40

I had lunch with a long time friend and his parents today. We hadn’t seen each other since Nov 2011, my last trip to Melbourne before I moved back here in May 2012. He’s very busy, when I had returned mid May he was overseas. He competed in the 2012 World Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Championships in Los Angeles and returned home via Hawaii for a well earned, albeit short, holiday.
We had lunch at his parents’ house so I could catch up with them too. They are in the modern parlance, good people. They recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. The enormity of this milestone of commitment fries my synapses. I looked up on googs the symbol of this anniversary – Ruby. With my limited funds I got them red grapes, strawberries and a red bowl to put them in. They don’t imbibe firewater so I couldn’t give them a purloined bottle of pinot…
We had a great lunch, I told them of my weekend in Sydney (heavily edited version), a job interview with a university marketing department next week, my forays into the complex world of godchild babysitting (see previous post), my inability to land a job since arriving back and the myriad ways I have frittered away the past three jobless months. Mainly reading, sleeping and writing.
I wasn’t drinking absinthe, however I still managed to blab inappropriately about one friend and her affair with a married man, a friend with a partner who is losing their eyesight, another who is not coping with turning 40, a friend moving overseas for a semester at a US university. I have friends who have bought houses, gotten mortgages, birthed twins, coping with M.S and another couple trying to not kill each other while renovating their new home.
They told me of upcoming travel plans, their recently affianced youngest daughter. The renewal of their wedding vows at a special event hosted at the cathedral. People they know who are celebrating their 72nd year of marriage! This heady discussion of life and commitment was tempered by delicious food and chocolate ice cream for dessert. As I was tucking into my second hit of icy delight the phone rang. A lady they had known for several decades had passed away that morning, aged 86. She was fondly remembered as an avid tennis player whose age, experience and wisdom had helped many players on the court.

I realised although not everything has ‘gone to plan’ for me with the NZ relocation being revised and a premature return to Melbourne, I’m not struggling with these massive upheavals that my friends all seem to weather. I may be temporarily ‘displaced’ when it comes to a job and a home, but with the unfaltering support of my friends who are busy dealing with the Hurricane Isaac’s that life deals to everyone, I’m a very fortunate friend indeed. Here’s to anniversaries, milestones, birthdays, championships, celebrations, lunches, dinners, births, deaths, marriages and the great friends, family and significant others that make it worth getting out of bed.

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A funny thing happened at the playground…

I picked my godchild up from school this afternoon. I’ve been doing the occasional school run to help her mother when she’s had to start work early or finish late. It’s the least I can do as I’m staying with them temporarily while I try to get my life in to some semblance of adult like functionality… How’s that going for you? Well, being jobless and homeless after being back in Melbourne three months is difficult, demoralising, and also strangely freeing. I’m not sure if this ambiguous detachment is a segue from the previous feelings (or lack thereof) which were caused by/ are a coping mechanism of living through the earthquakes of Christchurch, my recently quitted home of 2.5 years.

If I was still living in Chch, I would go and visit Tunahau, counsellor fulla par excellence tomorrow (today)afternoon. Tuesday afternoon at 3pm was our standard weekly time for me to talk flat out for at least an hour and for him to ask the occasional question. I liked it best when he asked me to spell a word, possibly give him the definition because I would not only spill my guts about how I was feeling, give him all the work and family related gossip (which is hilarious as he knew all of my NZ family and work colleagues personally), I would also introduce him to different philosophical and critical theories someone had turned me on to. Working at a university and being a very talkative person meant I was always learning something new. None of my years of education or talking prepared me for the untamable natural force that is an energetic five year old let loose on a playground they have never visited.

I know I didn’t ever have that much kinetic force blasting through my body, at five or twenty five. I am ‘dependent’ free by choice. I didn’t like being a child, I wouldn’t force that life (truncated and transitory situation that it may be) on to someone that I’m supposed to love and care about. Tunahau always found my views on whanau (family) to be very original and quite challenging as he was a father of nine. Which in Maori families, even in the 21st century is S.O.P. My views on ‘less being more’ have not changed being around a little person but I think my views towards the big people who produce little people are swinging towards “are you quite sure you are not completely insane?” I understand that parents have special feelings and attachments to their offspring that makes all the hard stuff insignificant, there is probably a brain chemical/ neural inhibitor that helps with this process that I am lacking. I don’t know how parents have the stamina to raise children, but fair play to you and yours. I’m going to quite happily stick with being the occasional chauffeur or rarely encountered swing/ ‘whizzy dizzy’ pusher and keep doing the things I’m decent at: words, books, talking, film, thinking, drinking, dancing, cooking, laughing. Kids are hard work and I’m trying not to do that kind of work. The easy kind with boring meetings at too early o’clock is the only work I’m looking for.

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Red, red wine

‘Shut up, slapper.’ There are some things you can get away with saying when you are three sheets… The obvious response to this colourful rejoinder is, of course ‘You’re a soft cock! Ooh, it’s Nicki Minaj!!!’ Saturday night in the suburbs can be tempered by hip hop, booze, drunken make up lessons and some other female bonding rituals that can not be mentioned on a blog for fear of being ostracised… If I wasn’t writing via phone I would pursue this topic with deep and unadulterated zeal. Promise 😉

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Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger- book review

Great mystery set in the North Woods of Minnesota. Realistic portrayals of the deep distrust and animosity between the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people and the FBI made this an authentic read for me. So too were the Indigenous characters who had lived urban or moved away from the old ways. Strong female characters in Shiloh, the country singer sensation and Jo O’Connor, lawyer and estranged wife of main protagonist, Corcoran ‘Cork’ O’Connor. Cork is a believable man, with flaws and hopes of making amends for past mistakes. He’s not super human or supernatural, just a man trying to do better. I’m hooked by Krueger’s well drawn characters, beautiful descriptions of the lake areas and his layered storytelling. Krueger’s portrayal of modern Anishinaabeg didn’t slide into caricature or exoticisation for the titilation of the reader. This review may be more focused on representation of Indigenous people than the plot (which was well paced, sufficiently twisted and emotionally engaging), however I felt the need to give the author kudos for his realistic characterisation of modern Indigenous people. The author did use frequently reappearing wolf/wolves to show connections between the local Wolf Clan Anishinaabeg and their totem animal but it was not in a wholly unbelievable Twilightesque/paranormal rendering. Perhaps the other characters did not fair as well (stereotypical Mafia boss and his son, African American politician and FBI agent) but I hope the next books in this series live up to the hype created by Boundary Waters.

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Home again, home again…

A lot can change in five years. The truth, being both a fickle bitch and completely reinterpreted by these changing perspectives, is nevertheless what I strive for. With that notion, of honesty and truth being the precarious blade on which my world spins, I find myself somewhat agog at how my weekend away in Sydney transpired and the actual reality of the events.

I met my ‘Waterloo’ in 2007. The embodiment of all the phenotypes I find attractive: tall, thin, white, short, dark, hair, funny, awkward, articulate, intelligent, dumb, polite, rude, attentive, selfish.

Yes. A mass of contradictions. Or I had fallen through the mirror and found the missing piece of my soul made mortal.

It was never a conventional arrangement – dalliances fitted in around heavy workloads, academic pursuits, world travel, interstate and overseas relocation and importantly, significant others.

For us, it was a truth well recognised and acknowledged that we functioned differently to our peers and to those giddy ideals thrust upon us by our society. Neither party can function within the parameters of a ‘healthy and balanced’ relationship, instead we took succour from each other in an honest way and faked it with all others.

Just as the snake – like Ouroboros swallows its tail and returns to the beginning, so too has this most complex of relationships. After our weekend reunion, I find myself questioning if I have evolved in these five years of strange, exciting, excruciating, dramatic, comforting, soul wrenching and possibly unnecessary and unrequited times together. Am I in need of more from our agreement, or am I over-thinking the situation with little else to distract me from my suburban ennui?

What others would categorise as ‘a dirty weekend’ has for me become a quagmire of potential headaches, bellyaches and teeth -grindingly difficult choices for what lies ahead, what will make me some semblance of ‘happy’ and what is right.

A lot can change in five years. A lot can stay the same. The potential of both versions of my reality are a gulf that may very well swallow me whole.

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