beautiful monsters: March 2004 Archives

March 31, 2004


Last night night I open a book and a photograph falls out and slides under the desk. I'm in a rush so I leave it there, along with the rest of the chaos.

This morning I wake to the radio instead of my usual CD, so I hear the news from Linda Clark. Michael King has been killed in a car accident. Somehow it doesn't seem surprising that he would go so soon after Janet Frame. But a car crash? The most recent tests had shown that his cancer had been successfully treated.

I'm late, again, so I pick up the photograph and put it in my pocket. I don't have time to look at it until after class.

It's a party, a celebration. The sun is bright on the faces of family and friends. And there's Michael, almost disappearing out of the frame. He has something purple pinned to his jacket, perhaps a stick of lavender. The light is glinting on the lens of his glasses and the back of his hair. And he's laughing.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:24 AM

March 30, 2004

because I have nothing to day

From scraps of paper lying around:

Maia is a good name
please eat fish pie
all the romantic poets were mad
blur/combine/cross mediums
swap earth child for taiaha
pavement chalk poems
whose is the cream egg in the freezer?
rubbish 2nite
Atkins sucks
Tolkien canít quite put finger on
I hope ur not trying to put the blame on me
love ruins
harder to be intelligent / witty when being positive
who is Harry Davis?
google search for crepes + recipe + criminal
did my good deed for the day
implied gap, but...
the rain makes kaleidoscopes of my lenses
literary scientists
so Fi, do you fancy Obi OneKanobi Al B / OB?
ask A re: Buffy 7:07
Caraís last gig = Saturday
miro berries
beech tree seeds
write Giles
just become disillusioned
note: glosses are not a bird
Blake heard voices too
check NZPS
you may make into balls (or other shapes) then dip in almond
I canít believe itís 5am
celebration of losers and failures
trickle down effect Ė widows, children, wounded veterans, unglamorous aspects
calcium, zinc, manganese
Mauri tau Ė confidence
send round the hat
create awareness, pos change, showcase young creativity
buy laundry powder
ppl still searching for kim hill & pilger
I keep dreaming about sex
please sort out your mail to your current address
a guy called Dan called
Iím falling in love with the sun


There are words and motifs that I over use in my writing... like gentle, night, leaves, bleeding and breath. I think Iím going to put a ban on them so Iím forced to experiment.

Having said that, itís not like I actually have any time for writing at the moment. And gawd how I miss it. Well, we have a couple of essays coming up and I plan to be as creative as possible while sticking loosely to the SEFT guidelines.

All of my lecturers and tutors are just so damn nice, I just want to ask them out to dinner and talk all night.


Iím running late. As usual.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:07 AM

March 26, 2004


- Some things just donít work. Like toast with cottage cheese and treacle. But sometimes you just gotta try these things. Maybe theyíd be better separately?

- The sound of little cat feet pattering along a wooden floor is a lovely thing to wake up to.

- There are a lot of people out there who want to read good books, but get overwhelmed by the number of books in the world and end up reading nothing.

- No matter how they may try to hide under piercings and minuscule skirts, the kids at Christian rock concerts always manage to look very... wholesome.

- Handcuffs are overrated.

- If someone is unwilling to take responsibility for their own problems, they end up having a huge impact on the lives of everyone around them. And everyone around everyone around them. And everyone around... well, you get the picture.

- Weíre very broke round here, but luckily my flatmate had her 21st on the weekend, so we wonít starve. We have plenty of coke, wine, fish pie, and weird green Chinese birthday cake.

- Guilt is not a very productive emotion. In fact, itís quite selfish.

- If you go to the gym too early then your favourite juice bar wonít be open yet when you come out. This is not good.

- When the guy behind the bar gives you a funny look and says ďthere are much better cocktails than that here,Ē you should always listen.

- People have a huge capacity for kindness.

- If you have a stash of lunches in the freezer, itís best to defrost them at home before taking them to uni. Otherwise you may find that they take 20 minutes to defrost. This causes a large build up of Asian students waiting to heat up their noodles.

- You donít have to try out every new chocolate bar that comes onto the market. If you donít like white chocolate, and you donít like M&Ms, chances are you wonít like white chocolate M&Ms. There, you just saved yourself $1.50 and a stomach ache.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 08:25 AM

March 23, 2004


Trouble with being a fairly empathetic person; makes it hard to say no to anyone in pain. You start off being all assertive. Ok, I can help you for a while, because itís an emergency, but then I have my own stuff to deal with. But then when it comes to the point you say Ok, youíre through the worst of it, and I really need to take care of myself now, then thereís the tears, and the accusations, and the sulking... and you can't say no, because you've been there, you've been the one crying and screaming. You know how much it sucks. And suddenly you find yourself prostrated on the doorstep with welcome written on your arse. And youíve only had two hours sleep the last few nights, and youíre behind in your course readings, and youíve barely had a moment to yourself, and youíve had to cancel everything that could be cancelled Ė classes, creative time, meetings, writing decent blog entries Ė and youíre starting to wonder where your life has gone. But youíre too damn tired to go and look for it.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:29 PM

March 20, 2004


Yesterday a man built an escape route to heaven. They said he had severe perceptual disorders, so he made a huge pipe that twisted and coiled all the way to a place without ears. A place for people who were never meant to be on earth.

I found a shell on the beach, and when I picked it up, it was like a reflection of the secret tunnels of my ear. It was filled with faraway sounds and I wondered if I could crawl inside and find a path to reach you. I couldnít even squeeze my littlest finger past the first gentle curve, but a few grains of sand dust the palm of my hand, like memories, whispers cradled in the belly of the shell.

I read books about sound waves and resonance, trying to find the path to the sounds in the shell, trying to find the way to your voice, but my books only speak about numbers. They canít tell me the resonance that is closest to heaven. They know nothing of the vibration of a soul falls in tune.

Every pipe has its own resonant frequency.
We had to build pipes to push the air into your lungs, but I didnít pay attention to their length or diameter. I didnít know such things could become so important.

After they switched off the machines you opened your mouth, as though to cry for the first time and I imagined intricate tubes inside your chest branching into a thousand tiny alveoli, blossoming with that one small breath. A tiny gasp. It was the only sound you ever made.

I wonder if you look out of place in heaven, where all the children have no ears. Perhaps they are silent, like you. Perhaps I only see your ears, like two delicate shells, because I am trapped in my own perceptual disorder.

You must have been small enough to crawl inside and slip around the corner.

When I hold the shell to my ear and listen for the ocean, all I can hear is the gentle flowering of breath.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 07:44 AM

March 19, 2004


I canít stop the corners of my mouth from creeping upwards. So what if Iíve still got a cold. Who cares? Today my copy of Booknotes arrived, with my cheque (which instantly tripled my earnings from writing so far!) and a picture of me, alongside an article by James Brown... and as if that wasnít enough literary bliss for one day, I rang up a friend to talk about the creative writing day heís organising at the Karori Sanctuary. I wasnít sure if I was going to make it because Iím still a bit sick, but then he told me that he was telling people about the poets who would be reading on the day, ďincluding Jenny Bornholdt, Dinah Hawken, and Fionnaigh McKenzie,Ē and when he got to me, all these people said things like ďOh, Fionnaigh McKenzie, Iíve heard her read, sheís really amazing,Ē and ďoh, she did this gorgeous poem about Kim Hill... Iíll have to tell my friend to come along too...Ē and so on. Jenny Bornholdt, my idol, is reading, but people were excited about ME!! I have FANS! Real fans! People like my poems! They like my readings! They like me!! I have to get over this cold right now so I can read tomorrow. Donít want to disappoint my fans! (Itís at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary from 11 onwards tomorrow Ė Iím hoping to read at 2ish and 3ish I think Ė and Jenny is at 1pm).

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:52 PM

Don't ya love technology?

I am so frustrated!! I have a CD burner. I have a MD player/recorder with a line out. I have a turntable. But all I want is to be able to transfer the noises on my favourite LP to CD. I can record from CD to MD, and from LP to CD, and from CD to CD, and from my electric piano to MD if I feel so inclined. But I canít get the Barrow Poets onto CD, which means I canít give a copy to Kate, because she doesnít have a MD player. And my dad canít even help. Heís got all sorts of nifty gadgets, like this thing for editing video tapes, he can fiddle with the colours and contrast and stuff... but I still canít get the Barrow Poets into my computer so I can stick them onto a CD. Grrrrr.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:12 PM

March 16, 2004


Will it be the drugs that make you feel all woozy and weird, or will it be the sore throat, the sneezing fits, the sniffles and snuffles and snortles, the coughing and wheezing, the aches and pains... Right. The drugs it is then.

In high school, did you ever take a handful of anti-histamines cos they made you feel like you could fly? Oh. Never mind.

Apparently my liver is screwed. Also my immune system went AWOL a long time ago. I blame this on the fact that I took bucket loads of steroids and antibiotics when I was a kid. My mum says, ďit could be worse,Ē pointing out that my grandfather, who is in hospital, can hardly walk. True. But what am I going to be like by his age? Will I ever get there? Maybe Iíll just have to keep taking more and more drugs to combat the effects of the other drugs Iím taking, to treat the side effects of... When does it end? I guess if it ever gets to the point where my quality of life is better without the drugs...

Yeah, I know, all this whinging is wildly out of proportion with the fact that what Iím currently suffering is just a little cold. But in my body, your average cold is quite likely to metamorphose into bronchitis, then the next thing itís pneumonia, and back to the bucket loads of drugs. Itís all rather disheartening.


In my head is stuck a song that an ex lover used to sing. Or are there too many past tenses in that sentence? A song a lover sings is in my head all day. World without end.


Yesterday Mark Doty facilitated a workshop that I was not a part of, but the world goes on. I donít feel so bad about not getting in, now that I know that there were people on the course who have published more than one book, as well as receiving awards and fellowships... Bitter? Me? No, not at all. But really, what do they need to go to a writing workshop for? The greenish tinge may take a few days to fade from my eyes, thatís all.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 05:42 PM

Enforced holiday

I think itís my bodyís way of saying ďHey, what the hell were you thinking? All that stress and anxiety over the summer trimester, and then straight into full time study, and may I point out that youíve never actually done full time study before. Plus thereís that part time job that is a much bigger part than youíre paid for, and then...Ē

I wish Iíd paid attention to the earlier note that said ďOi! Take a breather or Iím going to pack up on ya!Ē Then I could have enjoyed a day off without the streaming nose rubbed raw, the aches and pains, the weak shaky shivery feelings... But no. Apparently it takes a nasty cold to ensure that Iíll curl up in bed without feeling guilty. Bah! At least Iím catching up on my course readings. I almost made a fool of myself yesterday because I thought that ďglossesĒ were some kind of bird. Possibly related to the albatross. Must have been the oncoming cold muddling my brain.

I want to do some writing but all the ideas in my notebook are so incredibly dull.

Also, everything hurts, and I think Iíll go back to bed for a while. Maybe later.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:44 AM

March 15, 2004

notes from the scrapbook of life

New weights programme at the gym. Ow. Also new regime where I go to the gym four times as much as I used to. The motivation behind this is this group Iíve joined, and we have swipe cards and they keep a record so at the next meeting everyone knows how many times I havenít been to the gym. Which is kinda embarrassing, so Iím going to the gym lots now. And itís good Ė I like it. There are always other people from the group there, so I canít slack off like I used to and sit on the cycles at a low level reading Cosmo for half an hour and then leave feeling noble for going to the gym. Nope. No more lazy gym sessions. Iím actually pushing myself. At exercise. Which hasnít happened since I was in the BOP Rep team for waterpolo, back in the day. Way back.


Made it to Etgar Keret in the Readers and Writers festival. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I came home afterwards and tried to write three short stories simultaneously. Havenít read his stuff? Now is a good time to start. But you should really try to catch him live, heís gorgeous. Might pay to take a cheesecake along, just in case...

I also went to the Prize in Modern Letters Ceremony cos that was free and there was wine and little cucumber sandwiches, and being a poor student I took full advantage...

I still think Kate should have won.


Current plan is to finish BA in English / Tohu Maoritanga this year then study art therapy somewhere, maybe Chicago. I kinda figured that having dual nationality would be useful in some way. But so far, it doesnít seem to be good for anything. From what I can gather from the websites Iíve been reading, the only difference having a US passport makes is that it disqualifies me from a bunch of the scholarships available to NZers wanting to study in the States. Thatís hardly fair, if you ask me!

Iím surprised how much Iím loving being an English lit student. I mean, given that I dropped out of English after fifth form... But I cried in class the other day. Just a tiny bit, and I donít think anyone noticed...

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Coleridge. Where have you been all my life? I had no idea...

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:19 AM

March 07, 2004

Kids. Huh.

I donít know where they get it from. I mean, this is the church where the minister is a lesbian and the resident theologian writes books with titles like Christianity Without God. This is the church where members of the congregation appear in the paper wearing T-shirts that say ďJesus Loves Hookers,Ē and the parents paint banners and march against Americaís wars. And yet, the kids somehow end up with an image of Jesus as this glowing white guy with long hair and a white tunic. Show the kids a picture of Jesus as an African man, or a woman, or a picture where he looks tired and battered and worn down, lacking that certain glow, or a picture where heís dressed in jeans or standing in a breadline... and they donít know quite what to think. But theyíre getting used to it. Anyway, last week no one liked the poster of Jesus in the Wilderness. Well? You wouldnít look pretty either if youíd just spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. So today I thought weíd talk a bit more about what Jesus might have been like (really, Iím sure we covered this last year).

So, I had a bunch of pictures of famous (and not quite so famous) faces, and told the kids that each one was like Jesus in some way, and different in some way. Mostly they answered the way I expected them to. Aragorn is a king returning to claim the throne, but at first he appears humble, but Jesus probably wouldnít have had a big sword like that. We went through Mother Teresa, Te Whiti, even Sir Peter Blake (hey, he was killed and he was doing good work). But my favourite answer of all came when I held up a picture of George Dubbya..

Me: So, what does this guy have in common with Jesus?
Child: He wants to change the world?

Hee... so true.

After church we had a picnic, and I hung out with the most gorgeous little baby, but in the process I discovered something rather embarrassing; I canít blow raspberries. Seriously, I donít know how! I try, but I just make this ďpfftĒ noise and the baby cracks up laughing and blows perfect raspberries back at me. Sheís eight months old for crying out loud, and already sheís better than me at something! I think sheís catching up with the piano playing too Ė she was composing some great works today Ė real original.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:36 PM

what I don't get is

If vampires have no breath how do they have such a good sense of smell?

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:35 PM

March 05, 2004


On the wall of our church office:

The bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals and 362 to heterosexuals. This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals, just that they need more supervision.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:34 AM

March 04, 2004

Second hand

My first week of my first year at uni I was living at a student hall of residence (this was right before I got kicked out of aforementioned hall). I was quite an insomniac back then, and one night I went for a walk and my wanderings eventually took me through the university. I came across a bunch of people queuing outside the student union building, and they explained that they were waiting for the second hand textbook sale to start. So I figured, what the heck, since I was up I might as well join them. Some people, more prepared than I was, had brought biscuits, thermoses and sleeping bags. It was kinda fun. Until 6am when the sprinklers in the gardens around us came on, and we all leapt up squealing. Luckily the sprinklers werenít on, so we didnít get too soaked or cold. I bought a bunch of text books for the courses I was enrolled in, and saved heaps of money. The psychology text book cost $50, instead of $80 bucks or whatever it was new. Of course, a week or two later I dropped out of psychology. And French. And... but I wouldíve saved money on the womenís studies texts if theyíd had any. I canít believe I was enrolled in French. Weird. But I must have been because I still have the text books. Sentimental value, ok? Also I theyíve changed the texts so I canít sell them back.

Anyway, today was the start of the annual second hand textbook sale. I meant to get there at 5am, I really did, but I kinda slept in, and then I got confused and thought it was a romantic day, but actually it was an Australian day, which means 10 instead of 11 so I had to run to class, and I didnít make it to the booksale until 11. They still had one of two of each of the books I needed. See, the upshot of getting there in the wee hours is that you can sift through them and find the really grotty dog-eared books with water damage and coffee stains that are a whole $4 cheaper than the other copies. Someone must have been there at 5am ready to buy all the coffee stained English texts. Never mind; I still saved some money. I mean, for new books I would have had to spend about $400. And this time there will be no dropping out of courses.

The sale seemed to be run by one of the Christian groups. When I handed over my money they said ďWould you like a free book? Itís about the life of Jesus.Ē Apparently the book sale makes heaps of money.

Explains a lot really.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:11 PM

March 01, 2004

first time for everything

Note to self: Before appearing as a guest at a poetry event, find out how to pronounce obscure words gleaned from before the reading. This may reduce anxiety and/or anxiety.

Also: Donít do readings on Oscar nights. Especially not in a pub with a huge switched off TV to taunt you. Did anyone see Abby? She was wearing a pink almost red dress...

First fantasy/sci-fi movie to win best film. Ever. Can you believe that?

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:02 PM

Dang the jumped up thing! It gin me a start!

ďI cud do a bit of doughboy, aní that theer boggabriíll eat like tater marrer along of the salt meat.Ē

Huh? Iím getting cold feet about this whole English Major thing. Half a page into the first book on the reading list, and I canít make any sense of it. Is allers really a word? and ud? what the heck are jimrags? why is there no glossary? (I'm readin The Bush Undertaker by Henry Lawson, ií yer was a-wunnerin).

It would help if I didnít have such a piercing headache. Iím doing that whole sugar free thing again. Yes, again. This time itís gonna last...

But gawd itís horrible. Gimme a chocolate bar. NOW!

*Deep breath*

Best to keep busy. Busy is good. Romantic Literature tomorrow. Blake, Wordsworth and the like. Hopefully I'll be on time tomorrow - and with a bit of luck I'll dress myself right.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:19 PM

Medium Chaos

The first day is always horrible. In fact, if possible, varsity should be avoided for at least the first week. Last year I managed this, as I was doing Creative Writing papers and could just nip up to Waiteata Rd without fighting my way across campus. Unfortunately this year I'm an English Major. Freaky. And I seem to have to push my way through the thick of it to get anywhere. Swarms of confused first years. The noise. The crush. The queues.

I was late for my first lecture, due to being late for the appointment just prior, due to being... well anyway. I took a couple of steps into the theatre... and then panicked. For a start, it seemed like such a small class. I thought English would have big classes; it seems like every second person I know did English Lit back in the day. Don't people take English any more? Secondly, the lecture was talking about population, and geology. Huh? I thought for the first class they always read out the course outline and sorted out tutorials. They never start lectures in the first class. Unless I'd walked into the second half of a two hour course. And what course? I thought I was coming to Australian Literature, but geology? So I backed away uncertainly, and went to check the timetable. Yup, it was the right place, right class, right time. Urgh. I went back, now 20 minutes late, and crept to one of the few available seats. Woops. Great start to the new year.

And now I'm having second thoughts. No, actually, I'm having second terrifiedness. Have I done the right thing? What was I thinking?

Luckily, just when I was on the point of pulling out of everything I ran into Harry Ricketts in the office of one of my lecturers, and we were able to gossip about pancakes and the bright pinkish red dress that Abby is wearing to the Oscars, and this calmed me down a little.

Till I realised that I've had my shirt on inside out all day.


Very Late Notice, but in case anyone is around and about with nothing to do, four of us from the landscape writing class are doing a reading. 7pm at Murphy's Bar in Lower Hutt. Would be good to have some support.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:28 AM