Sunday 23 December 2012


"We could have a wine," I said.
"It's not even ten o'clock in the morning!" protested J. We had woken late; I was barely dressed, my pyjamas a warm heap on the spare room bed. J and Z were discussing Christmas presents for their innumerable nieces and nephews.
"I was joking," I said. I hadn't even brushed my hair.
"We could though, you know," said J.
"You're a bad influence," said Z.
I said I knew that, and sat and knitted on my sock and sipped my wine while J and Z made fudge for Christmas.

I looked up hollandaise recipes and the best way to poach eggs on my iPad and poured another glass of wine.

After brunch, we visited J's parents, and discussed the merits of the cheese shop, and sat and crafted and wrapped presents over a second, then third bottle of wine.

I have more problems and pains than I can list, and compared to most of my friends, not very many blessings. But what I have is more than enough: it is plenty.

Thursday 13 December 2012

(Im)Perfect Gifts

Giving the perfect gift is an impossible goal. When it does occur it is happenstance: you cannot enter a mall, brandishing your credit card, saying, "The perfect gift is within, and I will find it!" Instead, you know something about a person and find a way to honour that.

This is a blankie for George.
George is my best friend's dad. He saw me crocheting once, and said he used to have a bunch of crocheted blankets that someone (his mother?) made, but they were all destroyed in a small house fire (everything was fine, except the kitchen and the blankets). I made him one last year, in the safest of colours and patterns - the reddish colour of last year's blankie was the colour their walls were painted.

He loved it. I don't think I've ever given such a successful gift. It's still on their couch a year later, still being used almost every day.

"This will never get burned," said George, seeing last year's blankie.
"Better the blanket than the house," I said, realistically.
"I'd sooner burn the house down and save the blanket."

A reaction like that gets another.

I love the colours, which look remind me old-fashioned treats: mock cream and chealsea buns. It's two strands of DK acrylic, held double, to make it go faster, and because they have a dog. Who would give merino to someone to a puppy? (More to the point: who would pay for the cost of the yarn?)
The ten-hook is the trick. Each stitch brings you a centimeter closer to finishing.

I didn't think George would like it quite as well as last year's blankie, which was a surprise, and just the right colour, but he loved it - or claimed to.

I'm less sure about the gift for my sister's fetus.

Well - that's the six-month size. I don't know what a fetus would do with a cardigan. The fetus will be my first niece and is so very wanted - I am so excited to meet her in a few months. But I am not sure my sister or her wife are yarn worthy. They got a shawl and a scarf, respectively last year, and beyond a "thank you," I never heard of the gifts again. That's fine by me - how every well-intended or expensive some gifts aren't wanted, or don't work - I just mentally crossed them off my 'yarn' list.

But the child is innocent - so far - and what kind of knitting aunt would I be if I didn't knit for baby?

So I chose a yarn which was rather too expensive, and darling buttons:

And it cost almost as much as I'd spend on yarn for a jumper for myself. But knitting for baby felt like I was doing something for it. It wasn't really a gift to my sister or her wife, who I am sure are inundated with baby clothes already, and if they weren't have the means to buy them themselves. It wasn't even really a gift for baby, who will be warm and dry and loved from the moment she is born, and will have clothes aplenty her whole life.

It was more of a gift for me, affirming (demanding) a connection with a creature that's far away in every sense. Happy Being-An-Aunt to me. In that sense, it was very successful. "Next year, I'll send a hat," I said.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

On Bad Dates

Bad dates are better than mediocre ones. A mediocre date leads to hedging and excuses (he said that call was important) and uncomfortable self examination (do you really want to be the person who decides not to see someone again because of how they wear their socks?).

Bad dates are cut and dried and comforting. They are a reminder that while one may be forever alone, it's not (only?) because you are inherently unlovable, or have terrible taste in socks: it's by choice because nothing, nothing is as bad as spending another minute in the company of a person like that.

Thursday 6 December 2012

An Incomplete List of Unsafe Spaces

Today I accepted a flyer for a women's only gym. My previous work subsidized a gym - the sort of gym that was frequented by minor celebrities, and made people say, "That's a nice gym!" I couldn't afford it without the subsidy, so quit it when I quit my last job, and have been thinking about joining a new one.

"Women's only gyms, I don't agree with them at all," said my (male) friend. "Women's-only weights rooms in normal gyms I understand, but a whole gym just for women - ugh."

If he made a coherent point about why women's only spaces are a bad thing, I didn't catch it before I pointed out he has never existed in the world as a woman or a fat person and to check his privilege. (Which he did, or at least shut up, which is effectively the same thing in this context.)

Even at the Very Nice Gym, I had poor experiences.

The average gym user was obviously - from the diagrams displayed on the machines, to the attitude of the boys on the weights - assumed to be male. I had a male trainer slot me into a machine and tell me to bring my arms together - picture 'I must, I must, increase my bust.' The machine whacked into my (spectacularly average sized) bust and it took repeating, "I can't bring my arms together," twice before the poor man realised why.

The second notable poor experiment was a trainer's comment. He was standing behind me, and said encouragingly: "Lift those breasts up! Arms up! Lift those arms up!"before quietly slipping away as if nothing had happened.

Of course the gym is not the only unsafe space. The following is an incomplete list of places where I have felt unsafe because of men:

  • Public buses
  • Fast food restaurants (After hearing a women was raped in the bathroom, I never went back to Burger King Takapuna)
  • Lifts
  • The footpath
  • Political meetings and events 
  • Work places (plural - not current)
  • School playgrounds
  • Lecture theatres
  • The gym in the basement of the building of new work
  • My own home (as a child. I feel secure in my current home)

Tuesday 4 December 2012


Today we played a hashtag: #punctuationsongs.

These were my contributions:

  • Semi Colon Kind of Life. #punctuationsongs
  • My Boy Builds Colons. #punctuationsongs
  • Comma Together. #punctuationsongs
  • Comma de Locke. #punctuationsongs
  • Don't Go Bracketing My Heart. #punctuationsongs
  • All Tomorrow's Periods. #punctuationsongs #WentThere
  • The Lyre of Obelus. #punctuationsongs
  • All Apostrophes. #punctuationsongs
The last one earned me the mentions: "That's amazing," and "You win the internet," so I decided to stop there. These were some of my favourites from everyone else:
  • Colon in the Deep. #punctuationsongs - @_surlymermaid 
  • Colon Eileen #punctuationsongs - @farmgeek
  • Full Stop in the Name of Love #punctuationsongs -  ‏@DocRaccoon
  • Total Ellipse of the Heart #punctuationsongs - everyone ever
The Burrow is all decorated for Christmas.The Burrow is so called because it is more-or-less underground, hence the non-view and our shiny ceiling. Me and Flatmate like it though: it's cozy, warm, and the rent is cheap.

A backlit window hung with Christmas baubles.
The baubles are hung on sewing thread.
A close up shot of the window, showing blocks sitting on the windowsill.
The blocks are wooden candlesticks I've painted with chalkboard paint.
Two ceramic deer sit on the windowsill.
The deer belong to Flatmate. I think I like them more than they do: I'm always pushing them more to the centre of things.

I like the decorations - that's all there are - we don't have a tree - but they make the Burrow much more festive.

Sunday 2 December 2012

For four weekends in a row, I had a dress up party on Saturday night.

I love dressing up. It's a chance to try on different personalities, along with different outfits.

I wore a different costume to every party, so thought I'd document the here, and humblebrag/provide some inspiration to someone out there.  

The first party was a music-themed Halloween: "The Day The Music Died." (I came up with the name. Kira said she'd been wracking her brain for months, and was tremendously annoyed I thought of the perfect name in two seconds. I said it was my tech writer skills: describing an idea in as few a words as possible.)

Josh and I went as rock and roll - as in, 'Rock and Roll is dead'.

Me, wearing cats-eye glasses, pearl earrings, and a blue floral dress, with a giant neck gash.
Josh, wearing a waistcoat, collared shirt and tie, staring vacantly into the middle distance, with his throat slashed.

We're wearing lots of face powder and eyeliner - the neck wounds are done with commercial fake blood and bits of toilet paper stuck in. They'd all flaked off by ten o'clock, but we had neck stains for days.

It is as pointless to try and describe parties as it is to describe dreams: so much of it is a vibe, an emotion half-felt. But at this party, there was a slushie-machine serving alcoholic slushies. There was candy corn, and for snacks we had "American Pie. I didn't recognise Amy Winehouse, even when she asked me to draw on her tattoos.

I joked, "I'm going to call my mum and tell her I used my BFA!" and then I said it three more times to different people, because that never fails to get a laugh. The saddest jokes are the funniest ones.

Peter and Bibi were there. I went to art school with them both. They have been together since first year. Bibi is slim, with dark hair that curls, and she paints like an angel. Peter has the widest smile you've ever seen. They've been together since first year. I haven't seen them since graduation, a day I spent trying not to cry. 

Everything went better than expected. I don't remember what I said, but I said to Kira: "I think Peter thinks I'm into scat now?" Kira said, "That's probably the best possible outcome."

And it probably was. 

Party 2/4 was in Wellington. Josh's sister and her fiance were hosting. We flew down because we are very dedicated to the partying lifestyle. (Not really: Josh wanted to see his sister; I felt like it had been too long since I'd been to Wellington.)

The theme was "Cosplay". I dressed up as the cat, because the Fiance draws a wee comic for his university magazine, in which the cat features:
 Me, wearing cats-eye glasses, cats ears, a cat tag on a necklace and with eyeliner-whiskers, holding a black cat with a white chest. I am wearing a black dress with a white cami - the same markings as the cat.
The cat wore a little bow tie, and was Tuxedo Mask from Salior Moon.

Josh was Professor Oak, largely because I had the lab coat in my wardrobe already. All these costumes were low or no-cost - cobbled together from bits and pieces we already had.

The Pokemon toy was an impulse buy - we were walking past a shop on the day of the party, and saw it in the window.
Josh, holding a Pokeball and a toy Pokemon, wearing a lab coat and a big smile.  
Honorable mention goes to Mermaid Man, who was friends with the hosts. We were fast friends for the first part of the evening. We took a walk to the bottle shop together (it was shut), and helped a blind guy, who was out with his dog and also wasted, find a curry. 
A man, with hands on hips and staunch expression, dressed as Mermaid Man from SpongeBob.
Party 3/4 was a thirteth: the theme was "Nerdy Thirty." I went as the Fail Whale. 

A screencap of the Twitter fail screen - the "Fail Whale".
 Me, dressed in a blue dress with green cardigan, holding a flock of orange paper birds over my head.

Do you see it? Hmmm. This costume was a joke on two levels: a fat joke against myself (in before anyone else!) and playing off my new job: Social Media Expert (really). It's the least successful of these costumes though - my head piece totally fell down. I took a couple of photos, tossed it, and just kept one bird pinned to my hair.

Everyone else's costumes were amazing: I felt like a dress up party fraud.

Party 4/4 was just themed "Halloween", even though by this time it was halfway through November. I went as Sexy Bento Box.

When I told the gang about it, they were incredulous: "Sometimes I wonder what it's like to live in your head," said Nat, "But then I think I don't want to know."

It was all perfectly cromulent though: several years ago I had attended a "B" themed party as a Bento Box, and, scrabbling around for costume ideas, thought it might be time to revive it. Except "sexy".

Me, smirking, with red lipstick and a bowl on a jaunty angle on my head.
What's cropped out of this photo is short skirt, fish nets and heels. The bowl is attached to a headband with Velcro: the little foods on the necklace are erasers from $3 Japan, and my hair is held back with chopsticks.

This final dress up party was the rowdiest. We drank gin-juice from my hair piece when the beers ran out, and sat, and talked, and laughed. It was one of the few times I have been sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that the hangover was worth it.

Festivus 2012

December's such a busy month, Josh and I thought that G Unit should get together and celebrate in case we were too frantic to catch up another time.

Yes, we know we're part of the problem.

Yes, we know Festivus is traditionally celebrated on December 23rd.

An artificial Christmas tree. The top section stands on a bare base.
Yes, we know that's not an aluminum pole.

Everyone brought a plate. I did chicken and roast veggies. We also had silverbeet and bacon salad, pasta salad, rye bread, cheesey muffins, spicy nuts, ginger crunch, dark chocolate, pink wine, cherry bourbon, almond and coffee vodka, strawberries, fig and chocolate cookies, and six types of cheese.

A platter containing four types of cheese, and crackers.
We talked, and ate, and sprawled on the floor, exhausted from eating too much. We knitted and Courtney taught Emma to crochet. Seven hours later, we decided it might be a good idea to go home, at some point.

It was the best Festivus ever.

Saturday 1 December 2012

According to instagram, this is what happened in November:

A sign which reads: "No Access Beyond This Point, penalties up to $0,000 will apply."A blurry shot of three topless men.
A plate of profiteroles on a black-and-white checked tablecloth.A picture of a wine glass, filled with pink wine and ice cubes.A picture of a cocktail in a martini glass, with a barkeep in the background.A washed-out shot of the sea and the sky.Me, tangle-haired in dark glasses, clutching a black cat who is trying to escape.
A sleek-looking cat asleep on a colourful crocheted blanket.

Tropical blooms in a mason jar.