Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered


Before getting here it was something else, and now it's something. O my goodness, yes, it certainly is, uh huh. (Say that last part like Elvis).

The bird has landed, and what kind would that be? Someone here said it was an eagle had landed. Ha. Two did swoon me while they played tag in the sky above my AirBnB garden at Kenrix's place in Harrington Street, Outer Mission, (lovely hospitality, fine people), however I'm a rare bird in my opinion. Of no fixed definition necessarily. There must be a bird that adapts to different places somewhere in mythology? I like to think I'm one of those, part of the time. A Raewynia Bird, there it is. Thanks to Vettolania, a friend in Aotearoa New Zealand giving me that nickname, (Yvette Parsons, playwright, actor, director, producer, wow, what a way with words).


amrka - raewyn's poetic journey and trees for travel part two - sounds like an indie artsy eco motion picture. But if this were a movie, it wouldn't be called that. And this ain't nothin' like as straight forward, well acted, edited, directed, or fancified up et cetera as a film.  Nooo. It's more like a dream.

I'm doing a fine juggling act between having fun and behaving myself, nevertheless, somehow. Hmmm, no, this feels like more of a dance I guess, with myself and various imaginary friends, perhaps, then also, occasionally with some real friends. Ahhh yes those truly rare and wondrous creatures, but with words like 'real' being taken as brands and copyrighted these days to sometimes seem the opposite, we could say buddies, mates, cohorts and compadres. I have the luck, talent, and hard work on my side so far, (touch wood) to know a few of those delights and trials, (o laugh).


 
Sitting in poet Natasha Dennerstein's Central Mission apartment, the dominant colours are cream, yellow and blue, also, wooden floors, oak I guess. A view out the window of plain flat roofs, chimneys, thin, pale, but one shaped like a half-submerged cricket bat, the lower, broad half is white and the top a dull copper color, where the 'handle' is. I don't think that a giant hand is about to come out of the sky, though, and pick one up to play massive cricket however, even if I sat next to the General Manager of High-Performance for the New Zealand cricket team on the plane over here, days ago. But perhaps without having spoken with him so long, (great conversation), I would think the chimneys looked more like strange long necked bottles.

Time, place, direction, check. My trusty wooden watch on, and a small bag with my passport in it almost always on me too. Travel light, keep necessities close, trust your instincts, err on the side of caution. That's the kind of thing I practise. The watch by the way is wewood, made from salvaged wood, (no beep when going through a metal detector) and a tree is planted for every watch sold. They also have a sustainable business even if they use Chinese labour, because they source family businesses there, rather than any large factory situation which is more difficult to check on. Yes, I know many people get the time from cellphones now, but I'm old-fashioned in some respects. Just before I left I bought this fine accessory at Selector, a boutique only open for a season in Grey Lynn, the Surrey Crescent side there, near the second-hand shop.  Lucy-Mae's boutique still overflowing with goodness too, on the other side.

But enough about home, even if I miss so many people there and the place, (sodden, wet, cold and dreary though it may be this time of year). O go on, tell me it's been fine and sunny since I flew away.

Ahhh, San Francisco, this time staying in Mission, bravely going on the BART by myself and making it from one station to another. (Look, I catastrophise, okay, I imagine things could be awfully terrible, but I go on and try to do them anyway, applaud me). So bewildering to buy a ticket, you do not select how much your ticket costs, no, no, you have to subtract what change you will be getting. One IQ test after another here in the land of the free, and not always what you would expect. O yes, we may have in Aotearoa absorbed amrka through music, films, books, and more for most of my life and possibly more, but as much as En Zed may seem influenced by amrka, it is nothing like here, really, not deep down, nor even just below the surface.

I wish I could live here and find out more, nevertheless, just love it here. But that seems, sadly, unlikely, ahhh. Imagine wailing and sighing here.

My mother, yes, let's quote Dawn, she used to say, "Where there's a will there's a way." I recall such things when I'm in despair. Thought-provoking, so stay with me if you like and see if I find a way to live here after after all, perhaps I can? Way past middle-age, a poet, a lecturer, and consultant, female, feminist, a fourth generation New Zealander descended from French people who sailed on the Comte de Paris to Aotearoa in 1840, maybe I have a whole swag of adventurous genes in here that will find a way? The green card not being the issue, my health is the elephant in the room, and it has arthritis, heart trouble, and neuroses bigger than, o Africa, probably.


The stick thin girl in pale baggy clothes who looked like a 60s mannequin come to bare life, (a small bruise on her cheek), jammed backwards into the doorway of Thriftworld, yesterday serves me a clear warning too. Her eyes so wide watching people walking by. People go a particular kind of crazy here, and the liberal SF governance allows homeless people their rights. So, everywhere in this beautiful city it's clear where someone unlucky could find themselves in future, unless.... What? 

How to avoid disaster?

Did any of those homeless people plan this for themselves? Probably not most of them. Did I plan everything in my life? No.

To give myself hope, I decided that ghost-like rail of a girl was in recovery and every day took herself to the street to be near people, to relearn how to socialise. I decided she was brave. It's possible to find a positive in anything, it's a survival mechanism, like poetry is, (as Alistair Paterson long-time editor of Poetry NZ wrote in one of his essays). 

To write positive believable stories or work is extremely difficult, but worth the effort, A rich life results from it, excellent learning and contacts. Reading such stories and so on also assists us. The film director and writer of the film Amelie, he said he prefers writing positive stories because they are more of a challenge.

Luck, it plays such a part in our breath, our beat, our bounty. I wonder if we may make it our pet, such as when someone calls to other abstracts, with heart. Or is 'pet' the wrong term? Excuse me, thinking aloud here.

How may anyone ensure luck remains with them? The high performance manager I sat with talking on the plane and I, we discussed the seven virtues and the seven deadly sins; oddly enough a little like the way Julie Payne Williams and I did two years ago in a Davenport tavern. Anyway, he works with a cricket team, I work with arts and education, but we did find some common ground. The sins are called deadly because they do damage us, the virtues however build us a good life. If we cultivate the virtues as much as we can, then perhaps yes, luck remains with us like a pet cat who's quite fussy, (if anything is ever as certain as a well edited sentence like this may make it).


Ahhh, yes, uncertainty, the mark of an individualistic culture. I'm not sure everyone here in amrka, a place I so love, is all that individualistic though. With my being educated into Maoritanga as well, for some years, I have more of a collective sensibility these days. Many of us do with access to information across the globe, contacts with other cultures like never before....

We swim in a soup of many cultures now, so many of us. Gorgeous tea (mate from South America), at Philz in The Mission yesterday, great service, lovely crowd; a fine Mexican taco with black beans in Outer Mission the day before; my gracious hosts at the AirBnB Chinese people, and a neighbour also Chinese who I spoke with on the street this morning, (been here about twelve years). Every state of amrka has its own culture too of course, every district of every city and town. People behave nomadic-like too, moving on, changing houses, areas, suburbs, countries.... 

We're attracted to some differences. One of the advantages of my accent is when I speak most people gaze at me in wonder, they've never heard such a thing. Some think it's British, but no, I do not consider myself as such, our accent is New Zealand now, island people who live on the edge of the Pacific and travel the world in extraordinary numbers. Co-incidentally another New Zealander was in the AirBnB I stayed in, or she sounded that way, may've been a well travelled Australian accent.

So cool to zoom around SF yesterday with Natasha and talk this and that, catch buses, walk, get some stamps from the post office, see what everyday life is like here. It could be a practise run, who knows? Although I'd like to live in the middle of the country, if I did move over, for some reason I feel safest there.

amrka has me in its spell again anyway, and I'm off on the train to Seattle later, twelve hours, most of it during the day, all along the coast, seeing the country as much as I can. 

The rate I'm falling to bits with age, however, it means I probably won't be able to come back, unless there's a miracle. Maybe there will be? Ha. If we don't accept such things as miracles can occur they could and we'd behave like they do not exist, so I'm a believer. How about you?

I'll pop some images in here later on, I'm tired now and we still have an art museum to see.



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