I'm pretty sure I've used that title for an entry before.
Burnt my finger. Was busy at the time and didn’t think it was much, so didn’t put it under cold water. Now, damn it hurts.
Seem to have developed resistance to Prozac, so am self-medicating; reacquired dependence on Buffy and drinking chocolate. In fact, chocolate in any form, but mostly Cadbury’s drinking mixed with soy ice cream, organic coffee powder, and a dash of brandy. OK so with all the sugar and lying around watching DVDs I’ll probably get even fatter, but hey, it’s better than slitting my wrists, right?
Anyway I have to keep watching. Tara needs me. She’s going to be ok, isn’t she? No, wait, don’t tell me!
We have a pile of pirated DVDs in our basement. No, I don’t know where they came from, but I find them highly amusing. Watched A Beautiful Mind last night. The movie itself was surprisingly well done, and I bawled my eyes out when he said good bye to Charlie… But the subtitles were slightly distracting. They had absolutely no relevance to the movie, and I couldn’t seem to turn them off. So, while John battled with Schizophrenia, a weird dialogue took place at the bottom of the screen:
Then you a good shotter Harris?
I can shoot.
You defiled kings uniform.
I hate they tell you it is documents.
Peppers are heavy.
You are a proper bastard.
Yes, my mother was a whore.
Other DVDs in our extensive collection have quirks like “For Your Consideration” flashing up every few minutes. Damn annoying that.
And then we have a wide range of different DVDs that all have the same message on the back…
On the plot level it’s about a cartoonist (Brendan Fraser), whose comic character Monkeybone is about to make him a rich man. But Stu is a depressive art type; his black-and-white sketches look like storyboards for a Kafka biography. On the night he plans to propose marriage to girlfriend Julie (Bridget Fonda), a car accident puts him in a coma. Naturally, we journey with him to the strange half-world of his mind: Downtown, a loading zone between heaven and hell, where (oddly enough, for the purposes of the film’s entertainment value) not a great deal happens.
Ecoqueer and Schrodinger's Cat climb a volcano.
yes, the weather on Monday was shit, thank you for asking.
Hee... apparently this is what my flatmates and I would look like if we were lego figurines...
Artist’s impression of a certain wellknown super anti-hero…
I spent all yesterday in bed with stomach cramps and nausea. Not sure if it was a very extreme reaction to the cheesy pizza we shared in Ohakune, or if I got some kind of bug. Curled up in bed in my polypropylene and polar-fleece with the electric blanket and heater going, and still I shivered. Feeling much better today, but not 100% and have decided not to venture off to class – I’m going to get kicked out of the class at this rate. But it’s cold and wet and I’m not well...
Aside from being sick, I feel more ready to face the new year now. Feel like I’ve had a proper holiday, thanks to Dave, who had access to a car for the weekend and suggested a tramp. He’ll probably never ask again now that he knows how slowly I walk... And I tried, unsuccessfully, to arrange accommodation before the tramp. The lodge told me that late check-in would be fine, they’d leave a key on the board for us, but when we finally arrived at 2am (I had the second shift driving and was relying heavily on cans of V) there was no sign of the key. Dave slept in the car, Alex and I pitched the tent in the dark. I think I got to sleep for about an hour.
On Sunday we set off early in the morning. The first part of the tramp followed the Tongaririo Crossing, and involved scrambling over a succession of lava flows from Ngauruhoe, and then a steep climb up the rock-face. I had to offload some of my weight onto Dave – hey, the tent was heavy, and the lack of sleep definitely didn’t help. It was a gorgeous day, and we had spectacular views of the craters, and over towards Ruapehu to the south, the Kaimanawa range to the east.
After lunch by the Emerald Lakes (apparently the deep turquoise colour is caused by sulphur and other minerals – stunning against the red scoria slopes, but I’m glad we didn’t drink the water) we headed east, following more lava formations. I found the decent down a steep slope of loose, sharp rocks rather nerve racking.
It was a long day of walking, and the landscape was incredibly dry and barren. No streams, no water at all once we left behind the sulphuric crater lakes. Only a few scraggly plants, those that had managed to survive eruptions, ice and harsh winds, and find a home clinging amongst the loose gravel. We got coated with dust, I think even the inside of my mouth and throat was dusty. And I was exhausted – probably the walk was a little over-ambitious for me, and I plodded along at an agonising pace for the last couple of hours.
When we finally reached the Waihohonu hut there were already heaps of people there and a night in a crowded hut didn’t really appeal. We headed down to the stream, where there were campsites among the beech trees. My tent was only really designed for one or two people, but we managed to fit three, and the sand made a soft mattress. We had stir fried veggies and noodles, then Swedish Pepparkakor and hot chocolate.
The next day we followed the stream west, then crossed the saddle between Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. It rained all day, persistent icy rain. Alex and I were gasping as we stripped off in order to change into polypro’s, fleeces, and wooly hats. My jacket wasn’t waterproofing properly, and I was soaked. We only stopped for a few minutes at lunchtime, in the relative shelter of a river bed. We passed by the tama lakes, in their deep explosion craters, but didn’t go down to investigate – we were too cold, and too tired. Apart from Dave, who didn’t seem tired at all and bounded ahead of us.
The last couple of hundred metres of the track took us between the buildings of the Skotel, which was slightly surreal. Then Dave went in search of soy hot chocolates, while Alex and I huddled on the veranda of the Whakapapa information centre, keeping an eye out for our ride.
I had to stand in the shower for about ten minutes before I started to feel warm again.
Photos will follow, once the weather improves and I make it into town...
...how impressive 30,000 words looks like when you print it off.
Go me :)
Last night The Exchange had grown until it was just over 31,000 words. And then I decided I wasn’t happy with the way the sections and paragraphs started (too many “and then we...” or “the next day...”) so I went through and made some changes.
And now it’s under 30,000 words again!
I’m having trouble getting out of bed at the moment. This morning I thought I had a fail-proof plan. I set my stereo to start playing a rousing CD. Then, I set the alarm clock my mum got from her te reo course to go off five minutes later – it says “ata maarie” repeatedly. I put it in a corner of my room far away from my bed so I couldn’t just roll over and push the button to turn it off. Finally I set my cell-phone to go off ten minutes after the clock, and put it in another corner of the room.
I woke up with the sun streaming through my window. The clock was lying on the floor; the batteries had been taken out and flung across the room. My cell-phone was cradled under my pillow – switched off. And my stereo was still playing at full volume.
I don’t understand what happened?
The latest addition to the blogroll is foolscap, a brilliant blog, you should go there right now before you notice how ugly my blog looks when I haven’t been posting enough entries and the links banner goes all weird and takes over...
Today I got to the end of my Costa Rican adventure, but I also edited a whole lot out because it was bloody terrible, and some of it was repetitive. So now it’s only 26,000 words, which isn’t really a book. The thing is, at the moment I’ve only written stuff that I know for certain happened... but I just don’t remember enough, so I think I’m going to have to invent a few details to add texture. Or just describe some things the way I think they were but don’t know absolutely for certain. Or something... maybe I should just turn it into a fiction work. Could be cool! It’s all made me dreadfully homesick for Costa Rica, and for all my friends. Anyway, if anyone wants to read it and give me feedback...
I have a splitting headache and I can’t get to sleep, but I wish I could cos I have an assessment tomorrow.
Went to the Return of the King tonight. Ok, so despite my reservations I enjoyed it, though I found it hard to resist the urge to yell out things like “Give him a kiss, Sam!” I didn’t expect to laugh so much – I don’t remember the book being a comedy.
The heat felt like a thick liquid that I had to struggle through, and I was constantly tired. In school I was so bored I felt as though my head might explode. As the days melted into each other I grew increasingly frustrated. At home I’d volunteered for Youthline, gone to a queer youth group, joined a gym, and done some environmental work. In San Carlos there didn’t seem to be anything I could get involved with. I wanted to do some art, but the only art supplies I could find in town were coloured pencils. I missed the freedom of having a car. I missed the laid-back and open relationship I had with my parents. I missed speaking to anyone I wanted to in my own language. Most of all, I missed my friends.
During my last weeks in New Zealand a couple of my gay boy friends had dressed me up in their flatmate’s clothes, and smeared makeup in all the appropriate places. Dave produced a pair of glasses with black frames and plane glass.
“You look fabulous,” he exclaimed. “Don’t look at the bouncer, just look straight ahead. With attitude!” I was smuggled into Legends, hidden in the middle of a flurry of glitter, tight shirts and feather boas.
“You’re in, darling!” the boys grinned at me. “Oooooh, and that girl is totally checking you out!” Just then, the voice of Cher flooded into the room, belting out her new single, “Believe”. All the boys in the room squealed with delight. I threw back my head and sang along with them.
In Costa Rica, the song became an obsession. I lay in bed for hours, listening to the radio through my headphones. I couldn’t sleep until I’d heard Cher singing. “Well I know that I'll get through this / 'Cause I know that I am strong.”
There was never any possibility of giving up. I’d planned this exchange since I was 10 years old. We’d had an exchange student, Tomas, from Sweden. He’d lived with us for a year, then come back to visit whenever he could. My exchange was going to be an equally wonderful experience. I would learn so much, I’d love my family and they would adore me, and I’d explore the tropical paradise, encountering beautiful wild creatures that I would photograph and present back home.
Well, at least the last part still seemed like a possibility. I might have been trapped, but the wildlife was free to come and go at leisure. Toucans could be heard croaking in the trees near the school, spiders crept through the house, iguanas and armadillos basked in the park. I loved the armadillos, they looked a bit like giant rats. They waddled around in such impressive armour but seemed too quiet and lazy to fight. Armadillos have a habit of jumping up in the air if alarmed. The iguanas didn’t look like they were likely to jump anywhere, in fact, they didn’t seem likely to lift a finger. Some of them were more than a metre long; much bigger than tuatara. “But I bet you’re not as ancient,” I told one unresponsive specimen. Apparently they taste like chicken.
I started going for walks around the outskirts of the town, in an attempt to keep fit – and sane. The roads were ragged with potholes, and in some places the footpaths crumbled away. My ankles often collapsed underneath me, leaving me with grazed hands and ankles and a red face. I got bitten by some kind of insect, and the bites were huge and swollen for days.
The views from the edges of the city would have been fabulous, if I could see anything. The haze was starting to make me feel claustrophobic – I longed for a frosty morning when the mountains seemed to have been cut out with a new craft knife and held in front of the sky.
Antonieta hadn’t talked to me about God for a while, but suddenly she wanted to take me to a pastor who spoke English.
“I have a message from God,” she told me. “I want this pastor to translate, so that you will understand better.” I wondered why she didn’t pray for the holy spirit to give me enlightenment, but I kept quiet.
The pastor turned out to be a woman, quite young, in a short black skirt and a lot of hairspray. Antonieta started speaking to her rapidly in Spanish, and I hardly understood what she was saying. One phrase stood out though; “espiritu de homosexualidad.” Oh shit, I thought. Here we go…
As Antonieta talked the pastor became increasingly uncomfortable. She fidgeted with her necklace, and couldn’t seem to decide where to look. Several times she tried to change the subject, but when Antonieta persisted, the pastor finally turned to me.
“Would you like to pray for us to drive out this, er, this… spirit?”
“Of homosexuality?” I prompted her, and she flinched. It’s mine, I wanted to scream at her. A gift, God gave to me.
Antonieta continued talking about this “movement,” how they made homosexuality seem like a great thing, so lot of young people got caught up in it. But really it was sinful and ended in destruction. Then she asked me a question, and the pastor translated for her.
“Are you a, er…”
“A lesbian?” I finished for her. I thought for a few moments before answering. “I believe in falling in love with people, not sexes.” The pastor started to translated, but Antonieta interrupted, asking me if I had ever been with a woman, or if I was with a woman now.
“No,” I said quietly. She seemed relieved. Then she asked me to say that I wouldn’t be a lesbian while I was in Costa Rica. I stared at her. What was I supposed to do, get a sexuality transplant? The pastor translated Antonieta’s request, and I glared at her. I understood perfectly. I just didn’t know what to do. Antonieta stared at me. The pastor stared at her crimson fingernails. I stared at the floor. I could hear a baby crying in the distance.
“I won’t be a practising lesbian while I’m here,” I whispered. I almost giggled at the absurdity of the term, practising, but then in the next moment I was holding my breath and struggling to stop the tears from spilling over my eyelids. Antonieta’s shoulders slumped in relief.
“What would your parents think if you were a lesbian?” She asked me.
“They’d support me.” Both women pursed their lips in an expression of pity and disgust. Antonieta went on to tell me that she knew I’d been visiting Mario and Alvaro, and she knew that they were gay and they were trying to corrupt me with their perverted ideas. The absurdity of the suggestion struck me. What on earth would two middle-aged gay men want to corrupt a teenaged girl for? Antonieta continued to talk animatedly about corruption and perversion for quite some time, before the pastor finally managed to steer the conversation away to firmer ground.
“Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your life?” I slumped back on the sofa and closed my eyes. She started to summarise the gospel for me.
“I was a Christian,” I interrupted. “But it didn’t really work out. I don’t believe everything in the bible.” Antonieta rolled her eyes heavenward.
“I don’t think the church you went to was really a Christian church,” the pastor said. “You can’t really have been a Christian. You thought you were, but you were deceived. Because if you were really a Christian, you’d still be Christian now!” she finished triumphantly. I groaned inwardly. It was about as much fun as having a debate with a brick wall. My words just bounced back, and I ended up banging my head in frustration. I felt exhausted.
I feel sort of miffed that this week, for the first time ever, no one found my blog by searching for “tiger sounds.” I’m not sure why, but it never fails to make me smile.
Judging from the number of people who come to beautiful monsters via a search for “create graffiti,” I’m starting to think I could make a fortune by writing a how to guide.
I don’t have Iona’s knack for search term found poems, but here are some of my favourite things that you’ve searched for…
bornholdt glass breathing
which bird did tennyson invite to eat his cherries
environmentalist guilt tripping positive vision
bookshelf paint sticky
how to draw oriental monsters
spiking little kids hair
rejection letter samples
"has to have a penis"
man not included
being alone stinks
babtism wall paper only
kahlua caffeine scientific
They'll have beautiful children
how to destroy mould in the bathroom
straight woman is flirting with me
squealing noise in plumbing
crushes on teachers
monsters having sex
i am confused about my sexuality
Finally, after a long and extremely nerve-wracking wait, I got the feedback on my YA novel. Why so nervous? Well gee, Paula Boock has only been my idol since I was 15... yeah, I do care what she thinks!
I’m pleased with it. Yeah, I pretty much have to rewrite the novel, but I knew that anyway. I knew there were problems, but I was having trouble putting my finger on what they were. And she’s given me some very very useful advice. I’m probably not supposed to quote from the report, but... I can’t resist. Her overall feedback is that there are places where I do things really well, but not all the time and not consistently enough. “At times I’m surprised (and delighted) by an unpredictable story point, but at times the story feels ploddy. At times you pull out a capacity for description and language that is a stratosphere above the rest... etc.” And she talked a lot about one particular passage, “because for me it was when I sat up and thought – wow!” It was my favourite passage too, the last one I wrote, when, I think, I was finally getting the hang of it!
Yay! She thought wow! Even if it was only about one passage... I’m happy now, I can finally get some sleep...
Max on the beach
Sunset at Paekakariki
While I'm on the topic of cultural appropriation, why don’t we seem to worry about it in regards to Pakeha cultures? Does anyone feel offended by cheap jewellery with Celtic designs sold down at the $2 shop? Do people making tartan everything from tea towels to toilet paper have a proper understanding of the history and the protocol followed by traditional tartan weavers? Do we not make a fuss about these things because we’re not an oppressed minority? Or because it’s been going on so long, it seems futile protesting? Or because we’re less united as an ethnic group? Or weaker in our identity? Or…
Of your Moko, you cannot be deprived. Except by death. It will be your ornament, and your companion, until your last day - Netana Rakuraku.
I want to get another tattoo. For both of my tattoos I had a clear idea of the design I wanted from an early stage. In fact, the designs really preceded the decisions to get a tattoo. I also knew where I wanted them to be on my body. This time, I don’t have a clear picture, only a goal. I want a tattoo that reflects my journey in te Ao Maori, learning te reo, and the tikanga. I want it to reflect where I’ve come from, my family and their history, as well as my personal history, and where I’m going.
Moko is traditional Maori tattooing, and it has it’s only genealogy. Mataora abused his wife, Niwareka, and she fled to Rarohenga (the underworld). Mataora regretted his actions, and followed her there to beg forgiveness. While he was there, Uetonga, the father of Niwareka, taught him Ta Moko, and Mataora brought this taonga to our world. I like this story, because Mataora humbled himself, and in a way the Moko is a symbol of him deciding to change his ways.
Traditionally, not everyone can wear moko, and permission has to be sought from hapu. Moko tells a story, the story of the person’s whakapapa, their ancestral roots.
Many people believe that Ta Moko cannot be applied to non-Maori skin. Designs on non-Maori are kirituhi, skin art, or tattoo. Some non-Maori, such as Robbie, Ben Harper and Michael Franti have tattoos designed and executed by Maori Moko artists, and some Maori have objected to this, saying that it’s disrespectful (When Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Insult).
And some people get really worked up about the issue. Take, for example, some of the comments by Ckarena in this discussion about Contempoary Maori Tattoo work in Sydney:
Look at this twittery: "The Moko-style tattoos (or Nga Kiri Tuhi, skin drawings) that I design encompass a variety of influences from Te Ao Maori, including Kowhaiwai painting, traditional Moko, Harakeke weaving patterns, Maori carving and even Pacific Tapa and celtic design. "A Pakeha doesn't know the difference between Kirituhi and Ta Moko - all he does is look to appearances. The tattoo. How dopey is it to think that "Ta Moko" a process that ties one to family, land, whakapapa - those accomplishments that reflect who he is, all that makes him what he is - will be patterned after a Maori heritage if the guy is Australian Pakeha with English and Swedish background, for eg. It's arse about face. Did this one's body come from the food, air and what of Aotearoa? Did the spirit feel the influences of all those that have been before in THAT land? Is his genetic potential include the whakapapa of Maori ancestors? Etc. If not then you have no understanding of the spiritual and human laws that were understood to create an identity built in real substance both physical and spiritual- that were used in the ta moko process- you don't understand. If you are giving our heritage to another - that is pakeha. To make a lie of who one is and their unique heritage. It is a mockery. How authentic is that? What good do you do this one. Particularly when most Pakeha you tattoo wouldn't not what a Maori was let alone how to pronounce it.
Well... there are some valid points in there. Not sure I agree with the tone however...
Ta Moko is the process of inscribing, of marking the skin, of placing the narrative; Moko is the outcome, the finished work, the textured story, the pictorial memories permanently engraved - Ngahuia te Awekotuku.
I don’t have Maori whakapapa, and so I don’t want to get a design that symbolises Maori whakapapa. But... maybe I’m being a typical ignorant Pakeha, but...
Basically, this is what gets to me; when people are talking about the issue of Ta Moko versus Kirituhi, they say things like:
the difference between tattoo and Moko has to do with the fact that Moko has a geneology and a heritage, whereas tattoo is just a picture - Christine Harvey.
There’s always that word, just. I don’t want just a picture. I guess what I want is not to redefine Ta Moko so that I can be included, but to redefine the understanding of kirituhi, to acknowledge that the inscribing of Pakeha skin can be a powerful experience, with spiritual as well as physical dimensions. When I get this tattoo done, I want markings that represent my ancestry. No, of course they won’t be copied from traditional moko, they will reflect my own ancestry, the signs and symbols of a Scottish clan. But I do want a visible sign of my commitment to learning te reo, learning about tikanga Maori, and supporting tino rangatiratanga. For this reason, I’d like the designs to be carved by someone who has knowledge of tikanga Maori. There are certain changes I want to make in my life before I go ahead with the tattooing. I want getting a tattoo to be part of a spiritual journey. I want karakia to be said, because I don’t think the shedding of blood should be taken lightly. And if the tattooist can bring influences from Maori design into the tattooing, I’d love that. Why? Because Maori culture has always been a part of my life, and it has shaped who I am, as a person.
I think I’m resigned to the fact that someone is always going to be offended by what I do. There are some people who question the right of Pakeha to speak te reo, to practise kapa haka, to recite traditional karakia... all of which I do. But of course, if I don’t learn, I’m accused for my ignorance. Can’t win.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to do what feels right in my heart. And that means learning as much as I can.
I believe these treasures are beautiful and need to be passed on, and kept alive.
I’ve added lots of new links – some stuff about Te Tiriti, Tino Rangatiratanga etc, a link to the excellent Ngata Maori dictionary online, and links to some of the waiata and karakia I’ve been learning at university and the Te Ao Marama kapa haka classes.
Oh, and a search button, which seems to search all of stonesoup rather than just beautiful monsters. Not sure if it’s possible to change that. Or if I can change the nasty white colour…
I had an excessively good evening in the company of truly lovely people. And I ate far too much food, which was delicious, and barbecued to perfection. The asparagus was particularly good. And the Moscow Mule someone made me, which I later completely failed to recreate, was devine. My trifle was an absolute disaster. Instead of being creamy with chewy bits, it was just sloshy with pieces of fruit floating in it. I don’t understand where the cream and macaroons went – I think they were dissolved in the brandy – I did add rather an excessive amount - in the end it was really just cream and almond flavoured brandy.
The only think that marred the evening was that I was worried about Max, who I’d left outside cos I thought I’d be back by about eight. When I came home and let her in she was all whiney and yippy and whimpery, which was worrying, coming from a dog who has barely made a sound up until now, except for the occasional tail whacking noise. Anyway, we went down to the beach for a midnight stroll, which seemed to cheer her up. I took my “Night Sky – Southern Hemisphere Edition” with me, and I managed to locate Orion and Crux, but then, those are the two constellations I’ve always been able to find without a star map. I blamed my lack of success on the fact that the moon and the streetlamps were too bright. In truth I think it had more to do with the fact that I found it impossible to translate the three-dimensional wonder of the sky above me into the two-dimensional diagrams on the small plastic dial in my hand. Perhaps this has something to do with why I failed as an architecture student.
Kia hari te tau hou, feliz año Nuevo, gott nytt år, bliadhna mhath ur, and all that. May all your dreams blossom and bear fruit. Twelve hours into the year and I’ve already broken two of my resolutions... oh well, it's still 2003 somewhere in the world.
It’s another gorgeous sunny day on the coast. Already to hot to take Max for a walk, she’s collapsed on the kitchen floor. Poor thing – the steps down to the beach nearest our house are broken, and she just stands at the top, trembling, and looking at me plaintively. We have to walk all the way to the next steps, which is quite a way if you’re an elderly three legged dog. They should have ramps for disabled dogs.
I’m going back into town this afternoon. Apparently they have a women’s underwear sale on at Farmers… my mother keeps me informed about these things because I never know. And then I’m going to take my left over syllabub trifle along to the beach for a New Years day gathering with friends. I think I put too much brandy in the trifle – it’s really not supposed to be that runny. But it didn’t feel like the festive season without it. And I was enjoying sugar while I could – my agent has decided that her responsibilities include bullying me into improving my diet! So no more sugar binges for me. Watch this space for the return of splitting headaches and grumpiness... only been up for a few hours and already the cravings are unbearable. Sugar... Mmmm... No, must think about something else! Oh gawd, my willpower couldn’t move a paperclip, let alone a mountain. Or is it faith that’s supposed to do that?
Speaking about withdrawal... it’s official, I’m not doing any writing workshops next year. Ooops, I mean this year! I’ve missed the deadline for the first trimester workshops, and I’ve done all the ones in the second trimester. Heeeeeelp! Scary. But at least some of my classes from last year are planning to have regular meetings, and even do a few exercises. Still... I’m feeling just a tiny bit regretful.