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Saturday, 31 March 2012

caution, theatre spoilers ahead. mind you, the play is 400 years old

Violence in movies is one thing, but last night at the Old Vic I watched no less than seven characters be murdered, variously by strangulation, neck snapping, poison and old fashioned knifing.  Oh, and there were two hangings.  All in the second half of the Duchess of Malfi.

P and I sat, shellshocked, at the Anchor & Hope afterwards, drinking a calming carafe of wine.  Honestly, the realism of death, a few rows back, was shocking.  Themes of incest, feminism, romance across class lines, corruption,cruelty and betrayal seemed thrown into ridiculously sharp relief.  A lot for three hours. 


EVE BEST AS THE DUCHESS.
However, the script acknowledged it's own tropes and there were a few factors that made the play superb.   The set design was phenomenal and the scenes were beautifully lit.  Eve Best was outstanding as the Duchess of Malfi.  The players made death seem real from six rows back; the shocked silence was palpable.  A girl sitting next to me visibly recoiled as Ferdinand crawled up the bed towards the Duchess then swung his head to the audience.  There were hisses as, in the dark, we realised Ferdinand was handing her Antonio's severed hand; when the Cardinal violated Julia.  I thought the language a chilling delight; "mine eyes dazzle" caused a physical shudder.  Bosola's recognition of what we expected him to do was, for me, crisp clarity, tying many themes together.

I love the Old Vic; it has a kind of aged glamour and I think it feels intimate without losing any sense of big production.  We were spoilt enought to obtain very good tickets for a decent price through a connection, but the ticket prices at the Old Vic are fairly reasonable.  You can often find Last Minute ticket deals (that link has them starting at £15). 

Also, I must add to the chorus chanting that the Anchor & Hope on The Cut is wonderful.  Lots of tasty English treats in very nice surroundings.  It's true, I think; once you go South of the River you never go back!

So yeah, the work on the London bucket list is going quite well, thanks for asking. 

Friday, 30 March 2012

plans

We’ve had guests for the past two nights and I'm feeling exhausted.  Three nights total is not a long stay, but midweek I think is more of a struggle.  I'm having real difficulty imagining what to cook for tonight's meal; I think perhaps a simple pasta might be the way to go.  Right now, conversation seems like it will be a struggle, but I'm sure I'll get home and get chatting and not regret it for a minute.  See -- already I'm remembering what a privilege it is to spend time with friends and relatives. 

It's this sort of 'I can't be bothered' attitude that makes me snigger at the idea I might be a grown-up.  I'm turning 30 in two and a half months (ferchristssake!) and yet I'm lodged in a perpetual mindframe of adolescence.  Mind you, at least I put out a fresh handtowel before our guests arrived.  Perhaps I'm just not recognising grown-up behaviour in myself yet?

To celebrate the upcoming birthday, I have booked P and I tickets to Vilnius.  When I moved to the States in mid-2009, I was sent on a junket to New Orleans for three weeks.  Three of the best weeks of my life; there were 20 or so of us experiencing US campus life and the live music scene of one of the best cities in the world for the first time.  One of the very first people I met on that trip was V.  V was from Vilnius, Lithuania.  The very first Lithuanian I had ever met; I thought she was quiet at first.  I soon discovered that this was because she takes in her surroundings before speaking - she has a wicked sense of humour and genuine, happy smile. 

V moved to New York to undertake her Masters as well*; she lived in Alphabet city in an apartment P and I spent almost half our time at.  She's one of the loveliest souls I have ever met; people are drawn to her like moths to an open flame.  It helps that she is beautiful, but she just has a calm and open presence that encourages people to come up to her and engage her in discussion, often issuing an invitation to a gig, or a new bar, or a poetry reading.  P and I accompanied her on many of those impromptu outings -- I'm pretty sure our presence as marginal chaperones was a massive disappointment to quite a few lovelorn suitors!  V has visited London twice since we moved here and we've not yet made it to her home town (though I've been dreaming about it; wandering along the river, jazz bars at night, I see Vilnius as all green and grey and lovely).


PANORAMA OF VILNIUS BY JUOZAPAS KAMARAUSKAS 1874 – 1946

So today I've spoilt myself on tickets and I am going to a beautiful city to celebrate my birthday with my husband, a very good friend, her lovely boyfriend and their mischevious dog.  Lithuanians are serious about their basketball and it transpires that we will be visiting at the same time as a pre-Olympic friendly match between Lithuania and Macedonia.  I will extend my Lithuanian beyond 'achoo' (thank you) and 'apchi' (the sound of a sneeze!).  I am beyond excited. 

A PICTURE OF CELEBRATING WITH FRIENDS!  CHEESE-A-RAMA!

As a side note, I'm not too perturbed about turning 30, so no need to start sending condolence cards, dear invisible readers.  I had a full on freak out when I turned 24 for no apparent reason whatsoever.   It seems that premature breakdown got the bug out of my system.  I was emailing with my hat friend this week, who turns 30 a month after I do.  She told me about having spent a miserable meal with a friend for her 30th, during which her friend was crying into her plate of food.  Hat friend had promised herself that she wouldn't be quite so self-indulgent at her own birthday because she'd want her friends to have a good time at a party -- and then realised that 30 was just not that big a deal.  I kind of agree.  Mind you, ask me again closer to the time and I might not possess such equanimity about the whole thing!

*I'm pretty sure I've told you I studied for a graduate degree while in the States?  No?  Oh well, yeah, I did that (and got the degree, if that required clarification, which it might, given the quality of writing demonstrated on this blog).

Thursday, 29 March 2012

confrontation

Monday this week was a day for rage.  I didn't get the memo so I wasn't particularly rageous myself, but I saw the results in public places.

Incident 1:

At the large intersection beside Tower Hill there are a lot of pedestrians, all wearing serious faces and coats as they trudge into the City for another day's grind.  It has quite short light phasing; road traffic is heavy and moving in a number of directions.  To cross from Tower Bridge to the Tower Hill tube station, you need to cross the road three times.  The light phasing also means that there usually a significant wait between pedestrian crossing #1 and pedestrian crossing #2.  On occasion, traffic gets so backed up people block the box in any number of directions on this intersection (this generally gives me rage as a driver, but at Tower Hill it's often hard to judge whether traffic is moving through, so I have a modicum of sympathy for those who enter the intersection early). 

We had a wait for crossing #2 on Monday morning.  I stood, unevenly balanced on the grimy yet fluorescent yellow anti-slip dots, next to a woman in her mid to late 20s.  She was blonde, slight, well dressed.  Wearing sensible shoes for commuting and carrying a large bag.  Completely standard for a City worker headed in to work.  When the green man showed, there was a medium sized truck with a  partially open back blocking the second lane across the crossing.  The City girl struck out into the intersection ahead of me and swerved to walk around the back of the truck.  I followed, with several others.

Without warning, she whacked the tailgate of the truck.  A huge thunk, followed by an exasperated exhalation.

It was a deliberate hit; of that I've no doubt.  It came completely out of nowhere.  I tried to imagine how tough her morning must have been to hit a truck (whose driver clearly wasn't going to have heard or felt it) that made her walk, oh I don't know, an EXTRA FOUR OR FIVE STEPS.

Incident 2:

I stopped at the Sainsbury's Local on the way home to pick up some ingredients for dinner.  I'd walked home in fantasy-land, mulling over mental interest calculations on a hypothetical mortgage obtained with a deposit I don't have (fuck my fantasies are BORING.  Where is Viggo fucking Mortensen?  I wasn’t even spending the hypothetical winnings from Euromillions, how sad is that?!), and I entered the supermarket in a bit of a sum-induced daze. 

I was finding the pre-packed salad selection in the back corner of the market a bit trying while I browsed for beetroot (I'm sorry, but WHY on earth does Sainsbury's use so much plastic packaging for fruit and veg in the Local stores?), when I was hit a glancing blow from behind.  I suddenly registered raised voices and turned around.  I'd been hit by a man in a trenchcoat emitting a foul odour as he darted for the store exit, followed by a staff member.  Beside me, in the Chicken section, was another trenchcoated man frantically pulling packages of chicken out of a giant bag and back onto the shelf.  He was yelling "I'm not shoplifting!" on repeat while another staff member had him by the arm. 

Suddenly, there were two staff members manhandling the guy into the back storeroom.  They were laughing, which I found beyond disturbing.  The shoplifter (for clearly that had been his intent, that much was apparent from the speedy departure of his companion and the opaque bag into which had been stuffed approx. 12 large packages of chicken thighs) was clearly pissed.*  He was carrying a visible layer of grime on his person and while defensive, didn't appear to be too much of a threat.  I looked around; unsure what to do.  This was home time for the be-suited bespectacled types - there were a number of men much larger than I watching proceedings. 

The three men disappeared out the back.  I feel a sense of unease about the manhandling.  It wasn't too over the top, but the laughter was very unsettling.  I'm still unsure what I should have said, or done.


*I mean pissed in the sense of drunk.  Boozled.  He had an open can of White Ace cider in hand.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

it's pushed my buttons

A tweet in my timeline last night suggested that what the world doesn't need is the vapid blog meanderings of yet another girl with nothing to say.  Yeah, I recognised some truth in that.  But, truth be told, I don't care.  So.  Well. 

That tweet is not why I'm posting today about serious issues.

I think. 

Anyway, Frank Rich has written an interesting piece in New York Magazine this week about the history of the Republican 'War on Women', which he insists is, in fact, a war on women.  I have to say I'm inclined to agree.  I'm sure people will feel free to correct me if I'm wrong (and I freely admit that my knowledge of the policy history Republicans have taken on women is scant), but I recommend the article as a starting point for thinking about a theory as to why Rush Limbaugh's comments (much derided on this blog) were so widely publicised, instead of being marginalised as over-hyped, shock value schtick. 


SO WHEN I LOOKED FOR A PICTURE TO ACCOMPANY THIS PIECE, I FOUND THE WEIRDEST PROPAGANDA-MERCHANDISE WEBSITE EVER.  I MAY NOT SUPPORT THE REPUBLICANS BUT TRULY THERE ARE SOME ODD (SURELY UNHELPFUL TO THE CAUSE) BUMPER STICKERS FOR SALE THERE. 

AND THEN THE WEBSITE ALSO HAD A SECTION DEVOTED TO THE MOST BIZARRE JANE AUSTEN BUMPER STICKERS EVER: 'MY OTHER CAR IS A BAROUCHE'.

Really, there is just so much to discuss that I'm almost at a loss for where to start.  Some of these fights; I just can't believe that we're facing them again.  You might say that I should be focussing on the issues that affect New Zealand (and an overt war on women isn't one of them; I suggest this NY Times opinion piece for an interesting, if simplified, explanation of the Kiwi political spectrum).  Yet I can't help being concerned that as a small nation, we often pick up on foreign issues as a sort of 'political hangover', particularly those expounded in Australia, the US and the UK.  And this topic pushes my buttons, plain and simple. 

But don't mind me; I'm now off to pick up another contraceptive prescription funded by the tax payer.  Guilt free.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

spring, sprung etc

Lazypantses post right here...would like to say I've been out enjoying springtime in London, but actually that's only been about 1 day in the last 4.  The rest have been sacrificed to vanity (my hair!  It is blonde all the way up!), and work (even if I've relaxed a little since, you know, that whole resigning bit).

This post is so lazy, I haven't even had time to frig with the filters, settings etc of these basic pictures snapped on ye olde smartphone on a walk round Southwark Park on Sunday.  I would say that what you're seeing is ACTUAL gloriousness of weather, flowerbeds, co-operative swans etc., but I'm afraid have been so lazy I even sent them to meself in lo res.  Afraid they leave something to be desired in terms of composition too but that's as may be.  I'll work on it.


BERMONDSEY WILDLIFE AT THE ENTRANCE TO SOUTHWARK PARK.  NO, NOT THE LADY.  THE STUFFED TIGER ON TIGER AND GIANT GORILLA IN THE TREES.  MY NEIGHBOURHOOD IS SO WEIRD, I LOVE IT
SHIT PHOTO OF AMAZING SWAN CO-OPERATION IN NEST BUILDING.  I THOUGHT SWANS WERE SHITHEADS BASED ON THEIR TERRORISM ABILITIES BUT NOW I LIKE THEIR TEAM SKILLZ. 

GOD I HOPE THEY DON'T COME AT ME IN PAIRS NEXT TIME.

DAFFIES AND STRUCTURED BEDS.  A VERITABLE *RIOT* OF COLOUR
THE SHARD AND RAILWAY TO LONDON BRIDGE.  BROWNS, GREYS AND GORGEOUS BLUE

Friday, 23 March 2012

not so fast

After the over-hyped drama of the last post, I've come back to reality, sort of. 

My contract has the longest notice period known to mankind (well, three months) so we're going to be kicking around Londontown for a little bit longer anyway.  During the moping that occurred the evening I resigned (I got half-cut after work with a colleague which contributed to the WOE, WOE IS ME, WE ARE LEAVING FOR THE BACK END OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE session P and I had on the couch), we decided that there are a few things we should, nay, must do before we leave the UK.


SOUTHWARK PARK, AUTUMN.
AND YES, I KNOW IT'S SPRING NOW.  I DIDN'T HAVE A REASONABLE SPRING ONE ON MY PHONE. 

·         Tower of London.  I walk past the Tower every weekday and yet I have never been.  Hordes of tourists though; v. offputting.  There are queues I can handle and queues I can't - at the bank, sure, to be expected.  To see the Crown Jewels, oh fuck off. 

·         British Museum.  I heart the Reading Room, dimly recalled from a visit at age 19.  You know, interesting old stuff. 

·         Restaurants: MOAR PLZ.  P's sole concern is leaving behind the food mecca of Europe.  I had to try hard to remind him that we have the opposite type of food-awesome in Aotearoa: fresh snapper caught off the back of the boat on the barbie, which? One of the greatest food experiences known to humankind (humble opinion, etc.).  We're supposed to be dining at Pearl in Holburn tonight thanks to a lovely wedding gift from friends (subject to P's burgeoning illness, the symptoms of which have been checked and analysed on an hourly basis: "Do you think it's because my back is out?", "Oh god, my throat hurts like it might be....swollen, or something".  I ventured to suggest that P is just always sick and to my surprise P readily accepted my diagnosis.  Self awareness, he has it...sort of!).

·         Pimms.  I need to DRINK ALL THE PIMMS before departure.  I know that Pimms is just sexified gin, but really? I love gin too so no problems there! Related news: we're going to queue overnight for Wimbledon tickets this year, hoping to check some centrecourt action.  I've seen Rafa pull out his wedgie in person at the US Open, but there's nothing like watching it with a Pimms and perhaps some strawberries and cream in hand. 

·         Park days.  The sun comes out, the Brits get nekkid and sunbathe in the park, consuming tasty treats and iced bevvies.  I swear they judge you on the quality and shade of your tartan picnic rug.  Only the best weaved basket will do.

·         Theatre.  For this drama queen?  MOREMOREMORE!

·         I'd like to go back to the National Portrait Gallery for another wander.  It's such a beautiful resource: for a donation, you can wander to your heart's content eyeballing gorgeous, story-filled paintings. 

·         Columbia Road Flower Market: can't believe I still haven't been!  Maybe that's tomorrow morning's task for a few fresh stems for my dining room table - something other than supermarket daffies might be called for!

And so much more besides.  I'm sure we will be adding to the list as well as subtracting. 

AND SOON, IMMA BE WORKING ON A LIST FOR OUR TRIP ROUND THE MED AND INTO ASIA.  OOOOO YEAH, THE DEEP BLUE MEDITERRANEAN.  I LOVES IT.

PS THIS IS SORRENTO.  THAT IS NOT MY BOAT.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

i resigned today

I resigned today.  I cried in my boss's office and she made me a cup of tea.  This is what I'm going to miss about the UK.

***************************************

I am drained, devoid of real feeling.  Cliche alert: this has been a very difficult decision for P and I.  We've been really happy here in London. 

Sure, we've been unhappy too - I do not look back on my days of unemployment and the long commutes before we moved to a reasonably located suburb fondly.  I recall interview after interview where the feedback was good but there was also a suitably qualified English candidate.  I remember being miffed when no one bothered to introduce themselves in the break room at the office when I was new.  I remember the perma-dark of winter.  I remember the prickles over my scalp when I thought I'd made a crucial, vital mistake at work. 

But on the whole, London has been great. 

We have friends here.  Not just a bunch of expats either - P and I have made friends including colleagues and neighbours who we will be sad to say goodbye to.  Crack the facade and these people are NICE, you know?  Once you've introduced yourself and shown an interest, they share a cuppa with you, ooh and aah over pictures of your ridiculously cute nephew, commiserate at the end of a long week with a beer at the pub.  There is Pimms in the summer.  Europe is on the doorstep.  There are always twinkly lights during the winter hours of darkness.

I can't believe we've made the call (we had our reasons - career, families, lifestyle, effect of soft NZ water on my hair blahblahblah).  But we have, and now I face a walk to work each morning with the knowledge that we're getting closer to a big change. 

*******************************************

So, New Zealand.  We're headed home, once we've worked out our notice and travelled a while.  You haven't been home for years, but you will be soon.  I've missed you, god knows.  In all of your crappy traffic'd, small communitied, terribly inflected glory.  With all of your thunderstorms, bright sun, vivid colours and Pacific humidity. 


AOTEAROA: THE LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD.  AND EXCELLENT FLAT WHITE. 
VIA NASA SATELLITE THANKS TO WIKI.  THIS IS 23 OCTOBER, 2002. 
GOD I HOPE IT STILL LOOKS LIKE THAT. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

weekend rundown

Yeah, so.  I had a weekend one time and it wasn't long enough.  Same old story really.

I trudged out of work at roughly 4pm on Saturday, distinctly unenthused about the prospects of joining a St Patrick's day pub crawl that my husband and friends had begun four hours previously.  I was snotty about having had to work on the weekend and also disappointed in myself for having lacked the fortitude to just get up and get it done that morning.  As I sat on the tube across town, being juddered by the godawful suspension on the Bakerloo line (Bakerloo: fucking awful you guys!  Who'd live in the NW? Oh yeah, it's quite nice up there, I'll give you that), I began dreading the boozy hugs and enforced games of "catch up" on joining the crawlers.  Once I surfaced and came back into cell reception, I received a message informing me that the crawl had moved on and accordingly, I'd left the tube at the wrong stop.  Probably not a bad thing, to be fair: some time out for Mrs GrumpyPants while I walked to the destination was completely necessary. 

Contrary to all prior indicia, I had a fab time.  I caught up with friends I haven't seen in what feels like donkeys' years, drank free Guinness (no Kilkenny on tap, for SHAME pubs of Kilburn!), gobbled free Irish stew, sang along to terrible Pogues' covers and generally embraced the occasion.  No real scandal of note, afraid to say.  Spent a ridiculous amount of time with P in a fried chicken joint somewhere in Queen's Park at the end of the night (good food decisions: I make them) and woke up feeling manky.  What more can a girl ask for?

Looked for photos of the night on my phone to show you, Invisible Readers - turns out the only thing I apparently thought worth photographing was the arrangement of multiple receptacles for the water that was fair pouring through the roof of the final pub onto our table.  I am a muppet.  All those lovely smiling faces in excellent green novelty outfits and I come up with this: 

KWALITY PICTURE TO ACCOMPANY KWALITY POST.  NOTE USE OF RECEIPTS AND BUSINESS CARDS IN ORDER TO PREVENT SPLASHBACK, THE WATER WAS COMING IN THAT HARD. 



Saturday, 17 March 2012

st patrick's day

Trust you're all having (had) a good one.  I am feeling the desperate need for a pint of Kilkenny right now...

THANKS WIKI.  YOU KNOW HOW TO TAKE A SEXY BEER PICTURE.

Regale you all later with episodes from the saga of 'A Binge Drinks During Pub Crawl in Celebration of Heritage She Doesn't In Fact Have'. 

Kisses!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

working on my pout

The major exciting news of the day is that I bought two lipsticks when dropping into the chemist for a box of tissues on the way to work.  Two cheap, bottom of the line lipsticks.  One in coral and one in red.  Impulse purchases, along with some control top tights and vitamin C because I'm glamourous that way. 

See this picture?

FROM STYLE MOGUL.  INFINITELY MORE STYLISH THAN ME.
Yeah?  Well.  The lipsticks I bought are not these brands and they are likely not those colours either.  I don't know why I can't commit to investing a decent sum in make up like the products shown above but apparently Maybelline is as fancy as I'm ever likely to get.

OH YEAH that's right - I can't commit in investing in anything decent because I'm cheap and I'm shit at applying facecake.  Don't tell me practice makes perfect because I don't really practice.  Lazy aye? 

I noticed on arrival in the UK that English lassies all like to wear a proper face at work and out to town on a Saturday night which? Fair enough.  But my version of day to day is mascara and, more often than I'd like, crappy concealer smeared over a spot.  For a flash night out, I might add some lip gloss and a spot of wonky eyeliner.  For a big meeting with real adults at work, I might slap on a bit of muted-colour lipstick (once a year perhaps?).  So my daily beauty routine can hardly be called "practicing".

Before the fabulous-month-long-February-holiday, I'd got into the zone a bit with making an effort.  And by that I mean trying to use foundation and having my eyebrows waxed on a semi-regular basis.  That went out the window within a week of arriving in New Zealand when I burnt my nose and my skin tone suddenly no longer matched the shade of English Rose foundation I'd been using.  You might say I gave up trying immediately after my wedding; poor, poor wee P.  Cursed with a wife who no longer makes an effort. 

After having made the arduous selection of tissues this morning ("Is the lily-box too funereal? Or do pink and orange gerberas just scream 'hayfever'?" THESE ARE THE BIG ISSUES, GUYS.  I GRAPPLE WITH THIS SHIT ON THE REGULAR - MY LIFE IS A VERITABLE SHITFEST OF HARD DECISIONS), I decided to "up my game" (HAHAHAHHAHAHA) and buy some new lipstick.  Adults wear lipstick!  I can too!  Trendy people wear coral and red!  I can be trendy too! 

I was completely wrong about that last - that picture was the first image result for my 'coral lipstick' image search.  It came from a beauty trend report that is nearly 9 months old - you guys, I'm so ON TREND you know?   JC on a piece of toast, everyone has probably moved to magenta or some shit while I'm still experimenting with a five quid coral throwaway. 

So, that is pretty much as exciting as March 14 2012 is as likely to get and isn't it just awesome to be me?  If any one out there (echo…echo...) has views on/experience with coral lipstick or suggestions other than a paper bag for my beauty routine, I'm all ears! 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

that time i got married

Right.  Hope that last one wasn't too awkward.  Let's mend fences with a topic that usually makes people feel a bit mushy, shall we?  Skip this, if you don't fancy a trip through saturated, overwrought and self-indulgent recollection of an event you didn't witness and perhaps only want to see photographs of.

P and assistants had spent the morning artfully arranging the bunting I so desired in trees at the venue.  My mother had strewn the aisle with the petals of roses from her garden and the gardens of my great aunt, our family friend and my mother's friend's business's garden (they got a completely illicit thrill gathering the petals from the business as they did so after dark and assumed everyone around thought they were burglars.  Who knew this business of flower harvesting was so darkly entertaining?). 

THE BLUE BITS OF THE BUNTING.  GOD I LOVE THAT BUNTING EVEN IF IT IS A CURRENT WEDDING-DETAIL-CLICHE. 
ALSO: IS IT ANNOYING THAT I USED THE *MOST* IMPORTANT PHOTO TO ILLUSTRATE THIS STORY? PROBABLY. ALL IN THE NAME OF TRYING TO PRESERVE A TOUCH OF ANONYMITY. 

I spent the morning getting beautified with my mother and sister, periodically squinting out the window at the weather, while P and friends battled with lemon and blue gingham bunting.  I wish I could have seen them - there is almost nothing more genuine, touching and funny than grown men doing battle with aesthetic principles for a good cause!

The moment I arrived at the venue, the heavens opened.  I watched through the trees from the car as people hustled inside to the alternative ceremony location (the tasting room of the winery, how appropriate for this relationship).  I had been so calm up until that point, but at that moment I felt so terribly, terribly sad that I couldn't have what I'd been imaging: a wedding surrounded by trees followed by hugs and champagne in the sunshine.  The minute I stepped out of the car, it didn't matter.

What I did have was a wedding indoors, with those I loved surrounding us closely, able to hear all the words.  The side doors of the venue were open with the trees crowding in.  Leftover petals had been hastily strewn over the exposed concrete flooring.  I clutched Dad's hand tightly and sweatily, overjoyed. 

My boss said to me that the most clear recollection of her wedding, some years ago, was the church doors opening.  Everyone turned to look to her, and in that moment she was filled with the joyous realisation that everyone had come to celebrate with her and her new husband.  I thought of her in that moment.  I felt like there was time to look into everyone's eyes and smile, filled with exaltation that this was happening, that they were there and mirroring my joy.  And then I saw P. 

He was standing at the front, under a mirror that reflected our friends and family and my own beaming face.  It's not fair to describe his face; a private, private moment witnessed by those we love dearly. 

I am not a religious person; our civil ceremony was not long.  I had believed that I did not need a legal tie to seal our union.  What I underestimated was the power of words. 

It was the highlight of the wedding for me.  My sister's reading, selected partly to gently laugh at the idea of a reading and partly for sentimental reasons, caused my girlfriends to have to share the one square of toilet paper they had between them.  She read beautifully through her tears and I was so proud.  It transpired that the reading also meant a great deal to P's paternal family; unbeknownst to us, we had connected our wedding to a family member long gone. We so dearly wished we could have met him; serendipitous that we included him anyway. 

Our vows.  I had felt like a moron suggesting to P that we write our own.  But I'm so, so glad that we did.  He was funny, sincere and truthful.  So funny, sincere and truthful that in fact I forgot myself and planted a kiss on him after he spoke them.  I revelled in mine; I had not realised that saying those things out loud would mean so much. 

There was more, so much more.  But that's all for now.

Monday, 12 March 2012

it's late, but i feel strongly about this

I'm a swinging bag of inconsistencies.  Not the sort of jauntily swinging bag a girl with a floral dress and sweet wee shoes might tote at her side, but a giant, pleather, lumpy and overfilled bag of which the owner has lost control (owner's dress: unclear, but she definitely has a spot on her chin).

I think I've already referenced the fact that I took some time off oral contraceptives recently.  My return to the world of daily prescription meds has not been smooth sailing.  The mood swings are problematic; underscored by the fact that I was further enraged on realisation of the cause of the mood swings because there is almost nothing worse than telling your husband/lover/significant other that the reason you're so extremely cross about [fill in the blank] is because your hormones tell you so.

As it dawned on me that there was probably more fuelling my mood swings than P's intransigence, and as I appreciated that my moods were, perhaps, not entirely justifiable, I read some more about Rush Limbaugh's comments regarding Sandra Fluke, the student who testified concerning the cost of contraception before Congress.  And then I completely lost my shit.* 

You guys!  Rush and the Mum off Everybody Loves Raymond are gonna think I'm a slut as well as a self-identified hormonal bitch!  I'm even worse than Sandra who was seeking to have an insurance company cover contraception - because I'm a big, fat Whorey McHoPants who, for a significant portion of her young adult life, leeched money off taxpayers in order to have sex!  

I believe I am very lucky that I live in a time where there is the knowledge and ability to choose with respect to contraception.  To choose on my own, if I so wish.  I know this. 

In New Zealand, Family Planning offers free visits and contraception for those under 22.  My university in New Zealand subsidised the cost of doctor's visits and contraceptives.  Once I was employed full time in NZ, I paid for them myself.  The compulsory health insurance I had at my university in the US meant I received free doctor's visits and contraceptives.  In the UK, I pay a minimal amount for contraceptives prescribed by an NHS doctor.   Monthly NHS contributions are deducted from my salary. 

Quite aside from the other possible health benefits, these different bodies/organisations/policies helped me and will continue to help me to make an informed decision about motherhood.  I may become a mother if I'm ever good and ready to be one. 

And let's be straight about this.  Sex can be good.  Sex can be fun.  Lots of people want to do it.  Lots of people want to do it without a possible biological consequence (I'm talking about babies, not UTIs - though if we could have sex for fun without UTIs too I'd be supremely grateful).  Sex can come with a host of complications but I never, ever thought that I'd effectively be labelled a prostitute for having sex using contraceptives that were funded by the tax payer.  I bet you P never thought that either when he availed himself of subsidised condoms.   

The net result is that I don't regret a single cent of tax revenue going to help women and men (let's not forget they're part of this too - they too have the right and ability to choose to prevent pregnancy) make informed decisions about whether or not they want to have sex.  Informed decisions about health, wellbeing and parenthood.  Men and women who, for whatever reason, might not have the financial wherewithall to access contraceptives otherwise.  You might say that's purely because I've availed myself of that service.  Sure, I benefitted.  But the availability of those services gave me the right to choose - and one of those choices was not to have sex; not to use them. 

Now that I've outed myself as the second coming of the Whore of Babylon, let's just take a minute to think about Sandra.  She wants her Jesuit college to continue to cover contraceptives as part of the compulsory medical insurance the college provides for students.  What, exactly, about that makes her a slut?  There might be a place for a discussion about the economics of contraception in there, sure.  A 'user pays' argument isn't completely out of sight.  There might be a place for a discussion of respect for respecting the religious beliefs of the founders of a private place of education, I can see that.  But at what point did Sandra say anything remotely like "I want the pill so I can get my freak on with all and sundry on and off campus" leading to the belief that she's a 'slut'?  AND WHAT WOULD BE WRONG WITH SANDRA IF SHE IN FACT DID SAY THAT? 

This debate has so many levels… but expressed at its most basic, I think Sandra was articulating a simple wish for students to retain the right to make decisions about their bodies within the context of compulsory insurance and expensive contraception.  It must be fairly obvious that in my view, making a decision about your body is personal.  Fundamentally personal - encompassing your own belief and value system.  There is just no need for public discourse about these issues to denigrate to a level whereby we label people with loaded terms. 

[NB I hope I've not been hypocritical, inconsistent or just plain awful in discussing this.  I know I've called people names in the past for their views on different issues and I'm conscious that I might just be hypocrisy in action.  I trust that the names that I've used have been generic and not loaded with particular bias or history, but correct me if I'm wrong.  This post merely picks at the edges of my views on sexual health and associated matters.  I do understand that people might feel differently than I do, or might be offended by the use of borderline humour in my discussion of Rush and co's reactions to Sandra.  I know Rush has apologised (sort of) and I apologise (sort of) in advance.  I'm now having real trouble conceptualising the use of insults on my blog and the use of insulting language in public discourse in general...OH DEAR.  A post for another day!] 

*I appreciate I'm a little slow off the mark reacting to this one, and the whole of the internets has probably already had their say.  OH WELL - it REALLY steamed my broccoli so WARNING: RANT AHEAD.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

saturday morning

I fucking adore Saturday mornings.  They symbolise everything that is magic about my privileged, middle class, child-free (and apparently utterly smug) existence.  These days, they probably illustrate exactly how urban I've become.

MAH SUNSHINE WINDOW. I LOVES IT.
Once upon a time, I'd be up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday.  Out feeding animals, preparing for a show, mucking out.  Riding.  I'd go with Dad to get the ingredients for the weekend's DIY project, peruse the library shelves.  Saturdays weren't bad at all, back then.

Once upon a time not quite so long ago, odds were I'd be battling off a fairly severe hangover caused by drinking an excess of rubbish white wine and failing to eat anything more substantial than hummus and chips before ingesting the better part of a bottle box.  To add insult to injury, from time to time I'd have capped off the night by liberally ordering Vodka Red Bulls/Jager Red Bulls or other faddish drink du jour.  I'd spend Saturday morning wrapped in P's dressing gown, sweating booze profusely, desperately seeking the oblivion of sleep.  On a particularly wrathful hangover, the only activity would be gentle movements between couch, bed and bathroom.  Sometimes I could face being wracked with giggles from the rerun of the night before with my girlfriends/colleagues, whether in person or via text.

These days though, the hangovers tend to be milder.  I generally attempt to pace myself.  [HA HA MOSTLY LIES].  Or it might possibly be that I now work in an English business where getting blotto post-haste following work on a Friday is not the combined goal of all staff (yes, yes: Kiwi binge drinking culture is contributed to the post-colonial hangover, but it appears we've developed some disturbing binging trends of our own amongst the middle class).  I like to eat at restaurants for entertainment that are higher brow than Queen St Burger King these days.  BK still has a place in my heart though, don't get me wrong.

Now, I now often wake up on a Saturday before 9 with the ability to function at a higher level than a mashed cabbage.  I have a cup of tea in bed.  I shower leisurely, start the laundry, then hit the farmer's market for ingredients for brunch and veges for the week.  Today, I was blissfully happy with a coffee and a paper, dappled by the spring light venturing through the window left ajar.  Knowing that there is no work for two whole days. 

Blissful, wasteful and indulgent.  There's a snapshot of my life at 29, captured by three little words. 

Saturday mornings were, and are, the best. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

iwd? do they acronym it?

Happy International Women's Day, sportsfans! 

I SPENT AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT THE APOSTROPHISATION OF THE WORD 'WOMEN' WHEN REALLY, THERE ARE BIGGER ISSUES AT HAND
Women!  Women!  Women are awesome.  International Women's Day today and I have a piece of advice for you.

Go read Caitlin Moran's book, How To Be A Woman.  Not just my femme friends - I recommend it to everyone to do some thinking about some of what it means to be a woman.  In a HILARIOUS way.  I shit you not.  Just do it.  It will make you happy in a fluffy-pube kind of way (sounds vile, no? Happy vile though!). 

Also, there are bigger women's issues than pubes, I know.  So I recommend spending a moment thinking about those too.  That's all, no rant (much). 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

dandy


This is as another entry in the vein of "I'm self-obsessed and awful" and should probably be tagged with "narcissism".  (Side note: I just recalled I have "self-examination" and "MEMEME" tags already so apparently I've already got narcissism covered but hey, more tags about ME is more, right?).

I am a hormonal mess.  An inconsistent therefore unpredictable baggage.  My cycle is all effed up from the effects of taking time off oral contraceptives then starting a new one just before I left the UK for a month, during which time I completely effed up my general body clock.  The net result is that I've been busy justifying my complete bitchiness on the basis that IT'S NOT MY FAULT I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE HORMONES, followed by WAIT? DID YOU JUST SAY I HAVE PMS? THAT MAY BE TRUE BUT PREPARE TO DIE. 

Poor old P.  But don't feel too sorry for him; he's getting a cold and has been pretty mood swingy himself over the past two days.  He snapped at me once so I refused to speak to him the rest of the night.  Justified? I think so.  HYMPH.

Anyway, the point of this is not to point out my irrationality or discuss the finer detail of my menstrual cycle (that word is yick. Whenever I say 'menstrual cycle' which I promise is infrequently I think 'minstral cycle' which is weird or 'minestrone cycle' which makes it SO MUCH WORSE).  The point is to tell you about what made me feel immensely better.

After a particularly awful start to the morning involving a cross husband, computer problems, rain and falling temperatures, I got in the lift at work. Normally this is the moment where I accept that I will actually have to work today and that no amount of fantasising will change that fact (half hour walk to work usually spent constructing elaborate fantasies about alternative scenarios for the day, my life, whatever).  But when I got in the lift this morning, my mood changed entirely due to a complete vision of a man.

VIA GOSSIP GIRL.  OF COURSE CHUCK BASS WAS THE FIRST GOOGLE IMAGE RESULT FOR "A DAPPER FELLOW".  SADLY, HE WAS NOT CLOSELY FOLLOWED BY A YOUNG JEREMY IRONS.
He was wearing a beautifully tailored suit in a dark blue with a subtle pin stripe.  His shirt was plain, but he'd added a purple tie which sounds vile but actually complemented the suit colour.  He had a hot pink pocket square that was perfectly pouffed out of his breast pocket.  His hair was dark, possibly black (which colour very possibly came out of a bottle).  He had it in a wet look teddyboy-style pouf, each strand perfectly in place and coming to an even line on the nape of his neck; definitely not too long and scraggly.  The whole ensemble sounds like some kind of 70s pimp or London early-90s playboy styling now that I've typed it out, but the elements did combine beautifully and he appeared a very well dressed man. 

But what really got me interested and turned my mood around was the fact that his lower lip was pierced exactly in the centre and adorned with a hoop and ball. 

Don't get me wrong, I've never been a facial piercing fetishist.  I generally find male jewellery unattractive and there was nothing hot or come hither-y to me about this man's lip ring.  It was just a perfectly unexpected topping to what was clearly a carefully thought through and composed dress style that made me grin from ear to ear. 

Funny what makes you smile, no?

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

timeline of a, the drama queen

1982: I am born. Eat, poo, cry a lot, sleep a bit.  Possible concussive episode #1: fall off kitchen bench after being bathed in the sink (Mum: "I swear I only turned for a minute to get your singlet and OF COURSE you rolled over then")

1983: Possible concussive incident #2: fall out of booth at parents' skanky fast food joint during rush hour (Mum: "I tried to wedge you in there.  You were SO needy - you always cried at exactly the time I was needed at the deep fryer.  Anyway, it reversed the damage from the first fall").  Little Sister born; I am quite cross about having to share the spotlight.

1984-86: I am Queen of the Kindy.  Told off for demonstrating wrong method of handling scissors to newbie.  Painted kindy best friend's big black dog white.  Become Queen of the Tantrum aka Master Attention Seeker.

1987: I move to new town and start school.  Start ballet classes; stop taking ballet classes because I am embarrassing other children with my advanced stripper moves i.e. I keep taking my leotard off in class.* I am the eldest in my grade, Mum rejects an offer to move me up a grade on basis that I lack sufficient social skills. 

1988: I play the role of "Farmer's Wife" in the play "Hundreds of Cats".  Leads to discovery of "calling" and I decide I am meant to be an Actress with a capital A.  (Latent feminism not yet awakened - did not occur to me to become an Actor.) 

1989:  My career as Netball Player is upstaged by co-ordinated Little Sister.  I sulk. 

1990-1992: I create, star in and produce own plays and television shows in spare time with Little Sister and Neighbours' kids in guest roles.  These include the comic sensation recreation of the "Double Double Cheese Cheese Burger Burger Please" McDonalds ad.  No noticeable discernment shown in productions: I just copy tv ads word for word with the addition of knock knock jokes.  See also: begin writing novels by copy-typing The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe on the family computer.  Trouble with copyright issues, clearly. 

1993: I win cup at Speech and Drama Competition; so overcome I cry on stage during presentation.  I play starring role of "Charlotte" (aka Whining SchoolGirl) in "Windust" (aka Terrible Musical Western for Children), during which I realise I am headed for a future in musical theatre. 

1994: Relocate town and commence intermediate school.  Nicknamed "Miss Mature".  Related: I scale back dramatic efforts.  Go on school camp and tear giant hole in back of denim shorts.  Spent next two hours trying to cover hole with t-shirt.  Die of embarrassment. 

1995: I am still the eldest in class, Mum rejects another offer to send me straight to high school because "A still won't handle it socially."  Accept role of "Mrs Berserker" in "Little Luncheonette of Terror" despite previous attempt to scale back dramatic efforts.  First boyfriend at school disco, slow dance as far apart as possibly can.  Spend months in terror of actually having to talk to him.  Mum feels vindicated in opinion on social skills.

1996: Commence high school.  Have leg-shaving crisis involving battle of wills with Mum over "giving in" to peer pressure, during which I work on angry dramatics ("but NO ONE will be my friend ANYMORE, I'm effing HAIRY MCLARY").  Win by sneaky shaving with Dad's razor.  Accept role of "Apostle-ette" in "Jesus Christ Superstar".  Have revelation that I am actually not a good singer. 

1997: Become serious about horses and boys.  Horses like me; boys don't. Drama career hiatus in favour of real life boy drama, mostly acted out in own head.

1998: Accept role of "Witch" in "Macbeth".  Have serious crush on MacBeth.  Hate Lady MacBeth. (doesn't end well.  HAHAHA SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!)

1999: Best friend moves out of town.  Mope.  Accept role in some godawful musical.  Pash sax player at cast afterparty at my house and get busted by my Dad.  Thrilled when First XV Rugby Team crash the party.  Am too cool for words.  Attend school ball.  Pash someone else's date.  Pash Best Friend's ex.  Very pashy year punctuated by series of dramatics when boys break up with me (scene outside sax player's study hall Top 5 dramatic breakdowns of my career).

2000: Decide must focus on serious career rather than drama: discover politics and become seriously bossy.  Contract glandular fever aka mono from pash-excess.  Hone drinking abilities, leading to more pashing.  Meet Very Serious Christian Boyfriend Taking a Break From God. 

2001: Start university at other end of Country.  Break up with Very Serious Christian Boyfriend Taking a Break From God when realise university = mecca of desperate drunken boys.  Meet P.  Decide P will make nice rebound for a short while.  Create drama four nights a week drinking with girlfriends.

2002:  Have found double destructive dramatic outlet: law school-sanctioned drinking.

2003-2005: Continue on rampage of drinking and study.  P still on the scene, turns out he's quite nice.

2005-2008: Begin v. serious "career".  Thrive on amateur courtroom dramatics.  Move in with P and create drama from time to time because of "difficulty of it all" (i.e. holding down job and running own life). 

(NB 2007: Four wisdom teeth removed.  Discover that I.V. sedation is the best effing high ever but wake up to a mouth full of cotton wool and some disturbing memories of revelations made to the dentist during surgery.  Realise can create own drama without need for drugs)

2009: Move to New York, ultra-drama town.  P comes too.  Rediscover student lifestyle: ie lawschool and drinking.

2010: Move to London.  Unemployment drama.  Aborted attempt at starting blog; appreciate internet potential for attention seeking.

2011 to present: Get engaged.  Realise unparalleled opportunity for attention at wedding.  Attempt to restart blog. 

* I discovered later in life that in addition to being a stripper and having no coordination, my parents withdrew me, and many of the other local parents withdrew their daughters, from this class because the teacher had told my friend that she was not graceful enough to become a ballet dancer and never would be because of a birth defect.  I effing applaud our parents for that decision.  There was nothing that wee girl could not do. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

not just vile, also smug

I know you're all thinking:

"Bitch.  She's selling a trip to a beach on Ko Phi Phi like it was miserable.  Lying baggage."

And you'd be right.  Apart from little concerns like burns, bites and sand in the bed, it was effing glorious.  

PICTURE TAKEN FROM SUNSET BAR BY SMUG-ME.  SURROUNDED BY MOSQUITOS, COVERED IN ANTI-ITCH SHIT
I've never really stayed at a resort before.  I mean, I've had beach holidays for sure, but it was usually staying at a bach with friends, kiwi-style.  For those not in the know, that involves staying at a surf beach where the weather is generally not as tropical as is usually associated with holiday resorts.  It's fabulous though - nearly every meal is fresh caught and barbequed, eaten outdoors.  You go fishing in someone's tin dinghy and seafood collecting on the rocks, there is bodyboarding, body surfing, surfing if you actually can, and likely bike riding too (probably just to the shops for some lollies with a mate dubbed on the back though.  Nothing too strenuous).  Sometimes there is the luxury of an indoor shower, and if there are enough of you, someone will be sleeping in a tent on the grassy area.  Maybe a blow-up lilo on the floor of the living room. 

The alternative for us is generally exploration tourism.  We love to travel - as in, start somewhere, explore, move on to the next place.  In our week in Italia August 2011, P and I made it all the way from Rome to Palermo in Sicily with some diversions along the way.  So, this trip to Phi Phi was my first allout, ballstothewall, Britstyle holiday at a resort.

I effing loved it.  Due to a mistake the resort had made with our reservation, we were upgraded for three of our four nights to a suite set high in the trees, possessing several rooms, it's own infinity pool overlooking the ocean, an outdoor and indoor shower - absolute luxury.  I started the day with a leisurely cup of tea in the pool and finished the evenings with a pre-bed skinny dip.  I showered looking at the Andaman sea.  I napped on bean bags under yellow umbrellas at the ocean front.  I drank shit that came in a coconut or a pineapple.  I even visited the spa and let other people touch my body.  Freaky but delicious. 

VIEW FROM EDGE OF THE POOL
I must say though, the bits of activity we did do were absolute highlights.  Snorkelling at Phi Phi Ley (otherwise known as Leonardo Di Caprio's beach from The Beach), people watching and wandering in Phi Phi town, and discovering a cliff top to watch a sunset (with a bar! bonus!) made me supremely happy.  I'm not sure if I could handle two weeks of hanging out on a lounger, but then again, I think I might be willing to try…

Enough with rubbing your noses in it - but I did want to say for those that care, I had a honeymoon honeymoon - like, a proper one - and it was pretty wonderful to spend such low-key time with my husband.  Discussing the world, inconsequential things, consequential things.  When he's not an ass, he's pretty OK.  We may not have been new to each other, but I was that happy with him, just quietly together, laughing, talking and being.

Smug bitch, aye?