Saturday, March 30, 2013


I have so much to do this morning - our friends arrive this afternoon! but I had to post this song, of which I just can't get enough at the moment. This is what pop should sound like; music you want to play over and over on your walkman, and dance your way to the dairy for a dollar mix. I love her style, and the dancers (Paris!), and the guy they chose to be the great man.

Things might be quiet around here for the next few days as I will be busy talking, sightseeing, daytime drinking and holding a beautiful baby... But you have to forgive me because I am actually going to have friends. Here in Dunedin. So I have to show them off to the city so everyone knows it's okay to talk to me and Vincent; we do u-turns at dangerous spots (still getting a grip on the one-ways), but we're okay.

Happy easter loves!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

for the traceys and the evas

I was listening to this today as I walked Joe. It was a ridiculously sunny, picturesque morning, and he kept trying to chase white butterflies, and I was watching him, and looking out over the water, and listening to Phil Spector songs. I felt stupidly happy, and sang along with the songs - He's A Rebel, Corrina, Corrina, intermittently peering over my shoulder in case people were approaching. And then it came on, and even though I know it, and I knew it would change how I felt, I let it play.

The opening casts a shadow. Before you're even aware of what they're singing, you feel scared. It brought me down to earth immediately; I knew what was coming, and I felt chilled. And I began to wonder what it might be like for a woman in a relationship like little Eva's. If happy times are always tinged with fear, and sadness. If the adrenalin ever subsides. If the justifying, and the translating, and the forgiving ever becomes too exhausting, or if it's always less exhausting than the alternative. Or if it really is like this sometimes, and what it feels like when a hit feels like a kiss.

I wonder what it felt like for The Crystals to sing these words. I wonder what Carole King and Gerry Goffin meant by writing it; if it was right for them to do so.

Last night, we watched the episode in The Sopranos, season three, with Ralphie and Tracey. I hate it; as soon as I realised which it was (we've seen all of them before), I wanted to turn it off, but I couldn't; just as much as I hated to see it, and felt as if it was wrong to watch, I also felt as if it would be wrong not to watch, but that I had to make it worthwhile, so that it wouldn't merely be entertainment. The thought that it might just be entertainment for somebody is as sickening as what happens.

Being a woman is hard. But for some women, it's beyond hard; it's like trying to win against the house at a casino. I want to remember, and pay tribute, to these women. It's uncomfortable for a weakling like me to be honest about their experience, but it's necessary; I owe it to them. I believe all of us who live charmed lives with people - especially men - who love us in a way that doesn't hurt us, owe it to them. We all owe it to each other to be kind. And to let each other - especially the women in our lives - know that we have the energy to do for them what they might not have the energy to do for themselves, and that they are valuable, and loved.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

what if?

When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Brontë who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to.   Virginia Woolf - A Room Of One's Own

I don’t want to freak you out, but I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation.  Hannah - GIRLS

As for writing, most people secretly believe they themselves have a book in them, which they would write if they could only find the time. And there’s some truth to this notion. A lot of people do have a book in them – that is, they have had an experience that other people might want to read about. But this is not the same thing as “being a writer.”  Margaret Atwood

There’s always the sense that you should strike while the iron’s hot and while there are all these opportunities, but that’s not the way I get ideas. It has to be more organic, building up through living and through experiencing things.  Miranda July

I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.  Simone de Beauvoir

Being self-conscious doesn’t help you at all when you’re alone and trying to create something new. It does nothing.  Miranda July

Just start.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I don't think I could ever have foreseen sitting on my bed, looking out on to Otago harbour, drinking tea, after a lunch of cheese rolls, on Otago Anniversary Day. To hear I would be in Paris, or New York, or Berlin, or Tokyo would have been far less of a stretch; in fact, I would have expected to have been to most of those and have lived in at least one, by now. Instead, I have been to none of them, and here I am, at home, in Port Chalmers.

I wonder if anyone's life unfolds the way they thought it would. As a child, I wanted to be an actress or a singer. In about form one, I decided my future lay in New York, and took for granted that I would find myself there, probably in my early twenties (does anyone under twenty-five ever think about being any older than that?), having been to all of the other places I'd read about and seen on tv all of my life. As I learnt more about history, politics, and classics, destinations became more specific; the acropolis, the Ho Chi Minh trail, Soweto,  Tiananmen Square. I would be a journalist, have a photographer boyfriend who could accompany me, and I would be part of everything. Not unlike Rory Gilmore. Vomit.

I am very proud that Dunedin is a Labour stronghold, although I haven't contributed to that (yet). And I am proud to be kinswoman to some of the people who call/have called Dunedin home. We cut our own path.

                                                                                           Ralph Hotere   


In Heaven everybody is happy together.
In Heaven there are no sudden catastrophes.
In Heaven they do without bodies.
There is perfect trust in Heaven,
and perfect symmetry.

In Heaven there are no hidden agendas.
In Heaven life is both exciting and secure,
love is greater than time, and hope
eternal. In Heaven there is no sense
of loss and betrayal.

Heaven is oblique and difficult of access.
Heaven requires nakedness
and a devil-may-care attitude.

Cilla McQueen

                                                                                                                                       Colin McCahon 

Sunday, March 24, 2013


1. Looking at these beautiful things from Isa Arfen via size too small, and wondering if maybe I am ready to embrace being the kind of grown up lady who wears pointed heels and undies that don't show.

2. Some extremely confronting stuff about racist casting in runway shows on - you guessed it - my good mate Jezebel this week. 

Nicoli, who with Anana casts Gucci and Saint Laurent, among others, explains that the lack of diversity at the Gucci show isn't intentionally racist — it's just because Gucci seeks a certain kind of beauty, and, in their opinion, that kind of beauty just happens to be possessed almost exclusively by white models.

That's Barbara Nicoli, blight on the earth, general fuckwit, and minion of Frida Gianni (who I have to say just looks like a nasty piece of work - did you see the shoot of her and James Franco a few years back, when they "collaborated"? It made me need to poo).

3. Osmosis. It's a powerful thing. I like to think that I resist trends, but I know that a person engaging with a world that embraces trends can't help but be influenced by them; little things like what's readily available, and then bigger things, like wondering if a counter-reaction to a trend might still be the trend. Hmm. Anyway, I bought an oversized coat last week (which I discovered yesterday has a cigarette burn in the back - that explains why it was in the $2 section), and there is no way I would have thought anything except My Head Looks Like The Top Of A Bowling Pin except for pictures of women like this, on The Sartorialist. No person is an island etc etc.

4. I called this FASHION because it made me think of Bowie, and it made me laugh a bit. I love clothes, think about what to wear for too long, notice what other people are wearing before noticing if they have sleep in their eye etc. But sometimes it just feels like a very funny joke, in the greater scheme of things.

Friday, March 22, 2013

In which we catch up with my body

Did I tell you I have pityriasis rosea, friends? No? Well then. Monday before last, I broke out in the most delightful rash, all over my torso and arms, and creeping up my neck and down onto my thighs. I thought stress, or allergies, but a visit to my doctor while we were in Auckland cleared that up. Pityriasis rosea is thought to be caused by a virus, spreads in the pattern of a fir tree (which would be pretty cool if it wasn't a fucking ugly rash), and lasts about six weeks. Furthermore, although it doesn't itch in 75% of cases, just like my inability to roll my tongue in spite of having two parents who can, mine itches like bejeezus. Side effects include nausea, fatigue, and headaches, which is very confusing as when I feel these things I don't know if I'm just being my usual lazy/wanting to be babied self, or if I really should go and lie down.

Our move here has coincided with the onset of what I think goes a lot further than dandruff - my scalp is falling apart. I thought head and shoulders would be a miracle cure but if it is, it's one of those slow-acting miracles that runs the risk of being called just an ordinary solution.

While we're on my head, I'm wondering if it's a really good idea or just boredom that I've been thinking I should cut my own hair into a bob again (the unevenness of last time having become less of an issue with the passage of time, and, if I'm honest, our distance from High Street). I know I've been carrying on for about a year about how much I want long hair (I blame two of my friends from work who have the most ridiculously beautiful Rapunzel-like locks, in wonderful shades of brown, that always smell nice), but now that it's within a year's reach, I'm looking at old photos of myself with long hair, and realising my hair type really isn't the kind you can do nothing to unless it's short. I look like mermaid from a dirty small-town harbour. Perhaps you're wondering if I'm prepared to style it every day this time, now that I'm a grown-up? I'm not.

To make up for forcing you to be privy to things you really didn't care to know: a song Vincent and I have been listening to about ten times a day for the last couple of weeks. I find Ruban Nielson fascinating, in a way that I don't want to know any more about him than the nothing that I do, so I can feel as if songs like this spring from his mind like Athena, fully-formed, and mere mortals like me hear them and just go whaaaat.

Also, in case you haven't heard it, here's an acoustic version that Vincent found. It's often really pissed me off that modern rock bands get away with having really average/bad vocalists; it seems almost like a badge of honour to have a singer that can only just carry a tune. Is it fear of becoming Singer and The Band? And then just Singer? Anyway, his voice is ridiculously good, especially considering he's already a musician and composer. Happy friday, and may your bodies hold together in harmony.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Little by little

A week ago today, ironing at the table and drinking moscato, which was recommended by a woman at the supermarket when Vincent discovered they didn't have any rose, which I have been drinking all summer in spite of the fact I don't actually really like the taste that much - in fact, because I don't like the taste that much, if that makes any sense. Moscato, which was new to both of us, tastes like what we might have thought wine would taste like before we ever actually tasted it; light, and sweet, and festive (although at 7% alcohol, it takes a bit of drinking before you begin to act in a particularly festive manner). Note the fly graveyard on the windowsill; my own handiwork. While Vincent takes after my father and is liberal with the flyspray, I like to think I take after the women in my family who came before me, and swat to my heart's content, although instead of a salu I use a rolled up bunnings flyer.

When I sit here, I feel like I am making new traditions, and habits, and I feel happy.

One month in Dogtown. It's going to be alright.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


We bought a hammond organ. I don't know if it's the kind of thing you do when you live in Dunedin, or when you have your own house, or if it's just what we do when we live in Dunedin and have our own house. Either way, Vincent has been looking up songs that feature one (Riders on the storm, Whiter shade of pale, When a man loves a woman) that we can cover, and I've been wondering where it should go, and if our children are going to have any friends. That said, I was friends with my sister's feet for a while when I was about five (I'd like to point out that I did have human friends also), and between Vincent, Joe, and me, we have eight friends ready and waiting for our strange little offspring, if needed.

Today has been cold enough for a fire, and Joe and I have spent much of the afternoon competing with each other for the spot closest to the hearth, like a pair of three-year-olds. Joe is very much the kind of dog who can take care of himself, a skill I like to think he picked up on the street, before we knew him. I think of him as a modern-day, canine Artful Dodger. While he is our son, he is also decidedly independent, and should we forget this fact, he is always ready to remind us, by jumping out of bed and running back into the sitting room when we are tucking him in at night, or by staring blankly at us when asked to do something he doesn't want to do. While it's frustrating standing on one side of the road while he stands on the other, dropped lead trailing beside him, ready to run, I do admire this independence.

Did you know that the population of Dunedin is just under 127 000? Nor did I, before we moved here. And in the summer months, when the students and other temporary residents leave, the population hovers close to the mark that separates a city from a town. Until 1900, Dunedin was the most populous city in the country. Our house was built in 1911; our apartment building in Auckland a few years after, during WW1. During those years, one city began to grow and never stopped, while the other watched. I wonder what the people who built each place saw in the futures of their buildings. I wonder if they thought they would still be here, 100 years later, and what would be around them. Who would live in them.

I wonder, when driving down the harbour towards the city, if we will still be here in ten years. I wonder if it will become so much a part of us that we can't leave, or that if we leave it will still be there, in us. It feels good to look ahead.

Monday, March 11, 2013

the great holiday

I have a new nemesis. I meet it almost every time I take Joe, my recently adopted canine son, for a walk, and it's going to claim either my life or, preferably, the extra bit at the bottom of my arse; before we begin its ascent, I tell myself it will be the latter, but half-way up, I don't much care which it is.

My old nemesis was Shortland Street, in the centre of the Auckland CBD. I would walk past towers housing thousands of capitalist minions, passing international students walking down to Queen Street, and finally reach the car, usually parked in front of the Fonterra (spit on ground) building, or beside a sprawling, gnarled pohutukawa tree.

The only business carried out on my new nemesis is done by the many dogs who live in Port, but they do a lot of it. Every third house in Port has a dog, or dogs, and they seem to shit everywhere. We feel somewhat conspicuous, gingerly scooping Joe's poo with our yellow pak n save bags, and then worrying after disposing of them that he might have more to give, and us with nothing to tidy up.

Some days it's hard to get out of bed. Sometimes I look at the view but I don't see anything. Sometimes I forget who I am, and I have nothing to say. I try to provoke responses by reading, or watching, or remembering something... but it feels contrived. I don't want to be someone who only responds.

We've become Bunnings regulars, tempted to ask other customers if they need some assistance. Vincent's drill has become an extension of himself; he puts up shelves, and rails, and then when I've overloaded them with books and coats and they've fallen down, he comes and puts them up again. I've discovered the tranquility and god-like sense of achievement in painting; the satisfaction of pushing a brush back and forth until it feels almost dry, and of standing alone in an open shed, hearing snatches of conversation from the footpath on the other side of the hedge - a man saying fuck, and a child making car sounds.

In some ways, I've begun a reinvention, or at least awakened things that have lain dormant for the last twenty-nine years. I want to cook; to season things, and use the oven, and eat more than just toast for breakfast. I've set up a desk, and dream of sitting at it and writing, and sewing, and having excellent ideas. More of me wants to walk than doesn't. I want to be near the harbour that has become my Queen Street, and to know the bends in the road like I knew where each Subway was, and I want to know the best spots to see things like I knew which of our preferred bars had the cheapest beer at any given time.

I like our furniture so much, I worry I'm creating a kind of show home, on which to be judged. Is that what happens when you begin to put together a house that belongs to you? I remember feeling like that sometimes when I got dressed, knowing I liked what I was wearing, and how it went together, but not sure if it was really an expression of myself. I still do, probably, but it is much easier when you know you can just put on some thick eyeliner, or pin your hair, or say something rude, or just wear something different tomorrow.

I've been afraid I'm falling into depression, but I think I've discovered another nook within the spectrum, where I think I can hide. I'm still a little afraid, but I tell myself the little things count - baking an apple, or unpacking one thing that reminds me of home, and the big thing, that Vincent can still love me when I feel like I'm just my own shell. There is some solace in the numbness; the things lurking in the crevices of my mind are, at least temporarily, silenced. When you have no energy, there is nothing with which to berate yourself, much less hate yourself. And then when you feel up to those thoughts, there is comfort in knowing you must be feeling stronger. I'm told I am missed, and I remember what they think I am, and I wonder if I can pretend to be that way until I am again. As long as I can remember what that is, I think I can.

Every day, the view becomes a little clearer, and a little more familiar. It's slow-going. But it's a start.

Song courtesy of my tall and awesome cousin.