Been hanging out in hospital / respite for a while... just three nights actually. Feels like half an eternity. Needed some time out. Needed some extra support. But theyíve let me out now (guess they needed the bed for someone else). Everyone keeps asking if Iím ok, and to be honest, I donít know. I donít think so. But I think I will be.
I shaved off my hair. Actually, I paid someone else to shave it off. I donít have the necessary equipment. It was sort of an impulsive thing. They let me out of hospital for a walk yesterday, because it was my last day, and so I walked down to the shops, passed a barbers shop, and went hey, maybe Iíll get my hair cut.
I think I like it, but Iím not really sure. I think it was kind of inevitable, it had to happen at some stage. Iíve always wanted to know what Iíd look like with no hair. Well, alright, Iím exaggerating, Iíve still got some hair, itís just very short.
I like the way the wind feels when it brushes over my scalp.
I donít like the way I no longer recognise my own shadow.
I canít help but touch my hair, all the time, it feels so strange, my fingers are always drifting up to pat and stroke my head.
I love The New Scum!
Wellington, you have two more chances to get your apathetic ass into gear and get down to the Bluenote, 9:30pm Thursday and Friday.
"Theatre so sharp it draws blood."
Note to self
Do not go and see The Hours when depressed. It is not a feel-good movie. Everyone in it is depressed and suicidal, even the kids are pretty morbid.
Someone stole my cellphone, ages ago, back in October I think. The worst part was that I lost all the numbers I had programmed into it, which I was dumb enough not to write down anywhere else (Matiu, if youíre out there, I miss you, please get in touch)! And I had to get a new number.
Anyway, last night I got this email from a sort-of-ex of mine, apologising for the drunken manipulative abusive voicemail message she supposedly left me. I couldnít actually work out what voicemail message she was talking about. I thought maybe Iíd blocked it out. Maybe it got lost in the blur of crazy shit happening lately. Maybe my flatmates censored it. And then I thought, maybe she left it on my old phone.
I found out that I can still check the messages from another phone. Itís kind of weird to think that someone else has my phone, but the number still exists and a recording of my voice is floating around in some kind of virtual space somewhere... But the weird part is, that I checked my messages, and there were about 20. And one of them was from weeks ago, cos hey, itís been months since I lost that phone. But all the rest were in the past week!?!! Whatís with that? How come all these people have suddenly reverted to my old phone number, all at once. Even my mother left a message on my old phone. Now thatís really weird, cos she called me three times on my new one today alone, so youíd think sheíd know the number. Odd. Very odd indeed.
I gotta work out how to cut off that number.
My flatmate drove me down to the hospital late on Saturday night, bless him, and then he stayed with me for hours. Held me while I was crying and shaking and screaming and trying to bang my head against the wall. Iíve talked before about the terrible blackness that is always inside me, and sometimes it seems to well up and engulf me. Many times this has happened when I have been alone, and sometimes it feels like Iím drowning in it, sometimes it really feels like it will kill me, and I have to drag myself out of the blackness, it takes all the strength I have but I always seem to be able to pull myself away. I always know it will come back. A couple of times I have fallen into the darkness when other people have been around. Sometimes they have stayed with me for a while, most of the time they have ended up getting frustrated and scared and told me to pull myself together, stop crying. And I do, I pull myself together because I donít want them to be afraid of me. I manage to squash all the blackness back down inside myself.
On Saturday, I fell into the darkness and I couldnít find the strength to pull myself away. I struggled with it, and then it overwhelmed me, and I couldnít get away. I wanted to hurt myself so much, I wanted to block it out, I wanted to escape, it felt like I was being torn apart, like I was being crushed. And then my flatmate put his arms around me, and even in the middle of the blackness I could feel him there with me. He held my head in his lap so I couldnít bang it against the wall, and he wrapped his arms around me and held me. He didnít tell me to pull myself together. He didnít tell me to stop crying. He didnít tell me it wasnít that bad, or that Iíd feel better in the morning. He didnít get scared or angry or frustrated or tired. He just sat with me, held me, sang a beautiful waiata.
That is honestly the most beautiful thing anyone has ever done for me.
The next evening he came to visit me and we talked for a while. He told me that there have been times when heís wondered if he could keep living with me. Heís really sensitive to how people are feeling, and he can tell the moment I open the door when I am having a bad day. Heís kept his distance because he hasnít known if he can be there for me. And sometimes heís been really frustrated, he has heard me up late at night, on the computer or talking on the phone or pacing in the kitchen, and heís thought "why doesnít Fi just go to bed! Thatís what she needs!" But he said that on Saturday, he realised that he could be with me, and he was ok with it. He realised the depth and strength of the feelings I struggle with, and he realised that sometimes when Iím pacing around at 3am itís the best thing I can do. In my head I might be fighting not to smash the windows or walk out into the night, scream, cut myself, jump off a building. It might be taking all my strength just to stay alive. He told me he had so much respect for me. For only the third time in my life, I felt like someone understood me.
I also felt like I was beginning to understand him. There have been times when I have found it frustrating living with him too, when he has got on my nerves, when I havenít been able to understand why he is acting the way he is, when I have felt like screaming at him. This weekend, even though he didnít speak about any of it, I understood some of the struggles that he has faced, and I loved and respected him more that I ever have.
Addictions update (warning, contains blood and knives, content may disturb)
When I got out of hospital I asked my flatmate if he would take me along to one of the NA meetings he goes to. It was really cool to go along and be a part of that other side of his life. Everyone was really nice, and afterwards I went out for coffee with some of the girls from the meeting. One of them started talking to me about her experiences, and I could relate to so much of what she was saying. And suddenly it hit me, how my life is such a mess, how Iím such a mess. At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution, that I was not going to cut myself any more. Lately, I have really been struggling with the desire to cut myself. The thought is with me all the time, itís the first thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning, and I fight against it all day and all night. If you donít self-injure, itís probably quite a difficult desire to relate to. But believe me, you come to crave the release of blood.
"Deliberate self-injury appears to be a source of effective and instantaneous relief from both the state of heightened agitation and anxiety as well as from the opposite state of inner deadening and numbness that characterizes dissociation. Although neuroscience research hasnít yet produced definite answers to this puzzle, it is clear that this is a physiological as well as a psychological process. In one study, cutters and noncutters were guided through an imaginary act of self-mutilation, while their blood pressure, heart rate, and other biological measurements were taken. The results confirmed that cutting does physically reduce tension.
"One of the most challenging questions is why so many self-injurers feel no pain when they slice and burn their flesh or break their own bones? One theory is that.... cutters developed a conditioned response to stress that produced a heightened level of opiates in their bodies, which in turn causes numbing. This conditioned response may take on the nature of an addiction, with cutters experiencing opiate withdrawal and cravings in the absence of stress or traumatic triggers. The withdrawal is expressed through anxiety, hyperactivity, and outbursts of aggression. This process is yet another vicious cycle that contributes to a sense of loss of control...
"The question of whether cutting is actually addictive... is highly controversial. Most chronic self-mutilators think it is and insist that alcohol, drugs, sex Ė even eating disorders, notoriously difficult to overcome Ė are easier to give up than self-harm."
(Marilee Strong said it better than I could).
At the NA meeting, they give out these pamphlets that say "Am I an Addict?" They have a list of questions written by recovering addicts, designed to help you work out if you might be an addict. There are 29 questions. I can answer yes to several of them in regards to drinking chocolate, as you already know, but I donít think thatís the real problem. I can answer yes to about a dozen questions in relation to alcohol and about six questions for other drugs (and Iím not talking caffeine and sugar) which really shocked me. But I can answer yes to 26 questions if I apply them to self-injury. I have done it alone, I have substituted other behaviours (including drugs) thinking that cutting was the problem, I have lied to get hold of surgical scalpel blades, I have stolen sharp objects, I have lied to cover up how much I have been cutting myself. I have tried to stop, over and over, and failed. If feels impossible to live without cutting myself, and the thought of running out of scalpel blades terrifies me. I have often felt defensive, guilty and ashamed about cutting myself, I think about cutting myself all the time, once I start I find it hard to stop, I cut more and more frequently, deeper and deeper, further than I ever meant to go. I have found that my own private hell is within me. And I need help. So what now? Drugs have never been a major problem for me, I think Iíve just abused drugs occasionally as a substitute for cutting myself, so I donít know if I really have the right to take part in the NA meetings. I donít know, Iím still getting my head around all of this.
Itís not a matter of believing in God. I see God everywhere, in the kindness of friends and strangers, in the beauty of new leaves unfurling, in the sun breaking through and in the dark clouds passing by... in the stars and the spaces between the stars... in laughter and in tears... in life... I believe in God.
Iím just afraid that maybe God doesnít believe in me.
I hate the Dominion Post, I really do, itís one of the most rightwing newspapers Iíve ever come across. But they did print a letter I wrote, so give them some credit. They even stuck it in a box with a big headline and a picture.
MPs have just voted 62 to 56 to take the Prostitution Reform Bill to the next level, one step closer to the decriminalisation of prostitution. The papers have been filled with hysterical headlines. "MP fears uncontrolled sex trade." Apparently the country is in danger of becoming an orgy of sex, drugs and gang violence. Impoverished children will be trafficked between rural and urban centers where they will be raped, abused and infected with AIDS. And so on.
Did you know that under the current law, if a man goes up to a woman and says "Iíll pay you a hundred bucks to have sex with me" itís legal, but if a woman goes up to a man and says "Iíll have sex with you for a hundred bucks," thatís against the law? Did you know that partners and children and even landlords of sex workers are criminals, because they are "living off the earnings"? Did you know that massage parlours canít provide condoms or safe-sex literature because it could be used as evidence against them? Oooooooh yeah, the current law is pretty $%@*!!
There was a great billboard in Cuba St last year. In big letters it said "Jesus Loves Hookers," and then underneath it said "Support Prostitution Law Reform Ė God knows we need it!"
After the NA meeting and after reading the 29 questions I freaked out. I went home and drank half a bottle of vodka and passed out on the kitchen floor Ė oh yeah thatíll solve everything.
Then I had this weird as dream. It was late at night and I was walking home with my flatmate, and we came to this carpark, and all the New Scum were there, sitting around in a circle. We went up to them and they were all drinking furniture polish, or at least some chemical that had something to do with furniture. Well, drinking isnít really the word, because it was too thick and sticky so they were kind of licking it off the brush. My flatmate went and joined in, but I was too freaked out. Somehow I got some of the stuff on my fingers and I had to lick it off and it burned my throat. And then I was talking to one of the girls, and I was saying "I canít be a addict, because if I was I wouldnít be scared about taking this stuff, Iíd just do it."
And then I was lying on the kitchen floor calling out to my flatmate, help me, please someone help me.
I was doing really well yesterday. I ate healthy food all morning, good wholesome organic fare. But I was so tired that I kept dozing off, even when people were talking to me. So I had to resort to extreme measures and ingest several cans of V to help me get through my exam.
And then, I totally meant to get up this morning and do yoga and eat fresh fruit and organic muesli...
But actually, I just feel like shit, and I canít be bothered, so Iím scoffing chocolate biscuits and toasted sandwiches with white bread and spaghetti and cheese. Leave me alone, I donít care.
Most of the time I try and write blog entries that I think other people, one or two at least, might find interesting, amusing, or challenging.
Not today though.
I am going to rant. About how much life sucks sometimes. Iím going to be self-indulgent and self-pitying. And I can do that, you know. Cos itís my blog.
Contains details about sexual abuse and about self-harm.
You have been warned.
Like an overripe fruit
suddenly finds its skin too fragile
to contain the swollen flesh
is an agony
Things that upset me
Coming home and my clothes stink of smoke and my hair stinks of smoke and my life stinks of smoke and I feel like shit.
Knowing that even people I love and care about smoke. That they are hurting themselves. That they are hurting me. I worry about them. Maybe theyíre too stressed, theyíre doing enough for about six people. Maybe theyíre tired. Maybe theyíre depressed. Why isnít there anything I can do to help?
Knowing I really donít have any right to say any of this, after the shit Iíve put my body through recently.
People getting angry. Everyone reacts to things in different ways. Some people get angry. I tend to withdraw, feel guilty, hate myself, assume that everyone hates me, blame myself for everything. Especially when people get angry. I hate feeling caught between two people who are angry. I get scared. Most of all I get scared that people I love might get angry at me, I get scared that I wonít be able to bear it. A couple of my friends get angry around me a lot. Not usually at me, but I still feel really shaken, as though it was directed at me. I think that one of them is an alcoholic and she gets like this when sheís been drinking. The other person... I think she has been hurt a lot. I think she gets scared. I think she defends herself by getting angry. Sometimes it feels almost violent. I donít know why it scares me so much. I canít remember any events in my past that might have caused me to feel scared of anger. I feel as though the world is closing in around me. I start shaking. I feel sick. I feel dizzy. I feel like I am breaking apart. I want to curl up and disappear. I want never to have existed. I want someone to hug me. I want everything to be ok.
People being tired and stressed and having and awful day. Not being able to cheer them up. Feeling afraid I might be making things worse.
Feeling out of control. Feeling like my life is always precarious and even if Iím ok now, at any moment I might fall. At any moment there might be darkness. At any moment it might start to hurt.
People telling me I didnít see something, I canít say anything, nothing happened. That scares me too. Maybe Iím just overreacting, maybe it just triggers stuff for me.
I think Iíve remembered a way to forget.
What itís like
Itís bad enough dealing with these feelings... the intensity of my emotions, the despair I sink into... but when, on top of that, it ruins my friendships, and limits my abilities and potential... I canít bear it! I hate myself so much, for being so screwed up, for destroying everything I love, everything that gives my life meaning. I donít want to be such a mess! But I get into these vicious cycles. I am so scared of losing people... that is my biggest fear, that I will push people away because I am so messed up. But because I am so afraid, I feel so desperate, and I act desperately, and increase the chances that people will get freaked out and abandon me.
I feel everything so intensely, emotions overwhelm me, flood me... I canít remember ever feeling anything else. Itís hard to believe that I will feel anything else in the future. Sometimes even the good feelings feel dangerous. Sometimes it feels great, like flying, but scary, like everything so intense, so bright that it hurts.
I remember so many times in my life I have been overwhelmed by waves of black despair... itís so intense, it hurts so much. I feel hopeless, I feel like Iím trapped in this awful nightmarish cycle, and I canít keep going. I cry and cry, and I feel like I am drowning... more than anything I want someone to reach out to me, to reach down and catch hold of my hand, because I feel as though I am slipping under the surface of this terrible blackness... I feel scared that I may not be able to get out again. I bang my head against walls, hoping that if I push hard enough Iíll disappear, if I hurt enough Iíll stop feeling anything. I canít stop crying because I feel so hopeless, and I feel as though I canít keep going unless something changes... and I feel so alone. God, I feel so lonely, it feels as though I am breaking open. And then... eventually, I get so exhausted that I canít cry any more. I feel numb. No one has reached out to help me out of the hole, so I know I have to pull myself out of it. So I do. Bit by bit I put the pieces together and drag myself through it. But itís so hard Ė and every time it feels as though I have less strength to do it.
One day, somewhere between my tenth birthday and my fourteenth, a guy from my church youth group came over. I donít remember exactly when it happened, how it fits in, before or after any of the other events in my life. I do remember the shirt he was wearing. It was pale, not quite white, not quite cream, not quite gray. I remember how coarse it felt between my fingers. He had cotton trousers that tied up with a drawstring. It was raining outside. We were listening to Cat Stevens. We were mucking around, tickling each other, laughing. Back then, I wasnít that interested in sex, lest of all with a guy. I had a crush on a girl from my orchestra, I used to daydream about kissing her, thatís all I wanted, to spend all night kissing her. Back then, I didnít know that tickling could lead to other things. I didnít know that tickling could turn people on. He made me give him a hand job, and he pushed his fingers inside me. He didnít say a word, moved my hand where he wanted it, unbuttoned my jeans, my baggy levis with flowers painted around the bottom. I tried to push his hand away, but he was much stronger than I was. I remember staring at his shirt. I remember feeling as though part of me had split away from my body, part of me was spinning out of control. Maybe it doesnít sound like a big deal. Maybe Iím overly sensitive, overreacting. I almost wish heíd been violent, attacked me, raped me. Maybe then I would have screamed. Maybe then I could have said no. Maybe I would feel like I had a reason for feeling so messed up. It happened so quickly, it was so unexpected. I thought it must be my fault, I must have done something, I must have led him on. There must have been something I did that made him do that to me. Iíve never told anyone what happened before. I was too scared. Iím still scared, that people will think that Iím making a big fuss about nothing, that people will be angry with me...
Stuff happened with loads of guys after that. It was like I was incapable of saying no. I thought everything was my fault, even if a guy was flirting with me, I thought that somehow it was my fault, and from that point on I felt I had no right to say no to anything. Iíve completely lost track of the number of guys I slept with, completely frozen, terrified, going through the motions on the outside but terrified on the inside. At the time I think I was convinced that what happened was normal, or that it just happened because I was fucked up. In retrospect a lot of those guys used me, made assumptions about what I wanted. Not one of them bothered to check that what was happening was ok. I got real good at blowjobs, because I knew if I could make them cum like that I wouldnít have to have sex with them. Sometimes it didnít work. One guy was so rough, it really hurt, and I started to cry. Didnít make any difference, he just ignored me. I was bleeding for a couple of days afterwards. I thought that was only supposed to happen the first time. I remember two guys, taking turns, making me give them both blowjobs. I remember thinking that I couldnít breath cos my nose was blocked, thinking that I was going to choke, that I was going to die. Thinking about the things that happened still makes me feel so sick... I canít get the images out of my mind and this ghastly sick feeling inside my stomach. I used to try and squeeze the feeling out, but I could never escape from it.
I hate being alone. When I am alone, often the feelings of despair and self hatred overwhelm me. Often I will want to talk to people... but when I really think about it, this doesnít really help a lot. I will call someone, and feel comforted while I talk to them, but then as soon as they hang up I will feel so alone, and Iíll want to call someone else straight away. Itís the same with hugs. I never want someone to let go, because as soon as they do I feel alone.
I do things to try and feel less lonely... I read letters from friends and look at photos. But I donít think this is totally healthy either Ė I think I hold onto the past too much. I spend so much time looking at letters and photos, trying to hold onto the feelings from that time, trying to recreate the love that someone has expressed... I think I need to learn to let go of the past, and live in this present moment. A couple of times I have lost a treasured letter, or a photo... and I feel devastated! I am still beating myself up about a letter I lost about five years ago. I need to learn that I am an ok person, and that people care about me, even if I donít have it in writing. I need to find that acceptance inside myself, rather than trying to find it in words and pictures.
I feel like... I donít feel like Iím totally real. I feel like I could be blown away in the wind, or crumble away. I feel like I am wearing so many different masks, but there is nothing underneath them all, just this awful blackness. I feel as though my experiences are unconnected fragments. I constantly have to prove who I am to people... When I meet someone and I want to be friends with them, I feel as though they have to know everything about me... all of my talents, and interests, and everything Iíve been through, the difficult stuff as well as the good stuff. I feel as though I need to show them all this stuff, or Iíll disappear. Itís as though I am things I do and the books I read and the music I listen too... I feel as though I have to display my life in my room... so that if someone comes in they will look around and they will see that I care about the environment, and that I go tramping, and that I do art, and that I read poetry... and then they will like me.
I crave affection. I guess it is part of not wanting to be alone. Touch makes me feel ok... being held, being hugged. Sometimes this has got me into trouble... Some people havenít respected that it is not necessarily a sexual craving. I have learned that sex is the price I have to pay to be held.
Sometimes I descend into these dark patches that last for weeks. I feel so miserable all the time... everything seems hard. Even getting out of bed in the mornings seems impossible. I donít bother to eat properly, take my medications or brush my teeth. I just want to lie in bed and cry. Sometimes I sleep all day, but then when I wake up I feel guilty about all the things I havenít done. I think really negatively about everything. I think that everyone is sick of me, that I am useless, hopeless, that I have messed everything up. I become convinced that I will always feel so awful, that I will never get better. I eat a lot of junk food for the brief comfort it brings. I feel tired... god, I feel so tired, all the time! Everything seems to take so much effort! I just want to die, because I feel like I canít keep going. I feel as though things will never get better. I feel as though Iíve ruined everything beyond repair, Iím a hopeless failure. I hate myself!
I have pretty high expectations on myself. I used to be a high-achiever, all round. At various times I have been top of the school for subjects, everything from art to maths to woodwork to physics. I got the top average in my school for school certificate, and I won competitions, from swimming races to music, art, and design and speech competitions. Once these problems started in high school, I achieved less and less. I couldnít cope with schoolwork, I did poorly and dropped out of subjects. I stopped doing art and playing music. I felt as though I was useless, I just screwed everything up. I was a perfectionist I guess. When something didnít work out I would throw a huge tantrum. I still do sometimes... when I have a difficult assignment, I will just get stuck, Iíll get a mental block, and Iíll end up screaming and crying to my parents over the phone. Anyway... I set these expectations on myself... and when I am having an up day, I can do it all! I can paint pictures and make posters and organise meetings and whatever else. But when I am having a bad day, I canít cope at all. It all seems to hard... and I canít cope, but I feel guilty because I feel as though there are all these things I should be doing.
Sometimes when Iím really bad I seem to shut down. Everything seems so far away, and if feels as though Iím dragging myself through thick liquid. It feels hard to speak... I feel as though I have slowed down, but everything else speeds up. I feel as though speaking is almost impossible... sometimes I freeze up, and I feel like Iíll never be able to move or talk... and Iím willing someone to ask me a question so that will break through. A friend once observed me when I was like this and said that I curled up so tight she thought I would disappear. My voice was very quiet and high pitched. I remember feeling dizzy and shaky.
Sometimes when things get too much, I walk off. Itís not a totally conscious decision, I think I just get to the point where I canít keep an eye on myself any more, and I just wander off, often in the middle of the night, Iíll walk for kilometers, but I wonít remember much of it. Sometimes Iíll get paranoid. Iíll be scared that people are after me, and Iíll dive into the bushes to hide when cars come past. Sometimes I get scared that Iíll wander off like that, and not quite be conscious of what Iím doing, and just go completely mad and never come back! Sometimes I think that people can read my thoughts. Often I believe that everyone hates me, that Iíve done something terrible, unforgivable, and everyone is angry.
I find it hard to judge where boundaries are in relationships Ė with friends, counselors, tutors, just about anyone. I tend to find the boundaries by tripping over them and breaking things, and then it is too late. I need people to be very clear about what is ok and what is not ok, otherwise I push too far.
Everything is just so intense! I think that is the scariest thing. Even going to a movie can be scary, it can trigger a huge high, or a crisis... I can get so caught up in the story that I loose touch with reality.
People often get fixated with the fact I cut myself. They see my arms, and they say oh, you poor thing, whatís going on, can I do anything to help? For me though, the cutting isnít the point. Itís the feelings that lead me to cut myself that are the problem. I cut myself for lots of reasons. Because I feel so awful, and it calms me down, or gets me through it somehow. Because I hate myself, and I want to hurt myself. Because it seems like the only way to get people to take me seriously. Because sometimes I feel so bad, and there doesnít seem to be a reason for it, so I feel like my feelings arenít valid... but if I cut myself, then there is something that is wrong Ė Iím hurt! Because sometimes I feel completely numb, I feel like everything is so far away, and cutting myself makes me feel alive again.
Sometimes it feels like its all too much. Sometimes I donít think I can keep living like this.
And sometimes, like right now, I just feel so unbearably tired.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say the glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty.
The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: ĎWhatís up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I donít think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!
And at the other end of the bar the world is full of the other type of person, who has a broken glass, or a glass that has been carelessly knocked over (usually by one of the people calling for a larger glass), or who has no glass at all, because they were at the back of the crowd and had failed to catch the barmanís eye."
- Terry Pratchett.
Get your ass down to the Fringe
And see The New Scum Ė the most innovative, challenging and inspirational theatre you are likely to see this year, fresh from sell-out Australian seasons... "Theatre so sharp it draws blood... Theatre in Decay dares to propose that, however much we try to escape or deny it, the human species actually craves the destructive oblivion of violent acts." At the Bluenote till 28 February, tickets are $13 if youíre a poor beneficiary/student type, $10 if youíre a fringe addict like me, otherwise $18. Life is cheap, buy some now.
Iím getting old
I used to be able to stay up all night. And then the next night. And the night after that... 3am was my most creative time, when I could usually be found painting or writing.
Not any more.
Got up at 4am this morning. Went down to the beach and meditated, prayed in various fashions and languages, ate remarkably healthy food, felt fantastic.
Tried to walk up the hill to university. Felt awful. Realised Iíd abstained from sugar and caffeine (and wheat and dairy) for almost 12 hours. Also realised Iíd only had 4 hours sleep. I ached all over, I felt dizzy, and I was so #$%*&@# tired.
Iíve decided that I need drinking chocolate to get me through the next 25 hours until my exam is over. On Friday morning I am going to wake up early, do yoga and go for a bikeride, meditate and pray and eat wonderful healthy food (no sugar, no caffeine, no wheat, no dairy, no meat, no nasty GE or highly processed crap). Start placing your bets now. Will I last 4 hours? A day? Two days? A whole week?!!
Or do I really mean it this time?
I should have known...
That if I went away for the night, none of the others would remember to put the rubbish out.
Not in our name
Let's bomb Texas, they have oil too.
How did our oil get under their sand?
Frodo has failed, Bush has the ring.
Less Bush More Trees
How many bodies per mile?
War is so 20th century!
Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.
I asked for universal health care and all I got was this lousy stealth bomber.
They must hate me. I can still remember the way their eyes seemed to rip me open. Iíll always be the one who enticed their precious little boy away from the straight and narrow, away to a life of sin and perversion.
You were the adored only child, so sweet, so innocent, your eyes wide enough a man could get lost in them. Fuck, you were beautiful. Not that I knew anything about beauty when we met. You were just another name flashing up on my screen. Just another pickup line. I want you to make me hot. My fingers rested on the keys as I watched your words appear before me. By then I was already under your spell.
It didnít take long to find the park youíd described. It was summer, the sky was still bright and there were kids running around, playing bulrush or whatever kids play these days. I sat on the swings and waited for you. Wearing my wine red shirt, charcoal pants, Iím the one holding a white rose, I wouldnít be hard to spot, the only grown man in a park full of kids.
You crept up behind me. Said my name, softly, and I jumped off the swing. The sun was behind you, and your hair seemed to shimmer like an aura around your head. I stepped forward, then hesitated, not sure whether to hug or kiss or reach for your hand. Instead, I just stood there, and you stood, looking back at me, until I started to feel awkward. "Hi," I said, and gave you a quick hug, touching you for only the briefest moment.
The evening was filled with awkward pauses. I figured you were just shy. Youíd said so much online, but now you seemed to be lost for words. Iíd ask you a question, and youíd just shrug, or offer one or two words and then retreat into silence. In the end I took you to a movie, something stupid and American, it seemed the easiest thing to do. When we walked out of the theater it was dark outside. We drove around for a while until I felt your silence was becoming unbearable. I pulled over, leaned across, and kissed you. The silence seemed less awkward when we had something else to do with our mouths.
You didnít want to go home that night, you said we couldnít go back to your place, you pleaded with me. In the end we called in on a friend of mine, crashed on a single bed in the spare room. You left me to take the lead. "What do you want me to do?" I said, and you just shrugged, looked at me with those big pleading eyes.
During the night you broke the silence with small cries, and at times I wasnít sure if they arose from pleasure or pain. "What do you want me to do?" I repeated in the dark, and in the absence of a reply, I acted on guesswork.
It was the next morning, waking to find you clinging to me, your arms and legs wrapped around me, your bright hair limp across your forehead, it suddenly struck me how young you were. I stroked your hair away from your eyes, and they flickered open.
All morning, you cried silently. I tried to comfort you as best I could. You just needed to believe someone could love you. I kept you safe in my arms, and kissed away your tears. Fuck, you were beautiful.
They must hate me. I donít blame them.
Iíll never let them take you away.
The kids next door are so cute. The boy comes over asking us if weíve seen any spiders, cos he likes spiders. The other day both of them came knocking on our door, and said "Have you seen a rabbit? Weíve lost our rabbit. Heís this big, and heís white..." I wanted so much to have seen their rabbit, to be able to say look, there he is, see his ears popping up among the nasturtiums... But I have not seen a white rabbit. Today they were having a garage sale. Iím such a sucker I bought all these things I donít need Ė cups without saucers and saucers with out cups and a string of bells that are hanging from the kitchen door and already driving everyone nuts. Then I found out that all my flatmates had bought things from them too Ė a purple dinosaur that you wind up and it crawls across the table, a mobile, a colander... all absolute bargains, and all completely unnecessary. Expect perhaps the colander.
How wonderful, to see so many people around the world united, hoping for peace. It was great to be part of the march in Wellington Ė it was the biggest march weíve had in 20 years, or so they were saying in the paper. I get freaked out in crowds, I get panicky, but a friend of mine had her cellphone and I phoned her and we met up and walked together, at the back of the march, so I didnít get stuck in the middle of the crowd. We walked beside the hare krishnas so we were listening to them singing and drumming Ė gawd, they must be so fit, they were going hard! Outside parliament we gathered for speeches and music. It really gave me hope to see so many different people, Maori and Pakeha, Palestinians and Iraqis, Christians and Muslims and Jews, all gathered for the same reason. With so many people united against this war, we must be able to make a difference. But its not enough just to be against the war, we must also create peace. I believe peace is more than just the absence of war.
A friend of mine took her son on the march. Heís autistic, and noise really bothers him... and of course on the march there were heaps of people shouting and chanting slogans Ė they had to rush into a chemist and buy him earplugs. She suggested that next time they make him a sign that says "Autistic Americans for Peace Ė please donít shout near me."
I canít wait until bars and cafes are all smokefree. Iím so sick of smoky bars. It hits me really bad. I get hayfever and asthma, and I have just about doubled my medications since Iíve started going to bars more frequently. I love going, for the live music, mentally and emotionally it refreshes and inspires me, but physically, it makes me feel like shit. The drugs donít totally suppress the symptoms, and I get side-effects from the drugs. "Having a smoking section in a bar is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool." Itís disgusting.
I went out to a friendís house yesterday, right by the beach, itís so beautiful. Iíve never been to that particular beach before. I laughed out loud when I stepped onto the sand, it was such a relief. I hadnít realised how trapped I was feeling in the city. Even though the sea is always quite close, I hardly ever find the time to go to the beach. I should. It makes me feel alive. I stood knee deep in the water for about half an hour, singing at the top of my lungs. In the city, thereís nowhere you can do that without people thinking youíre crazy. Thereís nowhere you can go and not be heard. I love shouting and laughing and talking and crying and praying and singing to the sea. I love the way the sea swallows things up, the hush hush of the waves. Sometimes I wish the sea would pull me under and the waves would erase me.
Weíre all addicted now, everyone in my flat. Tommy only discovered drinking chocolate a couple of days ago and already heís chugging back four strong brews a day. Between the five of us we are consuming an alarming amount of caffeine and sugar, and spending most of our income on soymilk. How can I quit when everyone around me is drinking all the time?
Stencils... gone... *sob*
Donít you hate it when...
...youíre so sleep-deprived that you fall asleep on the bus, and wake to find yourself in a completely unfamiliar neighbourhood.
Yay for bloggers!
Hello and welcome and thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog and posting messages and emailing me - I have been so moved by what some people have said that I have had tears streaming down my face. You're all fantastic, and I love ya!
If youíre manic and you know it clap your hands
Itís official. I have A Mood-Swinging Disorder (Possibly Bipolar Complicated By Sexual Abuse Issues). Once Iíve done all the necessary blood tests, theyíre going to put me on lithium. It could be worse. At least lithium is sort of "natural," at least in comparison with some of the other pharmaceutical cocktails I have been persuaded to ingest. One of the women at the Womenís Health Collective described it as a "good" drug (as opposed to bad/wrong/evil) which was reassuring. It might even help. Think positive!
"And what a congress of stinks! Roots ripe as old bait, Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich, Leaf mold, manure, lime, piled against a slippery planks, Nothing would give up life: Event the dirt kept breathing a small breath." Ė Theodore Roethke.
Isnít compost amazing? Being able to turn something icky into something beautiful and useful. Wouldnít it be great if we could turn President Bush into something beautiful and useful? How wonderful, if we could compost the WTO and grow sugarsnaps and sunflowers.
My head hurts
"Accompanying this fragmented and decentered pluralism is a critic of the broader totalising epistemic orientations of historicism as a subset of post-structuralism (and conversely the condition from which structures of cultural critique are seen to emerge) replacing the search for authoritative universality and order with a yearning for particularity and disorder and resulting in a condition of postmodernist cultural non-residency caused by the inevitable underside of a fractured and ambivalent discourse dissected by a interdependent intellectual cadre blah blah blah blah blah."
What the #@*%?!!! Try understanding that at 3am. I bet the author felt really clever using all those big words. Just handed in my essay and now I just have an exam left and then Iím free. For a whole week before classes start again. I feel like Iíve got another migraine coming on...
The pot-bellied mortar of laughter stands in a square drunk with joy
I donít know... I found it in a book somewhere and I wanted to use it.
Rapid deterioration today due to last minute nature of essay completion Ė high stress levels and severe sleep deprivation. Ran out of drinking chocolate and had to resort to large doses of strong black tea with lots and lots of sugar.
On one level, itís kinda funny, I know. But on another level, substances (even those that most people can manage easily) have a huge effect on me. Alcohol plunges me into intense bouts of depression and suicidal ideation. Sedatives cause severe panic attacks. When I was on contraceptive pills for a while I turned into a horrible grumpy emotional monster. Really. Drinking chocolate might not seem like a serious addiction, but it probably doesnít help with the mood swings.
Tomorrow. I am going to give up caffeine and sugar... tomorrow.
Right now I am going to go and see a movie to celebrate the fact that I have handed in my last essay for the summer term. Hurrah!
Wrap-around skirts are not appropriate clothing in a town that is fondly known as "The Windy City."
There is hope!
Newspaper headline today: PM Delivers Anti-War Message to US.
Iím not a lesbian Ė but one of my girlfriends once claimed to be...
Disclaimer: I donít actually see myself as bisexual. But Iím not lesbian, and Iím definitely not straight. For the purposes of this rant I am going to use the term bisexual to describe myself because I canít be bothered explaining why I think that gender is a myth. (Donít worry, Iíll save that for another day).
Disclaimer 2: Many of the ideas in this rant are probably plagiarised from books I read and essays I wrote in first year, but I canít remember where most of them came from. The actual quotes are from Bisexual Politics, edited by Naomi Tucker, 1995.
Apparently, bisexuality is trendy these days. I know it must be because I saw two beautiful women kissing in a bar. Iím sure the guys they went home with later were their brothers. I know it must be, cos some trendy girl got drunk and snogged her best friend, and I read about it in Cosmo. Itís nice to be represented in the mainstream media. In the "True Confessions" section. Between an anorexic shoplifter and a woman who tried to seduce her teacher to improve her grades and then spread vicious rumours about him.
I donít have a problem with a couple of girls exchanging a few breathless kisses. I donít have a problem with them going back to their boyfriends afterwards. Hell, I donít even have a problem with their boyfriends going along for the ride, if theyíre all happy with that. What gets to me is the way, in the magazines, theyíre always beautiful and skinny and theyíre always "experimenting," so at the end of the day itís inevitable that theyíll go back to their boyfriends.
Yeah, sometimes I get a little bitter and twisted. You probably would too after ten years of fighting the same stereotypes, the same assumptions and misconceptions. It doesnít seem to get easier with practice, just more and more tedious.
Over the years I have been told that...
Iím confused about my sexuality Ė itís just a phase some young people go through, but Iíll snap out of it and find a nice boyfriend.
Iím in denial about my sexuality. Iím really a lesbian but I am too afraid to admit it. Iím sitting on the fence.
Iím just trying to be cool/liberated/trendy/politically correct.
Iím promiscuous. Didnít you know? All bisexuals are. We constantly think about having sex with everyone we meet. Weíre probably trying to come onto you right now.
I want to have a threesome with every guy and his girlfriend.
I can never be faithful or maintain a long-term relationship.
I have some mysterious and terrible thing called "heterosexual privilege." I can pass for a heterosexual when it suits me too. Iím a traitor, Iím contributing to the oppression of gay men and lesbians. I get the best of both worlds. I have twice as many options when it comes to lovers, so I probably have a lot of sex.
Do I need to go on?
The one that hurts most is when people tell me that I only think Iím attracted to women because Iíve been sexually abused by men in the past. I can remember one night when I was about eleven, a couple of my friends came round for a sleepover. I remember them talking about boys, about their first "pash." I was lying on the floor, facing the wardrobe, pretending to be asleep. I was imagining going to University and Kissing A Girl. I was sure that University was a magical place where girls kissed other girls, and I couldnít wait to go there. In my daydream, she had short, spiky hair, but I knew it would feel incredibly soft under my fingers. She had a black jacket, and lots of piercings shining around the curve of her ears. Iíd never seen anyone dress like her, walk like her. She was beautiful. She walked towards me, and looked at me with eyes so dark I thought I could get lost in them, and then she brushed my cheek with her fingers, leaned forward, and kissed me. That was months before any guy laid a hand on me.
And then there are the women who claim to be fighting for the right to love whomever they choose, regardless of the gender of their loversÖ who then turn around and tell me I canít fight beside them because I have been known to fall in love with men.
"I bitterly resent the double standard which dictates that dykes should embrace a Virginia Woolf, an Eleanor Roosevelt, a Muriel Rukeyser as long lost lesbian sisters given their sometimes love for women, but would cast me into the outer darkness because of my refusal to pledge eternal allegiance to the cunt."
Ė Lesbian who got involved with a man.
"Count me in your history books
fighting side by side
for the right
to have a same-sex lover
and not be persecuted for it...
... But donít then
turn around and tell me
I donít belong here.
If you claim bisexual cannot mean gay,
then purge your history books
of so many names
that swell your breast with pride Ė
names of people who have also loved
It seems to be very fashionable at the moment to describe sexuality as a continuum, with gay at one end, straight at the other, and most people falling somewhere along the line in between. At the Schoolís Out youth group they used to play a game - people had to say where they were on a scale where 1 is exclusively heterosexual and 10 is exclusively homosexual. My answer was usually either 12 or purple.
One of the problems I have with a continuum is that I find it hard to put myself in one place along the line, when I am a continuum myself. Itís not just a case of being a 6 compared to someone elseís 8Ö I am a 4 and a 10 at the same time! Maybe I am a 9 in my romantic feelings, a 5 in my sexual experiences, a 4 in my fantasiesÖ does that mean I am an average of 6? Doesnít this seem to over-simplify sexuality?
A scale also implies that you are comparing yourself to something fixed. If I say I am a 6 then I am saying that I am lower than a 7 and higher than a 5. But I never know what exactly it is that I am supposed to be comparing myself to! Am I supposed to plot my sexuality in relationship to the person sitting next to me? To the definitions in the dictionary? To how I felt last week? And is it supposed to be about how I see myself in relationship to these points of reference, or is it how I think other people see me, or is it how I want to beÖ?
To me a continuum of sexuality seems to be creating an illusion of diversity, while reinforcing the idea that there are two opposite extremes, homosexuality and heterosexuality, with bisexuality stuck in the middle. Bisexuality isnít a shade of grey in between black and whiteÖ Bisexuality isnít even a third different colourÖ itís many different colours! There are more meanings of bisexuality than there are people who are bisexual.
Why do we need to have such extremes in our thinking? We can talk about something that is warm, but we need to know that there is a "hot" at one end, and a "cold" at the other. Not only that, but we insist that they are complete opposites. Hot is the opposite of cold, right? But how hot? And how cold? Where do you draw the line in between, with hot on one side, and cold on the other? We can have a thermometer to measure temperatures from 0 degrees to 100 degrees, and we can say that 0 is cold, and 100 is hot. But then what are we going to do if we need to measure the temperature of the sun? We have no way of describing it in terms of hot and cold, unless we extend our scale to place the sun at the "hot" end. Now, our previous definition of hot is starting to look closer to what we have called "cold."
The same thing happens when we use a scale to describe sexuality. If we have a scale from one to ten, what are we going to do if we meet someone who is a twelve? Shuffle everyone along a bit? Yet we insist that there are two fixed extremes, gay and straight, and that they are opposites. Sure, gay is different from straightÖ but it is not the opposite, in fact there are many ways that they are similar. And bisexual is not some compromise in between, it is something that is different from both.
My one slightly serious, bordering on long-term relationship was with a guy who was supposedly gay, and I was supposedly a lesbian. If we were in a relationship with each other, did that make us straight, or was our sexual encounter queer, because we were queer and our genders were less relevant?
I think that our relationship was very different from a straight man in a relationship with a straight women, or a lesbian in a relationship with a straight woman, or a gay man with a straight manÖ For a start, our queerness was the biggest thing we had in common! Because we both came out when we were young, weíd had similar life experiences. We laughed at queer jokes, we read queer books, we went to queer venues, we had queer friends... we saw the world in a similar way because of our shared queer identity.
What defined our sexuality? Was it what we did to each other, and when and where and how and with what... or was the only important factor the genitals we had while we did it? (Donít worry, I wonít go into graphic details about what we did in bed, but take it from me, it was not straight).
Was it more queer if I was in drag and he wasnít, or if he was in drag and I wasnít? If we were both in drag, did that make us a straight couple?
I have always felt the need to challenge peopleís assumptions by coming out to people I meet from day to day... Every new person I meet assumes Iím straight, so for years Iíve worn queer pride t-shirts around town, and talked about loving women... When youíre queer but youíre in a relationship with someone of a different gender, itís so hard to be accepted as queer, to be taken seriously. Even within the queer community. People speak out about the way that gay and lesbian people have been overlooked, ignored, not includedÖ but even in doing so they are overlooking, ignoring, and not including bisexual people.
As for the elusive "heterosexual privilege," homophobes donít seem to take any notice of our privileged status, they donít take back an insult or stop kicking when they find out that youíre bisexual, not lesbian. The laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian people donít make allowances for bisexuals who are in a relationship with someone of the same gender. In their eyes there is no such thing as half-queer. Bisexual people have to fight against the assumption that everyone is straight. Bisexuals are just as hurt by homophobic jokes and insults. Bisexual people have to struggle to come out of the closest, or else hide their thoughts, emotions, desires and experiences. In highschool, I had very few friends. The girls were all scared Iíd come on to them, or people would think they were queer by association, so they avoided me like the plague. The boys thought it was really cool. As long as I kept shaving my legs, looked at porn with them and entertained their fantasies about having sex with two women, they were just fine with my sexuality. I didnít feel very trendy back then, so it hurts when people start accusing me of having heterosexual privilege.
"I have been bashed
for loving women
for loving men.
You speak of privilege Ė
let me tell you:
the isolation was much worse
than the bashing."
There are ways that the oppression of bisexual people is different from the oppression of homosexual people - we face a host of stereotypes and myths about bisexuality. But most of the time, weíre struggling with the same issues, and weíre not going to get anywhere by fighting each other.
I have been strong and resolute all day. I only had one glass of drinking chocolate in the morning, and I have resisted the urges ever since.
(Actually, weíve run out of soymilk).
There has been some suggestion that I am addicted to reading childrenís books and blogging, but itís not true. I can explain and justify all of my actions. Thatís research. Thatís practice. I have to do that. Really.
Quote of the day
"Police regard graffiti spraying as the second criminal act in a line that leads from littering through graffiti to vandalism and violence."
- Professor Graham W. Ashworth CBE Director General of the Tidy Britain Group.
Oh no! I missed out on a stage of my development. I never littered. Now I'll never be a proper vandal.
The sound of pages
Each week in my print culture course we have little assignments related to the topic of the week. This time, we were supposed to investigate eBooks. We were supposed to pretend we were going to buy our favourite novel, and investigate prices, software etc. I couldnít find my favourite book. Or my second favourite book, or my third... or anything in the top fifty. Apparently my favourite books are not Popular Enough to be Economically Viable as eBooks. After much fruitless searching, I had a brainwave. I enjoyed reading The Hours a few years ago, and since it has just been made into a movie, I figured there must be an eBook available. Yup, bingo.
The site I eventually (hypothetically) settled on claimed that eBooks have many advantages over paper books. The only one I agreed with was "you can carry 10 books around..." well, I do that anyway, but at the moment it breaks my back. Trouble is, an eBook would only improve the situation if I had a hand held computer. Carrying my desktop around would not be fun. Not to go into how many hours I already spend glued to my screen. I donít need any more encouragement.
The site also claimed that reading an eBook is fundamentally the same experience as reading a paper book. Hmmmmm. When I picked up my copy of The Hours this morning, I remembered the day I bought it. It was the day before my trip to Europe. I was wandering around my favourite bookstore, and asked someone for some suggestions. She handed me Pages For You, and as I read the back cover, I wondered if she knew, somehow, that I was queer Ė and how she knew. Perhaps her gaydar was just more advanced then mine. Back then I was still trying to come out to people and getting the response "but you donít look like a lesbian," so it was marvelous for this shop keeper to hand me this exquisitely written story of two women falling in love... for her to hand me this book, knowing, understanding, that I would love it. Then she handed me another, The Hours, and said, "This one is by a man, but itís really rather beautiful," and I said "oh, some of my best friends are men," and she laughed. As she walked to the back of the shop, I stood there, turning the books over in my hands, relishing the covers... and wondering how she knew, when Iíd only exchanged a few words with her. I walked out, cradling the books against my chest. Nah, Typing in my credit card number and downloading the text just wouldnít be the same.
Just now, when I opened my (slightly tatty) paper copy of The Hours, a ticket from Ostersund to Stockholm fell out. For a moment I was back in a train speeding through the Scandinavian night, fingering the pages of the book, my tears staining the paper, the smooth cover beneath my cheek as I slept. Sure, itís fundamentally the same experience. Just like Genetically Modified food is Substantially Equivalent to organic food. Yeah, right.
Iíve decided to go to Womad... cos I think Iíll get more out of it, cos I want to go to Taranaki, cos my parents are going and I miss them. Ani will be back, Iím sure.
Went to a poetry slam last night. I came second (and won some money) which was nice, but I came away with very mixed feelings. I donít like poetry being competitive. It just feels wrong. But I think there will always be elements of competition. The course I did last year, they only accepted 12 people for it, and lots of people missed out... so thatís a kind of competition. And Iím glad I did the course Ė I loved it! But I still feel uncomfortable with the competitive aspects of the workshops. I donít like the suggestion that some poems/poets are better/worthier than others.
At the same time, part of me wants to be accepted into that whole world. I want to be published in journals, I want people to say nice stuff about my writing, I want to be taken seriously! And at the same time I hate myself for wanting all that, because if I "succeed" in a competitive way, it means that someone else has failed.
And... I donít want to be a literary snob! I never want to consider myself someone who writes Poetry with a capital P.
I just want to write.
I worry too much
I'm worried about eProps. Where do they come from? Are they a renewable resource? What if I run out and I can't give them to people, maybe no one will want to be my friend anymore. What do they actually mean? What if there's a whole secret language of eProps that I don't even understand? What if I become emotionally dependent on people giving me eProps. Can you become addicted to eProps?
My mum sent me a huge parcel of MDs. She sent me a recording of my Aunt being interviewed by Kim Hill, some Radio NZ programmes about Te Tiriti, a Yo Yo Ma CD, Silk Road... and best of all, copies of some of the LPs I used to listen to as a kid. She sent me the Barrow Poets "Aloysius Barley and the Islands of the Moon," and it is so clever, and so funny, and so brilliant in every way. She also sent me a copy of "Ainít it Great to Be Crazy." She thought it might still appeal. I love my mother, sheís wonderful! Iíve been driving everyone nuts singing the songs all day... I ran into an old friend, and he used to listen to "Ainít it great to be crazy" when he was a kid, and so we were standing in Cuba St singing at the top of our voices and bursting into hysterics Ė it was great!
...is getting to know someone over hot chocolatey drinks... talking for hours... being asked the kind of questions that make you think, and then really think... sitting beside the harbour at night, listening to the waves, the lights flickering over the water... hugging goodbye and not wanting to let go...
...realising that the pain of losing someone is no longer so unbearable... knowing that there will be new friends who will laugh with you, who will hold you as you cry, who will leave their fingerprints on your heart.
Update on the drinking chocolate situation
I only had two today... thatís a considerable improvement. I only have a moderate headache... but I canít sleep and I feel slightly shaky.
Must be strong. Must not think about ch*c*l*t*.
No arrests have been made in connection with the new stencils that appeared around Wellington early on Waitangi morning.
Iím sick! I think Iím getting a migraine, whatever, I feel awful.
I need to face up to the fact that Xanga canít handle macrons (for those who arenít from Aotearoa macrons are lines over vowels that can change the meaning of some Maori words Ė try to imagine a line over the "a" every time I write Maori).
Iíve become redundant. My flatmates used to beg me to make them spiced hot chocolate drinks, but one of them has just discovered that if you mix together Healtheries Chai Tea and Cadburyís Drinking Chocolate, it tastes great. They donít need me any more. Iíve been replaced by commercial products.
Our washing machine has died.
Things I am happy about
You know how appliances always break the day after the warrantee runs out? Well, ours broke the day before the warrantee ran out, and theyíre going to bring us a new one tomorrow. Yay!
Iíve discovered that Iím not the only one who has stacks of coloured boxes with labels like "Bisexual Stuff... Old Poems... POLS 113 Notes... Other Stuff." One of my friends used to laugh every time he came into my room because I had a box labeled "General Activism." Whatís so funny about that?!
Thursday nights at the Bluenote Ė I look forward to them all week!
I filled up my Unity card Ė Woooohoooo! Free book!
The Chai/Chocolate thing is actually really good, and itís much quicker than boiling up whole spices. The problem is that now Iíll be consuming even more caffeine and sugar.
I did a quiz on the internet to find out if I was addicted to drinking chocolate... well, it goes something like this...
Have you ever felt remorse, depression or guilt after drinking chocolate?
Yup, like five minutes ago.
Do you have a drink of chocolate at a definite time daily?
Make that definite times.
Do you drink chocolate to escape from worries or trouble?
Uh huh... drinking chocolate solves almost everything.
Do you drink chocolate alone?
Have you ever tried to stop drinking chocolate Ė or drink less Ė and failed?
I resolve to stop (and fail) every day.
Have you begun to drink chocolate in the morning before school or work?
Itís the first thing I do when I get up.
Do you ever drink more chocolate than you planned?
Do you use whatever drinking chocolate you have almost continuously until the supply is exhausted?
The last box only lasted a couple of days...
Do you have an obsession to get drinking chocolate when you donít have it?
NEED DRINKING CHOCOLATE NOW!
Do you experience a high just knowing that you are going to drink chocolate?
*Grin.* Shiny happy drinking chocolate...
Are you absorbed with the thought of drinking chocolate even when talking to a friend or loved one?
Mmmmmmm driiiiiiiinking choooooocolate...
Do you use larger doses of drinking chocolate to get the same high you once experienced?
Does seven spoonfuls count as a large dose?
Have any of your friends or family suggested you may have a problem with drinking chocolate?
Yeah, Jess was saying something this morning...
If you answered yes to any of these questions, there is a possibility that you may have an addiction. If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you have a serious addiction problem. It is likely that your current chocolate drinking patterns are hazardous or harmful to your health and well being.
Iíve been trying to cut back today... perhaps that explains the headaches, nausea, and blurry vision... Well, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Iím making progress! Iím going to go and curl up in bed and try not to obsess about drinking chocolate.
Cheesy Warning: Accounts of deep and meaningful experiences ahead
Ė proceed at own risk!
Ok, so some of this might sound really cheesy, but this is the only way I can express what has happened.
Last night was one of the most beautiful and moving nights of my life. I am so lucky, because every Thursday night I have the opportunity to go along to the Bluenote bar and hear live performances from incredibly talented singers and songwriters. As if that wasnít enough honour and pleasure in itself, I am even more privileged, because I have the opportunity to take part in these nights, alongside these amazing performers.
The Mad Genius Songwriters Nights at the Bluenote have become an important part of my life Ė and so have the people who take part in the nights. They have become my friends, my whanau, my brothers and sisters. The nights have become my marae, my home, the place where I can be myself, where I can explore my own potential, the place where I know I will be accepted.
Yesterday was a difficult and emotional time for me, because I was remembering Saskiaís birth, and her death... and because I was contemplating the history of our country, and the future, and my part in the future. During the day I kept busy Ė I wrote, I went for bike rides, I painted... I went to a BBQ even though I get incredibly shy meeting new people, because being shy around new people was better than being alone with my own thoughts. I guess you could say I was avoiding stuff... or you could say I was distracting myself as a matter of survival, because my memories were so painful I couldnít bear them without support.
Over the past few years I have felt a lot of sadness, and a lot of guilt. I have also experienced fear. These feelings are my reaction to some of the things that have happened to me. There have been times when I have been abused Ė physically, sexually, but most of all emotionally. I have said "no" and been ignored... and so I have come to believe that I donít have the right to say no if someone else wants something. I have talked about my beliefs and dreams, and I have been told that I am wrong, that I am bad for thinking and dreaming... and I have come to believe that everything I do is bad and wrong. But now I am beginning to understand that I do not have to believe these things. I do not have to let my past experiences continue to hurt me.
When Saskia (my flatmate's baby) died, I wrote a song for her. I wrote it in Maori Ė perhaps because it was too painful for me to express myself in English... or perhaps because English wasnít expressive enough. It didnít feel as though I was choosing the words Ė they seemed to come from somewhere deep inside me. Last night, because it was Saskiaís birthday, I wanted to sing her song... but I was afraid. I was scared that I would make a mistake, that I would misuse te reo, and people would be angry with me. I was scared that people would tell me I didnít even have the right to sing, to write a song, in Maori. I was scared that my voice would shake, that people would think I was stupid, that people would tell me that my feelings were wrong. But I knew that if I kept silent, I would not feel peace. I had to overcome my fears.
I wanted to say a karakia (a traditional prayer/chant) in Maori, to acknowledge that the time and the place were sacred... but again, I felt afraid, that I would do something wrong, that people would be angry. Also, itís quite a well-known karakia among Maori, and there are a few lines at the end where traditionally people join in (a bit like everyone saying amen at the end of a prayer). I wasnít sure if anyone would join in, because it was a bar, not a marae... and itís a pretty weird feeling to say those words by yourself and realise that no one else knows what youíre talking about, no one else is going to join in and support you. But, I decided to take the risk. I stepped up to the microphone and I said the karakia... and I could feel the room grow still and silent around me... and when I got to the end, all around the room there were voices joining with me... I felt incredibly touched, because I felt so supported.
I sang the song that I wrote for Sakia. I also read a poem that I wrote when I found out about the part my great-great-great-grandfather played in one of the most infamous injustices in our countryís history. He was the Native Minster for the Government at a time when land was being forcibly taken from Maori people. Two leaders, Te Whiti and Tohu, were leading a movement of passive resistance Ė they were teaching the same wisdom as Ghandi, but a generation before him. From all over the country, people came to the village of Parihaka, to listen to the teaching of Te Whiti and Tohu, and to take part in peaceful protest, to resist the violence of the government. Ghetsuhm has been talking about the concept of mana. Well, those two leaders had a lot of mana. They had strength, dignity and integrity. My ancestor did not have mana. He had a big white horse and 1500 men with guns.
On November 5 1881, he got on his big white horse and he rode to Parihaka. Blocking the road were rows of children, playing games and singing. They must have been afraid when the horses came thundering towards them, but they did not move, not one child broke ranks. The soldiers had to pick up some of the children and drop them on the side of the road, then they rode through the gap they had created. The people of Parihaka remained steadfast and peaceful, while my ancestor arrested their leaders, ransacked the village, took hundreds of prisoners and held them without trial.
When I realised that I was descended from this man, I felt intense sadness, anger and shame. I wanted to hide from the shame, run away from it. Then the sadness and shame began to ease, and I realised that they were not productive feelings. Another emotion began to grow - a feeling of longing. I knew that I needed to tell the story of Parihaka, through my poetry and my paintings, and that I needed to be true to my own beliefs, to live in peace and respect. I realised that I could not change what had happened in the past, but that I would do everything I could to prevent such things from happening again. The poems I read last night, and my attempts to speak te reo Maori, are the beginnings of that process.
As I stepped down from the stage, I was shaking, because I still felt scared, but also proud, and moved, and about a hundred other emotions all at once. I barely made it back to my seat before people started coming up to me and hugging me and kissing me. I was worrying because Iíd made a mistake in the song, Iíd said something that isnít even a word in Maori! I thought that maybe the people who were coming up to me didnít realise that Iíd made a mistake. But then, a couple of people started speaking to me in Maori, and thanking me for my strength and honesty, for speaking from my heart. One man came up to hongi with me, and he had tears in his eyes. Iíd never met him before and I may not see him again, but for a brief moment we clung to each other as though we were old friends.
There was one person there last night who Iíve come across before, but I donít really know him well. Now, I always assume the worst, and even though people were showing me so much love, I still felt as though people might think Iíd done something wrong. Anyway, this guy was there, and somehow I got the impression that he was angry with me, but I wasnít sure why. Eventually, I went up to talk to him, and it turned out that I was wrong, and in fact he said some kind and supportive things to me.
Suddenly, so many things became clear to me. I realised that this man was not angry with me, but more importantly, I realised that it didnít matter if anyone was angry with me. Sometimes, people will be still get angry with me, and say that Iíve done things wrong... in the past there have been times when I have felt guilty just for being born white, and I have felt as though no matter how hard I try I canít do anything right... And last night I realised, that some people are feeling angry and hurt, and they are stuck in that space, and they wonít be able to accept what I do or say. But that doesnít mean that I shouldnít speak about what I believe. I can never please everyone. But I can allow myself to be challenged and to grow, and I can stretch my capabilities and work through my fears, live true to myself and my beliefs and passions.
I also realised, that when someone else gets up on stage, or takes a stand in any way, and makes a mistake, I donít feel anger towards them - I feel love towards them, and I want to support them for having the courage to stand up at all. Suddenly, it dawned on me that the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, also works in reverse. I realised that I need to start showing myself some of the love and respect that I feel for other people. Sometimes I will make mistakes, but that doesnít matter, as long as I have good intentions in my heart.
The woman who runs the Mad Genius nights is totally amazing, and last night she said something that I thought was incredibly powerful. She talked about us striving towards tino rangatiratanga... for everyone, Maori and Pakeha. And I was struck by the truth of this statement. I think people are often afraid of the idea of Maori self-determination, because they think that they will lose something. I donít believe this is true... if we see tino rangatiratanga as something we have to fight over, as something only one of us can have, then we will continue to experience anger, and guilt, and injustice, and we will all experience loss. But if we see tino rangatiratanga as something we can all strive towards, if we learn to respect and support each other, then we will all benefit.
Even though Iíve had all these deep and meaningful experiences and realisations, Iím sure there will still be many times when I feel scared, and worry about other peopleís judgements... because fear and worry are habits that I have learnt over many years, and they will be hard to break! But I am writing these things down so that I will remember them. Last night, so many people gave me so much love and support, and I want to carry that aroha and awhina with me always, so that I can pass it on to others.
"The injustices which occurred in the past must be put right and put to rest, not chewed over like an old bone... The dignity of all must be accepted and enhanced. We must become aware of and foster the cultural traditions of each other. What is needed is diversity not absorption... Music, poetry and sport of whatever kind will bring us together as they have in the past. Above all we must pursue personal encounters on terms acceptable to the other partner."
- From the Inaugural Waitangi Rua Rau Tau Lecture by Sir Rodney Gallen.
"Be steadfast in all that is peaceful."
- Te Whiti.
February 6. I always find this a strange day. Itís Waitangi day, the closest we have to a National Day in Aotearoa. 163 years ago a Treaty was signed between M™ ori people and the Queen of England... but some people donít realise that there were two versions of the treaty Ė and they are very different. 39 chiefs signed the English version, which gives sovereignty to the Queen. More than 500 signed the M™ ori version, which gives kawanatanga (government) to the Queen, but tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) remains with M™ ori. Since then, the government have barely recognised the English version, let alone honoured the M™ ori version. 163 years of injustice, social and political discrimination, wars, land being ripped away from the people, pain and struggle... and we have a public holiday to commemorate it all... and Iím never quite sure what to do with the day, whether to feel hope, anger, or despair.
Thereís another reason why Iím usually a little quieter, sadder, and contemplative on this day.
The beautiful child whose photo is under my profile, Saskia Marama, would have been two-years-old today. She was my flatmate's baby, and died after she didn't get enough oxygen during a breech birth.
Happy things (before I start to cry)
The sun is shining... and this lovely woman at the organic shop gave me a huge bag of scallopinis (sp?) and theyíre delicicious with garlic and olive oil and a little homemade vinegar... and Iím going to take them along to the house of someone who I donít think I know but I will soon... and barbecue them. Yum! And then Iím going to go to the Bluenote cos itís Thursday, and if I have the guts Iím going to sing a song I wrote for Saskia.
If Iím ever arrested, it probably wonít be for Art Crimes, itíll be for stalking Kim Hill.
This morning I went for a bike ride at 5:00am (see 100 things number 99). I totally recommend getting up two hours before sunrise. The sky is amazing, the city is so still... and then when the sun does creep around the edge of the hills, everything is so sharp and in focus and close - itís as though someone has done paper cutouts of the hills and buildings... Itís beautiful being alive.
Itís also very surreal... in a "Iíve only had two hours sleep what the hell am I doing with my eyes open" kind of way. And then thereís that bird (at least I think thatís what it is) at the zoo. On still mornings you can hear it calling, and it is the most eerie chilling sound I have ever experienced.
Anyway, at the point I left the house there were no strange alien calls and it was still dark. I rode into town without lights cos Iíve lost them, and I didnít get arrested for having no lights, or for stenciling political messages on footpaths (see 100 things number 75). Now, I wouldnít publicly endorse graffiti, especially since governments have brought in new laws that mean that if youíre a punk / environmentalist / anti-capitalist / poor person / student / queer / pacifist etc then practically anything you do could be considered an act of terrorism. But, there will always be a few people who insist on committing dangerous and violent crimes against footpaths... photos will follow when the shops open again and I can get them developed, but in the meantime Iíve compiled a list of stenciling tips based on extensive street level interviews and eyewitness accounts.
1. Take a screwdriver. I cannot stress this enough. Otherwise youíre going to feel really silly when the same guy passes you again half an hour later and youíre still trying to get the lid off the spray can Ė not cool at all.
2. Watch out for taxi drivers (they like to pretend they are cops), rabid dogs, and especially council workers driving trucks with big steel brushes at the front - theyíre even scarier than the cops (see 100 things number 76).
3. Silver shows up best and lasts longest. The cheap brands from the Warehouse seem to work well, but they donít last that long, perhaps 15 or 20 stencils.
4. Go with a friend Ė itís less efficient but much more fun. And you donít get so scared when you get chased by the scary scrubby brushes!
5. The waterfront is a good spot Ė itís like an immense smooth black canvas just waiting for stencils Ė and have you seen how many people go there during a sunny lunch-break?!
6. Donít wear your favourite jersey (spraypaint is hard to get off).
7. Do wear gloves (see above).
8. Take a snack. Trying to bike up the Brooklyn hill on two hours sleep and no breakfast and a pack full of groceries (cos it seemed like a good idea to get the shopping out of the way while you were in town) is not fun.
I was the first person to walk in when the supermarket opened Ė what a geek. I found myself "spending time in the plastics aisle, examining the ranges of containers available" (see Jenny Bornholdt and appliances). I chose one with a clip-on lid, and I bought a corkscrew. Yay! Now I can open the wine and feed my vinegar plant!
And, on the way home, I think I saw Kim Hill. She lives near here, and I keep on thinking I should take a detour past her house on the way to town, but Iím always running late so Iíve never done it before. But today, it genuinely was the shortest route home. And there she was... or at least, someone who might have been her, sitting on the porch enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning sun, or maybe it wasnít her at all, she was too far away to be certain. Nonetheless I was star struck. For the second time this week. Hmmmm... thatís my stalking quota out of the way for the year! Iím going to try and be a normal, sane, respectable citizen from now on, I promise.
If you are in Wellington, or if youíre anywhere even vaguely near the Southern Hemisphere, you should check out the amazing shows my friends and I will be staring in: Unashamed! and Me He Maunga and The Drag Kings. Wooohooo! Canít wait till the Fringe!
Speaking about cool kiwi chicks doing groovy things, you should also check out this funky blog!
Iím too tired to philosophise tonight, so Iím just going to write a diary entry Ė Stuff Iíve Done Since I Last Blogged.
Staggered up the hill to uni, lugging an average sized tramping pack stuffed to bursting point with overdue library books. I seem to spend most of my life paying off debts at various libraries.
Thought of a really cool idea for a childrenís story. Unfortunately, for once in my life I didnít have my notebook with me because my bag was already so heavy... so I promptly forgot the story idea. If only I could remember it Iím sure it would make a brilliant book and I would achieve wealth and fame and glory.
Primed some canvases. Having thought about having an exhibition for at least three years, a few weeks ago I decided the time had come... and somehow got myself entangled in two exhibitions at the same time. Yeah, clever. Now I have to do enough paintings for both. Actually I probably have enough paintings, but whether I have enough paintings that I actually like is another question.
Ran into an Award-Winning Writer Of Beautiful And Haunting Books at the supermarket. Heís actually just a really nice guy who used to flat with some close friends of mine, but I still get star struck around Real Writers. I was caught buying cheap wine and a trashy magazine. Oh the shame! The cheap wine I could explain Ė it was to feed my vinegar plant. (I brought a piece back from the one that has been in my Swiss sisterís family for generations. Itís like a fungus or something that turns wine into vinegar. I donít actually use much wine vinegar, but I just think itís cool having my own pet vinegar plant. No one in my flat drinks wine at the moment so I had to buy some specially to feed the plant). I couldnít think of any decent excuses for the trashy magazine (um, itís for an assignment... Iím using it to write a found poem... honest). I tried to hide the magazine under a bag of plums. Shuddup. I just handed in an essay, my brain is mush. Tim didnít comment anyway, heís too lovely. I felt guilty, because I havenít even read his latest book. Itís on the top of my pile... but itís far too intelligent for my stressed out brain to cope with right now. Tim has just taken up a writerís residency, so heís pretty much writing full time. Iím so jealous!
Went out to dinner with some friends and guess who was sitting at a table behind us? None other than our Prime Minister and some of her cronies (I was tempted to go up to Parekura Horomia and ask him who the 10th Maori Labour MP is, but it was too late, Iíd already handed in my essay). If they were paying any attention to our table, theyíre probably stressing now that thereís going to be a massive Lesbian Greens Takeover! I donít think the guys from the restaurant liked us much either Ė we took more than an hour to order, kept laughing at the waiters, and didnít get the hints when they wanted to shut up the restaurant... I donít think weíll ever be allowed back. Pity, it was good food. Especially the specialty bread all the way from the waiterís fatherís village in India. Donít ask me how they got it past customs.
Briefly considered shaving my hair. Then decided that even in summer Wellington has days when it is Far Too Cold to have no hair. Anyway, Iíd probably look really silly.
Also briefly considered buying one of these for a friend of mine... but I donít really have enough money, and even if I did, sheíd probably freak about it. But I reckon it would be a great investment in NZ music. Yeah. If anyone out there has lots of money and doesnít know what to do with it, get in touch. And while youíre at it we need some sponsorship for our Fringe Show...
I have too many books. Iím an addict - I canít walk past a bookshop without buying one. I canít fit them all in my bookshelf, so theyíre piled up around my room. If we ever have an earthquake (or should I say when, since we live on a fault line) I will be buried under an avalanche of books. Iíll have to read my way out.
OK people, Iím hopeless at making decisions. Do you think I should go to WOMAD or should I go to Bob Dylan and Ani DiFranco? To be honest, I canít say Iím a huge Dylan fan... When I was younger I often got confused between Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas. As in, "He doesnít dig poetry. Heís so unhip that when you say Dylan, he thinks youíre talking about Dylan Thomas, whoever he was. The man ainít got no culture!" Maybe I should go see Fern Hill and Other Dylan Thomas? Now heís someone I am a big fan of. Buy hey, Bob Dylan is kinda legendary, and heís not going to be around forever, and ANI DIFRANCO is very very cool! Oooooh yeah. I wouldnít normally be able to go, because itís pretty expensive... but my parents have offered to shout me a ticket, to atone for their guilt because they canít make it to my Fringe show (see above).
Improve your smiley vocabulary:
(_8( | ) Homer Simpson
=:- ( Punk Not Smiling
% -) Staring at a screen for 15 hours
Iíve been studying so hard my head started to spin and I had to walk to the dairy and buy chocolate to calm myself down. Mmmm... chocolate. (I really need to address my relationship with sugar and caffeine. My favourite snack was once grated carrot wrapped in lettuce leaves Ė I was such a healthy child! Then it all went horribly wrong...) Anyway, I was in the Dairy, and the guy behind the counter was staring at my t-shirt, and then he said "whatís this GE Free thing?" So I explained to him what Genetic Engineering is and why I donít think it should be happening in Aotearoa, feeling very proud of myself for encouraging discussion and awareness. Then I walked outside and realised that someone had sprayed GE Free stencils all around the Dairy. Great. Now the nice man at the dairy thinks that Iím a graffiti spraying eco-terrorist. Not that I have anything against political stencils. In fact, the ones around the dairy were my designs, my slogans. But I didnít put them there. For that matter, I donít even know who did spray them. They put heaps on the footpath right outside our house too. It was probably someone I know, a friendly gesture, "hi, we were in your neighbourhood." But because we are the only ones in the street with a GE Free sign on the letterbox, it looks really incriminating. One day someone will come banging on the door and accuse me of vandalism, and I will plead my innocence, fall do my knees and beg them to believe me... and they will look down on me and say with the utmost scorn and sarcasm "Yeah, right."
BLACK / WHITE and thinking in colours (RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!)
Each week the teaching at our church is based on a story from the bible. When I take the kids for Sunday school I try to get them thinking about ideas that are (fairly loosely) related to the story of the week. Today the scripture was Mark 1:21-28. Jesus is teaching in the temple, he drives an "evil spirit" out of a man, and everyone is amazed at his authority.
I get really uncomfortable when people start talking about "evil." Itís a word that President Bush uses a lot... and heís a pretty scary man. "We're certain that even though the 'evil empire' may have passed, evil still remains. Today, we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they're there." Geez, that guy has been watching too many American movies.
This year I am doing a workshop on writing for children, so of course I have to do lots of "research." This involves spending hours curled up in bed reading kids books. Oh, the strain! Itís alarming how many childrenís stories are based on an absolute dichotomy between Good and Evil. The bad guys live in a world of darkness, and they are totally, utterly, unquestionably Evil. Of course, the good guys always win. What kind of morality are we teaching our children when we present them with such black and white fantasies? I was discussing this with a friend recently, and he said it was because thatís how children think, they canít get their head around anything more complex.
Well, I think children are perfectly capable of accepting complex ideas, so I decided that today we would discuss a few questions. What is evil? What is authority, and who has it? The kids told me that "evil" is doing horrible things like killing people. But people only do evil because of things that have happened to them in the past, and because they make bad choices. Then one of the littlest kids piped up. "We think the bad guys are evil, but they think that weíre evil, so itís really hard to know who are really the bad guys and who are the good guys." Ha! Donít try and tell me that kids canít understand complex ideas. The other kids started talking about how evil "goes both ways." One of the kids said that during the Second World War, most countries thought that Germany and Japan were evil... but Germany and Japan probably thought that the other countries were evil. Then they decided that people arenít evil, but sometimes they do evil things, like fight wars. Wow. Somebody please get these kids an audience with the President!
Then we started talking about authority, and how itís often used to hurt people, but it can also be used in a loving way. We talked about people who have authority, and the kids came up with teachers, God, politicians... then someone said Dumbledore had authority. I started to make this big analogy, where Harry Potter had authority because he doesnít let go of the stone, and he defeats Voldemort, and itís a bit like Jesus having authority over evil spirits. That idea didnít really catch on Ė the kids just stared at me blankly, and I couldnít remember the details of the story. By this stage the kids with ADHD were bouncing off the walls and screaming, the two-year-old was wailing for his mother, several children were trying to burn down the church with their candlemass candles, while others kicked each other in the head or ran from room to room slamming doors. I was starting to lose my voice trying to make myself heard, and the only thing I could think about authority was that I didnít feel like I had any at all.
Before next Sunday I am going to memorise the entire 20th Anniversary Updated Edition of "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk." I will be the worldís most respectful and supportive teacher, and then the children will have to respect my authority.
Quotes of the day
"The world is a dangerous place - not because of the few who do evil, but because of the many who stand by and let them." - That great human rights activist, Albert Einstein.
"This brings us to one of the really cool things about fantasy Ė identifying with a side thatís 100 percent good. You can revel as they utterly annihilate foes who deserve to be exterminated because they are 100 percent distilled evil... The urge to crush some demonized enemy resonates deeply within us, dating from ages far earlier than feudalism. Hence, the vicarious thrill we feel over the slaughter of orc foot soldiers at Helmís Deep. Then again as the Ents flatten even more goblin grunts at Sarumanís citadel, taking no prisoners, never sparing a thought for all the orphaned orclings and grieving widorcs. And again at Minas Tirith, and again at the Gondor Docks and again Ö Well, theyíre only orcs, after all... Am I pulling your leg? You bet! I donít take speculations about fictional villains quite that seriously. My real point is more general... Donít just receive your adventures. Toy with them. Re-mold them in your mind. Keep asking "What if Ö?" Itís how you get practice not just being a passive consumer, or critic, but a creative storyteller in your own right." - Extracted from "J.R.R. Tolkien, Enemy of Progress," by David Brin.