http://www.makepovertyhistory.org.nz beautiful monsters: March 2003 Archives

March 31, 2003

Interblog Partypalooza

Someone suggested that, at the party, one person would start a conversation and then pass it onÖ Iím pleased to say that we all managed to communicate successfully without the help of keyboards (but with assistance from alcohol in some cases).

Cake mixers

I seem to be attracted to boys more frequently than ever before. This alarms me. Iím not sure why it alarms me. Perhaps I fear that I will get straighter and straighter. Where will it end? One day I might wake up with 2.5 kids, a white picket fence and an electric cake mixer! Now that would be scary.

Maybe it scares me because, if you believe the whole one in ten thing, boys are more likely to like me back. Nine times more likely. Maybe Iím terrified of encountering a Real Relationship.

Maybe Iím just a heterophobic man-hating bigot? But I donít think so.

Maybe itís just new and slightly strange and takes some getting used to.

I think Iíll blame it on the medication Iíve started taking. Perhaps as well as treating Bipolar it has altered my bisexuality?! It has also increased my appetite and caused me to have vivid and disturbing dreamsÖ

Metta Ė a tool for world peace

On Tuesday 1 April at 11:00am New York time for just 15 minutes, you are asked to sit quietly and do a metta (loving kindness) meditation for George Bush. People are gathering together if they can. If you are unable to do this, then light a candle, or pray - do whatever feels right for you.

(Unfortunately, this is 4:00am NZ time on Wednesday 2 April, but doing something at sometime on Wednesday would be good).

The idea is to have as many people as possible worldwide spend fifteen minutes at the same time meditating, praying, sending healing/positive thoughts, etc, to George Bush -- and those advising him -- asking that his decisions be for the highest good of ALL beings, and whatever else we feel... that he will discover a different aspect of himself, a way to end this situation with grace, dignity and compassion. Who knows, even that he becomes the person who goes down in history as the one who found the way to bring peace and stop the infinite repercussions! Let's give him a really huge space to step up into!

"Thinking too well of someone often allows them to behave better than they otherwise would."
- Nelson Mandela.

Itís so easy to hate George Bush, and to feel anger towards him. Itís so easy to hate Saddam. They are human beings, they have feelings and hopes and dreams, when they are hurt they bleed.

Peace is not angry

I received quite a lot of angry emails after my peace blog. Apparently I am personally responsible for the torture and murder of millions of Iraqi people (there is some debate as to whether Kim Hill is also to blame). After reading through these emails I started to wonder if Iíd made some kind of terrible mistake. But then, I saw this quote on Junnyhoneyís blog;

"When a woman is being abused by her husband, you don't burn down her home and kill her children to rescue her."

Please let me make one thing clear; I oppose the war, but I do not support Saddam. This is not a contradiction. I do not believe that war is ever the best solution.

If this stance means that I continue to get hate mail, so be it. I can not stay quiet and live with my own conscience.

Tips for drinking chocolate

Drinking chocolate should be consumed lukewarm Ė as close to blood temperature as possible. This ensures that the caffeine and sugar can be absorbed as quickly as possible. Mix drinking chocolate powder with boiling water and add a large amount of soymilk. You can test the temperature by dipping your finger into the drinking chocolate Ė it shouldnít feel hot or cold.

*

Due to economic circumstances the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched off.

(Quote on Pumpkinqueenís blog).

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:40 AM

March 29, 2003

After the party

The taxi driver winds down his window and shouts, "I turn around, coming back." You stand on the edge of the curve and wait. It is almost raining. The kind of soft almost mist, almost rain, that doesnít seem to fall so much as drift through the air. It doesnít make a pattering noise, in fact, at first you think it doesnít make any noise at all. Then you listen. It sounds like the bubbles popping in lemonade. You turn up your face and the droplets rest on your checks, your lips. The whole world is shining. The lights melt onto the rain-kissed streets. You are alive. You hold the rain in your heart, like a bright red leaf. It doesnít make sense, but itís beautiful, and youíre glad to be alive.

The taxi driver swings around the corners and races through the streets like a kid with a new toy. You wonder if youíll be alive for much longer.

You sneeze most of the way home, and in your mind you throw suspicious looks at the cat.

Walking up the steps, you feel as though you are drunk. You havenít drunk anything, except orange juice and water. Perhaps drunkenness is contagious. You try to let yourself in without waking anyone else up. The strap of your bag hits your flatmateís door, you trip over the phone lead and knock over a glass. So far, so good. You creep into your room and turn on your computer. WHIRRRRRRRR! BEEP BEEP! You try to muffle your computer with a pillow, but itís no use.

You log on. You check. Yes, youíre the first. You breathe a sigh of relief. Then you start to feel the pressure building. The first entry must be clever. It must be amusing and imaginative. You canít really do clever, amusing or imaginative, but you want to be the first so you write anyway.

Cicadas were thrown across the room. Crayfish were kissed. There was dancing, and scary 80ís music. There were lots of discussions about the war, and about Bolsheviks, and offending people. There were strange conversations with people whoíd read your blog and so knew lots about you, and yet you knew nothing about them. Kim Hill was mentioned, but not as much as Buffy. There were pistachio nuts and alcoholic beverages and freshly baked cakes. It was a good party.

You wonder if Blogapalooza will ever be the same now that you have danced with all the participants.

You count the hours until Sunday school. There are not enough. You vaguely remember saying you were going to have an early nightÖ

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:38 AM

March 27, 2003

Blogapalooza Part III

Ok, so I started this one, itís a rehash of an old piece I wrote, and itís probably the weirdest entry in Blogapalooza. I was in hospital, I was drugged out of my mind, give me a break. Giles rewrote mine and then passed it on to Iona.

Important Note: None of the information in this poem applies to Green and Blacks Organic Vegan Fair-Traded Chocolate of the Gods...

How to eat a chocolate bar mindfully

Notice yourself peeling open the wrapper
the sharp edges of the foil
the crackling noise as it opens.

Notice how you first touch the chocolate
is it with your fingers, your lips
your teeth?

Enter into the moment
become one with your experience
become one with the bar of chocolate.

Observe the texture and quality of the chocolate.
Does it dissolve as it touches your tongue?
Does it require chewing, or leave a fatty residue
on the roof of your mouth?

Notice the fat particles
passing through the intestinal mucosa
and into the bloodstream.

Become aware
of the layers of fat thickening
on your thighs, stomach,
and arteries.

Become aware of the events
that brought the chocolate into being.

Visual the growth of the sugarcane and cocoa
the humid climate, the sweat of the workers.
Were they paid a fair wage? Were they beaten,
discriminated against, abused?

Become aware
of the genetic content
of the chocolate.

Have the genes
been twisted
across species barriers?

Observe the molecules
as they interact with the cells
lining your gut.

Focus your attention
on the milk powder in the chocolate.

Does it contain Trans Fatty Acids?
Oxidised or rancid cholesterol? Pus?
Antibiotics? Growth hormones? Dioxins?

Notice any developing respiratory problems
mood disorders, or cancers.

Spare a thought
for the cows.

Now, bring your attention
to the taste of the chocolate, the bitter cocoa
the sugar burning down the back of your throat.

Melt into the moment
go all gooey!

Indulge yourself
go on - you deserve it!

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:36 AM

March 26, 2003

Addictions

Iíve cut down on my drinking chocolate consumption. Sort of. Well, actually, Iíve replaced some of my drinking chocolate consumption with chocolate instant pudding. Did you know if you make them with soy milk theyíre vegan?

Heavy

So I went grocery shopping, did my shopping for the week, lugged my backpack and jute bags to the bus stop, and then struggled home with my load. Unpacked everything and put it away, then headed back into town for a meeting. Couldnít work out why my bag was still so heavy. All I had was a couple of notebooks, my diary, a jerseyÖ Then, after I got home, I found the pumpkin.

Windy

Went along to my first Windy (Wellington Independent Media) meeting. They put my "Recipe for Peace" poem in the latest edition. Ok, so they changed the formatting, but Iíll forgive them. Iím quite excited about getting involved. Hey, itís a way to ensure my rants reach even more people! Nah, but seriously, I really believe that in times like these, we need to support independent media.

Understandably, a large part of the latest issue is devoted to the war on Iraq Ė and opposition to the war. But Iíd really like to put my energy into writing about other issues. Yeah, the war is importantÖ but it doesnít make all the other issues go away. Children are still being exploited, sweatshops are still operating, people are still being raped, abused tortured. Forests are still being cut down, marine life is being destroyed. The global climate is still warming. GATS is being sneaked passed while our backs are turned. Why doesnít anyone care about Columbia? Palestine? Even Afghanistan seems to have been forgotten.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:31 AM

March 25, 2003

Part II of the Interblog Extravaganza

We had no assigned topics, just "write a blog." Iona wrote this piece, , and then she passed it on to me and I wrote the piece below, and then I passed my piece on to Giles, who did another rewrite. Part III coming on Friday.

Lust Automobilia

OK, I admit it. The first time I had sex with a girl it took place in the back of a car. I know, I know, itís tragic and cliched and far from romantic. But take it from me, when youíre both teenagers, and youíre both queer (obviously) and one of you isnít out and you live in different citiesÖ well, there just arenít many options. So, it was the back of the car, parked on a deserted road somewhere on the periphery of Hamilton.

She was incredibly shy, and I was scared I would break her. She wouldnít say anything, and I had no idea if she was enjoying the procedure or not. She sounded sort of desperate, and I wasnít sure if that was a good thing or not, but she sounded more desperate if I stopped, so I decided I should keep going. And I did, for what seemed like an eternity, and Iím still not sure if she enjoyed any of it, because she still seems incapable of managing to string more than three words together.

I miss the car more than the girl. My Mitsubishi Mirage. Faithful, practical, dependable, white for safetyÖ OK, so my dad chose the car. Back then I was almost completely financially dependent on my parents. I was starting to have mental health problems and I was struggling in school, so my parents didnít want me to get a job. I worked a few hours a week for Trade Aid, but that wasnít paid. So yeah, they bought the car, and most of the time they paid for the petrol. We lived out in the wops, about 20 minutes drive from the next teenager. My parents made it clear that once I turned 15 they would stop driving me around. I had to learn to drive, or spend the rest of my life stranded on a lifestyle block surrounded by sheep farms and pine trees. I learnt to drive.

Most of the time I was fairly practical and reliable in my safe white car. I was usually the sober driver at parties. Because my friends were scattered around the greater Rotorua district sometimes it took me a couple of hours to drop everyone off. I miss having such a good excuse not to drink. I give in to peer pressure very easily. Just one, eh? Yeah, right.

I only got a speeding ticket once. I was on my way to a friendís house on his birthday, with a chocolate cake cooling on the back seat, and I was daydreaming, following the car in front of me. (I knew the camera was there, it was a permanent one, which made me feel even more stupid). Having a car was very convenient for cake transportation. These days I tend to pile all my vegan cakes into a taxi for Ecoaction fundraisers, and then feel guilty about the petrol, the expenseÖ

We had two prangs. Once someone backed into me for no apparent reason. The other time I rolled into a lamppost. I donít know how that happened, I was probably listening to Kim Hill or otherwise distracted. Both times I broke a headlight. (I donít miss how expensive car lights are).

Oh, and then there was the time I stopped at the top of our (very steep) driveway to check the mail. I waved at a neighbour who was walking past with her dog. Got out of the car. Watched in horror as it started to roll down the drive, over the edge of the bank, gathering speed and heading towards the sheer drop down to the stream. Then, the wheels started to sink into the soft earth, and she slowed and stopped. The neighbour turned around and waved, and she didnít seem to think it was odd that there was no car where moments before there had been a white mirage. I collected the mail and drove the car back to the house. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents what had happened, and they didnít notice the tire marks leading over the bank.

But other than that, my Mitsy and I were completely dependable and safe together. I trusted her. She could keep secrets. The stash of candy in the glove box. The scalpel blades and the bottles of pills, just in caseÖ the praise and worship tapes I kept hidden under the seat so I could play them when no one else was in the car. The girls and boys I kissed and touched, discarding innocence and leaving a tangle of clothes strewn across the backseat. Yeah, she was good to me, my Mitsy.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:41 AM

*Groan*

I ate too much. I got takeaways from the fish and chip shop and ate them in the park with a fellow blogger, and it was lovely, except for the mosquitoes, but I ate way too much. Oh yeah, and the bitey things. The good thing about having allergies is that you get Prescription Only Super Creams that are magic for treating itchy bites. Now Iím so full I can barely think straight enough to blog about anything. At least tomorrowís entry is taken care of, because it is Blogapalooza Part The Second. Yay! Donít know about you, but Iím excited. Itís kind of like opening presentsÖ

That Kim and John Show

I have seen the evidence, and I have come to the conclusion that John Pilger acted like an arrogant prick. Iím sorry if I offend any of his devoted fans, and I know I am biased, being the president of the Wellington branch of the Kim Hill Adoration SocietyÖ

Yes, John has done some good work, and I respect him for those aspects of his work, but that doesnít mean that I respect the way he behaves, as a person (oooooh flashbacks to another controversial journalist... who I will refrain from naming. Refrain. Refrain. This is hard work).

He had an agenda. He had Issues. And he wasnít happy about the fact that he couldnít just rant about them for the whole half-hour without having to justify anything.

He bases his views on assumptions. He sees them as facts, but then, doesnít everyone? We all make assumptions, we have to. There is no Truth with a capital T, itís all subjective. Truth depends on the assumptions you make about the world. Kim tried to question one or two of his assumptions, and he couldnít handle it.

John kept saying that she hadnít done her research, but I think she had probably done a lot of research, sheís usually very thorough, but John didnít give her much of a chance to show her preparation, as he was being so argumentative. I think he also assumed that she meant the things she was saying, and so he got angry at her. In fact, I think she was asking questions to try and get him to justify his argumentsÖ because if he just ranted, then the converted would agree with him, and the heathens would just switch off. She was trying to get him to explain his views to people who werenít already sold on his basic assumptions.

Perhaps towards the end, Kim was a little bit rude too, it could be argued, but she must have been very frustrated. He was being so incredibly difficult. Itís understandable that she snapped. In fact, itís even understandable that he was angry and rude. It was a bad day. Most people were frustrated and angry and upset.

Someone should have given them both a pillow to take out their frustration on before the interview, and then maybe the interview would have been different.

Still, Iím not knocking Kim off her pedestal just yet. In her shoes I would have thrown the book at John before the first ad break.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:39 AM

March 24, 2003

war of fuel?

"It's not about oil, they say. And yet, if Iraq produced radishes rather than oil, would anyone seriously suggest invading?"
- Eduardo Galeano

To be honest, I donít think itís just about oil. Sure, thatís part of it, and thatís probably the reason why Iraq has been chosen as the target. But I think thereís more to it than oil. I think itís got a lot to do with power. And arms. And delusion. I think Bush really does believe heís saving us from some great evil.

I reckon Bush equates power with military might. And I think he believes that the more power one state gains, the less others have, and so interactions between states must be constant power struggles. I think the US needs to create threats in order to sustain their military development. And Bush and his cronies believe that they need military development, otherwise the economy could collapse, and what a disaster that would beÖ

See, itís all very rational.

If you think that no one can be trusted, then you get scared and so you buy a gun to protect yourself. And then your neighbour buys a gun, and you think that they must mean to shoot you, so you buy a bigger gunÖ and then they buy a bigger oneÖ and then suddenly you have enough weapons to blow up the whole neighbourhood, but you donít feel any safer.

You think that power is a limited commodity, so if someone else is getting some then that means youíre missing out. And then you get so obsessed with gaining power that you forget why you needed it in the first placeÖ

"Make no mistake about it. This battle we are in is not just about Iraq or this particular war. It is about a desire on the part of those that have hijacked the American government to create a permanent war machine abroad, and a proto-fascist state at home. The outcome of this political battle will shape America's, and the world's, future for the next several decades. The stakes are that high."
Ė Bernard Weiner

Fuel of War

"The oil-drunk consumer society is deathly afraid of withdrawal symptoms."
- Eduardo again.

I should have known better than to listen to Kim interviewing Teddy Goldsmith on Saturday. He always gets me down, even when Iím not in the psych ward. Doom doom and gloom, no matter what we do weíre all going to die.

Or was that just the way I heard him?

Speaking of shock and awe

Did anyone see the Kim Hill / John Pilger cat fight? I missed it cos we donít have a TV and last week I didnít manage to schedule my psychiatric breakdowns so that I could be in respite on Thursday (they have a TV in respite).

"Dear Kim hooked up this week with Saint John Pilger of the Parish of Sydney. And by the end of the programme he was shouting that the interview was a "disgrace" and she, eyebrow arched like an angry Siamese, ventured that it had been "interesting" talking to him. It was hard to see what got Pilger's goat so badly. Sure, she interrupted his flow a few times, and got a bit catty herself towards the end, but does he do this every time an interviewer fails to go down on bended knee? Does he seriously expect to be interviewed without having his views challenged?"
Ė Russell Brown.

Iraq

What do you think of this excerpt from the childrenís novel, Gulf, by Robert Westall. "Saddam is our hero. He is not afraid of the Americans. He is the only Arab who is not afraid of the Americans." Ė Latif, an Iraqi boy fighting in the Gulf war.

There are accounts of Saddam as a hero, and accounts of him as the ultimate villain. I believe he has done some awful things, but then, so has George Bush. Yes, I think Saddam should be removed from power. But I donít think we should wage war on Iraq. I believe we should support the people of Iraq, support free debate among Iraqi people and discussion of the alternatives. We should offer our support to help the people of Iraq build the society that they want to live in. I do not believe we can support them by bombing the shit out of them.

"Consider what Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez accomplished without succumbing to the temptations of picking up arms. Consider the protesters who by sheer (mostly) non-violent "people power" hastened the end of the dictatorial regimes in the Philippines, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland, et al. Not only is non-violence a powerful political tool, but it is, and becomes, a spiritually uplifting force.

And why? Because it changes the interaction. Instead of you reacting to their violence with your violence -- which then leads to more violence, and then to more and so on -- you've changed the parameters. Suddenly, they have to deal with you differently, as a human who bears them no ill will even as you confront their power; they often get flummoxed by these new rules of engagement. (One extremely effective way is to be friendly toward the cops -- addressing them by name when possible, offering them food and drink, telling them in conversational tone why you're protesting, how your concerns may connect to theirs, etc.; the tensions tend to relax, even when arrests are made.) And, most importantly, the larger public, appreciating the non-violent nature of the protests and raised with a belief in morality and fair play, starts to understand the immorality of their government's policies and brutalities, and begins more and more to support the protesters."
Ė Bernard again.

Brief interlude of cheerful superficiality

Cos I donít know about you, but I need cheering up.

My favourite flavour combinations

Chocolate, spices and orange
Banana and cardamom
Chocolate and praline
Lime, chilli, onion, coriander and kiwifruit
Chocolate and peppermint
Basil and tomato
Chocolate and almonds
Orange and mint
Chocolate and fresh strawberries
Pumpkin and nutmeg
Chocolate and ginger
Lemon, garlic, basil and olive oil
Chocolate and banana
Ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli
Chocolate and coffee
Sugar and caffeine and anything

Seeking trivial kitchen related advice (life goes on regardless)

You know those things that go under the elements on the stove? Where do you buy them from?

Celebrating resistance

"We basically have two choices: give up, and be sure that the worst will come; try, and it may make things better. Because a great many people make the second choice, the world does become a better place. A good shot in the arm is to spend a little time with people who do not share our immense privilege, but go on to struggle, without ever asking questions, facing terrible risks and sometimes enduring harsh punishment, even assassination. It's a humbling experience."
- Noam Chomsky.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:37 AM

March 23, 2003

Blogapalooza Part 1

Giles wrote this piece, then he passed it on to Iona who wrote this piece, and she passed it on to me and I wrote the piece below, without having seen the original piece by Giles. Confused yet? Two more instalments of Blogapalooza coming later in the week.

I am not, nor have I ever been a communist

But I have been known to hand out pamphlets on May Day.

When I first moved to Wellington, I met a woman who claimed to be an anarchist. I thought she was incredibly spunky, and the way she put it, anarchism seemed pretty cool too. I decided to do some research, and (being the earnest little first year that I was) went off to the library and checked out some huge volumes on political theory.

Then, by chance, I stumbled across the Freedom Shop. It wasnít open, but there was a flatmate wanted notice in the window. "Queer friendly, child friendly vegan wanted for anarchist flat in Newtown." Aha, I thought, living with them must be an easier way to learn about anarchism than reading thick heavy dusty books.

In retrospect, I canít believe they let me move in. It must have been a bad time for finding a flatmate. I spent the first couple of weeks trying to work out who the queer one was. Then I spent the next couple of weeks trying to work out how many people actually lived in the flat.

Within days of moving in I was painting cardboard placards for May Day. I still wasnít sure exactly what it was all about, so I went back to the freedom shop and scoured the pamphlets for potential slogans. I didnít want to say anything silly or Wrong. The placards floated around for a couple of years. One said "Refuse, Rebel, Resist," or words to that effect. Another had a picture of a Ronald McDonald skull, saying "Hey kids, would you like lies with that?"

Mayday was great, I had heaps of fun. I helped make vegan burgers with Food Not Bombs, I got to wear silly clothes and shout a lot, and one year I got to climb up the bucket fountain, which was lovely and wet on a sunny day.

*

Then there was the time they had Punk Fest outside my bedroom the weekend before exams.

Well, actually Punk Fest was held in a hall across the road from our house, but most of the punks in the country (and some from other countries) were camped out in our backyard. They tramped backwards and forwards through our flat a lot.

The first night I tried to study with earplugs in. Strange guys kept wandering into my room. A couple of the bands played extra gigs in our living room. And I didnít know what those Australian guys in the kitchen were doing with that white powderÖ

The second night I gave up. I pushed a chest of drawers against the door so no one could get into my room, climbed out the window, went across the road to the hall and got ridiculously drunk. Like, the mosh pit seemed a really good place to lie down. My flatmate had to carry me home and throw me through the window.

*

"One day it may be unnecessary to begin every piece of writing on the subject of anarchism by pointing out that anarchism is not about violence and chaos, but about organisation and cooperation."
- Sam Buchanan

Iíve heard different definitions of anarchism from different people, but most agree that it is about freedom from Authority. No states, no police, no monarchies, no authoritarian gods. Everyone should be involved in making decisions that they will be affected by. Anarchists are opposed to the use of force, coercion, authority and hierarchy, so it follows that an anarchist society would be free from sexism and heterosexism and racism and other isms.

*

If I label myself at all I call myself a queer-eco-anarcha-feminist-vegetarian-pacifist.

Iím sick of oppressive power politics. Iím sick of economic globalisation and sweatshops and nasty transnational corporations. Iím sick of environmental destruction. Iím sick of wars. The way I see it, the world is pretty messed up. Anarchy has got to be an improvement.

*

It didnít always work out in our flat. There were times when the chores were not exactly communal, and when people made decisions without consulting others. But most of the time we treated each other with respect, shared responsibilities and discussed strategies for effective civil disobedience. I had fun there. And I learnt a helluva lot.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:33 AM

March 22, 2003

Coming soonÖ Interblog Extravaganza!

Iona and Giles and I are working on a Blogapalooza. Itís sort of like Chinese Whispers, only itís Chinese Blogs. Each person writes a piece, and then they pass it on and then next person rewrites it and then passes on their rewrite and the next person rewrites that. So we end up with three topics, each with an original, a rewrite and a rewrite of a rewrite. Geddit? Nah, me neither. And I was in some sort of psychiatric institution (I don't remember which) when I was supposed to be writing the first one, so I ended up rehashing something I wrote a while ago, and it's kinda not that great, but oh well, you won't see that one till Friday. We've been working it out as we go along, well, mostly Iona has been working it out, but it's been fun. The first instalment will be revealed tomorrow. Watch this space. And this one. And this one. Ooooooh the suspense.

Messy

The kids and I had a fantastic time today. We celebrated Rosh Hashanah, which involved honey and apples and sticky fingers all over the furniture. And we added the purple strip to our prayer rainbow, and decorated it with images of hope and peace, because we felt like everyone needed cheering up, what with the war and all. We left a trail of glitter from one end of the church to the other, clay got squished into the carpet, flowers and doves and scraps of shiny paper were strewn everywhere. It took an hour and a half to clean up afterwards, but it was a nice wind down time.

Yawn

Iím far too tired to write anything intelligent or interesting.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:26 AM

March 20, 2003

Now is not a good time to give up on peace

War is only inevitable if enough people believe it is.

Around the world millions of people have marched to show their commitment to peace. Only a handful of people in a handful of countries support this war. They only have power if we give it to them. They only have power if we believe they have, if we are afraid of them and we let our fear silence us.

The threat of war will not go away in the near future. After Iraq, who will be next? It is not enough just to protest against this war, we must change the social, political, economic and military ingredients that, unchallenged, will lead to war again and again. We need to plan for the long haul, and if we are going to succeed, we must build a sustainable movement.

I believe we must make a commitment to non-violent direct action. We cannot achieve peace through violence Ė against anyone. The police, the government, even George W Bush. We cannot buy into their tactics. They believe that violence is the only way to gain control. We must show them the alternatives.

Yes, there is a time for anger. But then there is a time to let go of our anger, and begin to replace it with positive actions. It is not enough to get angry, it is not enough to protest. We need to create peace.

We must be active, we must resist. We must put pressure on our governments, we must disrupt economic systems, we must sustain boycotts and sabotage spy networks. But most importantly, we must co-operate, and we must plan our actions carefully. We must carefully direct our energy into the most productive actions.

If a few protestors get angry and try to push past the police lines and get into the US embassy, and then get arrested, what is achieved? Maybe a small amount of media coverage, which will probably make the protestors seem violent and insane. The US government will not give a shit about a few protestors getting arrested in Aotearoa.

What if protestors got together, and talked, and supported each other, and carefully planned an action that would achieve more than media coverage? If we act with haste, and if we act in anger, we are going to be suppressed quickly, and we are going to run out of energy. After being arrested a few times and achieving very little, we are going to feel disheartened and tired. We need protests to be carefully thought out, we need to put our energy into the most effective forms of action we can dream up.

We need to be strong. We need to be stronger than the machines of consumerism and war. Most of all, we need to support each other. We are resisting an empire with a huge military capacity, an empire capable of immense destruction. It will not be an easy struggle. They will attempt to silence us, to censor us, they will use force and violence. They will try and divide us, scatter us, weaken us. We must not let them.

To build a sustainable movement, we need to care for one another. We need to get to know other protestors. We need communicate, to share our experiences, our hopes, our fears. We must respect each other, put aside our differences because they are less important than our unity, our shared hope for peace. We need to take time to refuel, to find nourishment for the body and for the spirit. We must ensure our protests empower people, inspire people and encourage them. We must support everyone who is taking action for peace. Whether they are taking less action than we believe they should, or whether they are going further than we dare to go, we must support them.

Next time you go on a peace march, talk to other people. Talk to strangers, welcome newcomers. Talk to the organisers, thank them for the work they have been doing, give them a hug. Find ways that you can help, get involved, donít be overcome by fear or apathy. Stay strong, stay united.


We must believe that peace is possible, and then we must make it happen.


Kia kaha e hoa ma
Na Fionnaigh.


Recipe for peace
(after Cilla McQueen)

Take the laughter of children.

Take the first cry of a baby
a manís dying breath.

Take the time
to build bridges

say hello
how are you?
in thirty languages

welcome your neighbours
into your home

learn to make yaprakh
and shorbat rumman.

Take care
of one another

smile at strangers
laugh with children.

Take advantage of
sunny weather

grow tomatoes and kumara
plant sunflowers

bike to work
reclaim the streets.

Take the laughter of children
in Aotearoa
in America
in Iraq.

Take a chance
take a stand

take peace
to heart.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:07 AM

March 19, 2003

Good morning world

It's so wonderful to wake up and have pleasant surprsies and sunshine and hope.

Rants coming soon about uninevitability of war, and about the public nature of blogging... but not right now. I'm running really really late.

Meanwhile, this poem is dedicated to someone who I hope may become a friend... and to her son, who has been out in the garden eating dirt. (He'll probably grow up to have a strong and healthy immune system and a love for the earth).

Dirt

The ideal soil

is light
crumbly

and dark
with humus.

Gather up a handful
enjoy the warm
spicy aroma

between your hands
you hold more living organisms
than there are people
on earth.

No matter how enterprising
we may be

our life
is dependant
on a thin layer
of dirt

and the fact
that it rains.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:06 AM

March 18, 2003

The longest blog entry in the world

Bear with me. Or not, I donít mind. The following contains self-injury and suicidal ideation, viewer discretion is advisedÖ I just need to write this down, get it straight in my head, put it out there. Iíve had a really awful week, but itís looking hopeful now.

Breakdown

What have you done now? Sheís angry with you. Theyíre all angry with you. They know everything. They know what a terrible person you are.

I want to be alive. I want to write poems that touch lives, and stories that open peopleís eyes. I want to plant broad beans to enrich the soil and lemon balm for tea. I want to watch the jerusalem artichokes burst into flower, then dig up the knobbly roots to roast. I want to break open the earth, plant makomako, kawakawa, rata, and watch a web of green spread over the hills. I want to walk the Heaphy Track again, without crying. I want to travel to Mexico, set foot on the ice of Antarctica. I want to drink coffee in cafes and laugh with my friends.

I hate myself. Iíve messed up everything. The dishes havenít been done, and America just started bombing Iraq. Our Fringe show was a disaster. And Saskia died. And our tomato plants have blown over in the wind. Iím a slut. Iíve lost count of how many guys have stuck their dicks into my mouth, my hands, my cuntÖ and I let them. Iím a mess. Iíve lost the jacket my mother bought me, and I had to pull out of the Tohu Maoritanga. Iím so needy and desperate, I scare people and push them away. I just want to escape. I canít take it any more. Everyone hates me. I hate myself.

I've been fighting that part of myself, for so many years. Every day the self-destructive part of me has added new reasons for hating myself. Every day the part of me who wants to survive has clung on to any tiny strand of hope, but that part of me has been getting so tired, so very tired. Every day it has become harder to hold on.

Welcome to my roller-coaster life.

The poets are angry. Itís because you wanted too much. You canít hide from them. Theyíre going to take away your voice.

I have it all worked out. Thereís a parking building in town, there are some stairs you can climb up on the outside. Itís pretty high. Itís high enough.

*

On top of the constant struggle with the self-destructive, hateful part of myself, I've had bipolar, probably for years. I was only diagnosed a few weeks ago, and I finally started medication (lithium and anti-psychotics) yesterday. Because of this illness Iíve had intense mood swings, and at times some pretty weird thought distortions. (At one point I was convinced I had to have a baby. My daughter would be a prophet. I met a man on the bus and I knew he would be the father. I caught the same bus at the same time every day for a week but he didnít show up again).

Over the past few months, things have gone down hill pretty rapidly. My mood swings have been more and more intense, I have been having psychotic episodes which have been getting worse and worse, and generally, well, my life has been falling apart.

All I wanted was an escape from the screaming inside my head. I wrote a note, saying goodbye to my parents and my friends. I explained where I wanted my ashes scattered, and made a list of who I wanted to have each of my treasures; my paintings, my jewellery, my violin. I felt regret, that I didnít have enough treasures to give to all the beautiful people who have been part of my life. I wrote down instructions about how I wanted my ashes scattered. I cried a little, then I felt relief.

And then the part of me that wants to survive unfurled inside me. I had an appointment with my doctor that day. I decided to give life one last chance and go along.

Dr Bill thought that I should be in hospital for a few days, and this upset me. Theyíd just make me stay alive, and Iíd get behind in my studies and my friends would get sick of me. When I said the right things to the doctors theyíd let me out but nothing would have changed; Iíd still hate myself. But part of me thought, hey, maybe I could rest for a while. I agreed to go to an appointment with the CATT (Crisis Assessment) team that afternoon.

There were three doctors, two of them were students so they just sat there and "observed." All of them were men. I donít remember much about the appointment. I remember getting extremely frustrated with the doctor. "Yes, I understand how you feel," he said, but he didnít. He seemed to think I should just get through it on my own somehow. I told him Iíd tried everything I could think of, Iíd been going through all the skills Iíd learned; crisis management, distress tolerance, distraction, self-soothingÖ Iíd been trying to eat healthy food, going to the gym, trying to get enough sleep, keep busyÖ And nothing was working. I hated myself. Completely, utterly, intensely. I didnít have the energy to keep fighting. I just wanted to get away.

The doctor gave me some medication to help me sleep, and sent me home.

I walked out the door. I didnít have any idea what to do next. Part of my mind was telling me "go to the parking building, go there, go on, get away." Another part was saying "you canít go now, itís too early. Thereíll be people there. What if Stacey was working, what if she found you? Youíve got to wait till itís dark." And then another voice, small and quiet, joined the chorus. ďPlease, help me.Ē

I walked to old St Paulís church. Iíd studied it during my failed stint at architecture school, and I knew that the architect had reluctantly chosen wood, even though Gothic Revival churches were traditionally built from stone. In Wellington, stone was just too hard to get. The native timbers gave the interior of the church a warm intensity and richness, very different from the cold, heavy effect of stone. I didnít go into the church because I was afraid that someone would find me, but it was enough to touch the outside walls, and peek through the windows. It was comforting to know that inside it was quiet and dark. There were trees outside, and splashes of sunlight on the grass. I sat down on a dirt path, and felt the warmth of the sun on my arms.

I didnít know what to do. Iíd run out of strength, run out of ideas. Inside my pockets my fingers closed around something hard; my cellphone. I took it out and dialled my counsellors number. She kept me talking on the phone, but managed to get one of her colleagues to phone the police. As I was talking to her, I heard the car pull up. I was terrified. ďTheyíre going to come and get me,Ē I sobbed to my counsellor. ďI have to get away,Ē but my feet wouldnít seem to move. I curled up in the vestry doorway and tried to push myself into the wood.

They must have a module at police training college on How To Be An Insensitive Dickhead, and the guys who picked me up were top of the class. As they wrestled me into the car, one of them said "Come on, it canít be that bad." Wanna bet?

There was a bomb scare in town that day so town was gridlocked. It took us 40 minutes to get to the hospital and the whole way the cops were made comments about women they saw, scoring them out of ten. In between sexist jokes they told me on I was wasting their time, and if anything happened in Jíville while they were gone it would be my fault. I was wasting taxpayers money. They started calculating exactly how much money I was wasting. I guess they were trying to lighten the mood, but I was already convinced that the world would be a better place if I were dead. They had kiddie locks on the doors. I considered climbing out the window, but I figured theyíd grab me before I could get out and the last thing I wanted was to be grabbed and pulled and bruised and told what a selfish manipulative kid I was. I kept still and kept quiet.

The police left me at the hospital. I had to wait there because the CATT team were stuck in traffic. The voices in my head were getting louder, telling me how everyone hated me. The only way I could get them to shut up was to bang my head against the wall.

When the CATT team arrived they gave me a prescription for some medication that was supposed to make me "feel better" and help me sleep. They arranged for me to spend the night in a respite house. I felt so trapped, and hopeless.

Respite was an extension of hell. I was convinced that everyone hated me. A certain poet was angry with me. In fact, most of the poets in Aotearoa were angry with me for writing. My poems werenít good enough. I wrote about things I shouldnít write about.
Two of them were sitting up at the institute. They had a beam that swung around and around. When it fell on me, they knew everything I was thinking. They knew everything Iíd done wrong. They knew what an awful person I was. They knew where I was and if I stayed there they were going to come and take my voice away. Not my speech. My voice. My writerís voice. They would take it away and I wouldnít be able to write any more.

The night stretched on and on. I took the medication they gave me. It didnít help. I tried to meditate, but the voices got louder. I tried to read but I couldnít concentrate. I tried to have a shower but I started having intense flashbacks and started sobbing uncontrollably. They gave me some more medication. I wanted to hurt myself, to get away from my thoughts. Every time I walked passed the kitchen I wanted to open a can and use the lid to cut my arms. Every time I boiled the jug I wanted to pour the water over myself. I wanted to die. I wanted to get away from the poets, I wanted to escape from myself. God how I hated myself. I knew there was a back door at the respite house. I could just walk out. I could get into town before they noticed I was gone. I could get to the parking building. I could be free.

I went out and talked to the support worker. She told me she couldnít do anything, sent me back to bed, with some more medication. I felt desperate, I felt like I couldnít stop myself from walking out, from killing myself.

I always had a scalpel blade in my wallet, just in case I needed it. Somehow the police, CATT and the Respite staff had neglected to check my wallet. I pulled it out of the foil package. As soon as I pushed the blade to my skin, relief flooded into my body. Natural opiates pumped through my blood, my heart rate and blood pressure levelled, and the voices began to grow quiet. I drifted into sleep.

I woke to see the support worker glaring down at me. After yelling at me, she went and got the manager. The manager got me cleaned up and dressed.

Another day in hospital. Another day of fighting the urge to hurt myself, or to walk out. I saw the same doctor. He said I could either go home, or I could go back to the respite house if I promised not to cut myself again. I said I didnít feel safe at the respite house, but he didnít seem to think there were any other options.

I went back to see my counsellor, and she didnít think I was safe to go home, I sure didnít feel safe about going home. So we came up with a plan. I got copies of some of the crisis survival worksheets Iíd been doing in therapy. My counsellor called the CATT team and the respite house, and told them that I was having a really hard time keeping myself safe. She explained to them that I had some information with me, and that it would be helpful if they went through some of the skills with me, because I was too tired to do it on my own.

The woman on the early shift was really nice, she talked to me heaps, and we watched Kim Hill together. I hadnít brought anything with me, and Iíd been wearing the same underpants for a couple of days, so she said before I went to bed I could give my clothes to the person on night duty, and she would wash them and dry them for me for the morning. Unfortunately the person on the night shift was the same woman whoíd been on when I cut myself. I asked if she could wash my clothes, but wouldnít agree to wash them. The person on the earlier shift, who hadnít left, called out to her that I didnít have any clean clothes, and the night worker grudgingly said that she might wash them, if she had time.

That night, I tried to stay in my room so that I wouldnít make the night worker angry. I went through some of the breathing and relaxation exercises, but I felt scared and restless and I thought that everyone hated me. Finally I couldnít stand being alone any more, and I went out and said that I couldnít sleep. The support worker snapped at me that she didnít have any patience with me after what had happened the night before, and I shouldnít even be there, I was lucky they let me go back. I crept back to bed, but I felt even worse; her words had added to my belief that I was a hopeless nuisance and everyone hated me. I got more and more distressed. I went out to her one more time, I was really scared and I didnít know what to do. She was asleep, and when she woke up she refused to even talk to me. Huddled in the corner of my room, I used my cellphone to call my mum, but there was little she could do from Rotorua.

I had to get away, before the poets found me. I went and found my unwashed clothes. I walked out the back door and ran down the street. I was scared that the staff would find out I was gone and call the police again, so I hid in the bushes for a while. The only thing keeping me calm was thinking about killing myself. I was too scared to go into town in case the police came after me, so I tried to climb up the carillon tower. I got stuck part way up. To get higher I had to climb across a tiny ledge, and I was scared that Iíd fall, and it wouldnít be high enough to kill me, but high enough to hurt a lot. I curled up in the corner of the roof. I gathered leaves out of the gutter and sat on them for insulation, because the metal of the roof was freezing. The cold wind tore through my clothes. I wanted to cry but I was too tired. Then I thought of my doctor, and how he seemed to listen and to understandÖ unlike the doctor Iíd been seeing through the crisis team. I decided to get myself out to the Hutt, where he worked, because then I could see him, and I would be far away from the high buildings I wanted to jump from. I called my flatmate and asked if he could pick me up on his way to work. Then I let myself into my old flat, borrowed some clothes from a friend, and had a shower. God, it felt so good to have clean clothes! I sneaked some food from the pantry, and waited outside for my flatmate.

When I got out to the Hutt I phoned my doctorís surgery, but they didnít have any appointments. I had no idea what to do, I hadnít thought beyond getting out to the Hutt. I walked around to his surgery, hoping that he would have five minutes free when he could see me. The surgery was also used by anthroposophic nurses. One of them found me crying and called my doctor at home to see if he could fit me in. He couldnít, but he arranged for someone to take me in to see the CATT team again, and called to tell them he thought I needed to be in hospital. I sobbed all the way into town. On top of everything else I was convinced that my doctor was angry with me for coming out when I didnít have an appointment, and that he wouldnít want to be my doctor any more.

Back in town I was met by the same doctor and the same treatment. Back to respite. By this stage my mum had turned up in Wellington. It was a six hour drive, but a friend of ours just happened to be going down that day so she caught a ride. She brought me clean clothes, food, books and music. The woman on the early shift at the respite house was wonderful too, she talked to me, got me to help with dinner, took me for a walk, played scrabble. Most importantly she listened, while I bawled my eyes out, and babbled on about how scared I was.

The same night worker was on again. I took all my medication, and then hid in my room. I tried to sleep, and I dozed off a few times. Sleeping was almost worse, I had the most ghastly dreams. I dreamed that I stabbed myself in the head. I relived every moment of past abuses, over and over. When I woke I banged my head with my fist to try and get away from the poets.

In the morning I was dropped off at the hospital. I gave one of the occupational therapists a note for my mum, and then I left. I planned to get into town, get to the building and jump, but, for some reason, when I got to the street I turned left instead of right. I ended up somewhere on the slopes of Mount Victoria. I was paranoid that the poets were looking for me, so I kept hiding in the bushes. I got hot, so I stripped down to my bra, and as I clambered around in the bushes I got scratched across my back and shoulders. I found some bottles, and smashed them, and cut my arms to calm myself down. For some reason I had my walkman with me, I guess Iíd been holding it when I left, and it was a Saturday, so I listened to Kim Hill. I thought that while Kim was talking the poets couldnít hear my thoughts so they wouldnít know where I was. As the time drew closer to 12 oíclock and the end of the programme I got more and more anxious. If Iíd had my phone with me, I think I would have called Kim and begged her to keep talking.

Iíd been running around in the bushes for a couple of hours, trying to get away from the poets, when then suddenly, tiredness overcame me. I collapsed on the ground and burst into tears. I was too scared and too exhausted to know what to do next. I just lay there sobbing, ďhelp me, please, someone help me.Ē

Thankfully some people saw me, or heard me, and came to see if I was ok. They took me back to their car, talking to me reassuringly all the time. They wrapped me in a towel because I was still half-dressed. The guy said that he used to cut himself, but he didnít any more. He said his mum was a social worker. He gave me his phone, to call my mum, and then he took me back to the hospital.

Finally, I got to see a different doctor, who was very kind and understanding. He checked whether hospital was an option, but there were no beds that night. So, he arranged for me to go back to the respite house, and for a nurse to stay with me from 10 till 8, to keep an eye on me. I was scared that the nurse would get angry with me, but I neednít have worried. When I met Whaia Mere, she greeted with a huge hug, and kissed me on the cheek.

During the two nights I spent hanging out with her, I made some huge breakthroughs. For a start, I realised that if I sing in Maori, the voices go away. Iíd start freaking out, and Mere would come in and say, "Sing your waiata, sing your waiata." The words would start to shudder out of me, ďTangi atu tku reo, tangi mai tku reoÖĒ tentatively at first and then stronger. Sometimes Mere would join in, and gradually I would begin to calm down.

One the phone to my counsellor one of the nights, I told her that I hated myself. She asked me to write down all the reasons why I hated myself. It was like a dam bursting. I filled six pages before my wrist started to hurt from writing so fast. Once I saw them down on paper, they didnít seem so scary. In fact, some of them started to seem ridiculous. It was such a relief, when I realised Iíd been carrying around all this hate towards myself, I also realised that I could let it go.

After a couple of nights singing with Mere I swung into mania. Heather was allowed to take me out of the hospital, and that day I bought up half of Newtown. Jandles with big plastic flowers decorating them. A silly hat. Jewellery. I was in love with everything. I flitted around from one shop to another, my attention span rivalling that of a goldfish, my voice racing at about six hundred words per minute. I wanted desperately to go to my class, Writing for Children, so I phoned Kate and explained that I wasn't well, and might find it a bit difficult concentrating etc. I insisted on spray painting my hat silver before going to the workshop, and fretted over whether my sleeves would cover the cuts on my arms. Once in the workshop room I couldn't sit still. I walked out a few times, and paced up and down the stairs, listening to Bach on my walkman, then went back to the workshop and squirmed in my seat. I couldnít calm down, but at least the depression had subsided.

*

On Monday I managed to get an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist, and sheís started me on lithium and a low dose of largactil. I feel very hopeful that the lithium will help. Iím also hopeful that I will learn to let go of some of the hate and guilt that has been festering inside me. Iím going to start going to art therapy again, and keep going to the DBT group, and talk through stuff with my counsellor. Life is starting to look a little brighter.

Gawd. Iím exhausted! I wonder if anyone has stuck with me to the end of this story? Well, if you have, thanks for listening.

Things are still going to be hard for a couple of weeks, till the lithium kicks in. My emotions are still swinging around like a disorientated out-of-control yo-yo. Iím really tired. I know now that I donít have to hate myself, that the world doesnít hate meÖ but those thoughts keep popping up and I have to keep pushing them back down.

If youíve got a moment spare, drop me a line, your thoughts would be immensely appreciated. Iíve been feeling really alone. I have beautiful friends, but Iím afraid Iíll lean on them too much, so I try to back awayÖ but I canít really do it on my own. If youíre in Wellington, please, take me out, Iím driving my flatmates crazy, Iím driving myself crazy. Take me to a movie, or a picnic on the beach, or a hot beverage that doesnít contain too much caffeine or sugar. I have a bottle of "sweet tastable" bubble mixture, and it really does taste sweet, like sweet air burstingÖ and I need someone to spin around in circles in the sunshine blowing bubbles. I need someone to walk to the park with me and play on the swings or lie in the grass making daisy chains. Iím having a regression to kindergarten age, Iíve been painting pictures with crayon and dyes, and making jelly (I know itís not vegan shuddup leave me alone). Iíve been reading the red tree over and over. Thereís a red leaf of hope on every page. Every situation. You just have to keep looking till you find it. Iím so tired, so damn tired. But Iím going to make it. I donít have the energy to save the world, just yet. But Iím going to paint a picture for a friend, and plant some winter lettuces, and make a cup of chamomile tea, to drink on the doorstep in the last of the afternoon sun, while the cicadas sing around me.

Aroha tino nui

Fionnaigh.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:04 AM

March 17, 2003

I said I'd be more positive

I didnít say it would be the most optimistic post youíve ever read in your life. Itís been hell, the past week, absolutely hell. I canít believe Iíve made it through. But I have, and things are starting to look brighter. There are little glimmers of hope, and perhaps theyíve actually been there all along, but now I am beginning to notice them all around me. The soft kiss of the rain, the tiny breath of a butterfly beating its wings, the gentle hands of a friend, the bright red scrap of a leaf in the gutter, the words of a song that has been sung by so many voices throughout history. God, fate, life-force, call it what you will, there is something stronger than you, pulling you onwards, caressing you, willing you to stay alive.

Awhina

Copious amounts of love and blessings to my friends, especially Pete, Airini, Tommy, Tyree and Hinemoana, for caring about me. Love and thanks also to new people who have come into my life, especially Iona, the1aotearoa and Kate, for your kind and supportive words, and for seeing potential in my life, despite the mess I have been lately! Thanks and blessings to the angels who have been watching over me, especially Liz, Whaea Mere, and the people who found me on Mt Vic - I may never see you again but I will always be grateful.

I feel I have been such a huge drain on so many people lately, but I also firmly believe that one day I will be able to return the love and energy. Perhaps indirectly, but somehow, somedayÖ Today I need support, I need to be carriedÖ but one day I will be able to take some of the weight from the shoulders of others.

Eternal gratitude to Hirini, Mahinarangi, Elizabeth, Robert, Michele, Kim and Shaun, whose voices have been my lifeline, a silver thread leading me back to sanity.

Arohanuissimo, tino tino agradecimiento, I love you all.

Singing

A korimako is singing
but the sky is still dark.

Why do you sing, foolish bird?
maybe the sun wonít rise today

maybe the sun
has forgotten the way to the sky

maybe the sky
has given up fighting the clouds

maybe the clouds
are heavy with tears

maybe the tears
are black with sorrow

maybe the sorrow
will blind the sun

maybe the sun wonít rise today
the sky is still dark

but a korimako is singing
the sun will rise again.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:03 AM

March 10, 2003

Scary

Hello? Is anyone still reading out there? Itís me, Fionnaigh. Remember me?

Gosh. Six days without blogging Ė something must be seriously wrong!

Actually, lots of things have been going wrong. Itís been an awful week. Please be nice to me, Iím scared I might break.

Imagine if people could read your thoughts. Imagine if you couldnít get away from them, because they were inside your head. Imagine if they kept telling you that youíd done something wrong, something terrible, unforgivable, if they told you that everyone hated you. Imagine if people really did get angry about something, and you were told that everything was your fault, that everyone was so angry that they would never talk to you again, that you were a complete and utter screw up and youíd be better off dead. Imagine if they told you that everyone wanted you dead, if they told you how you should kill yourself. Imagine if the voices got louder and louder, until you couldnít hear yourself think.

What would you do then?

Maybe youíd want to kill yourself, to get away. Maybe youíd bang your head against a wall to block out the voices. Maybe youíd take whatever drugs they gave you without questioning anything. Maybe youíd feel embarrassed, or scared, or angry, or everything all at once.

What if you couldnít work out what was real and what wasnít, what was rational and what was paranoid, who really hated you and who didnítÖ

That would be pretty scary, huh?

Apparently this kind of thing can happen with bipolar sometimes. Apparently it might be happening because Iím on the wrong medication. I hope thatís the reason, because then itís easily fixed.

Things I wish I could forget about

My skirt got caught in an escalator. Yeah, really. Luckily the lovely young man I was with had the sense to press the emergency stop button before I was sucked away into the machinery (or worse, left standing in my underwear). Itís just been one of those weeks. Actually, I think it happened last week, or the week before, theyíve all been one of those weeks lately. Itís just been one of those lives. My favourite skirt, the long, full, ocean blue one that I tie-dyed myself, now has a torn hem and black grease stains.

Oh yeah, and remember that NA meeting I went to (as ya do)? I met these women there, they were so lovely, and they gave me their numbers and said I could call, anytime, about anything. After the meeting, I freaked out because I went through the "Am I an Addict" book, and I could answer yes to most of the questions, and I started worrying about my relationship with alcohol, and I panicked, and I got really drunkÖ Anyway, a few days later, I was trying to get things straight in my head, and I called this girl from the meeting, and we talked for a while, it was really good. And then, a couple of days later, she rings up my flatmate, and says "soÖ um, is Fi actually a drug addict?" And heís like "nah, her problem is depression and stuff." And sheís like "Oh, ok. She said she wasnít, but I didnít know if she really wasnít, or if she was in denialÖ"

Oh yeah. And then there was our Fringe Show. Never ever again. First there was the stress of organising it. I felt like I was the only one who would be responsible if it all went horribly wrong, and that was an awful feeling. We had to make most of the decisions months ago, because there were deadlines for the programme and everything. Well, when I say "we," I mean that I had to make most of the decisions. Where to have the show, what time, all that kind of stuff. And I probably made some really stupid decisions. I didnít know what the hell I was doing, Iíve never done this before, and I had to decide everything in such a hurry. I didnít want to be the only one responsible, I wanted it to be a group effort.

I had a such a full on day on Tuesday, a really challenging class at university, and then I was working in the afternoon, and I was feeling really unwell, like everything was starting to spin out of control and I was losing my gripÖ All I wanted to do was curl up in bed and cry for a week. Then I got home, and the answering machine was overflowing with messages. All of them from people stressing about the Fringe show, or wanting me to do stuff, or angry about stuff I hadnít doneÖ At that point I did curl up in bed and cry. I really wanted a friend to phone, just to chat, to see if I was doing ok, to say something reassuring. All night the phone kept ringing, and it was always the same, stuff I should do, stuff I shouldnít have done, stuff Iíd done wrongÖ I couldnít handle it, I fell apart. When Iím high, itís like I can do anything, and thatís when I have really stupid ideas like "I know, letís put on a Fringe Show." But then, when I crash, itís too hard. Everything is too hard. Getting up. Walking across the room. Picking up the phone. Talking. Itís all such a struggle. And then when negative stuff happens, people getting stressed or whateverÖ I canít take it, I canít cope, I start wishing Iíd never existed.

And then people get annoyed with me, for falling apart. I feel awful, I feel guilty, and so angry at myself. I hate myself for screwing things up. And then people say I shouldnít be doing this stuff in the first place if I canít handle itÖ and itís hard to explain it to them, cos yeah, sometimes something does trigger a breakdown. Like, I was stressed about this Fringe show, and that might have triggered an episode. But it probably would have happened anyway, something else would have been the trigger. People say I should cut back, Iím doing too much. And thereís probably some truth in that, but at the same time, thereís a balance, I need to find the balance. When I got back from Costa Rica, I tried to rest, cut back on everything, take it easyÖ and my mental health deteriorated rapidly, and continued to go downhill for six months. Then I came down to Wellington, started university, got involved with environmental campaigns, joined an art studio, started a new jobÖ and I started to get better! My mental health improved steadily more than two years. Lately, things have been going backwards again, and I donít really know why. Maybe I do need different medication. I donít think all my problems are caused by "doing too much." Doing stuff is what keeps me going.

Well, except this Fringe show, it didnít really keep me going, it just knocked me around. On Friday night the bar was packed. But not with people waiting to see our show. It was packed with people getting drunk after work. And to make matters worse, it was a rugby night. Rugby should be banned. Or, at the very least, they should put warnings in the Fringe info packs (donít have your show on these nights, thereís going to be rugby on). There were heaps of people there for our show, and most of them were standing around outside, because there was no room inside and it was so noisy and smoky. And then half the people from one of the bands didnít even show up, so we were worrying about where they wereÖ some of them came eventually, but then they went off again to drink beer at a pub around the corner. We finally managed to round them all up, and we kicked off the show. It was so hard. We had to shout, even with the microphones, I got a sore throat after two poems. We cut it really short in the end. It was like we were fighting against the crowd, it was totally draining.

But the worst part was seeing all the people who made the effort to come to our show, and knowing that they couldnít really enjoy it because of the atmosphere in the bar. My poetry teacher, who I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for, came with her son and daughter. I was so please that she came, but then I felt awful and embarrassed because the show was such a disaster.

Saturday was betterÖ much quieter. But by that stage I was so exhausted I could hardly enjoy it. None of the performers seemed to have much energy, we all felt so drained after Friday night. I just wanted it to be over as quickly as possible.

At least it was cool to see our artworks up for a while. Although even that was spoilt a bit. At first they said we could keep them up for a month, but then they suddenly said we could only have them up for two days. At the beginning of the weekend, we had this big plan, we would just leave them up anyway, and maybe theyíd really like them and decide to leave them for a month. But by the end of the weekend, I was so frustrated with the venue, theyíd been so inconsiderate and #$@%*! us (and others) around so much, I didnít feel like they deserved our paintings. I was sitting down with my friend afterwards, and I said I wanted to take mine down, and she said nah, we should leave them up. But that would have meant either leaving them up and not saying anything (and who knows what would happen then, theyíd probably lose our numbers and just stack our paintings in a corridor or chuck them our). Or weíd have to go to the bar owner (who was a complete jerk) and say "please may we leave our paintings up for a little longer." No, groveling to arrogant creepy guys was not an option.

So. That was our Fringe show. I spent about $400 on the show, not to mention all the energy we put into itÖ which would have been fine, if weíd got something out of itÖ but I just feel so stink about the whole thing. I guess we must have gained something. Iím sure we all learned something. I know I did. I learned that I never want to put on another Fringe show, ever again. In fact, I donít want to organise any more events of any description, unless the work (and stress) is genuinely shared by a team of trustworthy and reliable people. And even then, Iíd think twice about getting involved. I donít enjoy it. I donít do it well. I mess things up and piss people off. I think there are better ways I can use my energy.

Other stuff that I canít think of a heading for

Even the worst weekends have high points. On Saturday I went to a friendís fringe show, Me he maunga. It was beautiful, inspiring, stunning, and heaps of fun. Beautiful music, I was moved to tears at some points, and laughing my head off during other moments. It was so good to be able to laugh. And it was a great atmosphere, a great audience, and an amazing group of women performing.

In the programme notes my friend wrote a beautiful thank you to me, and it made me cry, because I didnít feel like I deserved her thanks. I feel like Iíve been such a crap friend lately, to everyone. You know how, when someone is drowning, and someone tries to rescue them, sometimes the drowning person panics, and grabs onto their rescuer, and pushes them under? When youíre doing lifesaving, they teach you how to hold a person from behind, with your arm around them in such a way that they canít pull you down. Because you donít think straight when youíre drowning. You donít think about whatís best for you, or best for anyone else. You just thrash around and try and keep your head above the water.

(We need a word for "he or she." Iíve got squiggly lines coming up under "them," because itís not grammatically correct. But writing "he or she" just sounds dumb. In some languages, like Spanish, they have separate words for "he" and "she," but when youíre referring to one person, ambiguous gender, you use the word for "he." Guess we do that in English too, "mankind" and other patriarchal bullshit. In Maori there is a word "ia" for he or she, I donít think it has any gender connotations, someone correct me if Iím wrong. We need a word like that).

Also went to see another friend performing in a singer/songwriter gig. Goddamn he was great. I mean, I knew he was a fabulous musician, and an amazing performer, but still, I was blown away on Sunday. You know when someone is obviously enjoying themselves, and thereís that amazing energy between the performer and the audience, and they feed off each other, the performer rides on that wave and theyíre all the more stunning? It was like that. Sparks flying. Made me wanna be a rock star.

Scary stuff

I was "institutionalised" again for a couple of nights last week. But the really scary part was that two different people, independent of each other, brought me the current Listener (with Kim Hill on the cover) and a box of Drinking Chocolate, to cheer me up. Oh dearÖ

ButÖ since being released I have managed to restrain myself. In fact, we ran out of Drinking Chocolate on about Thursday, and I havenít bought any since then! Ok, so a couple of times I had a hot chocolate in town. But thatís a hell of a lot better than gulping down a strong brew every hour. In fact, Iíve hardly had any sugar or caffeine at all. And Iíve joined the gym again. It feels great! In my head, I donít like the idea of going to a gym, inside, with all those machines, when you could be outside walking or biking. But when I do go, I really enjoy it. I think I like the fact that I have so much control, I can decide exactly how hard Iím going to push myself, how much weight I can handle, how high I raise my heartbeat. Most of my life feels so out of control at the moment, it feels good to be able to do something positive. I think it really helps with my mental health too, helps me to break out of some of the negative cycles.

I know this has been quite a negative blog entry. Again. Itís been hard lately. I think that perhaps things need to get worse before they get better. Maybe there are lots of painful things I havenít dealt with, and they need to come to the surface before I can let them go. It hurts, but it will get better.

And I promise Iíll try to be more positive when I write my next blog entry.

Love to you all.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:00 AM

March 03, 2003

Yay!

Started my writing workshop this afternoon. Iím in love with writing all over again. And with writers, all of them, (well, almost all) I adore them! Especially my tutor. Sheís fantastic.

We did some exercises today, we were given half a sentence and we had to finish it and then keep writing, for three or four minutes, we werenít allowed to take our pen off the paper (except to get from one word to the next). Itís amazing the stuff you write without any thinking or planning or editing... where does it come from?

When he opened the cupboard he saw a big rotting turnip. It was huge and soggy and covered with brown blotches. It was sitting in a puddle of fermenting turnip juice. It stank. It smelled like all the worst smells you can imagine, all mixed together and then left in a warm place for too long. He quickly shut the door, and stood there for a few minutes feeling as though he might faint. Then he took two steps to the right and opened the next cupboard door. Inside there were three hedgehogs. Two of them were playing chess, nudging the pieces across the board with their snouts. The third hedgehog seemed to be some sort of referee. He watched them for a moment. Surely the next...

An ear is like a delicate shell, a mirror of the shell you pick up and hold to your ear when you need to hear the sea. Itís like a basket to be filled up with secrets and buried under the sand. An ear is like a tunnel, a cave you can crawl inside and curl up, or venture down into the darkness, deeper and deeper. You could end up anywhere. You could find your way to the heart. And ear is like something made out of a piece of clay you have been playing with, fiddling while you talk to someone, not paying attention to the shape your fingers are sculpting...

The best part about this course is the Reading Journal. Yup, it says in the course outline "students must read extensively in the genre." We have to read at least 12 picture books, and at least 24 books for older children. Yup, thatís me, sitting under a tree in the civic square, or curled up on one of those big squishy chairs in the young readers section of the library, with a stack of picture books beside me. Itís not escapism. Itís not procrastination, or laziness. Itís not an addiction. I am conscientious and studious and dedicated to my education thank you very much. Itís study, all right? You wouldnít want me to fail my course now, would you?

Call it life experience

"I happened to you," he says, and itís true. He just happened, unexpectedly, inexplicably (deliciously). He just happened and everything flipped upside down, sped up, became brighter. He didnít fit in with your plan for your life, or even with your plan for the week. He clashed with your identity and the queer reputation youíd carefully constructed over the years. He wasnít supposed to happen... but he did. And itís wonderful.

And then, just when youíve come to terms with him, reconstructed your identity, practiced what youíll say to your friends, your parents, your poor confused counsellor... itís over. Well, it doesnít stop, completely, at least not straight away. There are still a few kisses that leave you feeling dizzy and confused and weak at the knees. And of course, there are still your own daydreams and desires. You still want to slip your fingers around his as you walk down the street. You still want to reach out and touch his hair, bury your face in his smell, brush your fingers over his lips. He still hugs you, and it still makes you feel like youíre falling between the stars, like youíre burning all over. You still want to push closer against him, rest one hand behind his neck, the other sliding up under his shirt. You still want to do unthinkable, unprintable things...

But of course, you canít do any of that now. Cos youíre Just Good Friends.

Donít ya hate that?

Addiction update

Iíve decided to cut down on my consumption, but not actually cut it out all together.

I donít think I can actually live without drinking ch*c*l*te.

I donít mean that without it I feel shaky and headachy and grumpy (although thereís that too, of course).

I mean, really, without drinking ch*c*l*te, what would there be to live for?!

Yay (Part II)

Just one more exercise? Please? Theyíre so much fun... (Youíll probably get a lot of this for the next 11 weeks).

Ok, for this one, we split into pairs, and we had to briefly describe a childhood experience, then we had to write up the other person's experience in our own words, and then ask a series of questions. What interests you? What questions do you want to ask? What puzzles you? And so on...

Hereís what I ended up with;

When Kate was about three years old, she was busted in the kitchen with an empty packet that should have contained her grandmotherís heart medication. Of course, everyone panicked and assumed she had swallowed the pills, and she was rushed to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. It was a ghastly experience. She sucked her lips together like the doors of a lift clamping shut. But, just as a lift has a button you can push to open the doors again, Kate had buttons, and someone knew how to push them. They cleverly asked her questions, and she couldnít help herself, she couldnít resist answering them. The moment she opened her mouth, they shoved the tube down her throat.

Afterwards, her dad bought her an icecream, and he was so upset he had to buy himself one too. They sat side by side, exhausted, stunned and shaken, slowly licking their icecreams.

Naturally, the question that immediately springs to mind is what flavour was the icecream?

And then, the second most important question is, what did they actually do?!! What did it feel like? How big was the tube? How far down did it go? Could she actually see the stuff they were pumping out of her stomach? Did it make a pumping noise (whump whump whump) or a sucking noise (sssshhhhllooup)? What if they accidentally sucked up her stomach? Your stomach isnít actually a vital organ, so you can live without it, but itís connected to lots of other bits that you might miss eventually.

How did she get to the hospital, did they speed through the streets in the family car, running red lights in their panic, or did they call an ambulance, and was she whisked away by paramedics in white coats with red lights flashing?

Who actually asked her the questions? Was it a doctor making a lucky guess, or was it her father, who knew her well? And what did they ask? Did they ask an interesting question, a surprising question that she wanted to answer? Or did they ask such a ridiculous patronising question that she had to indignantly open her mouth and tell them exactly what she thought of questions like that.

Kate doesnít actually say that she swallowed the pills. She says she allegedly swallowed them. Perhaps she actually dropped them down the sink, one by one. Perhaps she fed them to the dog. With all the excitement of ambulances and stomach pumping machines, I bet no one would even have noticed if the dog dropped dead. Perhaps they wouldnít even find him until the next day, and then they might just put it down to old age. And what happened to Kateís grandmother? I hope someone thought to stop by the chemist on the way home and get her some more pills. Youíve only got one heart. If they sucked that up by mistake youíd be in trouble.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 08:26 PM

March 01, 2003

Don't ya hate

saying goodbye?

boys that break up with you but still keep kissing you?

and even more than that, the fact that you want them to keep kissing you?

when you think that your benefit hasnít gone through for some reason, and then you realise that actually it did go through, and youíve already spent it all on alcohol?

when you work your ass off for weeks on an essay, and you pass, just, and you write another essay in a last minute panic the day that itís due and get an A+?!

when you need to download a couple of files, but for some obscure reason the Microsoft website comes up all in Arabic and you canít find a button to click to change it to English?

when your flatmates have friends staying... and even your flatmateís friends have friends staying... and when they said so and so is coming up to Wellington, can he stay here, you thought it was just for a couple of nights, not indefinitely... and you cleaned the kitchen and scrubbed the floor yesterday... and the day before... but you wake up in the morning and the entire kitchen is covered with dirty dishes and spilled drinks and smears of unidentifiable substances... and you werenít even here last night, you were at work, doing the dishes there... And everyone else is in bed and hung over... so you pick your way gingerly across the floor, and try not to gag as you clear a space to make your breakfast?

Donít you hate that?

Yeah. Me too.

Gulp...

I just came out at work. No, not as queer, most of the country already knows that. I just came out as someone who suffers from a mental illness. I wasnít actually there to see everyoneís reactions, I just wrote it in a newsletter, and took a day off.

Iím really nervous now. But whatís the worst that can happen? They could say, we donít think you should keep working with the children. I can imagine them saying it in the same tone of voice the woman at the accommodation service used, after I got kicked out of Weir House for being fucked up, and the Warden had already phoned through to the service to warn her, so when I got there the director came out and said "Iím sorry, I donít think we really have anything appropriate for you, dear." Well, I found a flat anyway, no thanks to any of the university support stuff, and I lived there for 18 months, and it was great. But it hurt, hearing her say that. And itíll hurt again, if I have to go through the same kind of shit.

Letís just hope theyíve been watching the ads on TV!

I want to be mad with courage, lost in living
I want to be crazy with passion, find myself in everybody
When I grow up I just want to be me...
Ė Mahinarangi Tocker

Democracy?

So many people are against this war... sometimes I think the only people we have to convince are George and Tony.

Blair makes important asylum announcement: "Iím checking myself into one - I think itís best for all of us donít you..."

George W Bush plans his own UN multi-media presentation: "multi-media means I get to use crayons AND a cut out potato" grinned Bush, cretinously.

George W Bush tells Iraq: "your enemy is ruling you". A spokesman for the rest of the world said "I think we can all identify with that George."

Bush seeks UN support for "US Does Whatever It Likes" Resolution.

Itís only inevitable if you think it is.

Decay

Are there any Scumsters out there? If so, a very warm welcome to my blog! Nau mai, haere mai. Make yourselves at home, grab a beanbag, youíll find hot chocolate supplies in the cupboard. While youíre here, check out my list of 100 things. Hope you had a good trip back, and got some sleep at last!!!

Random

Close to the surface it is soft and crumbly, warmed by the afternoon sun. Dark brown with nutrients, rich organisms. Beetles, worms, bacteria, seething on a microscopic scale.

Further down, rough with stones. Pallid clay that clings to everything. Old nails, crumbling with rust. Jagged glass.

It is cold.

Under the layers of earth, something begins to move.

*

A man hovers in a dim corner of the room, soundless, watchful. The young woman is in the final stages of labour. She clings to the side of a chair, the pale bone of her knuckles contrasts with the pinks and reds, blood rushing to the surface, her face burning, sweating. She cries out, an animal sound that is beyond her control, it rushes out of her, wild and tangled. Hair clings to her cheeks in dark strands. Her eyes are stormy. An older woman dips a cloth in a bowl of cool water, and mops away the film of sweat. She murmurs in a soothing voice. The young woman cries out again, and the cry condenses into words.

In the corner, the man reaches out, as though he wants to go to her. Then he shakes his head, and rushes from the room.

Hahaha

Q. How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. One, but only if the lightbulb wants to change.

Q. How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Thatís not funny.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 08:24 PM