beautiful monsters: October 2003 Archives

October 31, 2003


This week's Friday Theme is Tsuteki: Someone you want …

When I was in Japan I met a woman, Kathryn, who was an English teacher. She had long brown hair, and striking features. She showed me around town, then took me sea swimming. And we cooked together, Thai food, coconut cream soup and satay kebabs. I was convinced I was in love.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with “Borderline Personality Disorder,” a rather dubious label that is often attached to people with a history of sexual abuse. As one counsellor said to me, “they have a lot of names for survivors.”

One of the criteria for BPD is “a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation.” Also known as splitting, there is some suggestion that this arises in early childhood as a coping mechanism. “The good mummy looks after me, the good mummy would never hurt me. The bad mummy hurts me.”

I used to live in a black and white realm of angels and demons. Kathryn was an angel; she could do no wrong, and I adored her, completely and utterly. But once she became “flawed” (for the crime of staying in Japan when I had to return) I moved on to someone else.

Now I’ve learned to draw out some of the colours that make up black and white. While there are still people who I like and admire intensely, I am able to see them as whole people. I can like them but still see their faults (with the exception of Kim Hill. Faults?! She has no faults, how dare you…)

My life still has an element of intensity that could be classed as a lingering “symptom.”

I prefer to think of it as a gift.


for Tanemahuta, Merenia and Tiahuia

You abandon the ground

as though you trust this web
of light to hold you

air thickened by the gentle
absorption of breath.


Shadows trace
the slow

fall of your body

the kiss of bare
feet touching wood


The karanga draws
grief from us

with every breath

until we see them
shadows poised
in air;

a baby
who never cried

a woman who slept
with an adze under her pillow
blade smoothed by ancient hands

a girl who held
a slender finger of bone
always close to her heart
her lungs

one by one
the night calls them


cool spring waits.

We speak in clouds;

life blooms
from our lips.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:43 AM

October 30, 2003

Tent City photo essay

Early morning.

Consensus decision making.

GE Free chai in the sunshine.

Animals want to be GE Free too.

Workshop day.

Tent city without tents – after the cops moved in.

Banner with an image that I designed.

Representing the people.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:04 PM

Protest song

To be sung on rainy days after the police have confiscated tents, to the tune of Raindrops keep falling on my head.

So we just did us some talking to the one,
and we said we didn't like the way Helen got things done,
sleeping on the job,
so, we’re going to stop GE by campaigning…

Because we know
Police in blue they send to greet us
but they won't defeat us
It won't be long 'till Helen steps up to greet us

Raindrops are falling on our heads
but that doesn’t mean our GE protest will be dead
quitting’s not for us, no
we’re going to stop GE by campaigning…

GE Free
That’s the way to be…

Posted by Fionnaigh at 07:54 PM

People's Moratorium Launched

Did you see me on the news (channel 3)? Yeah, that was me with the bright pink bra (it’s a symbol of MAdGE).

In general though, the media coverage was shocking. Ok, so I already knew that the mainstream media is a sham, but sometimes I forget just how ridiculous the news can be. On Monday both TV One and TV3 news cameras were there for most of the day. They must have taken hours of footage. They filmed us singing songs, taking part in workshops, and they interviewed lots of us about why we were there. But what did they show on One News that night? A guy pushing a police officer, and the ensuing scuffle. That guy turned up about 15 minutes before the police arrived (most of us had been there for days). Because he hadn’t been there for the weekend, he didn’t know the context for the arrests. He turned up, saw his ex partner being arrested, panicked and jumped in to defend her. And it made a great image for the news. Violent protestors clash with police.

On Monday morning we were given another warning to remove our gear from Parliament lawn. We gathered together to discuss whether or not to take down the tents. The general mood was that we didn’t want to leave – we felt that we hadn’t been listened to on the GE issue, and we didn’t want to be pushed away and silenced once again. Then, suddenly, about 50 police arrived, and some of them started to confiscate tents and gear. Some people took down their tents so they wouldn’t be confiscated, a few people who didn’t were arrested (and the cops were quite brutal, one woman had blood streaking down her face after they pushed her into the ground). They forced us to remove all our gear (food, clothes, sleeping bags etc) and confiscated anything that wasn’t moved off the grounds. Some people took the gear to an activist centre in town, and others went down to the police station to support those who had been arrested. The rest of us stayed on parliament lawn, gathered in a circle, singing GE Free songs, while a huge line of cops stood over us. It was pouring with rain, and without our tents and gear we were freezing and soaked. But we stayed put, and eventually most of the cops left. We were allowed to keep one tarpaulin, but nothing else, so about 15 of us stayed, huddled under the tarpaulin, holding a vigil.

People who heard about our situation over the radio brought down food, hot drinks, blankets and dry clothes, and we started to cheer up. By evening the mood was festive again, and the rain had cleared. We spent the night out under the stars, about 30 of us rolled up in our tarpaulin, with a circle of colourful flags and our GE Free banners surrounding us.

Then yesterday, along with MAdGE, Greenpeace, Take-5 and various other groups, we launched the People’s Moratorium. If the government refuses to extend the moratorium, then we must take matters into our own hands. The pledge of the People’s Moratorium is to keep GE out of the country – by whatever means it takes. I think Allannah Currie put it well; "It's not MAdGE's policy to crop pull but I individually will certainly be trying on the gardening gloves…"

Pictures on Scoop here and here.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 07:38 AM

October 28, 2003

support for GE Free Aotearoa continues

Kia ora e hoa ma,

I’ve been down at the GE Free Tent City for the past three nights. I just finished the 3am night watch, and I thought I’d sneak home for a couple of hours, check my mail, have a shower, do dopey sleep-deprived things like put my wallet through the wash, and be back in time for the morning’s action.

Why are we camped out on Parliament lawn? Because we’ve tried everything else. We’ve organised marches and demos, public meetings, petitions, we’ve put posters up all over the country, sent thousands of letters… 70% of New Zealanders have said that they want the moratorium extended, and the government has refused to listen. So, we’ve decided to change our tactics. We’ve gathered together to talk about the issues and where we’re going to go from here – and we want to send a strong message to the government. The police turned up this afternoon (first undercover, then more in uniform) and told us that if we didn’t leave Parliament grounds by sunset, we’d be issued with trespass notices and arrested. About 80 people decided that we would stay put, regardless. We wanted to show the government that we are prepared to do whatever it takes to get our message heard – even if that means risking arrest. Once it became clear that no one would leave (and, in fact, more people were arriving, hearing about the story on the radio and bringing food and reinforcements) the police left.

The actions will continue over the week. Today (Tuesday) is the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and there will be workshops about GE & Te Tiriti. Tomorrow at lunchtime we’ll be launching the People’s moratorium. If the government refuses to extend the moratorium, then we must take matters into our own hands. Come along, join in for a hour, a day, or bring a tent and come for the whole week. Spread the word! There is strength in numbers.

Some people may say it’s too late, the government has made up their minds. And there are already GE organisms alive in Aotearoa. Others say that protests won’t achieve anything. But it’s never too late! Just because there are a few GE organisms here, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prevent more being created. We have to minimise the damage. And protests can, have, and *will* bring about change! Just look at history, look at what peaceful protestors have achieved. The nuclear free movement is a perfect analogy within our own country. People didn’t say “oh, it’s too late, there are already ships coming through, and anyway, we won’t change anything.” They took a stand, held their ground, and they achieved their goals.

I’ve got to get back down there, but I hope to see some of you in the next couple of days. And give this info to as many people as possible.

Kia kaha,
nga mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa,
(tired but hopeful).

Posted by Fionnaigh at 03:53 AM

October 25, 2003

release date

Ooops! I missed the Friday theme last week, and it was my suggestion! Yeah, I know, it’s probably the biggest silence in the history of Beautiful Monsters. There have been a few concerned emails. But, my friends, I am able to assure you that I’m ok. Well, there have been definite moments of not-OK-ness, but on the whole, things have been good. Just very very busy. Hey, last night I handed in two folios! Two down, one to go.

Yeah. The moratorium. Toni wrote that “So if you were determined to get it extended, then you needed to get in MONTHS ago,” and she’s right. And I did. I’ve been part of the GE free campaign for about four years. But I still cried when I read the news last week. Yeah, I knew it was going to happen. But I still clung to tiny shreds of hope. And I still will, until the moratorium actually lifts, until the first release. I’ll still join the protests, and I know, some people will think it’s too late, but I can’t just stop now. For the past four years I have invested so much time, energy, money… I’ve organised meetings and protests, whipped articles for Salient and letters to the newspaper, gone on a GE free tour around the North Island, graffitied billboards and stencilled the streets during the election build up, designed posters, even had GE free shaved in the back of my hair. After all that I’ve given I can’t just give up, walk away.

You really want to know the reasons why? It's been a long time since I've actually tried to explain.

Well for a start, ignore any ethical or spiritual qualms about the actual act of genetic engineering itself, and look at the way the industry is going about it. Filling the supermarkets with GE food before it's been subjected to adequate long-term testing. Pushing it on people even against public opinion. Making it difficult to know which foods are GE and which aren't. Conducting experiments on the lands of indigenous peoples without their consent. Releasing GE organisms into the environment before we know what the affects will be. The Canadian farmers being sued because GE crops cross-pollinated with their own. Need I go on? Oh ok...

The first industrial revolution did enough damage. Loss of genetic diversity, erosion, pollution, etc etc etc. Add GE to the mix, and... well, I don't want to get apocalyptic, but... GE is claimed to cut down on chemical use. Hah! What's the point of "Round-Up Ready" crops? They can be blitzed with huge amounts of chemicals. GE is supposed to "Feed the World." But there's enough food in the world already. The problem is one of unequal distribution, debt repayments, First World greed.

Then there's the actual technology. Oh boy, where do I start? Well, there's the fact that we know so little about how genes actually work. One group of scientists were using GE to alter the levels of lignin in trees. The wood of the trees went red, and none of the scientists had a clue why. But the company thought, yay, red wood, we can make money from this. Fine, red wood isn't exactly dangerous. But the dangerous part is that the scientists didn't know why it had happened. They used GE do one thing, and it had unexpected and unpredictable side effects.

Know anything about seed banks? There used to be hundreds of different varieties of rice, now there's only a handful sold by the big seed companies. Less genetic diversity means less resistance to pests, diseases and climate changes. GE means less diversity - within one species, but also overall. Think about what happens if a GE crop is resistant to chemicals. The whole area gets sprayed, and everything else dies off. The "weeds." The tiny insects that feed on the weeds. The birds that feed on the tiny insects... the loss of those species isn't going to go unnoticed in the long run.

Most GE free campaigning is based on scientific concerns, like the ones I've just mentioned. In fact, often we're apologetic about anything less than scientific evidence. But personally, I think there's more to life than what we can prove in a laboratory. Wairua, mauri, whakapapa, kaitiakitanga... I can't explain these things with science, but I believe in them. And I believe that GE upsets a delicate balance that shouldn't be tampered with. I believe that everything in life is interconnected, and we cannot damage one part of an ecosystem without affecting all others. When a new gene is inserted into an organism, it interrelates with that organism, and then, in tern, impacts on the environment around it. I believe we have to work with the earth, not against it. GE is a scientific solution, but it won't solve cultural, spiritual, ethical, political, social or economic problems. In fact, in my opinion, it will make them worse.

Yeah, part of me is worried about us "playing God." But an even bigger part of me is worried about a small group of scientists making decisions that will affect all of us. All people, all animals, all plants, the very earth we are a part of. And that scares me. A lot.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:30 AM

October 15, 2003

double vision

So there’s this cute guy, right? He’s gorgeous, but he’s also an amazing person. So much energy. He swings suddenly from clowning around, to gasping over spiritual insights, to moments of utter humility. Yeah, you're falling for him bad.

So what do you do when you realise there’s someone else out there with that same puckish grin, that same boundless enthusiasm, wicked sense of humour, the same expressions and phrases, and the same thirst for spiritual understanding?

Is it possible to be attracted to someone, without feeling any attraction towards his identical twin?

From the Compuserve love section comes this story; “I have been dating a really nice guy for about two years now. For the past two months, I’ve been fooling around with his identical twin brother. I got pregnant by one of them, but I’m not sure by whom.” Yikes. This is the one situation where a DNA test isn’t going to be of much use!


“Really they’re one person, split in two.” It’s my mother’s observation, about identical twins. Technically, I suppose she’s right. One egg that splits, one being that becomes two.

What is it that makes us a unique individual? Our personality, right? But where does that come from. Our genes? Our upbringing? Well, you’re not going to find much genetic variation between identical twins, and in many cases, especially in the crucial formative years, there’s not much difference in upbringing. Surely it doesn’t come down to a matter of fingerprints? (Identical twins usually have very similar fingerprints, but subtle differences develop in the microenvironment of the womb).

Twins are seen as a godsend (haha) by scientists who are studying the effects of nature and nurture. Many studies of identical twins who have been raised separately have found that they have similar personalities, share similar ideas, and live similar lives. Perhaps more so than twins brought up together. “James Arthur Springer and James Edward Lewis, had just been reunited at age 39 after being given up by their mother and separately adopted as 1-month-olds. Springer and Lewis, both Ohioans, found they had each married and divorced a woman named Linda and remarried a Betty. They shared interests in mechanical drawing and carpentry; their favourite school subject had been math, their least favourite, spelling. They smoked and drank the same amount and got headaches at the same time of day.” (From the Washington Post). Perhaps, without the presence of another person who looks exactly the same, twins don’t feel the need to differentiate themselves, and so just go with the genetic flow? Or are these sorts of findings just statistical anomalies that we jump on because the people involved are twins? Of course, the conclusion that most scientists are moving towards is that it is not nature or nurture that makes us who we are, but a complex interaction between the two.

Does it have anything to do with spirituality? If you go with the Catholic Church, then we are a whole person from day one of the pregnancy. As the egg can split up until about day 15, this brings us back to the idea that twins are one person, split in two. One soul that splits? Despite all the spooky stories that abound on the net, about wordless communication and genetic magnetism between twins, I don’t think this is the case.


Ironically it is during the hongi that I begin to feel the deep differences between them. The greeting acknowledges that we all share the same breath, the same universal life force. Yet we all accept that force and use it in different ways.

After we hongi, one of the twins laughs and squeezes my shoulder. The other breathes, “he ataahua,” and pulls away slowly.

I'm left musing on the wonders of life. How many people live on this earth, and yet we each have our own path to walk. Like the complex web of an ecosystem, we breathe as one, yet we all have a different part to play; a unique contribution to the whole.


Oh, and as for the question of attraction? The similarities are definitely more than skin deep. No, they're not the same, and no, I don't feel the same way about both of them. But… hell, what can I say? They’re both damn cute!

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:35 AM

October 13, 2003


I went to my first kapa haka class with Te Ao Marama whanau. It was so awesome! Tanemahuta, the guy who’s teaching it, is such a honey, and he’s a great teacher. Very enthusiastic and encouraging. And very skilled. He’s just got back from Seoul, South Korea where he worked with De La Guarda, the high-flying physical and aerial theatre extravaganza.

I’m completely unco in the classes, but it doesn’t seem to matter, it’s a really supportive environment. We’re learning about tikanga Maori, as well as learning taiaha, poi, patu, titi-torea, and kapa haka forms. The idea is to get a grounding in traditional forms, and then to be able to extend that into the contemporary world. Te Ao Marama aims “To create and stage a theatre production that combines New Zealand Maori culture with breathtaking aerial theatre, pushing cultural performance beyond artistic boundaries to perform Maori legends in a way never seen before.” Maui flying through the air, that kind of thing!

Blog updates will continue to be few and far between, but to give you an idea what I am working on, here’s a very brief extract from the 5000 words I wrote today...


I spotted a three-toed sloth swinging through the branches just above us. It was covered in shaggy fur, and the dark markings on its face gave it a sleepy appearance. For a long time I watched it swing slowly from branch to branch. It looked so awkward and out of place up in the forest canopy, I was worried at any moment it might crash down on us. I wondered if it would fall slowly. Climbing down a tree can take a sloth all day, so they only come down once every eight days, when they need to defecate. Coming down to the ground exposes them to predators, so at first it seems a foolish move; they could easily do their business in the safety of the canopy. But the sloth’s behaviour is a perfect illustration of the interdependence of an ecosystem. Each hair on the sloth’s body has a groove in which algae grow, providing the sloth with green camouflage. The algae also provide food for hundreds of insects that make their home in the sloth’s fur, including a certain species of moth. When the sloths make their slow journey to the ground, these moths jump off and quickly lay their eggs in the sloth’s droppings. The droppings also provide the tree with precious fertiliser. Then the moths jump back on for the return journey, and the sloth makes its sluggish return journey. Sometimes, however, sloths are too slow for their own good. Their digestive systems rely mainly on fermentation. In the cooler season, when trees are not producing new leaves, the older, tougher leaves can take days to digest. During this season, sloths have been known to starve to death, even with food in their bellies.

On the way back through the forest, a black and red snake streaked across the path causing Samantha to scream. Out in the sunshine we found a grassy spot to eat our sandwiches. We sat down and started to eat, while an armadillo snuffled around nearby. Suddenly I felt intense pain pricking into my legs. At the same moment Natalia leapt into the air.
“Ants,” she squealed. We dropped our sandwiches and fled.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:40 PM

October 10, 2003

Silly poem...

Drinking Harry Ricketts Dot Com

A found poem using words and phrases from the results pages of a Google search for “Harry Ricketts AND drinking OR drink OR drinks.”

It was the albino’s hair that lead Harry Ricketts to
transtasman rivalry, real estate and beer-drinking.
His drinking capacity was one of the marvels:
he arrived wearing a dinner suit, carrying
the drink on a tray, he waded into the pool.
It was an ambitious but
overextended sex-and-booze tale.

Now he remembers the three of them drinking together
and the predominance of women in track pants.
“Strange land, he says. “Too much dak at the hui.”

Forecasters predict in coming days there will be
an awful lot of pouring of drinks and smoking of dope
Volunteers and session organisers should
contact Associate Professor Harry Ricketts in advance
(u can buy Harry cheap in ower easy to use store)
Current investment advice is to drink heavily
Drink from the selection of spiritual verse!
Drink the unforgiving minute!

The Cat will kick off on Saturday
No koha, buy your own drinks
Harry Ricketts will also appear.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 06:02 PM

On kissing

Friday Theme 3

That farewell kiss which resembles greeting,
that last glance of love which becomes
the sharpest pang of sorrow.

- George Eliot

I love the way that kisses can be so different from culture to culture. When travelling I had to remember what to do when I met people in each country. In Spain; one kiss, left cheek. France; I think it was three kisses - left, right, left. Switzerland; either two or four, depending upon how enthusiastic you were feeling.

It seems so odd to me that there are such strict rules of greeting within each country. I don’t think we have such universal rituals within New Zealand. Some of my groups of friends do kiss each other on the cheek – mostly my queer or hippie friends – but it doesn’t seem to be general practice here.

I find it strange kissing a stranger. In Costa Rica there was a lot of kissing. Here, it’s unusual to be kissed by someone I don’t know – but still, it happens. At a waiata session recently a few people kissed me on the cheek when meeting me for the first time. Perhaps it comes more naturally in Māori circles? When I’m meeting someone in an environment like that, where we are meeting to learn and share something beautiful, it’s nice to be greeted with a kiss. But sometimes it felt uncomfortable in Costa Rica, especially when I was meeting seedy old guys…


Where do the noses go? I always wondered where the noses would go.
- Ernest Hemingway

If you’ve never really worked out the logistic, don’t panic, there are plenty of places you can go to learn How to Kiss. It’s really quite simple. If you want boys to kiss you, just
- Dress right
- Smile and act friendly
- Flirt.
I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do to get girls to kiss you – obviously there isn’t enough of a market for that kind of video. But never mind that; the new HOW TO FRENCH KISS video actually shows you how to dress right, flirt right, and exactly how and where to touch a guy to get him to kiss you. You can’t go wrong!


That’s obviously my problem. I haven’t watched the video. I’ve been flirting and smiling a lot, and I think my clothes are passable, but it hasn’t resulted in any lip-tingling action. (Something to do with not wanting a relationship… but of course I’m taking it personally).

The sunlight claps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Posted by Fionnaigh at 02:44 PM

October 06, 2003

Man not included

The Church of Scotland has attacked a website offering sperm over the internet, labelling it a “pizza delivery service” that “demeans the miracle of conception”. The company uses a Glasgow-based courier firm to deliver sperm in a flask with a syringe to a customer's door within one hour of an order being placed.

Meanwhile, Man Not Included are now celebrating the birth of the first child via internet donation. Babe and parents are happy and healthy.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 02:19 PM

Seth Green and kinky animal sex...

I saw Seth Green in town. No, really. He was shopping in an outdoorsy shop, I think he was looking for a jacket or something. I thought it was just someone who looked a lot like him, but then I ran into other people who’d seen him, and then I read somewhere that he was in Wellington for the filming of “Without a Paddle,” or something like that. Something about paddles. So yeah, I really saw him.

Then I went to a potluck dinner with the landscape writing class. We’re putting together a collection of poems and photos of Matiu/Somes Island, and we were trying to dream up a title. Someone suggested Penguin Porn, which seemed kind of appropriate given that the penguins were one of the most memorable aspects of our trip – ooooh yeah, they were going at it all night, right underneath our room.

Anyway, we can’t call it Penguin Porn, because that’s already been done. Mostly by someone called Glen Reynolds, also known as Evil Glen (he also plans to turn everyone French to bolster his penguin porn empire - it's a long story). And someone else has been doing it too. And penguin perverts have been covered too. In fact, the number of Google matches for “penguin porn” is rather alarming.

But before you think it's all about humans perving at the poor innocent litttle penguins, think again! Penguins have been known to participate in prostitution. I'm serious! Scientists have studied it

Oh yeah, and let's not even get started on what gay penguins get up to in their nest…

Posted by Fionnaigh at 01:23 AM

October 03, 2003


Oh dear. I didn’t realise today was Friday until about 4pm. Well, I’ve still got four hours to write something for the Friday Theme… trouble is, I’ve been doing so much writing lately, I can’t think of anything to say. I’ve completed quite a few chapters of my novel, but I don’t want to post that in it’s raw state – I’m just trying to get it down on paper at this stage, I’ll turn it into a work of literary brilliance later… and anyway, it’s got nothing to do with opiates, unless you count love, there’s a bit of that, or lust at least. Anyway, if I was going to write something about the opiate of the masses, and if an opiate is defined as anything which dulls the senses and induces relaxation, inaction, apathy or torpor, then I’d probably go along with Tom Shugart, and say that, in my world at least, it’s blogging. I’d quote the bit where Tom says, “had the Internet been available in the '60's - would the power of the protest have been deflected by people taking out their outrage in a flurry of blogposts?” and then I’d say something clever and insightful. But to be honest I’d rather go and finish the next chapter of my novel. Maybe I’ll blog more after November 7. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll risk Real Life.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 08:05 PM

October 02, 2003

When someone says a karakia in a pub

The words rise and fall like waves
something rises out of them
and waits

the place goes quiet.

The hands curved around the glasses of beer
the blood pounding through the arteries
the night breathing, breathing

Tihei Mauri ora!

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:54 AM