How to expand subjective time during the lockdown.

Conscious Cookies

A three-step technique for creating space, slowing down and enhancing creativity.

“When one has much to put in them, a day has a thousand pockets.”

– Nieztsche

One of the challenges of living, working and socializing all from home during this Pandemic-induced lockdown is that the spatial structure of our days has been largely dissolved: where before we’d have a repertoire of different spaces for different activities, now everything’s happening at home.

If you think about a typical pre-COVID day for someone who works in an office for example, events are naturally distinguished by where they take place.

In my case, I’d get up, exercise in the park, cycle to the office, work and have discussions in different meeting rooms, go out for lunch, return to the office, go for a walking meeting, perhaps zip across town for a meeting in a café; and then after work, I’d often meet…

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My reading diary from 2019

It’s the season for winding down, relaxing and doing whatever the heck I want. Most likely involving good food, good souls and good weather!

This year I wanted to read one book a month, not just any book, as many indigenous books or books about Polynesia and the indigenous reference as I could. Below is my attempt and mini-review of each that I managed to get through last year. If you can recommend any amazing titles to add to my good reads list, let me know ❤

How to be single, Liz Tuccillo (6.5/10) – this was from a few years ago that I never finished but finally did.

  • I was meant to finish this ages ago and finally got around to finish it. I’m pretty sure this story was what sparked a similar plot for a movie that was released last year on this. The plot is interesting and I like that not everyone has a complete happily ever after lol. It’s a bit more real. But this is definitely from a mayo perspective, which is fun for some light-hearted reading.

Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay (8/10)

  • This was an easy read and I definitely prefer this style of writing when being introduced to academic topics/concepts. It gave me the impression like I was having coffee with a lecturer and listening to her harp on candidly about several sub-topics on their main thesis. Only reason for points off was

Where we once belonged, Sia Figiel (8/10)

  • I LOVE this writing style. Seen through the eyes of young teen Alofa, the story explains the intricacies (and scandals) of Samoan life as a young woman, as a love child and as a daughter vying for her father’s approval.

Free love, Sia Figiel (8/10)

  • This story is more playful than “Where we once belonged” which I found to be more raw (which is my preference). It a treat and I enjoyed the protagonists tenacity which I think all Samoan females have in essence. The second half of the book tied in some beautiful decolonising energy which I definitely appreciated and wish there was more of in the literature I read.

They who do not grieve, Sia Figiel (8/10)

  • Some of the plot includes the larger picture in relation to Alofa’s life in “Where we once belonged”. It was initially a bit harder for me to get into this book and then as I got through a few chapters I enjoyed it a lot more. Definitely like her writing and how she is so raw. It was hard to read at some points but I’m a fan of not censoring the reality of some narratives and complexities that people in Samoa live. It’s up to the reader to interpret from whatever position they occupy.

Wild dogs under my skirt, Tusiata Avia (7/10)

  • Again, I like how Samoan women aren’t afraid to write about what’s considered profane and not censor their material. It’s just a depiction of what happens and is open to the reader to interpret and make sense of it how they will. I watched the play to this and loved how they depicted each of the women portrayed, particularly Alofa(fua). Highly recommend if you can get along to the play, check it out.

Fast talking PI, Selina Tusitala Marsh (8/10)

  • LOVE the Fast talking PI poem, makes me laugh, cringe and sad all in one sweep.

Braving the wilderness, Brene Brown (7/10)

  • Surprisingly, this book made me want to draw back on my spiritual learnings from when I was growing up (Christian and some indigenous teachings). I’ve been going through a bit of a time trying to understand “connection”, particularly with people in my life who are currently suffering from some past trauma and this book, gave a bit more insight into that.

The Devil’s advocate, Iain Morely (8/10)

  • I’ve half-read this. It is amazing though and I just need to get through it in early 2020 -_- slightly annoyed at myself for not finishing it.

Su’esu’e Manongi: in search of fragrance, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese (8/10)

  • This was a nice start into Tui Atua’s writing considering I haven’t read any of his previous texts. I got my copy signed at the Auckland Writers Festival this year and he probably didn’t think I was Samoan given my features and name. There were one or two concepts I didn’t entirely agree with, but I won’t comment on this yet because I haven’t actually finished this book -_- I intend on finishing it in early 2020.

I didn’t get through as many books as I wanted to last year. I was quite religious with reading on public transport and in the evenings before bed up until I went to Papua New Guinea and then straight after that, my fight camp started. Then, during the camp, I was too tired to bother in the evenings and was also training in the mornings so I drove to work. I finished the fight camp in October, and then got a new job and moved in late November to Whangarei so… I didn’t prioritise reading time.

After moving and settling in properly in Whangarei, I didn’t pick up my reading time as I was busy getting stuck into how to be a lawyer in the new role and drifting between Auckland and Whangarei. Anyway, all that being said, this year I want to make more of an effort to prioritise it. Here is to a longer list and review in 2020.

Waru, Vai and reflections

Waru

Last weekend I went to watch Waru and Vai with a girlfriend. I absolutely love supporting brown creatives when I can, so it was such a treat to go out and see this despite my busy work schedule and week ahead (and the fact that I had been working that Sunday afternoon).

Waru is a film directed by 8 female directors. It follows 8 stories in sequence around the tangi of a small boy who died as a result of child abuse. It is confronting.

The first sequence is at the Marae. An aunt, Charm (Tanea Heke) of the boy is in charge of food preparation and making sure everything is prepared for the tangi. She sees the mother later in the sequence who is a mess and wants to see her pepi.

The second sequence is of another mother Mihi (Ngapaki Moetara) who has children at the same school as the boy. She is on the benefit and doesn’t have enough

The third is of the boy’s teacher, Anahera (Tanea Heke) at school. She is having difficulty dealing with it and blames herself for not spotting any signs of the abuse. Another colleague urges her to attend the tangi with her.

The fourth is of a female tv presenter Kiritapu (Maria Walker). She is a young Maori woman and heads the sports segment on a news show. She takes over the racist news piece by a Hosking-like character and shares her own views on child abuse in New Zealand.

The fifth is of the paternal grandmother attending the tangi to collect the boy’s body and take him back to his father’s land for burial.

The sixth is of a struggling mother Em (Awhina Rose Ashby) who returns home from a drunk night out to find her baby on the kitchen floor nestled. Alone.

The seventh, which was the most heart wrenching for me, is of a young female teenager Mere (Acacia Hapi) who stands her ground against a dirty uncle who is attending the tangi.

The eighth is of two of the boy’s aunties, Titty and Bash (Amber Curreen and Miriama McDowell) who live nearby. They are aware of the abuse and are on their way to the boy’s whare to collect him and other children there who aren’t being cared for. There is tension between the aunties struggling as to whether or not they should go collect the children. The headstrong aunt wins out in the end. When they arrive, there are drunk men littered around the front of the house telling the women to fuck off. The boy whispers, that at that point in time, he was still alive. He was still here.

Lindah Lepou is the costume designer – which I am an absolute fan of because she came from state house life like myself. And I love seeing state house kids making it, breaking stereotypes that we’re dole bludgers, etc.

My reflection

The story which hit me the hardest was Mere’s; based on my own, but likely correct, interpretation of the sequence. I cried. I hurt. I reflected on why I cried and hurt. I’m not the recipient of the trauma referenced in this sequence but I have or have tried to absorb it because three women close to me have had this trauma. And they have let that trauma shape them into three completely different women. One is strong. Another is angry. The other has imploded.

I think I can see how far this trauma seeps into my loved ones’ behaviours, words and sometimes, intentions. And want to help mitigate its effects. But instead, because I don’t need to put my emotions where they are not needed, I should really just see this understanding for the rebuilding in the wake of said trauma.

I struggle to deal with piecing together what to do next in my own familial story of unbecoming and rebuilding. I struggle because there are layers of unbecoming that happened all at once between late 2017 and early 2018. The physical death of a patriarch that, if he knew, may have provided direction forward with dealing with this. The death of familial trust in several relationships.

My father is not outspoken. He is quiet.

My mother is the complete opposite. She is loud. She is certain. She is tenacious.

I have struggled because, when my grandfather died, he was the centre of our family. But… instead of mourning who will take up this gap in our family and looking for some direction, my grandfather dished out enough tough love and direction during his life for me to figure it out on my own. Instead of trying to find his replacement or become his replacement, he gave me enough discipline and focus to find this within myself. Not to be a centre – but to find direction. On this.

Vai

Like Waru, I love how this story revolves around the strength, vulnerability, and essence of Polynesian women. There is so much depth.

Vai is directed by 9 Polynesian film-makers. All women again, all amazing.

The link goes over the different sequences, I only included the ones for Waru because I couldn’t find a link for it. For the sequences in Vai, its hard not to connect most with NZ born Samoan Vai. She works to support her family, has good grades but isn’t getting support from her tutor.

This story in Vai reminds me of a time I cried in my lecturer’s office about struggling with an aspect of the paper. I was 25 at the time.

I like to think I’m quite a composed person but, unlike Vai, I did not hold myself together. I burst into tears when my lecturer asked me what was wrong. With my mother breathing down my throat about Housing New Zealand trying to pressure my parents (and then my mum on me) to find a private rental because we were paying market-rate, working full-time and an unhappy familial and intimate relationship, I just burst. I don’t tend to get fixated and stressed over a single issue, it’s usually a combination that gets me to breaking point.

I got a B+ for that paper – health economics. Not the happiest of results but considering the circumstances, I made peace with it.

I’ve decided against going back to postgraduate studies until I had a bit more balance on the personal, financial and professional front.

No doubt I’ll probably have more reflections on these films as time goes by but, for a breather on a Sunday, it was well loved and enjoyed.