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.


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.

1 / 2 / 3  

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.


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

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


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


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.'

1 /  2

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


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


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.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

in which i lighten up

I'm afraid things have been a little heavy around here lately. I think I've been saving all of the light stuff for the Dogtown blog (which has also been getting more time than this one, mostly to assuage my guilt from not having brought in any income since February. FEBRUARY.), and then coming here to work through my feelings and epiphanies. It's getting to the point where as soon as I've signed in, I start feeling more serious, and "reflecting" rather than just thinking, such is the power of association. It might take a week to get back to normal, but I am going to, I promise, and I'm going to let myself have some cross over content, because crossing over is normal in life (and not always nothing but a double-cross!). We will live to laugh again.

Here are some things that have made me happy lately.

Olympia Le-Tan's Spring/Summer 2013 collection, inspired by the Spector years. The clothes, and the concept (especially emulating black women; when does that EVER happen?), and the show (during which Ronnie Spector performed; she sounded pretty bad, but lady has earned the right) make me want to go and smash a hydrant so I can dance in the street (before dying of hypothermia; hell of a hallucination, though). I know there's more to think about (the fact that many of these women, like Ronnie, were having a shit time of it; the straight hair), but a runway of black women in clothes for all women is something to celebrate, and hydrant or not, I'm celebrating!

Over the last few years, I've had something of a comedy renaissance. It could be that comedy's gotten better. It could be that I watch more tv. Whatever it is, it makes me happy, and not mad, and that's like having access to a golden goose. Even prime-time comedies on mainstream stations are good; if you haven't been watching Go On and The New Normal, catch them now (I just read that they've both been cancelled). Go On is funnier, but The New Normal, centred around a gay couple, the surrogate carrying their baby, and the surrogate's lovely and precocious daughter and homophobic and racist grandmother, is more important to have on tv. (When I think about it, is the first family show centred around a gay couple?) But the best has to be 30 Rock, which we will be watching and rewatching until the day the music dies.

This essay written by a woman eating like Gwyneth Paltrow for a week has been doing the rounds on the internet and I finally clicked on it (I'm a longtime non-fan of Paltrow's, but am finding the widespread hatred a bit boring and repetitive), and was rewarded with a very entertaining five minutes and a new catchphrase "I have to get back to Europe". For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, etc? Fucked if I know.

The most wonderful time of the year, apart from the actual most wonderful time of the year (Christmas) is almost upon us. The NZ International Film Festival. Every couple of days I find an email telling me about a new confirmation, and I just discovered that the Auckland festival runs slightly later this year so we'll be up there for a whole week of it (Dunedin's programme is significantly smaller). I'm trying to rein myself in a bit as (not having worked since February) our resources are severely limited, but, as with Christmas, IT AIN'T EASY.

This song. It makes me feel like an old person because I remember when Pharrell was relatively young (I played Frontin' on Saturday night, and in spite of the fact they'd been gettin' down to TLC moments earlier, the women on dancefloor seemed to have no idea what it was. Does anyone else remember Let's Get Blown? Anyone?), and because the song's been out since April but I only just heard it last week, and because pretty much everything is making me feel either out-of-touch-old or a-fraud-old lately, but I'm trying to just allow myself to enjoy it, because it makes me feel dancey, and as anyone my age knows, if you feel like doing anything that might prevent fadoobadas from forming, you roll with it, son. And these people are all older than me, and they are dancing like they are the BUSINESS.

Monday, June 3, 2013

what lies beneath

Do you ever feel afraid of yourself?

Let me explain. I'm reading The Third Life Of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker. It begins in the 1920s, just a few generations after the American Civil War, in Georgia. While (so far) it's told from the perspective of Brownfield Copeland (son of Grange), and focuses on his and his father's activities, Walker explains it's really about the women in their lives, affected by everything these men do. When I began it, I expected to understand more about humanity, and for its personal effect to be external; more about me in relation to the world. Instead, I've been confronted by things about myself that have shocked me, and frightened me. I realise I may have known them, but tried to ignore them, tried to repress them as much as possible, and then just apologised and pushed them back down when they've risen to the surface. I'm frightened to think what I might be capable of; as if there's a monster inside me that I manage to hide. Most of the time.

The particular story in the book that has led to this is that of Brownfield and his wife, Mem. This is going to be kind of a spoiler, so if you plan to read the book and don't want to know anything, skip to the next paragraph. Brownfield has grown up in a house poisoned by disenfranchisement. His father, frustrated by his de facto enslavement to a farmer through unjust debt, is abusive and remote. Brownfield watched his mother, who adores his father, gradually break apart, until finally she becomes as detached as he is, and Brownfield is left to care fro himself, and his younger half-brother. When his father finally abandons them, his mother poisons herself, and the baby. Fast-forward about five years, and Brownfield meets Mem, a sweet, educated young woman unspoiled by the pain in her life. They fall in love, and Brownfield finds himself redeemed by their love. He believes his slate to be wiped clean of his tragic past, and allows himself to dream. However, several years into their marriage, he finds himself in the same cycle of unjust debt that had enslaved his father, and he begins to break. All of the superior things he loved about Mem become unbearable; signs of his failure, and his servitude. He forces himself to hate them, and to hate her, and goes about destroying all of those things until he is able to feel superior to her, and to justify his hatred. Instead of the love that nulled his insecurities, he feeds them, and as he destroys Mem, Brownfield destroys everything that might have saved him. But worst of all, he destroys the only person he has ever loved.

Obviously (I hope), my story isn't quite like that. But Brownfield's and Mem's story still hit me like a slap to the face, and it's made me afraid of what I am, afraid of facing it, but more afraid of what could happen if I don't. I know I have to explain further, but I don't want to go into detail that will hurt or embarrass other people, so it might be vague in places. My childhood, while nothing like Brownfield's, was such that I grew up jealous of the love people I loved had for me. I learnt that love is limited, and that I had to guard the love that was given to me. (I know these things aren't true, but knowing something, cognitively, is quite different to knowing something, emotionally, as an irrefutable truth.) I see it in my friendships at primary school, where I was a controlling Queen Bee, trying to be lovable but easily hurt, and responding to hurt by dealing out guilt. I could be unforgiving, (something that has probably never left me, although now I justify it as being judicious about who I spend my time with). (I got better at friendships as I got older; I realised they come and go, and ebb and flow, and I became fine with that, although I realise having my sister as my best friend safe-guarded me against a lot of potential hurt; even with my damage I could never doubt her love for me.) The relationship I was in for most of my formative years (by which I mean the years after adolescence, when I thought I actually knew stuff) was affected by and built (a castle) on my insecurities. We were both kids, really, and didn't communicate well with each other, and I gave as good as I got - better, in some aspects, but being introspective and more fragile, I came away more damaged than I realised.

I thought I was cured. It's a considerable part of who I am to self-examine and try to be better. And, most importantly, I love Vincent more than anything in the world, and I know and feel that he loves me more than anything in the world. I knew parts of my personal history had affected me, but I thought it wouldn't matter anymore; that I could explain things that had happened, and that maybe I'd get a bit madder or sadder about some things than other people might, but that was it. But that's not it. There are things that I haven't addressed that, at their worst, could bring Vincent down, not to the same extent but not unlike Mem. Reading that story on Saturday morning, I had the sickening epiphany; that those insecurities aren't gone, and that I can't rely on how much we love each other to snuff them out. If things should get bad, I need to know that these things aren't going to surface, and try to destroy the person I love most. Because, as much as it shames me to admit it, I am capable of doing that; I am capable of destruction. Years and years of nurturing insecurities, and believing that love is a competition, have made me so afraid that I can't deal with basic things, even things are parts of Vincent that I value. I meet old friends of his, which makes me feel nervous, which is natural. I want to know them, and I want to share them with him. But if they're unwilling, or (as is more often the case) just socially unable to be friends, or when they are neither but I'm afraid, I become my primary school self again, with ten times the manipulative sophistication. I tell Vincent how they make me feel, and I say things about them (true things, and sometimes insightful things because in spite of being damaged, I am fairly insightful when it comes to reading people); things that I know make them look bad, and me look better. Or at least things I think, in that illogical state of mind that takes over me, make me look better - my logical mind says that he sees straight through them, and while he won't think me horrid and pathetic, he certainly knows with whom the problem lies. And to pile crazy onto the crazy, I don't even want to alienate Vincent from his friends. I actually used to try to force him to spend time with them. I want to get to know them better, and I want him to have time with them without me. But that sad disease inside me makes me feel like it's crucial that he thinks there is no-one better than me. And the stupidest thing? He actually does think that, so all I am doing is making him feel bad. And reading about Brownfield and Mem makes me wonder if that's what that part of me wants. I wonder if there really can be something in me so fucked up that I might want to hurt the person without whom I couldn't live, in the ridiculous belief that might make him love me more. Do I actually think he's going to leave me? No. So why do I still believe what I learnt as a child but know to be wrong? Why can't I believe that there's enough love for me and everybody else?

That's why I'm afraid of myself. I have discovered, or been forced to finally admit to possessing, something in me that is devoid of anything good, with the potential to destroy everything good, and motivated by a desire to have what is already mine. I want it gone. But I don't quite know how, except to talk about it.