Monday 28 October 2013

Abandoned shed, Northland, New Zealand.
Abandoned building, Northland, New Zealand.
Abandoned house in Northland, New Zealand. The weatherboards are falling off the side.
Another view of the same abandoned house in Northland, New Zealand. The roof is rusting off.
Abandoned shed in Northland, New Zealand. One corner of the roof is caving in.
Abandoned home in Northland, New Zealand.
Abandoned red barn in Northland, New Zealand.
Abandoned building on stilts in Northland, New Zealand.
An abandoned home in a paddock. Both doors are gone; you can see right through it.




A house that's been abandoned isn't inherently more interesting than one that's not. Maybe we're fascinated by abandoned houses because they have only one question left: where did the people go? When we see a house that's lived in, there are too many things to wonder. Is the picket fence ironic? Do the jumble of shoes by the door indicate visitors or mess? Is there a couch on the veranda, a barbecue, or neither? These things tell us things about the people who live there, but there are too many questions to ask, then answer, and we've already walked past.

An abandon house bypasses all of those things and simply asks, where are you?

Coming from a city with a chronic housing shortage, it seems absurd that someone might build an entire house, and then not live there.

Was it a crisis? Or a simple forgetting? Did they build that nice house in the next paddock, and mean to rent out the original, and then just never find a taker? Are the houses full of things, or simply empty?

All these images were taken from a moving car. I used a Holga Lens on my Canon camera. Those things together explain the picture quality.

These were taken from State Highways 1 and 16 in Northland New Zealand. I missed many more shots than this. How many more abandoned buildings were there, out of sight?

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Spare us from idiots

I swear, didn't we just do this?

There's an idiot in the paper again today. No links - no page views from me! Complaints can be laid with the Press Council, but before you do so, you "first lodge the complaint in writing with the editor of the publication."

Here's where you can write to the editors of the Herald.

The Press Council says: "If the complainant is not satisfied by the editor’s response or receives no response from the editor within a period of 10 working days from the date on which the editor received the complaint, the complainant may then complain to the Council."

Here's what I said to the Herald:

I am writing to complain about the opinion piece - "Bob Jones: Spare us from road-clogging women" published on 5:30 AM Tuesday Oct 22, 2013.

It was inaccurate, offensive, and condones violence against women. It should be taken down, and a response issued. The New Zealand Herald is meant to be a balanced and fair national publication with excellent standards of journalism, and this "article" falls laughably short of that standard.

Below are some of the inaccuracies:

"Things became and remain chaotic as women drivers caused massive pile-ups at the roundabouts. They misinterpret the simple proposition of giving way to traffic on your right as stopping if someone's approaching 50 metres away." If this was really a problem of the magnitude Jones suggests, surely some data would be available and could be provided.

"Women drivers possibly cost 1 per cent off our GNP, through causing massive delays in city traffic flows." Again, no citation is given: we must assume that Jones made up the "statistic" to insult and put down women. Why was this allowed to be published? Would you have published a similar slur against a racial group?

Jones continues, saying of women in their thirties: "I suspect they're angry because they haven't got a bloke, or angrier still because they have, for which I sympathise." It is offensive to suggest that anger is a natural state for women. If this is an attempt at humour, after the style of Bridget Jones, it falls very flat indeed.

He continues with the inaccuracies: "[Women are] the ones with a 30-metre gap between them and the car in front, thereby compounding the congestion. " I have never once seen a gap this large.

Finally, he condones police violence against women.

"My weaving in and out of the women resulted in complaints to the police, who wrote to me.

"I replied, first pointing out that passing is not illegal and adding that while normally I don't condone police violence, this was an exception and they would be doing God's work by going to the complainants' homes, beating the crap out of them and burning their houses down.

"Amazingly they wrote me a nice reply apologising for bothering me.

"Suggesting that women should be beaten and have their homes burned down is disgusting. It should not be allowed in print. Violence against women is a serious problem in New Zealand. In 2011 there were 7,896 recorded cases of assault of women by a man. Unlike Jones, I can provide a statistic here.  Violence should not be condoned.

Again, I believe this piece should be removed, and an apology issued. I do not believe that Jones should be allowed to write any more pieces for the Herald.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Finished Project - Clapo-Ktus

I guess the general populace like my scarf because I got cat called twice in 500 metres.

When I was taking these pictures in one of our beautiful inner-city parks, I thought, "I am going to be so embarrassed if I fall over and break a leg."

Look, it was windy, I'm such a good knitter I can control the weather.

This shawl is call the clap-ktus, which in my mind rhymes with "platypus." It was a very simple beginner's shawl. The shaping is on every right-side row, and the details are just dropped stitches. The yarn is called "Paradise." I wore it out for the first time today, and got cat-called twice, so obviously people like my new shawl a lot.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

When I was doing this update

Friday 11 October 2013

The Cost of It

My friends got me an Implantation Day card.
They teach you that a womb is not an organ, but a malevolence. A threat lying in wait, ready to hurt you. At any moment (so the story goes), it will erupt and snatch away everything good from your life.

Birth control’s not as reliable as you might think. In my circles, I can only think of one person who had a kid on purpose.

I’ve tried six types of the Pill. Each gave me unlivable-with side effects. I wrote them down, to show the doctor.

  • Hair loss
  • No libido 
  • Mood swings 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Suicidal thoughts
It also made my skin look great.

A lot of my friends are childfree: they don’t have kids and it’s going to stay that way, damn it. I consider myself child agnostic. I don’t want to be a single mother. I would be rubbish at it. In the right circumstances, a child could greatly improve my life, I’m sure, but how do you get those circumstances right?

I’d like to say loudly and clearly that mothers are amazing, and I’ve never met one who isn’t doing a fantastic job.

But I only want a wanted child, and I don’t want a child.

There’s a lot of good things in my life right now. I have a fantastic job. I love where I live. I have a rad group of friends. All those things - a kid would change all that. I couldn’t live in this expensive inner city apartment with just one close friend. My job is flexible, but does it pay enough I could afford childcare? But an IUD is so effective. What if an accidental child was my only chance for a child at all?
I though, “What if you had had a kid with any of your exes?” I thought, “What if you got knocked up last week, after those cocktails?”

I was prepared to fight with my doctor, but she looked over my notes, and said, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t recommend hormonal treatment for you.” She had, three times, but I didn’t argue. It costs $54 to visit my doctor.

Condoms break. There’s the morning after pill for that, but it’s a pill too, so it’s not something I enjoy taking. It costs $45, and you have to go to a pharmacy, and pharmacies are only open in work hours, and a lot of them are closed on Sundays.

I tried to be open about getting an IUD. The Prime Minister talks openly about his vasectomy, but there’s a lot of silence, a stigma, around being a grown-up adult lady. Why is it hard to say, “Yeah, I’m actively trying to not be pregnant”?

People sent me messages. One person thanked me for saying anything openly, online. A few people said unhelpful things:

  • Do you know it hurts a lot? 
  • My mum said it hurt more than labour. 
  • Are you sure you’re having sex enough to make it worthwhile? 
  • Do you know, the string hangs out and until it softens up, it can stab your boyfriend in the dick? 
  • The string can also wrap around his dick. That’s a thing that can happen. 
  • Did you hear about the [hormonal] injection? Or the [hormonal] rod? 
  • Just try to relax your vag 
  • My vasectomy didn’t hurt at all 
  • You know it’s easier to have it inserted just after you’ve given birth.
The doctor sighed, “You’re getting an IUD? Well no one told me. Come on, let’s get this done.”

The doctor told me to put my feet up on the table, and handed a package back to the nurse - “Not that one - the other one. The copper one.” All morning, my hands had been shaking, and my heart racing. I tried to relax my vag.

There are two types of IUD. One contains a hormone (how? I don’t know). It stops your periods too, which some people like. The other one is made of copper, which I think I read years ago is naturally antibacterial.

The hormonal one is $370, unless you’re low in iron, in which case it’s $170. The copper one is funded, so you pay just the insertion fee. I think they undercharged me so mine was $134. I asked my boyfriend to pay half of it. He agreed, unhesitatingly. Fair’s fair. I checked my account, and he’d rounded up, given me more than I said was his share. I think he felt guilty: “Don’t do this for me,” he said.

I couldn’t find the words to explain it’s a selfish thing. Fuck you, biology. Fuck you, the continuation of the human race. Fuck all that, I want Thursday-night cocktails instead.

“First they manually dilate your cervix,” said a friend. I clapped my hands over my ears and lah-lah-lahed. I didn’t read up on the procedure. I don’t like medical things. I can’t even watch blood being drawn on TV.

They don’t sedate you before inserting the IUD. Someone said, I should ask for local anesthetic. Someone else said they thought an injection in the cervix would hurt more than the actual insertion.

It’s recommended you take two paracetamol and two ibuprofen one hour before coming in.

There was a red hot thread of pain.

I was walking along a beach. The waves were crashing and the machinery in the factory was whirring and I was running through white halls and a thousand years later, I was screaming in a room I had never seen before.

“You fainted,” said someone who hadn’t been there before. “You were only out for a second,” they lied. They were holding my hand.

There was beeping everywhere. I had sat bolt upright without knowing how and the person I’d never seen before encouraged me to lie back down.

“This room is soundproofed, so you can scream all you want,” said the doctor.

They said, it’s really common to faint in shock when things are inserted through your cervix. It’s called Cervical Shock. They had silenced the alarms. I was crying.

“You gave us all a fright,” said someone, “But you’re fine - you’re fine. You’ll be fine soon.”

“It’s all done now,” said the doctor, pretending to be soothing. “And it can stay in there for five years! Isn’t that nice?”
“It bloody well better,” I said and they all laughed.

“Let me just clean you up here,” said the doctor, scooting her chair between my legs again. “It’s a good thing you’re wearing black,” she said, but she didn’t say why.

The doctor left, and the new nurse left, and it was just me and the first nurse. “How many children do you have?” she said. I said none, and she asked how old I was. I said 27, and she said oh. She told me about her four children, their names, ages and professions. She said, one was getting married, but didn’t want children, so what was the point of getting married? She said, she herself had her first child at 21. Now, her daughter looks like her sister.

She said, “You should have lots of children, lots and lots, because you’re so beautiful.”

I asked for a drink of water.

No one talks about presumed fertility, and the cost of it. I have never been pregnant, but people look at me and don’t see a person. They see vector for continuing the species, a young woman “with those hips? You’re made for babies.”

When I was researching this, looking into IUDs, I didn’t google it. Stories like this are clinical and scary. I talked to people instead. “It was awful,” said my friends. “I was in pain for three months. I would recommend it in a heartbeat and do it again in a second.” They say, “It’s the best thing I ever did.”

They don’t tell you about the pain, because pain is fleeting. There is paracetamol and ibuprofen. I made a list of things which hurt more:

  • UTIs 
  • An unrequited crush 
  • An ill-fitting bra
Other people chimed in:

  • A broken collarbone 
  • An ingrown toenail 
  • Dental surgery
We talk about those things, even in polite company, even in public. I think we should talk about this too.