Friday, May 27, 2011

I Am Gonna Use It

All week I have been slightly... off. I'm pre-menstrual; the kind when you're tired all the time and your boobs feel like they're bouncing everytime you walk and when you run to the bus-stop so you don't miss the bus and be late for breakfast with your friend they feel like they're being yanked off so you hold them but then feel stupid so you don't hold them and then when you get to the bus-stop you howl and rub them thinking the lady on the other side of the glass won't notice but she does, and all because you picked a bra for looks and not support. And I'm suffering from a lady-complaint - it seems to offend some people so I'll just tell you it's also the name of a bird and sounds like schmrush. The power of these combined has made me impatient and whingey and not very sunny; and while I'm definitely cynical, I think I'm usually a pretty sunny person. But today, it ends. It is Friday. The day of the free. The home of the depraved. And tonight, I am going to my cousin's house to play Singstar with her and our family, all night, because she is moving to Melbourne. And I'm going to get drunk, and I'm going to cry, and I'm going to sing Rocket Man and point out the sign saying Long Live E-J for the fifty-millionth time, and cry again because I want her to go but I wish she could do it without actually being gone, and then I will sing Changes and overdo the Bowie, and then I will sing this, and make like Chrissie Hynde, and just be cool.

Other things that are making me feel better about life:
1. The group of old people in sweatshirts who practise Tai Chi in Aotea Square.
2. People reading books. They make my heart happy.
3. Sympathy.
4. The possibility of my Christchurch parents migrating north.
5. Yelling at representatives of farmers who are ruining the environment on the TV, and having Vincent yelling beside me.
6. Old men (the nice ones, not the racists).
7. My book, Wigs On The Green by Nancy Mitford. I've only just started it and after skimming a comparison to Wodehouse in the introduction I'm not quite sold, but I want to be.
8. Thinking of my rare little niece and her penchant for stuffed animals that look real.
9. Leftovers for lunch.
10. The prospect of one day drinking whisky, neat, and liking it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Little Story About Customary Title

Vincent and I have just been watching the news and Campbell Live (which was great tonight; when he's on, he's on fire) and I've been getting really mad about the big fuss about Customary Title, especially in the Far North.

After my sister moved to Ahipara in 2002, our entire family went up for New Year's; my parents staying with her and my new brother, and my other sister, some friends and cousins and I at a campground at Shipwreck Bay on land owned by iwi and run by a representative, an unforgettable person named Ange. Ange was fierce (in both the Tyra sense and the other; having been born male certainly didn't hurt). When a bunch of moron boys took their cars on the beach and did donuts around little kids playing in the sand, she refused them entry to the campground and pretty much drove them out of the area; all while maintaining perfect posture in her kitten heels and pink mini, and with her partner Brian and chihuahua Tinkerbell in her wake. If anyone was too noisy for other campers, Ange was on it. She sold vodka and rum she made herself to chosen campers (we were chosen; the vodka nearly killed me). And when it was time to pay, she charged the fairest price I have ever been charged at any campground, let alone what must have been one of the most beautiful in the country (it was discounted but full price was so reasonable that if I wasn't a cheap student at the time, I would have paid it). Ange didn't have kayaks for hire, or internet; there was one cold, outdoor shower with a fence around it and two longdrops (in one of which I got stuck on New Year's night when the door-handle came off - did I mention they didn't have lights?). She was a canny businesswoman, but she cared about the land.
The next year, the campground was closed; Ange was staging a protest. We stayed with my sister and peered out from Miss Daisy as we drove past it on our way around the rocks, but I didn't see Ange .

Not everybody has an Ange story. But hopefully everyone has some sense of justice, and a little more sense than to buy into the fear-mongering on TV. If the campground never opens again, so fucking what. There'll never be a resort on that land at which only people who can afford to holiday anywhere could stay. And there'll always be a tin shack there with tents and cars around it, and someone like Ange looking out for it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Monday Twos

Two things that really pissed me off today:
1. The fatty man in the top-hat who accosts women on Queen Street, purporting to want to demonstrate a card-trick but really wanting to sleaze and get money, and when some women who have to get back to work and find him sexist and creepy say sorry they can't stop, he looks back at them like they are the biggest bitch in the country. (So some women wrote an email of complaint to the council and hope to free all of his parasitic presence.)
2. Sexist advertising on TV, especially the ad about Mantrol by the Ministry of Transport (about which some women have been intending to write a complaint since it first aired, and have just realised they helped pay for with their taxes). Control, apparently, is Mantrol. So Womantrol must be driving without regard for safety or anyone else on the road. And of course, that's why women are involved in more accidents than men. Except they're not.

Two things that made me feel happy today:
1. Being taken to my favourite little Japanese lunch place by my sister and making her laugh by saying something really mean about someone we don't like.
2. Sewing little cloaks onto stuffed kiwis on the stairs at work and having Vincent come and interrupt me.

Two things I did today that I regretted shortly after:
1. Cut my fringe, in a hurry and a funny mood.
2. Leave my muffin split in the toaster.

Two things that worried me today:
1. What it is that I'm going to do that really makes a large-scale difference.
2. How I can earn more money without doing something that compromises me.

I think I'll leave them for tomorrow. Monday's enough on its own without the big thinks.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Men Are Creeps

I hope you're not shocked. And if you're not, I hope you are taking this seriously. Last week, after one of those uncomfortable encounters in which you can't tell if you're being hit on or there's just a gaping cultural difference in how much eye contact and how many personal questions are acceptable (hard to gauge when in NZ the answer is little/few to none), a friend and I came to this conclusion, and in spite of having heard it for years in Friends and every movie starring Cameron Diaz, it was a revelation. Men are creeps! And the more I thought about it, the more I knew it! I recalled scenes in bars, watching my beer-sodden friends stumbling towards girls, watching and lurking. Both my grandfathers were infidels. Even my beloved Vincent, I believe, was once a creep; he may even have lurked around me (although I'm not sure it counts as lurking if it's welcome. Is it?). In fact, the only man I have never witnessed nor heard of nor can imagine being a creep is my father, and I'm not denying that that could simply be sparing myself... but I do know that at a family friend's 21st, he was the only man who stayed sitting down and talking when a stripper appeared.

I know why men might creep. It's not easy to walk up to someone and just start talking to them, especially if they haven't noticed you. But if they have noticed you, why not just do that? Is it supposed that women like the game and ambiguity (although there's nothing ambiguous about some leering drunk's hand on your arse)? Maybe some do. Maybe I did when I was eighteen, insecure, drunk as a skunk and unsure of whether the fluttering in my stomach was borne of love or a desire to throw up. But now, it's just annoying. When I knew I was really into Vincent, I told him, in those words, over a beer. And while I had some reason to believe he might feel the same way, I wasn't sure (this is the hair flick). Would it have been clearer if I'd pushed him onto a dancefloor and rubbed my bum against him in front of a bunch of people? Oh, I can't be bothered talking about this anymore and I know it's become a bit pointless, but what I want to say is Men Are Creeps, and it's unnecessary and gross and I wish they would just Cut It Out Already.

The End.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I look nice, and it's bumming me out because tomorrow I'm going to visit my family and am working with my friend who wears cool clothes and is a bit taller and a lot skinnier than me so she always looks stylish. Tarnation. There are a lot of things I've been wanting to discuss in depth, but I have given myself a week to finish my book, and a week is on Thursday and I am only halfway, so I have to step on it. I made a New Year's resolution to read at least fifty books I haven't/hadn't read before, and that is going very, very badly; the only way it will happen is if I make it fifty picture books, or learn to read like Superman (I just had a flash of Dean Cain reading in Lois & Clark - what happy times they were). At least I am consistent; I haven't written to my sponsored child once a month (or, actually, at all) or implemented a regular exercise regime (how I thought wording it like that would help, I don't know). I didn't even finish writing my whole list.

Lately Vincent and I have been watching a lot (as in four+ episodes a night) of 30 Rock; so much that when we were forced to miss a few nights, I missed the characters like they were my friends (incidentally, the reason we couldn't watch was because we were away with my friends; I asked Vincent if we could sneak off and watch an episode while they were all in another room but we decided it was a dangerous road to go down). Instead, I likened everything I said or did to things the characters might have, and it made me feel closer to them; like they're a part of me. (Most of the time I said Liz things with a Kenneth delivery.)

The following week at work I thought about TV friends, and made a list -

Why TV friends are better than real friends:
1. You only ever see them when they're being entertaining.
2. You can yell at them and no harm is done.
3. They don't need you.
4. You can hang out with them while you're in bed, naked, pouring too much cream on your second helping of chocolate pudding (which you didn't have to share with them), quietly farting under the sheets and intermittently licking your husband's face.
5. They are frequently funny, and they don't know when you quote them.

I'll leave you with this. Take away Vincent and a bit of shame, and I think I could be Liz Lemon. Living on donuts, being mean to everybody, filling slankets with farts, and...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Making Trouble

Finally blogger lets me in! I don't like to shift blame, but maybe, just maybe, if I'd had an outlet, two things that happened last night might not have. One is a bit embarrassing but I am going to tell because it is also a bit funny, and it's really one's duty to tell things if they're funny and embarrass only one's own drunken rear.

Evening began in civilised fashion, reading my book (Edith Wharton's The House Of Mirth - I'm really enjoying it) and quietly drinking a beer (as the beer took effect, the book seemed to be more and more about the difficulties faced by the good-looking rather than by all women, an issue I find really isn't addressed by anyone except Fashion Quarterly - awful, awful article). Evening became a little less civilised when I realised the time on the clock was also the time I was meant to meet friends at the pub and had to knock back beer, setting an unfortunate precedent.
Evening ended at a Scottish restaurant Vincent and I frequent. Vincent went to use the bathroom, and I wrote this text to my sister: "That was difficult but he's finally mad with me. If I play my cards right, he might finally slap me in the face when we have sex tonight. Where are you guys?" which I sent... to Vincent. I tried to cancel the send but it was too late, and out he came from the toilets, laughing, but also shaking his head. I tried to teleport myself but my systems failed, and instead I was forced to cover my crimson face while I shook with sheepish laughter, and then faced the wall while finishing my Large Son Of. Moments later, I left my partner in misadventure behind, and someone took it. Obviously my fitness is lacking in all areas; that must be a karmic record.

What we have learned: Vincent is a minor saint. I have fulfilled Vincent's friend's prophecy and can no longer deny being both "hard work" (said to me) and "a project" (said to Vincent). Who has the last laugh? I'm not sure.

Image from

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind

It's hard to be lady in King Lear weather. Skirts fly up, hairs make bids for freedom, and umbrellas turn inside out causing sailor language to escape mouths (although I am of pirate ancestry; it's in my blood). But I like it. I commiserate with people who have further to go than I, and feel for other victims of umbrella inversion (it happens to everyone; why is it so embarrassing? I spoke to two people about it today and we couldn't decide why), but inside part of me is rejoicing. Sun makes me dopey and happy, but bad weather makes me come alive. It's when bad things happen; even if the elements weren't reacting to the disruption of order it could not have been sunny when the Macbeths went about their wicked work - storms were made for action. When there is darkness, thunder and rain, something happens to me and I find myself shedding my clothes and climbing out windows to be part of it, feeling more alert and alive than in any other weather. Maybe it is because I was born in winter, or maybe it's because I have the potential to do evil things and it makes me most comfortable. Whatever the reason, today's and tonight's weather have made me happy (as long as I avoid thoughts of animals and homeless people... too late).

Something someone said about rain:
I love walking in the rain, 'cause then no-one knows I'm crying. (I don't know who it was but I love it, it's so brutal. It makes me think of Billie Holiday and Judy Garland and maybe even Dorothy Parker.)

Unrelated to rain, a song I love that I just heard for the first time in ages, and here sung by my favourite actor in the role that made him so. Eighties melancholy and Steve Buscemi are TOPS.

Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Having heard their cover of Paul Simon's Mother and Child Reunion last week (which I got from this post on Miss Moss's excellent blog), clever, clever Vincent brought home three of The Morning Benders' albums yesterday, and introduced me to this song (Miss Moss/Paul Simon/Vincent, winning combination). I love it when he does this (music was one of the first things we discovered we had in common; vigilante justice and baby orangutans aren't often brought up in first meetings), especially when the song lassos my chest and grabs a hold of my heart as this one does. It is achingly beautiful. The drums make me feel like I'm waiting, as if something is about to happen, and then the violins come in and I feel my heart preparing to break for a girl in a white cotton dress, full of expectation, whom I don't know. Then he starts singing, and my hopes rise, but in his voice I can hear endings and I can't relax, and I know her heart is going to be broken. I'm completely, utterly moved.

Then Vincent showed me this video, and I couldn't help feeling happy. These are people, living right now, doing this, in the world I'm in. They mean this. And I feel like if this can be, then things can't be hopeless, they just can't.

What we do makes a difference.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I Want you I Want You

I was only going to put the link to this song because it's just a build-up to what I'm excited about, but then I saw her wearing sunglasses in the bath and had to have the video. It also reminds me of the time when no-one was home so I ran a big bubble bath, moved the TV into the bathroom and took my dinner of curried mince in there. I was excited about that too, but the mixed smells of curried mince and soapy stuff were so awful it ended up being a bit disappointing... I still ate it, but it wasn't very enjoyable. Unlike this, which eaten anywhere will be amazing:

This is my newest friend, the KFC Double Down: two pieces of cheese, bacon (which I won't have since Vincent and I don't eat pig because of farming practices and also because we eventually want to be completely vegetarian, although we've decided we'll pre-cook some chicken bacon to take along and put in, and that makes triple chicken which seems even more disgusting and, subsequently, wonderful), encased in two pieces of chicken. It looks so awful it can only be delicious; I enviously watched people trying it on TV tonight and in spite of their apparent imbecility (one was definitely reading off cue cards), even they knew this is something special. I just love KFC. I've been happily eating it for years; it used to be my Sunday night tradition, and the first time I went to Christchurch to see Vincent (the best weekend of my life, I think), I had it three times in 36 hours (Extreme Burger Meal with a Zinger Works - pre-pig-free living - and Wicked Wings instead of Original Recipe for the extra chicken). (The KFC wasn't why it was my best weekend, by the way.) Vincent once discovered bits of Wicked Wing in my hair (two days after we were married; my take on cold cream). I like most fast food, but KFC is different; partly because of the nature of the food (easy to share, able to be eaten cold), and partly because I know it's bad. It's like Shortland Street; I know there's better stuff I could be watching or reading but I don't want them...

I'm so excited. I cannot wait to eat it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

No Flies On...

Vincent and I are listening to Pink Floyd and arguing over whether the last part of Shine On You Crazy Diamond is a win or a loss. I think it's perfect; to me, the song feels like a seventies voyage into space, and that part is the future: the rude, jazzy eighties. Vincent just thinks it's rude. However, we both agree that the rest of the song is genius; a free trip without any freaky bits. I don't remember the first time I heard it but I remember listening to it on vinyl for the first time, lying on the carpet at Vincent's parents' house where I had just discovered it in their record collection. I'd like to say I was fourteen at the time and wearing denim flares, but I didn't meet Vincent until I was in my twenties, so I was twenty-five, and wearing stockings with massive holes in the crotch that I was really embarrassed about but didn't have any others. We listened to it driving the desert road, and I felt like it was the closest I could get to a seventies idea of Mars; we put the windows down even though it was freezing and didn't say a word to each other. I think Vincent is the only person I can trust to feel the way I do when Shine On You Crazy Diamond is playing (until the sax starts and all of a sudden we're listening to Neil Young).

I can't listen to Hey You without thinking of The Squid And The Whale, one of the best films we've watched this year. I won't ruin it by building it up, but one of my favourite scenes is a discussion about Metamorphosis, where the person who has encouraged the other to read it but hasn't actually read it himself describes it as very Kafka-esque. The whole movie made me feel a bit uncomfortable, and I like feeling like that (I leave the bathroom door open and my family's closet is full of skeletons; making me feel uncomfortable with family stuff in a movie is no easy feat). It also made me realise how much I talk about things I don't know first-hand; things my sisters have told me about, books I know about but haven't actually read... and how much of a wanker I risk sounding when I talk about them with people who actually go out and read them themselves.

There's more I want to say but our ride is about to arrive (going up to Matakana for the weekend) so to be continued... Have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Anzac Day

I'll admit straight out we didn't go to the dawn service. While the men were at the pub watching the basketball the night before, Barb and I had agreed that if it was raining we would stay home, and I went to bed praying for rain and then feeling guilty for praying for rain and then praying for rain again. When we awoke, it wasn't raining (I'm an atheist; I wasn't surprised) but we discovered the car was blocked in so, instead of braving the Dunedin wind, watched the coverage of the Auckland service, the elderly veterans shivering in the rain while Vincent and I peered at the TV from bed, me occasionally watching with my eyes closed. I don't feel good about it.... but I don't entirely regret it either.

At a more cordial hour, we went to Dunedin's cenotaph to lay our poppies. Not being in a rush to get back to bed or into the museum as I usually am, I had time to look at the wreaths, which were beautiful. These were my favourites; the papier mache and crepe paper job I imagined a troop of kids making together, the old-style trumpet poppy wreath, and the wreath of leaves placed in honour of the battalion of which Vincent's grandfather was a part.

Usually, shivering at the dawn service in Auckland, I get completely carried away with the atmosphere and the setting and my own imaginings of goodbye dances and early morning departures and letters from the trenches and men who didn't come back. This year, in the comfort of bed, I just thought about the men who went and did come back; what they came back to, what they brought back with them, and what the day really means to them. I thought about them at the cenotaph, and how many would be there next year.

Then we walked up Baldwin Street, and all I could think about was not having a heart attack in front of Vincent's parents.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Rat King

This is the something horrible. Even the picture makes me want to vomit and die, and I looked at the jar in the museum with my own eyes. This, my friends, is a Rat King. In case you have the good fortune not to know, a Rat King is a group of rats whose tails have become entwined or stuck together with excrement or hair. This particular Rat King is a family whose nest of horse hair led to their unification in the filthy thirties. The thought of the person who brought them down having to kill each one individually is so horrible I could cry. I'd like to give you more information, but I just looked up Rat King on Wikipedia (smartypants thought this way the images that came up last time when she googled it, prompting her to howl and call Vincent to change the page because she couldn't look, wouldn't) and the photo made me feel like I was going to be sick and might pull an Oedipus (after the incest). I can tell you that Rat Kings are most common in Germany, and that in Medieval times, if a Rat King was found in a house, the woman of the house was condemned for withcraft. Anything else you want to know you will have to find out for yourself. Proceed with caution, my friend.

Easter Sunday

Like many people, I went to church on Easter Sunday. Two churches, in fact. Happily though, I didn't have to listen to any sermons... because I didn't go inside.

This is first church I went to, the Anglican church in Dunedin, and as you see, it's magnificent.

And this is the second (although it was actually the first church in Dunedin), the Presbyterian church. The front goes so high that if you look straight up at it you feel as if you are going to topple backward. Unlike the Anglican church, the Presbyterian church is all front; the back is just made up of concrete slabs. My family thought this very appropriate.

After church(es), we went to the museum. I was very excited about the Butterfly Experience I'd been told about and imagined to be a big white room full of butterflies flying back and forth past one's face. It was actually a heat-controlled rainforest, complete with waterfall and tropical foliage. This might sound cool but compared with what my mind had cooked up, it was a bit of a disappointment. Even more disappointing, we stayed in there so long to compensate for the disappointment and the special exhibit charge that we only had time to see one more exhibit before heading off. We chose the animal attic because there was something horrible up there that we wanted to see. This isn't it.

This is my beautiful friend Sultan. He and his lady-friend escaped from a circus... and ended up here. If I lived in Dunedin, I would visit Sultan every day and tell him all my worries and my secrets. I know just by looking at him that he would understand.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You Am I

I've been listening to this song a lot today and enjoying the sad feeling it gives me. I listened to it while I was dusting our dirty house ready for our inspection tomorrow (which I later discovered is next Wednesday and immediately threw down the rag and spray and rushed for the couch).

I was thinking today it's been a long time since I cried over something that was happening to me; not a movie or the news or a sad story, but something that was hurting me alone. I cry fairly easily - not as easily as my heart-on-sleeve sister - but easily, and never - alright, hardly ever - over nothing, but since Vincent and I have lived together I don't seem to have had much occasion to cry; there are tons of things to be sad about but they don't ever seem to be about me personally. Since I was quite young I've always done things like imagine weddings or funerals to generate feelings on purpose, and I've always thrown myself into how books or movies or songs make me feel... It feels like getting the most out of life. But today, getting sad on purpose, also made me feel like it's important to remember how things feel. I don't know if I'll ever again feel like the person Morrissey is in this song, and while I can imagine it, I want to be able to feel it...

This is starting to confuse even me; I didn't get much sleep last night after drinking a strong coffee late in the day. But I do think maybe if we practise putting ourselves in each others' bodies - try to imagine walking a mile in each others' shoes like Atticus? Calpurnia? said - maybe we can be kinder to each other.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Honey, I'm Home!

This is just to say I'm back. My hiatus was unplanned; first one of my lovelies was leaving, then another came back, then the former left, and I was very busy drinking, working, and being hungover. Then it was Easter, and Vincent and I flew to Christchurch and then drove with his parents to Dunedin (which was fantastic and I'll tell about later), and I realised not only did I miss blogging but sometimes I narrate what I'm doing as if I'm blogging at the time (I think actually I've always done this but usually by interviewing myself. It sounds funny but it's how I keep my brain entertained when I'm doing something mindless like rearranging storage. Although I have to time my interviews better because last time, I ran out of questions and Vincent had to finish putting everything back).

Anyway, last night was Bob Dylan, and, put simply, it was terrible. His voice was like gravel, he said nothing to the crowd until the end when he wanted us to give individual applause for each of his zombie-band members, and had arranged his songs so similarly that we could barely tell what he was "singing". But really, I don't care very much. I still cried through the first three songs (sobbing at one point and having to blow my nose into my ever-obliging husband's tshirt), overwhelmed by the fact that it was Bob Dylan a few metres in front of me, the same Bob Dylan who changed people's lives - the same Bob Dylan who inspired Sam Cooke to write A Change Is Gonna Come. When the sobs subsided and we realised we had paid a week's rent and a bit to see Cookie Monster, all we could do was laugh, which we did for the rest of the show and afterwards. We sang along in our best gravelly voices, talked about babies, and went to sleep happy we'd seen Bob Dylan but happier still that even when things suck, we have a good time because we're together.