hitting the books (it’s 2011)
March 2, 2011, 8:54 pm
Filed under: f-f-f-fiji, the beginning and the end

I wanted to recommend this beautiful piece of Australian literature by Craig Silvey. Jasper Jones is about  prejudice, misunderstanding, race, things lost, things found and the small town experience. It was the first book I finished in 2011 and I sincerely hope that it has set the bar not only for my own reading habits this year, but for Australian teenage literature also.

I slacked off on reading last year. Despite having so many opportunities to just sit, relax and read a book in 2010  (on the beach, on a mat, in bed, in the sun, on the couch), I have to say I did not seize them (note previous post about using alone time constructively).  In 2009 I listed all the books I read and the total came to 13. In 2010 I only read 6. When I tallied them up I was shocked/dismayed/appalled but go easy- living island life has been as thought provoking and entertaining as any piece of literature and I’ve connected with people and places through performance,  weekend getaways, fashion, food, kava, and rum. (in no particular order of frequency or importance.)

Reading isn’t a popular activity in the Pacific. Information is spread by word of mouth, radio is the best form of communication particularly in a country still based strongly on village culture and stories are still told through cultural dance and art. Recreational reading, reading for work, reading reports- it takes a long time, there are other things that need doing, and (particularly with reading for work or reading reports) there are other ways to connect with people and resolve problems or issues within the community. Speaking with a friend last week we identified the above points and then went on to discuss a culture of not reading versus the nature of  work done by NGO’s and UN agencies. We talked about the ‘high tech solutions for low tech people’ that most of these agencies adopt instead of making their message as clear and as simple as possible using the basics. What happened to simplicity? What happened to taking advantage of already existing, and well functioning, infrastructure to solve issues or in this case, when did we stop talking to people and start handing them 50 page reports with pretty covers and binding knowing they aren’t going to read it? (furthermore, since when were reports the ‘action’ part of development?- that’s another ‘post’!)

Going back to recreational reading, the University of the South Pacific is this year strengthening its Literature department- it will be interesting to look at the kind of literature being promoted through the school (I am trying to get my hands on a syllabus) and how literature, as well as the course itself, is being promoted and marketed to students in this region.  Will USP work with high schools in the region to promote recreational reading and therefore an interest in literature? Will it encourage students in the region to critically engage with literature or be passive participants? What themes will the school explore more thoroughly (postcolonial? diasporic?) and where will this literature come from- Pacific? Australian? American? Indian? In a region where literacy levels are low and access to books and reading materials is limited, is there need for a Literature department?

I hope so.


nostalgia alert
November 2, 2010, 10:32 pm
Filed under: dear diary, snap happy, the beginning and the end

I just came across this still from the 1954 film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and was flooded with memories of watching it at my grandparents farm when I was of early primary school age. My grandfather was an avid collector of John Wayne movies and our holidays were spent thinking we liked them too, falling asleep half way through and then waking up to Nan having made fresh salad sandwiches on buttered white bread.  Every school holidays we would convince ourselves that we loved John Wayne. We loved the West. But we didn’t. Not even close. Then one day we were ploughing through the video cupboard and came across a gold mine of old school Looney Toons cartoons (think black and white Porky Pig), Three Stooges (Pop liked Westerns, Dad liked slapstick) and the ultimate of ultimate- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It had everything we wanted- costumes, music, love, kidnappings, town vengeance, babies, shotgun weddings, and a group of men dancing and singing as they raised a barn from the ground.

The image of those seven babes in the arms of the seven bro’s reminds me of waking up at 5am and racing to the kitchen to sit with my grandfather, in trousers and a white singlet smoking Camels and sipping sweet black coffee while my grandmother, in her carpeted kitchen, shuffled around boiling eggs and inhaling Alpine Menthols. I can smell hay, and home cooking, and stale cigarettes, my grandmothers nerves, the green poop that came out of me after eating loads of bubblegum icecream and gumboots and diesel. I learnt how to ride a bike there, my grandfather bought my sister and I a horse, he took us for counter meals and bought us FADS so that we could have a smoke with him. Then we’d get tired and go see Nan for some old time dancing in the lounge room to Frank Sinatra and the soundtrack of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. xx

when the bee stings
October 8, 2010, 12:10 am
Filed under: dear diary, getting on with it, the beginning and the end

It’s all thunder and lightning in Suva right now and the rain has proved somewhat cathartic. As mentioned in my last post things have been incredibly hectic- while I made a commitment to extend my writing beyond personal list-making, I need to take time out to self indulge and reflect on the past couple of weeks and my relationships with others, and more importantly with myself. let’s rename  this post- ‘stress and those who cannot share the load’…

There are things that make me moderately stressed- like losing keys, meeting deadlines, my bank account, being on time, the list goes on- my heartbeat might rise a little but it’s pretty mild and I can generally ask for help if needed and deal with that which comes my way (I guess ‘that’ in this case means ‘life’)… but there are other issues and events that make my heart rate raise to such extremes that my head starts to pump and I can feel a tumour in the form of ‘stressful issue or event’ starting to grow, blocking my vision and thus all clear, reasonable thought. In these cases, I find it really difficult to ask for help. And when it’s offered I simply have no time for it- I just want to deal with things myself.

As I get older, I slowly realise that this process of internalising has deeper impacts on my relationships with those close to me and furthermore, with my self. I don’t tell my best friend about losing money on eBay because I think it’s too embarrassing (luckily in this case it was acutally eBay’s fault and I received my money back). I lash out at my boyfriend when he tries to offer solutions to impending case brought against me by our old landlord and storm out of the room when he tries to calm me down- this may also have something to do with the fact that  I just want him to take control. Overall, I become secretive, guilty and impossible to budge. I feel ‘stupid’, like I’m causing trouble, like I don’t want to be the one with the ‘shitty personal admin problem’… plus I also start thinking that everyone else is ‘stupid’ for not just magically fixing it… brat alert…

So.. to avoid feeling these things I’m going to start dealing with them, and start realising that some things are just bad luck, while others are just little bits of life coming my way. I’m not saying that to deal with them I need to start blabbing around town, but I do need to learn to ask for help or support, and to accept it when it arrives….. xx

(as an after thought- i’d also like to add that i’m always on the look out for new and interesting ways to make life harder for myself…. because that’s how i roll…. )

tropical chills
July 27, 2010, 3:49 am
Filed under: dear diary, f-f-f-fiji, the beginning and the end

it’s getting cold in suva. and by cold i mean 25 degree highs and 23 degree lows. but i’m wearing a jumper and wish i’d brought some tracksuit pants with me. i’d also like a doona if it’s not too much to ask.

life here is quickly becoming routine- i go to sleep, i wake up, i hit the snooze button, i wait until the last possible minute to get out of bed and start getting ready (i.e. frantically scaling the room in a search for clean, appropriate work clothes),  i order the same coffee from the same coffee place, i spend too much money on take out lunches every day and swear that each will be the last, i make open ended commitments i do not intend to meet although the ones i do meet generally involve alchohol, i don’t drink enough water, i go home in a taxi after dark and crawl into bed, i watch an episode of my latest tv show obsession, i go to sleep. all while smoking too many cigarettes. not that i’m complaining.

in all honesty, there are soooooo many things happening that are driving out the ordinary- things like building cubby houses in the lounge room, Indian weddings, fish and chips on the sea wall, friends in high places, visitors from home, farm animals, geckos in my bed, stove top kettles, island getaways……………xx

ford perfect
July 7, 2010, 11:32 am
Filed under: dear diary, f-f-f-fiji, the beginning and the end

house party, robbery, lights at night, cracked floor, staring at the sun, space/time continuum, bugging me out, eternal recurrence, keeping in time, new crews, new tunes, parental visits, get out of town, insufficient funds, yoga, possessions, theft, culture, roots manuva, shower tap, bills, lightning, static, patterns, show boat, gift horse, play mate, grime, wash, healthy, pen, tattoo, puffing, rushing, wayward thinking, rich, bo-bo, poor, nothing, IVF twins, knowing shit about shit, homework, trapped, powder, tripping, clean sheets, rain, smoking trees, juggle, envy, masquerade, hating, can’t stop it, let go, tea and afternoon high, the gate, compton, fear, two piece, two step, rasta. xx

the land has eyes and teeth
May 18, 2010, 12:39 am
Filed under: f-f-f-fiji, getting on with it, the beginning and the end

my list of ‘cities i’ve lived in’ has increased by one and oh how ‘stuff white people like” of me to say it considering i’m only up to my third (canberra, melbourne, suva).  ok so the list looks kind of pathetic but i’ve been thinking  on the experiences i’ve had with the first two cities (suva is early days!), how they are different, how i’ve evolved (and at times, regressed), who i have met, what i’ve learnt from them and how all of these seem to relate to how the hell i’ve found myself in Suva-  almost an  ‘on giants shoulders’  revelation. in canberra i was trying to get away from growing up in the country and making every mistake possible to distance myself from that- i learnt that talking shit was ok,  recovery parties are almost definitely ALWAYS shit and that P’s make degrees.  in melbourne i was moving forward with experiences i had and people i’d met in canberra and learning about myself as a ‘grown up’- talking shit became a fine art, recovery parties were still almost definitely ALWAYS shit and thus evolved into just taking heaps of acid so that recovery was next to impossible until sleep, and that always trying to get out of things is actually more stressful than just fucking doing them.  suva seems to be about putting all that crap i learnt from all those experiences and people and actually being a ‘grown up’  – also add into the equation that no one knows me here and it almost feels like i’ve left home again for the first time and i’m on my own to go forth into the world with whatever my parents remembered to teach me/whatever i remembered to remember.  it’s the old  ‘horse to water’ adage.  canberra and melbourne were good to me and i hope the suva is the same- stay tuned for city #4. Suggestions? xx

back to hell
April 4, 2010, 10:37 am
Filed under: dear diary, the beginning and the end

i have left my blissful existence in melbourne and traded it for three weeks in the damned wasteland of my childhood otherwise known as albury. i have only myself to blame for this after deciding it would be a good idea to spend a bit of time with my family before embarking on my save the world crusade. i arrived in the border town on saturday afternoon at precisely 4.13pm. i was picked up by my sister and whisked back to her house where a group of her friends were drinking in the lounge room and talking some shit about someone i don’t know. this will be my home for the next three weeks. allow me to describe: my sister lives in a run-down weatherboard house that belongs to my mother and her husband and is across the road from where they live with my three brothers. the previous owner was an old lady called lil who had lived there since the 1920’s. lil had a little dog that she, wearing a floral apron and weird old lady shoes, would walk up and down the street chatting to whoever she found along the way. unfortunately lil developed severe dementia in her final years in the house and the house was ill maintained. the tiles on the roof are falling, there is no oven, and a slight stench permeates from the leaking water pipes. if not for my darling sister living there i would probably just take the liberty of torching the place. it’s getting knocked down soon and a new house for my family will be built in its place.

so after dumping my bags i decided to walk across the road to my mother’s so that i could say hi to my brothers and use their internet. i went to get my brand new apple macbook pro (it sounds so good when you say the whole thing) and felt a sudden pang somewhere between my stomach and my heart. i had left my laptop on the bus. hyperventilation and tears followed while my sister grabbed her car keys and ushered me into the car. we drove back to the railway station but sure enough the bus had already departed. shit. fucking shit. i’m hysterical by this stage. we drive back to mum’s and i get on the phone calling every possible person (some appropriate, some not so appropriate) in order to track down my laptop. would it still be there? did the junkie anorexic sitting behind me in ugg boots swearing loudly on her phone see it there? shit. fucking shit. after leaving my number with a guy named rob (job title: Bus Coordinator) i finally received a call back saying that my laptop had indeed been found. halle-fucking-lujah. and so i still have my brand new apple macbook pro.

and so with my laptop safe and sound i decided to get drunk.

it’s now monday and i’m ready to get on with it, i can complain all i want about being here but need to remember the benefits- i get to hang out with my three brothers who are just the most insane, funny little creatures. i also get to attend the wednesday night dinners that are held at my grandparents place- home cooked meals and vegetables here i come. i get access to nan’s sewing room and  i don’t have to pay rent or bills- plus plus plus.