Thursday, April 19, 2012

kia ora - be well - c'est la vie

I arrived back on Aotearoa New Zealand tarmac with the usual sudden feeling of deceleration as the plane braked and I lost the feeling of nowhere-floating which is a subtle pleasantness about flying, I now realise.

I paid for myself to fly premium economy, (and have used up all my holiday dosh now, o dear), because it is literally torture for me to be crammed into those other teeny seats for 24 hours or whatever it takes these days, (I get bruises and cannot walk easily for hours afterwards otherwise) but I did get some sleep on the way back this time, and arrived with a few sensibilities working.

The service in that part of the plane is also exemplary, chamomile tea at bedtime, socks for your feet and a little bean bag to rest them on, a toothbrush and toothpaste amongst other things like Clarins moisturiser (teeny but the real thaaang) in a felted pouch, cuddly rug and an array of movies etc., which did include a couple I quite liked, for a change.  The Edgar film was rather good and so was The Artist, (though I'd seen the latter on the boat already, coming over). Lots of room, I could relax, move about easily and understood most of the luxuries on offer, although the kindly gentleman next to me had to show me where my headphones plugged in, (I am hopeless with such things). The toilet on board in that section also has more room than usual, and faux-books on the wall like there's a library in there. Air NZ are amusing, they had titles of books about flying and our country, some of them invented, it was quite a laugh. If I hadn't been so shattered I could've made notes but I was quite.... Yes, so, the whole wall on one side is taken up with this fun 'library' wallpaper, in the aeroplane loo on the Air New Zealand flight, premium economy.

And, I deserved to be really well-treated for a change for weeks and weeks, (although it was terribly hard work to organise and also being so alone there when not with friends was harrowing occasionally). I deserved to see my wonderful, hard-working, clever, sensitive friends in America, to show them how much I love them and deserved to enjoy a real holiday for the first time in 20 or so years. I deserved to just take it easy and see some sights, not be working seven days a week and helping others all the time, often for nothing. Okay. If anyone here in NZ or elsewhere has an issue with my six bare weeks holiday which I delighted in, and of course I would, they can tell me to my face, but any sniping or back-biting or anything else nasty any of you think I deserve can just come straight back at you, right this minute. Yes, I have noticed a few ripples here and there of nonsense, so there's some waves from me, hooolaaa.

I feel this is a real issue and it needs to be discussed.

Envy can be a kind of national sport in my lovely country, (and maybe in others) but it's time we called a halt to it. Surrender. Give it up. Go on and love your life, be of joy. I recommend it. Works for me. Nuthin's poifect, but life itself is a blessing.

Aaand treat me well or leave me alone - that's my new motto. Thanks. Meant most sincerely like a song and dance with epic verses which someone paid mega-moola ring-a-ding for, then recorded and put in the libraries of the world. If I think I'm not being treated well, then I will be leaving you alone.  (And yes, this does need to be said, too). I am not a target for others to treat however they think they can get away with, got it?

I do enjoy the company of many stunning friends and colleagues and we will all work well together or apart but often overlapping, and debating if needs be, from now on ever at all and on to the future then some to make greatness occur and everywhere niiice, gooder, being, no matter what, o....

I love how America has made me stronger, tell yah what. Love how my friends there believe in what they're doing and in what I'm doing, we matter, we deserve to be treated well and create great writing, stunning performance, publishing better books for the world. This means you, anyone who wants to make it them, go on ahead and believe in this.

'Write poetry as if you owe a debt to the world,' I read in an Adrienne Rich poetry book, one of the quotes she had at the start, (RIP

Symbols and Textures by Jan Nigro

I must say too RIP one of our greatest artists ever Jan Nigro who sadly passed away when I was overseas, it was the first message on my answer-phone from her long-time friend and colleague the inimitable Rita Webster.

Jan has gone, I thought she'd be with us forever. Her vibrant, insightful, daring work as fresh and original in future as it is today but she, Jan has gone.

I shall miss Jan Nigro and so will many others. Jan assisted so many artists I would be willing to bet there are thousands of us grateful for conversations we had with Jan Nigro over the years. I shall always remember her comments and her laugh, Jan Nigro had an excellent laugh and a talent which puts her art up there with the best of the best, ever.

It's awful too how life then goes on. I often think it's a fright how grief appears but life just rolls on anyway, but hey, wheels and reels....

So, we came in for landing and the enormous stretch of lit Auckland pooled about us. One of the largest cities in area in the world all stretched out and lazy la-la, lovely twinkle blink and glow. The pleasant but professional atmosphere inside the terminal gave me a feeling of truly, deeply knowing where I was, (a lack of fearfulness I suppose it is) while all the officials are extremely watchful and thorough nevertheless, the South Pacific has its own attitude like every country. We're sunny and open you could say, but those dogs sniff everyone's bags and the security is there, lots of it.

My Indian medicine pouch from the wonderful Julie Payne and her husband and family, (Cherokee) was carefully inspected by a customs official. I think they were also a little impressed by it, (as am I). They also made sure nothing on there could possibly bring in anything to contaminate our agriculture which we depend on for our livelihoods for the most part.

Someone really clever who I know in the States pointed out that bringing in books and films from elsewhere to a country can also be like a seed, could also make things grow there which should not, however his analogy is too far flung, not apt. Closing our minds to other knowledge is often cause for the ideas we do have to wither and stunt themselves, human thinking feeds off new and unusual material as much as the classics and local fare. I think he wanted a discussion anyway, I don't think it was something he truly believed.

O yes, talk. We've all done lots of that over the last while on this journey. Many people talk about trees, they show them off to me and assure me they do not need trees, no not here, but I will be getting some for Australia and posting the evidence, plus there are about 25 trees I've seeded myself and I'm giving those away to people, native NZ trees.

Already nine or so trees I propagated have gone to good homes.

I could be seeding more of those too in the coming year and they'll be at the market I sell at, in Point Chevalier once a month. My house-sitters Marj and Bob are still in situ and they've been looking after the garden, I see they've left in some seedlings which have come up here and there and only need repotting. Maybe tomorrow when I am off to the market I'll get some ready to take along.

Planting trees for travel can be a pleasant activity. It need cost nothing much more than time. Seedlings are often easy to grow from seed or cuttings and people may happily accept a gift of a tree, shrub or large plant. The rose I bought for Adam is large, it could grow for 100 years, it's a climber.  A tree may mean a fruit tree or a small shrub, too it need not be a redwood or a kauri.

I've grown a few kowhai trees, I'm pleased to say. They're hard to propagate. Some are growing now from this project in gardens in New Zealand, along with other trees.

Touchdown, home again, feeling pretty pleased with myself to have made it.

It was delightful to sit in the shuttle bus from Auckland airport and strike up a conversation which pretty soon turned into something about education with a sharp-minded, younger man, a school principal from Albany and an Englishwoman who seemed around my age and was aiming to edit students' theses in future, her refresher studies soon to be over.

In New Zealand, many people may chat freely about this and that with strangers or new acquaintances at bus-stops or in a shuttle taxi kind of thing, NZ locals will often do so anyway. It is, I think a tradition from the old days when farmers and others needed to share information freely, (and they still do need to) so they'd all be in the loop and get on.

I have seen many foreigners alarmed by this behaviour, but it's just local, nothing to worry about and once you get used to it, greatly enjoyed. That is not to say we talk about things as if we are in fact friends, but simply in a friendly manner, to be simplistic about it. I did have to curb this tendency in the States, where such behaviour is not usual at least in the larger places, I gathered.

We covered a great deal of conversational ground on the 45 minutes or so from the airport. I was arguing for student-led education for those 'difficult to teach', (although I believe that model could suit almost everyone to a degree), while the school principal thought still there could be a way to implement the new 'standards' more effectively. I had a lot to say there and fast, since those standards are based mainly - by accident or design - on the furtherance of ignorance, (a ploy for crowd-control or population management 'keep them stupid, keep them in line' which has proven over and over again to be ineffective long-term for sound nationhood and economic growth). I did suggest he could hold two opposing views in mind at the same time to contrast them and see which in fact was stronger. To his credit, this fine man and teacher appeared to take this on board. I'm so glad a man like that is in charge of one of our schools. The dialogue we all enjoyed was real and engaging, useful in my opinion and heartening.

A few other people sat in utter stillness in the dark shuttle, maybe a little alarmed we were exercising our talkativeness so early in the morning. It was around 6am. Or perhaps they were just listening, could go on themselves later and discuss what we'd said with people they knew....

Denial is one of the strongest intellectual forces we employ, I also mentioned.  Love may over-ride everything and is best to rule us generally, however it is not reasonable. So to be effective we need to be loving and also, thoughtful while remaining connected with other people and where we live. But denial masquerades as decent thinking, (because it is powerful) it can by its very nature trick us into thinking we know best or need not think about something, even when there are radically incorrect things going on which we could change simply with discussion or reaching out to another for assistance.

Denial makes things look neat and tidy, we think this is orderly but it is in fact chaotic behaviour like shoving all the mess into a drawer or cupboard and closing the door to pretend there's no issue. We may be loving too and still in denial about so much. It is often possible to deny things in mind because it appears simple, easy and efficient but the situation grows disastrous when we deny so much we cripple ourselves and atrophy. If we have not tidied up, if we've kept on cramming things in cupboards instead of cleaning them, ordering them, well, then we run out of dishes, clothes and so on then need to buy new ones, or face the mess and clean it up. We cannot go on denying we have responsibilities, things to tidy, stuff to order, or money and resources would run out and it's wasteful, an unhappy way to exist and icky, to be blunt, yes, ick ick ick.

Makes things a bit blue.

Blue Impressions  by Jan Nigro

But cleaning and ordering is a certain joy with the best attitude and even an angry session of mopping floors is better than walking through filth in a daze.

Human beings really do need that careful, tidying time. It does something good to our minds and hearts, to how we connect with others. It is not gender-specific either although men and women as individuals will have their favourite times to clean, places to order and things they care the most for, et cetera.

In the case of certain policies in education, we are being messy while pretending to be smart. Denying the fact (in many places in the world) that those in charge may not have our best interests at heart, or may be woefully ignorant and only pretending they know things, some people just sail on hoping for the best and who can blame them?  We can't know everything. We are however denying the fact that peace and prosperity on a decent, sustainable level is not that wildly profitable, so chaos and disorder is needed to feed the Mammon machinery and certain people will keep on working to make that happen, will manipulate the majority of decent good people to get idiocy and mayhem to happen, to create wastefulness since then people have to buy more and more. We have to repair, to replace, to rebuild....

We need instead to steadily work to keep things well. A choice of attitude, a change, we may be like water which flows a certain way and not another way.

But enough of education philosophy according to most people in the field whom I know, hmmm, economics - they're important too, how things are priced and why, what people usually behave like and how cash flow affects that and is affected by the same. The shuttle bus from Auckland airport is still a great deal price-wise, much cheaper than a taxi. It was however far more expensive than the bus I took from New York City to Newark on my departure from my beloved America and all my wonderful friends there. (I sobbed as if my heart would break when we took off from LA international airport, my last stop before home, it shocked and changed me how strongly I felt about leaving the U S A). But yes, anyway, so many things in New Zealand cost more than the U S or Europe or even Australia since the necessaries for them have to be imported and from a long way away.

If we do, (just thinking about it) lose out on the petrol front however in future, like we did during WW II, then we'll invent something else to use like we did then. We devised many new ways to get around and they worked fine, we also stayed put more often which could be a good thing to start even now to a degree where possible. New Zealanders are famous for making do and thinking on our feet, adapting fast and understanding new ways to approach old issues, we're the inventive protective and resilient types of legend I tell you.

So I am home, but have much footage and many U S A notes to keep on with on this blog, even though my laptop went missing during the security check at LA airport, (shocking state of affairs).


I cried and gasped.

Nope, it was not there. Gone.

I trust they will find it in LA Airport's lost and found eventually, a battered old Apple which has seen far better days.

Meanwhile, I had to get another and luckily knew someone who could get me a decent deal and so on. In a rush it was, yesterday after I realised on my return I could not just log-on and tell people I was home. I searched my satchel over and over like a person demented, crying, then rang our police and they put me onto LA Airport Lost and Found, I had to make an international phone call there and then.

No word from them yet.

I'm giving them a few days then trying again. Is that wisest?

I also had back-up files, do you?  If not, get one of those thingamies and back-up your files. I had over a decades' work on mine, not lost.  Not the writing from before I left NZ anyway, not the writing on my blog, but other writing has gone which I did in America, some poems, many I sent to people in emails so some may be saved but.... Tappity tap tap toddle to....

AND photos I took over there are all maybe lost, (I keep hoping I will have the laptop returned)  except those pix on my three other cameras/phones and on this blog. So PLEASE my friends if you took any photos of me or of things round the time I was there when we went places, please send them to me. I'm so sad I've maybe lost all those pictures.

A TERRIBLE LOSS - sorry to shout but this took most of a day to make - The entire iMovie I made of Iowa, the entire 17 minutes has gone, it had a voice-over and sound effects I was going to split it in half. Now it is over there somewhere, I hope in an office awaiting inspection, awaiting identification, awaiting return, eeep.

My laptop may be cleansed of anything sensitive by those excellent U S A security people perhaps, I realise they have to be careful. I hope that is what happens. The laptop is cleared and sent back, with some pictures I am allowed.

Pray for me and my little tapping away here, in the lone and chilly mornings often before the sun comes up. I think of you all so fondly, my readers, it's lovely to know you are there. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking any notice at all of these lines, please feel free to comment and kia ora, kia kaha, kia toa tatou katoa, all the best, bon chance....


Here's Jan Nigro MBE mentioned again, my friend and I feel so lucky to be able to say that. Jan flatted with us for some time round the time my daughter was born, in Quay Street Auckland city over 20 years ago. She was so adventurous, going flatting with all these young people. I think Jan was 70 years old or so. There were 11 of us and I managed the place, what a task.  It was huge, up five stories in an old building where Artspace was downstairs and over-looked the wharves, a grand view and in the middle of the city.

Jan fitted in fine, as much as any of us diverse bunch did. I loved the colours she wore, bright orange and bright yellow....

I have two oil stick drawings she did of me from that time. Jan set up an artists' group who met at our place and drew quite a few of her flatmates, if I recall. Then she gave me two of the artworks much to my amazement. I worked with her on one, she drew my portrait and I dressed it with collage fabric, (Jan knew I ran A. Ray, fashion boutique in Queen Street, wearable art and wild things).

Jan Nigro a great fine artist for the world, a mentor to countless other artists, a wonderful woman who could say so much with only a few words, always so careful and with such a great sense of humour and decency. She also did not stand for any nonsense and could cut right to the heart of the matter with some terrifying skill.

I thought of Jan when I was away in the U S A throughout a day, I kept thinking of things she'd said to me, how they mattered, what import they always brought with them and often in subtle or hidden ways, she really understood mystery and beauty, the inner needs of people. I believe it was the day she passed on when I thought of her so intently and fondly....

Always with us Jan lovely, always....

Jan Nigro, who was 91, died at her home in Takapuna on Auckland's North Shore on 28 March 2012.
Nigro's career began in 1936 and she exhibited at galleries here and in Australia, gaining accolades for her vibrant paintings.


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