they... until they met, and immediately fell in love. Now, I know in my head that if this weren't the case, it really wouldn't matter. Vincent and I are our own people, and the people who spawned us don't define us, or change how we feel about each other. But knowing each set of parents think the other is great... makes thinking about it, while lying in my happy place, very happy indeed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Heroes

I tend to feel quite strongly about people and things. That's not to say I'm never indifferent, but nine times out of ten indifference is my way of saying someone/thing isn't even worth hating; I could care less. When it comes to people I don't know personally, I tend to get a bit carried away with what I think they're like (projecting, imagining), as well as what I actually know about them; I'm the classic fan of an actor because I think they're really a character they played (who doesn't think Colin Farrell is really Ray from In Bruges?). Joe Strummer is one hero you already know about, and he is a good example of my enjoyment of the romance of having a hero, especially a dead one, and defending my heroes even if I know deep inside I'm a bit misguided. One hero I have no occasion to defend, however, is this most excellent man here:

This is Friedrich Nietzsche, and if you don't know his work then I strongly suggest you stop wasting time reading the ramblings of a self-indulgent madwoman and get yourself a copy of Beyond Good And Evil, or at least The Portable Nietzsche. I'm not going to tell you everything Nietzsche did, or how difficult and sad his life was; you can find that out for yourself. What I will tell you is that he is my hero because he was brave, and humanistic, and funny, and he changed my life. He said God Is Dead but he was really like my Jesus; Nietzsche was how I realised what I think the world is about, and how we can live well in it. He was frustrated and constantly thwarted, and had I been in his position I doubt I would have cared two figs about how people might find fulfillment and become the best they could be, but luckily for all of us, Nietzsche couldn't help it. He eventually went mad and died from syphilis, and I defy anyone who thinks syphilis is a low way to go. I don't wish to contract it, but if syphilis was good enough for Friedrich Nietzsche, by golly it's good enough for me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When The Last Whiskey Ball Is Gone

The post-holiday blues really start to set in. Today was my second day back at work, and combined with a late night and a little bit of a hangover, I started to feel like I've been gipped. Even back-to-back Gilmore Girls isn't reconciling me to the fact that my longest period off work in a year, a sad little week and a half, is over; it's worse than the feeling you get when Christmas or your birthday draws to a close (although I've discovered the way to avoid that feeling is to be very drunk when the end approaches; even better if you're so drunk you spend the next day weakly cursing all days celebrated in Bacchic fashion, and resolving not to get worked up about birthdays, even made-up-people's ones).

I just ate the last whiskey ball, and now I truly feel as if Christmas is over. It's a new year, but right now there doesn't seem anything particularly new about it; and anyway, I liked the old one. I've never been particularly good with change or endings; it could be because I have a fixed zodiac sign (I also use that excuse for my stubbornness). As I get older I think I'm learning to accept - occasionally even embrace - change, but then once in a while, possibly from laziness, I just can't make myself do it. It's not that I don't like doing new things (I do), and it's not that I'm a chicken (I'm not)... I just don't like being made to do things. I once had to do (ha) a leadership camp at school [insert shudder here] and one of the little mantras they tried to drum into us was "How do we grow? By doing things we don't want to do." I grimly repeated the line and tried to understand how it made me like Dorothy (the camp had a Wizard of Oz theme) but what I should have done was ask "Grow into what?!" Isn't the whole point of growing up being able to do as few things you don't want to do as possible?! Obviously not for the other kids in the course, who have no doubt grown up to be exactly what their parents wanted them to be (not that there's anything wrong with that, except that there's everything wrong with that). I maintain that a crucial part of becoming an adult is rebelling against your parents; I think even the most liberal of parents should have just one stupid rule that their children can break - otherwise children just can't become their own people. The adults I know who are the least adult were children who didn't ever, either by choice or necessity, go against their parents, and it truly stunted them.

Now I'm way off what I started talking about, but you know what, between the rant and the Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) and the wine I'm drinking, things don't seem so bleak after all. Yes, I have to go to work in the morning. But at least I won't be chained to an iron-ball, or attempting to service fat, bald, businessmen who won't accept impotence. And at the end of the day, I get to come home to Vincent, read my book (Wuthering Heights; I'll tell you what I think about it another time), and know that as often as I can, I do exactly as I please.

Love is...

I know that seems very wrong for someone who professes to be a communist, but hear me out. One of my best friends in the whole world lives in Monaco but is here for six weeks of the summer, and tonight came over and brought her very nice new boyfriend... and THIS, my Christmas present; a beautiful bag she found in a vintage store in Antibes. I absolutely adore it. But what I love just as much as the bag itself is the thought that she was walking around Antibes (somewhere I've never been but conjures images of Lauren Bacall smoking long cigarettes and drinking black coffee), and was thinking about me, and that I don't think she would look twice at this bag if she was shopping for herself but knew straight away that if I saw it I would look twice and then a third time.

There are lots of things that tell you someone loves you, but when they're in present form and a surprise they really make you want to clap and jump.

Love is also saying completely irrational and potentially offensive things and pretending you don't mean anything by them. But I'm prepared to believe that only applies to me. And maybe Bacall; she seems like the kind of broad who could be a bit nutty. And while it might look like a bad thing, it's we crazies who end up with the Bogarts and the Vegas, and that's as far from a bad thing as you can possibly get.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas In The Sticks

Holy smokes it has been a busy two weeks! I've been up north for Christmas, down south for boxing day, and in between (also known as the Coromandel) for New Year's. Now I'm back home and at the risk of sounding like my dad, it's good to be sleeping in my own bed again!

Here are some pictures of Christmas day, which I spent in Ahipara, the little town at the bottom of Ninety Mile Beach where my eldest sister lives. Christmas morning in Ahipara begins with sirens, telling everyone Hana Koko is on his way. Everyone; children, adults, and dogs run out onto the road and wait for the fire-trucks to come, one of which carries Hana Koko, who waves and toots and throws lollies to everyone. Between scrambling for lollies, everyone wishes each other Merry Christmas and notices who looks hungover and who's on a new bike, while all around the hangi smoke rises from yards like little volcanoes.

Christmas in my family has always been the biggest day of the year, particularly for my dad. I don't know if it was because he didn't ever get a proper Christmas when he was young, but he has always built it up for us so it's been magical. Weeks before anyone else is even thinking about it, we start to get excited; listening to carols, decorating, and making plans. Christmas Eve all is at fever pitch; even as an adult I've always had trouble getting to sleep that night, and once I awaken (usually around six; completely out of character for me) I can't get back to sleep. This year, my middle sister had trouble sleeping for more than a week before Christmas (she is the Spirit Of Christmas, Past, Present and Future).

Christmas morning at home usually began with dad crashing around in the kitchen, pretending not to be trying to wake everyone up. He was always in charge of the cooking, and to eat dinner at one, the turkey and ham would need to be in the oven early (at least that was his excuse; I now think he just couldn't keep sleeping). One particularly memorable Christmas, the crashing began at about three or four in the morning. When dad got up a few hours later, he couldn't find any pots, and after drawing a blank from mum, went to ask my middle sister if she knew, noticed lumps under her duvet, and there were the pots carefully lined down either side of her in case she needed to puke in the night.

We would always have to wait until the food was on before having presents, except for our stockings, so we'd get ready and hang around the kitchen, dancing and getting ourselves worked up, as children eating chocolates and as adults, drinking bubbles. One of our Christmas traditions is Pina Colada, which we drink with relish all day, resulting in dad falling asleep shortly after lunch (he's not much of a drinker). The afternoon has always meant visitors, and usually a party at night to go to.

This year we spent Christmas with two of my eldest sister's friends and her neighbours, a family of five plus their lovely little dog. "We" were originally my parents, two sisters and I, but now also includes my two brothers-in-law, my two excellent little nieces, the two greatest dogs in the world, and of course, my Vincent. I love how families grow, and I love having lots of people and animals around at Christmas; having five people under sixteen (including a five-month-old baby) and three dogs was off the hook. This is my dog, Oscar, enjoying half of his brother's Christmas present (not given lightly, I might add, but obviously appreciated all the same).

And this is me, polishing off a pina colada and waiting for my turn at croquet.

The hat came in a cracker which also contained this joke: How does Jack Frost get to work? BY ICICLE. Oh how I love Christmas.