10/31/2004
 

Happy Halloween! (Vote Kerry)

 
10/28/2004
 

Harri perfecting the "no photos" glare for when he's famous and the paparazzi are hounding him. After I took this picture we had a bit of a scuffle and he knocked me over and hit me with my camera.
 
 

See?
 
10/27/2004
 
If I don't laugh, I'll cry. A lot.

At lunchtime I had nearly finished a whole chapter. It had taken two and a half days but I felt I was on the money. Saving the document regularly I was completing the final paragraph when I thought "hmm, I'll back this up in a second" and hit the save button. Everything went screwy. SCREWY. Boxes popped up asking me if I wanted to rescue the document. FROM WHAT? FROM WHAAAAAAAAAAAT??? Word closed and I felt a terrible wave of sickness sweep over me. With as much calm as I could muster, I opened Word again and the document. It came up but instead of my pretty little words, ordered in lines and sentences and such, there were BOXES. AND QUESTION MARKS. THE OCCASSIONAL ‘J’. I tried not to panic. Perhaps it had been rescued and saved somewhere else? I searched. I found. A plain text file with the SAME BOXES AND QUESTION MARKS AND WEIRDNESS. Finally, I did the ol' faithful and rebooted the computer. As it loaded I literally BEGGED my chapter to reappear. I PLEADED. I PRAYED. My exact words were "Please, please, please, please, please, please, pleeeeeease" with an emphasis on the fourth and last ‘pleases’. Nothing. Then I went mad for a second. Absolutely fucking mad. I banged the bed with both hands. I threw pillows. I pulled my hair. I ran into the other rooms (I was home alone) but nothing could change the fact that my chapter, and almost three days of work was GONE. I have had two computer type people’s opinions now, and they both agree that it is GONE.

I went for a swim. And while I was swimming I remembered reading Before Night Falls and how each time the writer Reinaldo Arenas' books were discovered by the Cuban Government, they would destroy them and he would have to start them from scratch. And that happened a lot. Like a lot lot. And he was thrown into jail and persecuted because of his sexuality, and then finally when he escaped to the US he died of AIDS. So after I got back from my swim, I started writing down the chapter again while it was fresh in my mind. ON PAPER. BEAUTIFUL UNCRASHIBLE NOT-MADE-BY-THE -BASTARD-MICROSOFT-COMPANY PAPER. I'm tired and it mostly looks like this - "And then this guy says something to this other guy" and - "keyword = fizzles" whatever the hell that means, but I'm sure in the morning I'll feel better about everything. And I'm gonna get the 'puter looked at. And back up regularly. And double back up. And send you the rushes each day to put in a safe. And I'm sure that bald patch won't take too long to grow out.
 
10/26/2004
 
It's been a long day. Went shopping with my sister and bought an adapter so I can use my hair clippers for a little manscaping. The people at the pool keep complaining that I’m clogging up the drains. Cooked some broccoli rigatoni for lunch. Wrote in the afternoon. Took my mother for her first swim in ten years at 7pm. She loved it. On the way home we stopped off at the supermarket and had a big argument in the bread section because our blood sugar level was low and we’d become a bit pissy. It was about bread. My Mother gave up gluten today so now she wanted to buy the cheap loaves and I called her on it. Like I said, we were pissy. We made up and talked about how amazing it is that we can all live together and not come to any physical harm. Didn’t want to mention that when she tripped up at the check-out, I’d actually ankle tapped her...
 
10/24/2004
 

London, just after a downpour. It was my last Saturday in the UK and I was buying a card for Lizzie'’s birthday that night. The heaven'’s opened with the most wonderful warm rain. I stood in an alcove in no particular hurry and watched it, then afterwards I took this picture which ain'’t gonna win no prizes, but I like it, London’'s Old Compton Street washed clean with the sun out to dry it all away again. Afterwards I got her a card with a man on the front pointing and the caption '“YOU made me gay.'
 
 

Lost in L.A.
 
 

Death flower.
 
 

Trinity standing on the Pier, looking out to the Ocean. With beautiful synchronicity we were both in Los Angeles at the same time. On this day we borrowed bikes and cycled along Venice Beach. The mist had come in making the seafront overcast and grey and we ate crazy coloured nacho chips and went on the swings.
 
 

The Getty Museum.
 
 

Karen and Trinity humouring me by sitting and not looking at the camera in the Getty garden. I become a slave driver behind a camera. “'Look natural!'” I barked, seconds before taking this.
 
 

Getty Flowers. This is homage to my favourite painting at the Gallery, Van Gogh's Les Irises.
 
 

Jennifer Lopez’'s basketball hoop.

 
 

This is the mammoth plate of pancakes that we ordered with our massive sized breakfast of omelet and hash browns. We cut ourselves tiny slithers from the stack o’'cakes and felt guilty when we couldn’t eat anymore, so we asked the waiter if we could take it with us. It sat in the back seat of the car festering the whole day but none of us could bring ourselves to throw it out. I think there'’s a lesson in there somewhere.
 
 

Outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
 
 

Spidey has a fanny pack. (For extra webbing?)
 
 

Karen and me and the sign make three.
 
10/21/2004
 
We sang, we crawled, we had to pick instruments and bang them in time to the music.
I think I made some good friends today.

p.s. Have a great birthday, Kate. 25 huh? Ouch.

 
10/19/2004
 
If I’ve given the impression that it’s all plain sailing down here, then you are sadly mistaken. Apart from the Squaddies (and the new, even more horrible discovery of JUNIOR Squaddies) there’s acclimatization (pimples), jetlag (crippling grumpiness) and, um, digestive system ‘issues’...

Luckily these ailments pale into insignificance whenever my sister brings over Harri.

Harri is a very happy baby and if I had to rank all babies for cuteness I would definitely put him in the upper quartile. Whenever I’m around he will look intently at me – probably because now I’ve become a recluse I tend to sport bed hair 24/7. Actually Harri is obsessed with my hair. He shakes his head, prompting me to do the same and my runaway Evil Scientist sticking up fringe tickles him, making him laugh. Then he’ll grab a fist of hair and pull me towards him, hugging my head and giggling into my ear. For the record, if you didn’t get arrested for giving babies hickies that kid would have a necklace of them by now.

A few days ago Holly asked if I could look after Harri while she went to an appointment (I later found out that she hardly trusts anyone to look after him so I must be a trustworthy Uncle!). She tried to put him down in his cot, but he wasn’t having any of it so she left us sitting on the carpet in the lounge making silly noises at each other. That got tired real soon so we started to crawl around a bit. The house has been Harri-proofed but he still makes a bee-line to the heaviest and crashiest things, like a wooden African Mask of my Mothers that would probably scare most other little beings, but not Harri who wants to pick it up and put it in his mouth even though it’s twice as big as he is. Being a trustworthy Uncle I decide to wear the mask instead of letting harri concuss himself with it. I give an impromptu performance that draws dance styles and movements from different African and African disasporan cultures which Harri seems to enjoy.

Next I try to pop him down again because it may win me extra points if Hol comes home & Harri is asleep and I am standing in the kitchen making fresh homemade bread or something. I’d watched Holly wrap Harri up in a cotton blanket and then kind of attach him to the cot with a fabric Velcro belt. First the blanket. Harrison does not lie still and has the amazing ability to twist 180˚. No sooner do I lye him flat when, whoosh, he’s on all fours again and crawling off at top speed. We play this hilarious game for a while until I learn to pin him down softly while I apply the wrap. The other trick I observed Holly use was to fold his arms under the blanket. I can't remember if Holly tucked both arms under and anyway, what if he wanted to itch a tickle on his nose? - so I create a sari-like effect with the blanket, and then pick up the baby bundle, gently laying him down in the cot and attaching the strap with the Velcro.

All done.

I smile down at my handiwork and how cute Harri looks and think how pleased Holly will be and where I’ll put the Best Babysitter in the World trophy – on the Mantelpiece or on the shelf by the door so that people will see it when they walk in. Then, all of a sudden, Harri explodes out of his wrappings, kicking his feet and arms wildly.

Stoically, I go through the entire process for a second time. This go I wrap him a little tighter and make sure the Velcro is good and fastened. Harri lies there, the hint of a smile on his lips. Then, with amazing dexterity, he wriggles out his wrapped up arm, pumps his little feet in the air and simultaneously flips over, freeing himself again.

When Holly gets home, Harri is sucking his fingers in the Living Room and watching me make baby noises from behind a large African Mask. I was still having a great time but I was also very happy to see Holly again and give back all responsibility. It was the longest twenty three minutes of my entire life.

Tomorrow I’m going with Holly and Harri to his singing group. I hope they know some Billy Joel.
 
10/18/2004
 
I just finished my first proper day of writing a novel. Went well. Had a little breakdown towards midday, but told myself to get a grip and make another cup of tea. Now all I have to do is do it all over again tomorrow.
 
10/17/2004
 
Things are a little different around here since I left home good and proper in late ’97.

My Mother is a less highly strung about cleanliness for one. Don’t get me wrong, you can still confidently conduct open-heart surgery in the bathroom - a more sterile environment you’d be hard pressed to find, even at one of those hushed up laboratories they fill with extraterrestrials and have decontamination chambers incase the alien DNA leaks out and makes us all mutate and have telepathic abilities, which, if you think about it, would be kind of cool – but even by her own standards she’s mellowed.

It probably helps that I’m tidy now. Research has found that teenagers find it very difficult to execute lists, so when Ma used to ask me to put the washing out and take up my dirty glasses after I’d finished my homework, there’s good scientific reasoning to why all the information got muddled in my head and I ended up watching TV instead. These days I like surfaces. I don’t like things on things. Blame years of living like a student and then years of living like a student when I was too old and in debt to actually still be a student, but I actually enjoy hoovering.

So there’s my theory. We’ve both mellowed. Like fine wine.

This is only one theory of course.

There are others.

Like sometime in late Autumn 2001, without me noticing, I quietly turned into my Mother.
 
10/15/2004
 
Pound is the only gay bar in the whole of Wellington.

Apparently my new found celibacy might bring me closer to God, however. We’ve never been particularly close so I’m looking forward to hanging out in his pad, chewing the fat and talkin’ ‘bout the universe, the meaning of life and which is more evil: white chocolate or carob?
 
10/14/2004
 
I have my first enemy here.

Each day I plan to swim at the Freyburg pool to let off steam after writing in the morning. The swimming pool is five minutes walk away; a good sturdy size even if it is a bit yellow around the edges compared to the posh pool from my previous gym. There’s no moisturizing lotion or hairdryers in the changing rooms here, but as we say in New Zealand: it gets the job done. Yesterday, after putting my bag on the bleachers (a trust system, it seems, prohibits people from robbing you blind the moment you pop your head underwater as would happen in London) I headed for the fast lane. I mean, I’ve been swimming in the fast lane in one of the fastest cities for well over a year, I should be able to cream the local opposition. And I was right. No one was a match for me. I ducked, I weaved. My strokes were clean with hardly a splash. “Good work” I thought, after half an hour, hauling myself out of the pool to hit the showers, the chlorine already starting to make my legs and face itch.

Fast forward to today. I walk to the pool, pay my $3.50. It’s much quieter and I look forward to a long, leisurely swim. After changing into my togs (kiwi speak for a bathing costume) I drop into the pool. I don’t make a splash. Man, I’m good. I start swimming and feel the water glide around as if it’s trying to keep up. After a few lengths my brain will switch to standby and I’ll stop thinking about the slight ache in my arms and my breathing will come robotically. A sense of calm will pervade...

“Excuse me, can you move to one of the other lanes. The Squaddies are training here now.”

The Squaddies. Thirty swimmers had materialized from nowhere. Without a word they line up into three rows to monopolize half the pool. There’s diving and swimming. Fast swimming. It’s all I can do to scramble into an adjacent lane without being maimed by one of their sharp curved hands. The Squad Team can do every stroke. They butterfly with ease, and as far as I can see they don’t need to take a break at the far end of the pool and discretely hyperventilate for a good three minutes after every length while adjusting their goggles. Sometimes it looks as if they’re doing two strokes simultaneously. How? Well, lets just say that there’s no pansy vegetarian diets for these athletes. Lean New Zealand lamb and beef is all they eat – preferably served raw. I don’t know what our stance over here is on genetic engineering either, but my hunch is that we’ve invested in some type of porpoise stem cell research. Three lanes were a blur with Squaddies. I on the other hand was relegated to the “medium” lane to have unfortunate views of people breast stroking. All. That. Wide. Kicking.

I make my mind up then and there to lengthen my swim time by half an hour each day to get to the next stage, closer to the glory of swimming supremacy that lies at the very foundation of being a Squaddie. One day I would be like them – perhaps not today – but one day. I would push myself to the absolute limit, practice every stroke, kick harder, turn faster. Either that or I could just come earlier while they’re still at school...
 
10/13/2004
 
Hi, you might remember me from such blogs as... well, this one. At present, I’m having a coffee on the other side of the world. I’m drinking it quickly so that the liquid doesn’t fall onto the ceiling. First impressions? The air is fresh like its a living force that you’re breathing and not something grim and apologetic that leaves a black halo around your nostril. Being by the ocean helps. Last night my Mum and I walked along Oriental Parade close to ten at night in gale force winds so she could show me the beaches they’ve created along the harbour. We left the apartment and as the wind beat against us we passed a small independent theatre which was busy with after show drinks and beside it stood an actor who smoked a cigarette and wore a Nazi uniform, a swastika bandana on his arm. I found this hilarious and tried to explain what I’ve seen but the wind whipped the words out of my mouth.

So, yeah, I think I’m going to like it here.
 
10/11/2004
 
I've had an amazing time. I kissed a porn star, inadvertedly turned one of Karen's friends and bumped into Shannen Doherty. Karen is lying huddled on the couch, wrapped in a blanket right now. She's been the most tireless and gracious of hosts, so if you see her on the freeway tomorrow morning I want you to be patient if she takes a few seconds when the light changes to green and maybe try not to cut her off. Just for tomorrow. Consider it a favour to me.

And in a few hours I start the final leg of my journey to New Zealand. I hope it's ready.
 
10/07/2004
 
Of course I meant doughnut, not dohnut. Stupid jet lag making me all inartickulat.
 
10/06/2004
 
I'm feeling V.E.R.Y. rusty so I'll keep to the facts. I'm sitting in Los Angeles. I've just made myself a cup of Trader Joe's English Breakfast Tea which Karen bought last night to help settle me in. Yesterday I kissed my sister goodbye and then Kate and Christopher travelled with me to Heathrow Airport. While we waited for my flight, Christopher found it difficult to masticate a dohnut because of his whole jaw being broken thingumy. Honestly - I think he was just trying to take the focus off me. I sat in the middle of the row on the plane so I had to be tactical with my toilet breaks. I cried a bit when we took off - in a manly, squashed between two complete strangers type of way. I watched two films. I asked for extra wine and some more of those snacky bar snacks but they said they'd have to see if there was enough for everyone else first. I forgot to remind them about it again.
 

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