Catch ups

Went to dinner at a friends’ restaurant in St Kilda last night.  It was in honour of the fact that I am no  longer jobless, legless, or homeless.  I invited all of the friends who had come to visit me when I was housebound and stuck in a wheelchair. 

It would seem that it had been a year since this group had seen each other, and that was at another catch up dinner held at the same restaurant.  That time had been to celebrate the fact that I had been safely repatriated back across the Tasman, no longer a roving academic working and living in earthquake prone Christchurch.

I’ve recently started working at a public library.  Some people who know me casually have laughed heartily at the idea of me being a librarian.  I’m not exactly what one associates with quiet, hard working, bookish types that are the stereotypical image of librarians.  However, librarians have changed, just as libraries have.  I was telling one of the attendees of last nights dinner how much I was enjoying the job.  When I sign a new member up I slide their new library card across the desk with much reverence and pronounce “Look after this, it’s the key to the universe.”  They usually have a bit of a laugh with me (or at me, I don’t care) and then they hop up and I take them for a tour of the facilities we have on offer.

They are often astonished (just as my friend was) that they are allowed to talk in the library and bring food in with them.  We have a cafeteria in the foyer that is run by Yooralla, an organisation that supports people with disabilities.  In the children’s area we have a PS3 and a Wii for the kids to play on.  We have computers for internet access, a quiet pod for those who need silence while studying and reading and we support community languages including Arabic, Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Croatian, Polish and Mandarin. We also have DVDs, Cd’s, audiobooks, and eBooks available for download from the library website.  All for free.  Yeah you read that right, FREE.

So life is pretty busy.  I’m currently editing the first thirteen chapters of my novel and I started a Diploma of Library and Information Studies last week. As it’s only at Diploma level there are a lot of contact hours on campus… Which is possibly the most challenging aspect of the course so far.  That and the book talk I have to give on a children’s or teen book.  Not a book review, a book talk, to encourage children to read the title… Yeah, I think they think I will be able to dumb myself down so I can communicate with children.  The last presentation I gave was at a film historians conference… This is going to be interesting.  Just like being at the library ; )

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Cast away…

Went to hospital on Wednesday and had my cast removed.  Have to wear unwieldy moon boot thingy instead.  Do some light physio exercises and try not to kill anyone because I’m still house bound.  They wont let me drive yet.  Which is killing me, hence the need to pass on the deathly sentiments to any and all who head my way.  Which doesn’t augur well for the 40th birthday I will be emc-ing tomorrow night.

It is also an irony filled situation (not lost on me, just mildly despised) wherein I am suffering not just the indignity of having to be in a wheelchair (which sucks because everywhere I wanted to go is really steep and uneven when faced in a chair) and ask friends for help, which I am no good at doing.  The irony is that I can’t drive and yet I have espoused the virtues of vehicular mobility loudly and often, both publicly and privately, including academically.  I have spoken at several conferences on the issue of driving and tino rangatiratanga (Māori self determination) for wāhine Māori (Māori women).  Now this Māori woman is stuck in the house and is not allowed to drive her car….

I talk about the importance of wāhine being able to leave the house, not only because they and their children may be facing domestic violence situations, but also just to strengthen their ties to the community in which they live.  They are able to become full and rounded citizens, participate in normal activities for leisure and social purposes such as weekend sports, hobbies and visiting family.  These strong ties help prevent isolation which enables many unhealthy situations such as mental health issues and susceptibility to domestic violence.

Having a car also enables wāhine to be able to apply for and maintain a job.  Particularly in rural areas, which are ubiquitous in New Zealand. Having a job or career strengthens these community ties and also gives women an outlet for social interaction, friendship networks and money to provide better lives for their families.

I currently have no car and no job.  However I have friends who visit and I have lots of writing to get done, so I probably don’t have time for a job.  Once I’m mobile again, I’m sure I will reassess the situation.  Some people may think driving isn’t really that important.  I usually reply “Tell that to a lady in Saudi Arabia’.  Nothing subtle about me

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