A Charmed Life


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my tribe; my heart my soul my people

‘Family is not necessarily your blood. We are raised to think that but sometimes our family lets us down and we end up creating a new family for ourselves. Family is all the people you can rely on, people who won’t judge you, people who have your back, people you can trust, people who are loyal. That’s family’

I love this quote, not least because it comes from my beloved Madonna but because it is true of my world. As I have gotten older I have learnt to be more discerning about the people I surround myself with. Not so long ago I even went so far as conducting a friend detox to free myself from those who no longer served me, and so to that end with very limited blood family interaction, over the past few years it is the tribe I have found and chosen for myself that I have come to consider family.

And even though we are scattered around the globe I live for our interactions. I love my Whatsapp blowing up with epic conversations of everything and nothing, the belly laughs that only they can induce, our FaceTime chats, hugs (both real and virtual), the style tips, precious moments we spend together in person making memories and the unwavering love and support we have for each other through the good, bad and in between times.

I am writing this at a time when I am witness to one of my tribe go through something truly awful, and in my role as her sister friend I am there on the other side of phone; to keep her calm, make her laugh, give advice where warranted, to ensure she knows she is supported but mostly all I do is listen – anytime day or night she knows I am there to listen. And its just my turn, she is there for me when I need her, its just my turn now to be there for her.

Therein lies the magic of a tribe you create for yourself… the knowing;  knowing there are people who always have your back, knowing there are people who will lift you up when you need a boost, knowing there are people who can reflect you back to yourself when you are lost, knowing there are people who support your dreams, who motivate and challenge you. Knowing there are people – my people who teach me soul things and heart math. I read somewhere you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and thinking about it right here right now the five people I have spent the most time with just this last month, I am like ‘Hell Yes! I should be so lucky.’ There is no one I would rather be on this insane world roller coaster with. My tribe; my heart my soul my people.

Sat Nam

And… so Saudi Arabia is finally allowing women into stadiums and granting them right to drive. This is no small feat but a rumbling war in Yemen, the Gulf row with neighbouring Qatar and the small matter of abhorrent human rights violations still make my blood boil, so yes a step in the right direction but there is too much still to fight for over there #freeAlial-Nimr  Twenty years ago this week I left everything and everyone I know in New Zealand to become a kiwi girl abroad. I left with only one real goal and that was to chase Madonna around the world and as serendipity would have it I well and truly succeeded in doing just that (33 times ten countries) with many many other adventures along the way. It has been one wild ride that’s for sure. Excited for what happens next. Bring on the next twenty #HappyAnniversaryToMe #RollOnNextChapter #PeaceLove

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we could be heroes

I like the idea of a hero.
So I became one.
Not by plan exactly.
Nor by donning a cape and saving lives.
It was more like a series of events – known to you and I as living – that got me believing that I had in fact become a hero.

For as long as my memory serves me (and with my elephant memory it serves me very very well), from all the way back to when I was a wee thing I have had heroes: From real figures like my grandfather who immigrated to New Zealand from Gujarat, India with nothing but hope to provide better for his family, to my selfless, educated aunt the first feminist I knew, to Madonna one of the first people I felt a kindred spirit, to my form two teacher Mr. Emmins the first person to truly see me; to those heroes who reached me through history books Elizabeth I, Frida Kahlo and Steve Biko; to the heroes who lived only in stories Anne Shirley, Jane Eyre and Anne Elliot. And so on and on it goes, this amassing of heroes as I travel through this thing called life.

As is the case with heroes, my heroes have been feted and referenced often but until recently I never questioned the need for them. It took for these divisive times for me to think about this notion of heroes, and listening to my inner dialogue I realised I had created this otherness where my heroes lived. This is I think not an uncommon thought as when we think of heroes – they are people who create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive. We human beings are not given to consider how we ourselves create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive in our everyday lives. But we do.

Many of my heroes have transitioned in recent years – some of whom are known Madiba, Maya Angelou, Wayne Dyer, David Bowie and Elie Wiesel and others who are known only to those of us who basked in their light –  and as I became aware of this I had this moment where fear grabbed me. The fear that there is no one to replace them. This fear led me to call a friend for perspective, she said ‘we see in a hero something we think is not in us, so what do you see in your heroes?’ And hearing this was an ‘eureka’ moment. I was so busy looking for people to emulate I overlooked why I needed heroes in the first place. What had been lacking in my childhood that made me seek out people? And why have I kept up this practice throughout my life?

Having been on a journey of self awareness the answer was plain as day. Not only did I hold my heroes in high regard, I paradoxically saw myself on a much lower shelf. And these heroes I was collecting, all these people have had just the one role to play in my life. Of his character Juan in the film Moonlight, Mahershala Ali said he was grateful he got to play ‘a gentleman who saw a young man (Chiron) folding into himself as a result of the persecution in his community and taking the opportunity to uplift him and tell him he mattered, that he was okay and accept him.’
Each of my heroes throughout my life exist to uplift me, tell me I matter, that I am okay, to accept all of unique, crazy, geeky, energetic, resilient, compassionate, wonderful me.
Each of my heroes by example of their lives wills me to use my voice to live my purpose.
Each of my heroes has pushed me to be my own hero.

So could I be my own hero! Sounds rather ridiculous and self serving but I do know that my journey of self discovery from hitting rock bottom to getting back up again has been long, hard and full of sacrifice but to my betterment I am not the same person I was five years ago. I also know when I talk to my tribe they see in me my miracle but I have never given myself any credit for it. Another girlfriend has this one line she habitually says when asked for advice, ‘what would you say if it was me telling you this story?’ And when I think about my story there is a hero in there for it takes courage to change your life as I have done especially when you are surrounded by people who do not understand and choose to not join you at the finish line; but if you are fortunate to reach that finish line having become the person you were meant to be like I have, well that sounds like a hero to me.

And if I needed further proof of my heroness I found it last month at The Women’s March. To be part of this massive global consciousness, feeding off the vibrational energy of my fellow sisters and brothers as we came together to be our own heroes was one of the most empowering moments of my life so far.

So here I am – a hero or as my beloved Ms. Maya would say a SHEro, you won’t read about me in the papers or see me on the news, nor am I likely to be referenced in history books (although there is still time) but as long as I create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive I am my own SHEro and that is plenty good enough for me. The actress Viola Davis said it best ‘the fact that we breathe means we have a story.’

Sat Nam

 And… I am a week late but has to be said Superbowl51 was hands down the best game I have ever seen. Like everyone else going into the game I thought the Patriots had it, but then three touchdowns later I had swung the Falcons way. There was NO way the Patriots could win, to do so SO many records would have to be broken. They just couldn’t but holy mother of comebacks, they bloody did. They aren’t even my team but the Patriots have got me seriously rethinking my Green Bay allegiance #TomBradyYouLegendYou  The Women’s March, oh what we can create when we try. I’m always up for a universal love in and I see more of these moments to come as we try to make sense of this new order we exist in #IWasThere #Resist #Forward  I think I fell a bit more in love with Adele after her George Michael tribute at the Grammys, it takes balls to admit a fuck up but to have that fuck up broadcast live around the world is a whole different kettle of fuck up but I just know he was there willing her on. Bravo Adele you SO didn’t mess it up for him, he would have been chuffed to bits, and bravo on the 5/5 Grammy wins, love how you always keep it real. #GottaGetUpToGetDown  Still on the Grammys bravo to our Starman for Blackstar also winning 5/5, we love you and we miss you so ♥ And finally as we watch truth being murdered by the US predator-in-chief and his foot soldiers, can we all take a moment to say thank you to the immigrants in our families. My history at least four generations back is one of immigrants – my great grandparents, grandparents, parents all immigrants and I myself am an immigrant. Each generation has sought to better their life not weaken the lives of those in their new environments. TRUTH: Communities are built on the shoulders of immigrants and WE ARE ALL BETTER FOR IT #RefugeesWelcome #WeAreAllImmigrants #OneLove


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a love story

For those old enough – do you remember playing elastics at interval when you were at school? Do you remember the ditty that went along with it? ‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, inside, outside, puppy dogs tails.’ This is what went through my mind as I learned of the EU referendum result.

The possibility of this foursome splitting up saddens me.
The chaos that has ensued since the vote was counted saddens me.
Brexit saddens me.

I am a faux Brit. I am a kiwi but I am also a faux Brit, to know me is to know I love all things British. For tis the land where Charlotte Bronte wrote my favourite book, the land where two magnificent queens called Elizabeth have reigned, the land where buildings and bridges tell stories, the land where great plays were written, a land where history is made over and over and over again, the land where all the great Banks congregate to do big business, a land from whence came the likes of Shakespeare, Judi Dench, Malcolm McLaren, Captain James Cook, Alan Turing, David Attenborough, Christopher Hitchens, John Lennon, Margaret Thatcher and my beloved David Bowie, it is a land that likes to tea, it is the land where for a time I got to live in the same city as Madonna, a land of many accents none of which I can do faithfully and it is the land where I found the love of my life.

My sadness for the current discombobulation that has taken over my adopted country is about the themness of the Brits, this is what I fell in love with when I was a youngin in New Zealand singing ‘god save the Queen’ at school assembly or while watching Coronation Street with my grandma or when pouring over Mothercare catalogues my mother would have sent to her. That pulsating heartbeat that beats throughout the land. What I fear most with Brexit is the loss of this feeling – economies adapt, politicians come and go, Europe will survive – but this feeling once altered or lost can never be got back. The Brits must never lose the themness of them, take it from this faux Brit who knows she will never be able to capture it no matter how much she will keep on trying.

Sat Nam

Also… I don’t understand the brouhaha about the new Top Gear, I thought this was a show about cars, why then does it matter who is driving them! If you had the misfortune of interacting with Jeremy Clarkson like I did when we were stuck together receiving treatment by the same specialist you would find him an odious man who thinks a bit too much of himself, he is not a man to be admired #Joey TribbianiCanActuallyDrive ♥ 2016 the year of loss continues. Elie Wiesel has been described by President Obama as “the conscience of the world” which is apt as he helped to develop mine. I read his book Night when I was a teen, in all honestly it is an awful read, gut wrenching in the way a book about life in a concentration camp could only be but reading this seminal work planted the activist seed in me and it continues to burn bright. If you don’t know who Elie Wiesel is please take the time to give this Holocaust survivor the respect of reading his work or at least one of the many obituaries that have been written in recent days. This man mattered. Elie Wiesel you mattered to me. I will end with his words that seem very appropriate for this world we live in today ‘We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’


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i’ve never seen a rainbow i didn’t love

blogcolour

This past weekend was bookended by the very best and the very worst of humanity. It feels like all I have done this year is mourn. From 10 January (the day I lost my beloved Starman) through to today there has been a steady flow of tears… as I type this I am listening to Anderson Cooper list the names of those beautiful SOULS who lost their lives at Pulse nightclub, as his voice falters my tears have blinded me… I can’t. I’m just so tired of my heart breaking over and over and over again.

The vicious senseless act that transpired in the early hours of Sunday morning in Orlando has fuelled me with anger, remorse and deep deep sorrow. I have been a champion of the LGBT community for over thirty years (part and parcel being a Madonna lover). I have many friends in this community so I have always known the bigotry actually lets just call it what it is – HATE – I have always known the hate that has been endured. There have been times in my life when I have struggled and it was this community that helped me find my way so I will love, honour and protect this community till the day I die.

The US has a gun problem. The rest of the world sees it. Most Americans see it. But there are others NRA hardliners and extreme right wingers who don’t seem to and yet they hold the lives of their entire nation in their hands. I thought for sure after Sandy Hook there would be real change. The correct reaction to children being massacred would surely be to ensure it never happened again but no it wasn’t to be and mass shootings have increased in the time since. As someone who comes from New Zealand and who has lived in Australia it is hard to understand why the US cannot adopt some kind of variation of these countries’ gun control legislation; legislation that both countries amended back in the nineties when they each experienced a similar type of senseless act. Some twenty years later both countries are proof that robust gun control legislation works.

And yet, yes the US has a gun problem.
But the planet has a HATE problem.
And where there is hate, violence can always find a way. Guns or no Guns.
And we can put this atrocity under the umbrella of religion, terrorism, radicalisation but there is only one actual reason it happened – Bad Parenting.

Too many people think their job as a parent is done if they feed, clothe and school their children; but giving them the confidence to be themselves, teaching and showing children generosity and kindness and how to communicate effectively, to love, respect and tolerate ALL life regardless of race, creed, gender, shape, who one chooses to love – inclusive of all creatures and mother earth – this is good parenting. I am a child of Indian descent, I know the specific homophobia that exists for people of the diaspora, it is a hostility that is deeply rooted in the culture. I have friends who still today cannot be honest about who they are to their families. This will not change until we attack the root cause.

Hatred of any kind is a choice.
A child is taught to love.
A child is taught to hate.
The seed is planted at a young age.

If one lacks the appropriate parenting and does not know their own mind, lacks confidence, is disillusioned they are open to being brainwashed by religion, terrorism, radicalisation whatever you want to call it, and as this seed gets watered regularly it grows and the reality is you reap what you sow. Hate crimes will not stop until we grow a different seed.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this weekend for me began with seeing the very best of humanity – Muhammad Ali’s interfaith memorial. This colossus of a man wished for his passing  – as he had his life – to be a teaching moment. If you saw the service you will understand how magnificently he achieved this, if you haven’t I beseech you to watch it, listen to the words and let the sentiment wash all over you for this is how you plant a different seed.

To my brothers and sisters of the LGBT community you forever have my heart; to steal words said so eloquently on Sunday by Lin-Manuel Miranda “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. Cannot be killed or swept aside.” And nor shall it be.

Sat Nam

Also… Muhammad Ali – what a gift of a man – the one person on this planet who transcended race, religion, gender to unite all in their love and respect for him. There is no one left who comes close to achieving this. On a personal note, I owe him gratitude for because of him and his wondrous life I achieved my highest mark in all my academia when in college I did a History paper on his civil rights contribution. It was a joy to research him. It was a joy to listen to him riff. It was a joy to watch him in and out of the ring. Muhammad Ali – a masterclass in what it means to be human and so pretty too. To have lived in your time, how lucky am I #IamAli #G.O.A.T. #AliBomaye ♥ And so the BREXIT campaign enters into the last week, it’s been a minefield figuring out the right way to vote – you only have to look at Greece and Portugal to see that austerity has not worked and that the EU has completely failed to deal with the refugee reception crisis yet being in the EU is like being a part of a cosmopolitan club with trade, employment and travel benefits #ShouldBritainStayOrShouldBritainGo ♥ And my girl Hills – Whop Whop the FIRST WOMAN to be a major party’s nominee for President of the United States. Proving there is no ceiling too high to break. Next stop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue #I’mWithHer #Hillary2016


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this kiwi girl muses about… travelling

laters

I am currently sat amongst a pile of clothes preparing for my next trip wishing vehemently for a packing genie. Even though I have travelled a lot I have still not managed to learn the knack of packing and as such I find it the most laborious task. I do love to travel though, I risk sounding like a cliché but travelling – whether it be alone or with company, for work or pleasure – has bettered my experience of life and I have gained many valuable life skills while traipsing around the globe.

I am fortunate in that I have travelled practically from the moment I was born, that is par for the course when you are Indian with a South African mother and New Zealander for a father and a load of relatives and family friends scattered around the world. I learnt from an early age the need to be flexible and to adapt quickly when travelling; in my time I have endured an unplanned military enforced 48 hour layover (Addis Ababa), had snow cancelling flights (London to Toronto thrice), landed at the wrong airport due to an incorrect booking (Sandefjord instead of Oslo), been abandoned after missing the last train to my hotel after a Madonna concert and ended up spending the night in a railway station which locked its toilet doors through the night (Osaka), missed a flight due to the check in desk having the incorrect ESTA information (London to New York), ended up at the wrong wedding venue (Montreux) and in some very questionable situations (too many cities to mention). Its the nature of the beast with travel and all you can do is trust your gut and hopefully have a laugh about it.

One aspect I love about travelling is immersing myself in the local culture; from a young age my father instilled in me an interest in countries around the world. I could recite the states of America and all the English counties by age 6 as well as being able to state cities and their location on a map of New Zealand. Still today I can list the provinces of Canada, the five great lakes, every country and most of their capitals and political regimes around the world – all remnants from my younger years so I am inherently curious to see how other cultures exist. I have learnt a smile goes a long way as does communication – often there is a lot of hand gesturing, sometimes broken local tongue and sometimes like in the US – you be like ‘I can see your mouth moving, I think you’re speaking English but I have no clue what you are saying,’ but it is always appreciated.

Travelling with the right companion can be a lot of fun but sometimes good friends can turn out to be the worst travel partners as I learnt when I once travelled with a friend to Borneo. Although we did have some fab moments the trip was marred for me by her lack of an opinion – her general attitude was ‘whatever you want to do,’ lack of cultural sensitivity and at times lack of common sense, one time she left our hotel room while I was in the shower taking the room key – the key which only powered the room – leaving me to continue my shower in the dark with cold water. Then there was the first time I went to Bali with uni friends, a trip my girlfriends and I spent months planning each of us looking forward to a relaxing time after an exhausting uni year. Turns out their idea of relaxing was not quite the same as mine for they proceeded to spend our entire holiday pursuing men leaving me to beach, eat, sightsee pretty much on my own.

It wasn’t the girls’ trip we had planned but it turned out to be alright actually for I have realised as much as I love people, I do love my own company and as such travelling alone can be quite fun. I have the freedom to do exactly what I want especially as I tend to not love what everyone else does; take the Mona Lisa for example it was only on my fifth maybe sixth trip to Paris that I ventured to the Louvre. Seeing the da Vinci painting has never been of interest to me, not when there is so much else to do in the City of Light… rambling through Père Lachaise, sitting in cafes people watching, taking in exhibits at the Pompidou Centre, or the street art everywhere or… oh I could go on and on, I mean come on its Paris! I also quite enjoy the confronting situations travelling solo can present as it puts me in the way of new adventures and meeting new people. One of my most memorable nights came about on a work trip to Toronto when I found myself at a sports bar on the night of the Super Bowl (the year the Saints won), by the end of said night – which may or may not have been aided by a lot of beer – I had eaten my first chilli dog, hit a bullseye, danced a top the bar Coyote Ugly-style, learnt how to change a keg, and befriended many patrons and we still keep in touch today. That is the other plus with travelling the best moments happen when you least expect them.

Although… having fallen ill in Moscow, Zanzibar and Toronto, I can faithfully say being sick when travelling is the absolute worst.

Whatever the experience travelling is always an adventure and yet I think the most important lesson I have learnt from my travels is that it doesn’t matter where I travel to or where I call home, I come from a pretty cool corner of the world. This girl may be an abysmal packer but she is most definitely a very proud kiwi.

Sat Nam

Also…   still on the travel theme, one part of the world I have never been interested in exploring is the Middle Eastern region. As beautiful and rich in history it is, as a woman I have only held contempt for that oppressive part of the world but the refugee crisis has opened my mind and my heart to these people. You may have noticed through my previous blog posts that I have no respect for the Saudi Arabian regime. Their treatment of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nim is abominable. For the life of me it does not compute why the powers that be continue to have so much freedom from western and neighbouring countries when freedom is so little afforded to their own people. Okay I’m not a complete eejit I know there is money, oil, arms deals, sales of other defence equipment, education and prison reform contracts and such like ilk that comes into play at least I am assuming that is why the world has turned a blind eye to the situation the Saudi-lead airstrikes has created in Yemen for the past year. But here’s the bit I do not understand, if you wouldn’t sell arms to Assad in Syria, why is it okay to sell arms to the Saudis? Is Yemen to suffer like Syria has? When does it end? #DutyOfCare #GlobalCitizen #TheyCouldBeUS #WeCouldBeThem ♥ So another Bridget Jones movie is about to be released. One question ‘WHY?’ The second one has the dubious distinction of being the first and so far only movie I have ever walked out of. So I’ll ask again ‘WHY?’ #WantonSexGoddess – pleeeaaassse, excuse me while I puck ♥ In the last few months I have been following The Anonymous Revolutionary a blog by remarkable sixteen year old Max Edwards. In his blog Max wrote on the themes of Marxism, communism, their significance and their relevance today and at times, all of the time actually it was hard to believe it was written by someone so young such was his incite. To think of all this gifted lad could have achieved is heartbreaking for Max died on 26 March of the cancer that had been eating away at him. Though he be gone, his words remain, and you can read them here #MaxEdwardsWasHere #FuckYouCancer ♥ When I heard of The People vs O.J. Simpson I thought ‘WTF!’ Everyone knows the story, we saw it play out for real back in the day. The evidence was clear – he absolutely did it. I even made a bet with a fellow uni friend that he would get convicted, that is how sure I was. Well as history tells us I was wrong. I hadn’t banked on factors like racism nor the manipulation of the law that the defence team were clearly masterful at. It was a sore bet to lose because it was so bittersweet. Two people were murdered. The killer walked free. Yet like a voyeur I did watch the serial and I particularly enjoyed all the wig action STILL it blows that there has been no justice for Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and their loved ones. While I am talking about television I want to give a big up to Black Sails, having just binge-watched all three seasons over Easter. I have always been a bit partial to a pirate tale but this show with its strong plotlines, epic battles, steamy sex scenes and hot pirates (Toby Stephens still yummy after all these years) well it had me at Ahoy, there matey.


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this kiwi girl muses about… being the other woman

I was having lunch with some girlfriends over the weekend talking about my current favourite topic the US presidential campaign and how stranger than fiction it has become. You know what I am saying right? Who would have thought, four months out from selecting a presidential nominee that that xenophobic arse trump would be the leading candidate for the GOP. It is better than any television show out there today, don’t you think?

Anyway there I was having yummy duck pancakes and glass of vino when the conversation moved onto Hillary/Bill and Monica and that milieu. While I stayed silent, for the next ten minutes or so the others proceeded to deride Monica, praise Hillary and ignore the guy that was involved. Then they turned to me, I suppose surprised that someone as opinionated as me had not had my two pence worth. I decided to not say what I really thought, I didn’t think that these smug marrieds would appreciate it.

BUT it has given me pause to think for… I once was the other woman. I am neither proud or ashamed of this. I say this now because it happened and it is a part of my story like Bill is a part of Monica Lewinsky’s. I have absolutely no regret that it happened, it changed my life forever and for that I will be eternally grateful.

My situation was similar to Monica’s in that I was in my 20s,  he was considerably older, essentially my boss (indirectly), and it started as a meeting of minds. It was through our conversations I fell for him (its all true, intelligence and power are complete turn ons). You don’t choose who you fall in love with, maybe initially but the actual act of falling in love has the ability to render one completely useless to logic and judgement. Certainly for me, I remember some perfunctory guilt in the beginning especially as there were partners (on both sides) and children (on his). I would keep repeating to myself (and to him) ‘there are kids’ ‘what the hell are we doing’ ‘is this wrong’ but once lust and wanting took over there was no turning back.

For what it was, during what it was I was happy and it never felt wrong but it wasn’t all rosy, when you get caught up in an affair there is a lot of subterfuge involved; the continuous lying not just with partners even with friends, plans being cancelled at the last minute, meeting up in hotel rooms is saucy for the first few times then its just not, and it also never felt long term. I knew it was an affair and I knew it would end. When it did end, it hurt by god did it hurt, I had fallen really hard and it took me a long long time to get over him but I am so happy I went there in the first place.

I believe in life if we are lucky we will meet people who will change our lives forever in a good way and this man – my lover (I love saying that) – was one such person. Our time together served its purpose in that it felt like I grew from being girl to a woman; it left me sexually empowered, confidant of my body and helped me to get clear on what kind of man I wanted to end up with. And I did care for him deeply. We are no longer in touch but I still wonder every now and then how he is. So definitely no regrets just fond memories.

Monica doesn’t get the luxury of this. She said once ‘I fell in love with my boss’ I wonder if she can still recall that love when she thinks back to that time. When TED published her talk ‘The Price of Shame’ last year the comments they received were the most negative they had ever got; Monica was called a slut, a whore, her character attacked as well as her appearance, her choices, her right to live even, people made crude jokes about sucking dick and wrote that she deserved the shaming. This to me is very telling of what the last nearly twenty years of Monica’s life has been like. She has been a bum note every time someone mentions Bill Clinton. He has gone on to live his exemplary life, she has struggled and I think it sad and wrong. I don’t appreciate my girlfriends judging her nor Hillary completely writing her off by calling her ‘a narcissistic loony.’ I would have more respect for Hillary if she were to show some kindness towards Monica and apologise for those comments – women knocking other women is just ugly. Coincidentally as this goes to be published it has occurred to me that it is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the achievement of women; we have enough to fight for don’t we? We need to be lifting each other up – supporting the sisterhood not turning on each other.

I am not excusing what Monica and Bill did. I recognise cheating, having an affair is wrong in principle but having been in that situation all I absolutely know for certain is nothing is black and white and you cannot judge someone until you walk in their shoes. To my smug married girlfriends who read this, this is just my two pence worth that’s all.

Sat Nam

Also in the news: I want to riff on the US elections a little bit more to say even though I am a socialist at heart and commend the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyns of this world for raising very important issues, in this very confusing time I am also a realist, that is why Hillary is my girl. Jane Fonda said of Hillary ‘She has always cared. She has always tried to make her life better.’ I like this sentiment. The world needs this sentiment. Not the dysfunction the Republicans bring. The rise of trump was funny at first, then – because I am a liberal – it was strategic now it’s just fucking scary. This guy doesn’t care about the white blue collar worker who votes for him, he doesn’t care about the people in Flint, Michigan having access to clean water, he doesn’t care about planned parenthood initiatives and he certainly doesn’t care about faraway wars. He doesn’t care, his ego is through the roof right now, all he wants to be able to say is he won, he is the President of the United States but then what? We would all be fucked that’s what. Well luckily we have Hillary to prove her version of LOVE can and will beat trump’s version of hate #LoveAlwaysWins #Hillary16 #ImWithHer ♥ Nine long years I have longed to be able to say this – I am going back to Stars Hollow, thank you thank you thank you dear Netflix gods. My favourite show ever ever ever Gilmore Girls is coming back for four more episodes this year. First it was Twin Peaks, now this I’m about fit to bursting and to return the same year Hillary is running for President is just precious. I won’t be surprised if Rory has some hard core White House credentials by now and it makes sense she would want to be involved in Hillary’s campaign. Any which way they come I am so ready to consume the quick snappy banter of my favourite mother and daughter duo all over again #GilmoreGirls #NetflixAndChill ♥ In my volunteer work as a mentor I meet refugees, under my remit I don’t always get to know their stories but occasionally where appropriate some have opened up about their ordeal. Their opinions seem to matter so little as the bureaucrats of this world tug the problem out, but they have an incite which should be considered. I have long been concerned about the children caught up in this, especially the unaccompanied – they need clothing, education, guidance and love and they need it now before they become prey to traffickers and before the psychological damage they have already suffered gets worse  and what angers me is that there is a solution as told to me by one of my mentorees – many of these children have families they can go live with. For example in the migrant camp in Calais approximately 150 children in the camp have a legal right to reunite with their families in the UK. Why aren’t governments approving their passage and making this possible! With the crisis being as enormous as it is – surely it makes sense to fix the fixable immediately #RefugeeCrisis #WeAreAllRefugees ♥ There have been such loving tributes to David since he passed: Iggy Pop at Carnegie Hall, Gary Oldman and Ewan McGregor at The Roxy in LA, Madonna in Houston, Bruce Springsteen in Pittsburgh, Sinéad O’Connor in Chicago and the BRITs. All reverent in their own way, all a poignant reminder of how extraordinary he was; two months and he is everywhere still, the universal lovefest is nirvana for my soul. I hope you know you are so absolutely loved #DavidFuckingBowie I think you know.

 


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this kiwi girl muses about… life, death, resolutions among other things

This past week – oh vey! Yucky does not begin to describe it.

There really ought to be pause button on life when you are visited by loss… but then again I suppose we need the confronting nature of life in all her perplexities and idiosyncrasies to remind us to get out of bed and live.

The death of David Bowie has had a profound effect on me, more than I could have imagined – not that I ever imagined this possible for David appeared to exist in an aura of timelessness that seemed to transcend death only it didn’t and he is gone and it is a loss that will be felt for the rest of my life I know this to be true; but his was not the only passing that darkened my door in the last week – many – not one, not two, not even three – many beautiful souls lost their brave battles with that bloody cancer beast.

I know to a certain extent from my own experience how debilitating cancer can be; so to know how in health these souls were so completely present and vital then to have to imagine them in their sick state, reduced to living a lesser life feels wrong and hurts more than their passing does. To that end, in amongst the sorrow I find solace in the knowledge that these souls – finally emancipated from their diseased bodies – are free. To those who have transitioned thank you and to those of us left behind always the love. 

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The following words were written before death darkened my door, when I had that gusto the promise of a new year brings; I don’t feel like that today but there you have it ladies and gentlemen – life in all her ebbs and flows – funk to funky. So without further ado… this week’s post:

Firstly can I start by wishing you a very Happy New Year. May each and every day of yours be draped in happiness, warmth, peace and love.

So a new year hey! New resolutions! Have you made any? Have you already given up? It is said that 25% of resolutions are broken in the first week alone. Then within six months, over half of resolvers will have given up. Not for me though, once I get an idea in my head I find it quite seamless to follow through – the right mix of stubborn and discipline with a dash of guilt I suppose. To that end in the past I have been able to successfully complete:

  • no alcohol for a year – thrice,
  • learn to ride a horse,
  • no ice cream for a year – it’s harder than you think when you are a kiwi girl brought up on loving all things dairy,
  • read minimum two books a month for a year – that one very nearly failed when I decided to read War and Peace, have you read it? It is quite possibly the longest book ever written (okay its not but it felt like it at the time). Thankfully just as Natasha entered into the story a bad bout of flu kept me bedridden allowing me the time to finish it in a timely manner,
  • learn how to fence (the epee kind)

Some resolutions like the above list I have made just because I enjoy a challenge. Others are made for the greater good like when I introduced lemon water to my morning routine to boost my immune system, a habit I continue with today. Exercise is always a good one when it comes to resolutions – to gym or not to gym being the common question. I am not a gym junkie so I wouldn’t dare go there but I like to stay fit so through resolutions I have established a regular fitness routine sans the gym that keeps me ticking over.

And it was the greater good I was pondering, when one night last September feeling disgustingly gluttonous – after chomping my way through a humongous bowl okay it was a bucket, a bucket of sweet and salty popcorn for dinner – I decided to wage war on refined sugar. Only, as I savoured the last morsel of popcorn I had no clue what refined sugar was so what I actually said was ‘fuck you sugar, I’m not going to eat you anymore.’

Turns out I didn’t know jack, for in sugar I have met my Waterloo. It’s not enough to cut out sweets and cake, sugar exists in this whole other stealth world. To understand the mammoth battle ahead I have had to study the history of sugar, the science and its health implications and it has been no Tuesdays with Morrie let me tell you BUT the more I know the more resolute I am to not eat it – this coming from a girl who once stated bubble gum as her favourite food. Oh la – it’s an interesting time to be me.

Sat Nam

Also in the news: My girl Hills campaign to the White House is going gangbusters, I hope this really is the year of a female president #Hillary16 ♥ Sean Penn – he makes me smile. I love him and not just for who he was married to but for his intelligent movies, his unwavering commitment to rebuilding Haiti and his fuck you’s to authority and the media – never before have we needed more people like him, people who question governments, media, industry and disrupt the status quo so Sean if you want to interview the most notorious drug dealer in the world kudos to you #Madonna+SeanPenn4eva ♥ I consider myself an activist, it is a title I wear with pride because it is my privilege to help my fellow brothers and sisters in their hour of need where I can. I don’t know how but the refugee crisis has affected me like no other tragedy ever has. It has become nestled deep within my heart and I feel strongly I must be part of the solution so in this coming year I will use whatever means I have to continue to shine a light. As I keep repeating; this – the worst humanitarian crisis we have known – is not going to just go away, it’s on track to get keep getting worse. I pray in 2016 we see an universal melting of hearts that leads to getting the job done – because it is in all our best interests, as Katniss says “Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!” #OneLove ♥ Another tragedy that has touched me is the plight of Saudi Arabian Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, I wrote of him a few months back. He is currently imprisoned awaiting execution for taking part in protests during the Arab Spring when he just 16 years old. Since I wrote I have been unable to obtain news on his status that is until New Year’s day when his uncle and 46 others were executed by beheading for so called terrorism. Mercifully al-Nimr was not on the list of the dead. I think of this young man everyday. He haunts me. Can you imagine being arrested for wanting democracy? How is this terrorism? Western and regional countries need to get their priorities sorted; Oil vs Human life – it’s really that simple #KarmasABitch ♥ If you haven’t already, listen/read Idris Elba’s keynote speech to Parliament on diversity and imagination – it’s really quite something. Bravo Luther! #let’sMASHtheBox ♥ And finally some lightish relief… over on Eastenders, I’ve waited ten years to say this, Grant Mitchell is coming back. Sadly it coincides with Peggy’s death but I just want the Mitchell brothers back together so I’ll take any storyline. Cue the doof doof.


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hot tramp, i love you so!

bowie

David Bowie!
Now there’s an idea.
I have always believed the gods must have been on some serious peyote the day they created him.

So he’s gone then, my Starman is no longer of this Earth. The man I thought would live forever went and died.

And now here I am about to attempt to express how special this man is to me… where does one even begin, so fucken hard if it’s not the tears getting in the way, it’s the doubt as to whether I have it in me to do him justice. In therapy I am continually told to write my feelings down, but to write this hurts, hurts real bad. Too raw I suppose, still I will endeavour with my tribute of sorts to a man who blew me away time and time again. A man who still feels very present in my life; why just on Saturday I was engaged in a discussion about the meaning of After All, this coming after Friday on which as a fan I celebrated another year of him along with downloading the new album. Blackstar was all I played all weekend so I woke on Monday in such a lovely Bowie state of mind and then came the news.

Since then, every morning just before I wake fully I have this moment where I am smiling thinking all’s right with the world then I remember and I ask ‘Is it real?’ It is real isn’t it. He is really gone. A world without David Bowie. We live in that world now. I keep being asked how I feel, how does one feel when a great love dies – sad, in shock, heartbroken, rocked to my core – there are three thoughts that keep circling around in my head in amongst the grief: ‘People die, get over it’ and I know this, it is not my first loss but I suspect I will never fully recover from this one. There is only one other out there in the ether who could make me feel like this and she would not be where she is today if there hadn’t been a David Bowie. I have heard people talk about where they were when Lennon was shot, the grief they felt when Elvis died – I finally understand it; that sharp piercing pain in the heart, the dry retches, the shock I have experienced it all in the last few days.

‘But you didn’t even know him,’ oh but I did, I so did. David Bowie came into my life during the Nile Rogers years, when I was still at an age where the only concerts I was interested in were of the puppet variety like the Sesame Street musical. Regardless when his Serious Moonlight tour came to New Zealand he was everywhere which in the era sans social media meant the newspapers, television and the radio. I would go from watching Rainbow one minute to dancing to Modern Love the next. I was discovering music and I loved to dance so the album Let’s Dance fed my impressionable soul BUT the moment I fell for him was when I saw Labyrinth. This film – I saw it recently after many many years – that moment when he makes his entrance gave me the same tingling feeling I got when I first saw it only back then I didn’t know it was him, in fact it has often been the way that I would discover someone and they would turn out to be David Bowie. It happened with Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, the Pierrot phase. As Jareth the goblin king with his mullet, in the makeup and codpiece, he terrified me and something else which I now know as being aroused. Yeap I was aroused by David Bowie and he would continue to do so over the years. The movie lent itself to the romance, because I identified with Sarah for I too lived in a fantasy world.

From then on David as Jareth would come visit me, we would lie in my bed discussing Delfinia the world I had created as well as my real life woes. My teen years were a confusing time for me (I know I know like every other teen right!) I was both popular and smart enough but deep down I felt like an outsider. Having this wild imagination didn’t help because at that age all you want is to be like everyone else. The only time I felt a freedom was during those conversations with David/Jareth. He did talk back bizarrely enough. He helped me name unicorns (Delfinia had a lot of unicorns), he named a flying pirate ship Mistral and he always encouraged my uniqueness. Those visits ended some time in the last few years of college but he came back one more time when I was 23, this time as Ziggy (by then I was more familiar with his body of work) – it was the night before I left New Zealand for good I was on an adrenaline rush happy to be leaving, but in an instant the enormity of leaving behind family and friends especially my grandma hit me and then just as sadness threatened to take over, there he was at my window waving me goodbye. I took it to mean I was on the right track and the sadness abated.

I have come to know his body of work intimately, I have theorised the different stages of his work, but never been able to decide if he was riding the zeitgeist over the years or if he was helping to create it over and over again. I have been to countless Bowie themed nights (I predict that there will more to come in the next few months) and he is always my specialised subject when I play Mastermind. I have admired David and Iman’s love story; it is very clear that each was the other’s great love and best friend. I still find myself attracted to him, he only got better with age and given half the chance I would so have gone there. I have even dated men because they had some semblance of him, but his attraction for me was not just aesthetic, his energy and intelligence were a complete turn on. To have translated the cacophony that was in his head so masterfully into the different personas, the music, videos and films he created is no small feat. What genius existed within him to do this. He is was such a man. I was happy to be lead by him. He always upped my game. A few years ago the Guardian published a top 100 reading list as recommended by him. I had only read eight books of said list and as a voracious reader I decided I was going to complete that list, I am still working my way through it. On last count I was at 16, only 84 to go, with titles like ‘On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious’ and ‘Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir’ they aren’t exactly easy reading. So you see David Bowie has a role in the story of my life.

I watched the video for Lazarus last week and it left me feeling cold. Later after I had listened to the song a few times and considered the lyrics (as is always the case with his music, I always search for the meaning) that coldness gave way to what in hindsight I see as foreboding: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now…’ David Bowie was saying goodbye. And in the most classiest way, through his work. Reminds me of the last two songs Queen released with Freddie. I love the idea of Freddie and David together again along with Lou, and Lennon and Jimi, oh yes the party just got better in heaven.

I always thought I would see him perform live, I always felt it was a matter of when not if and the dreamer in me believes in a parallel universe I will. If he ever graced me with another visit I would say to him ‘Thank you for being exactly you. You gave a girl who felt like an oddity permission to be exactly who she is and the confidence to make her own rules. You and you alone made her dare to be brave. You darling man, you remain forever my goblin king, my starman and my moonage daydream. Thank you. Thank You. Thank You.’

Generations from now will discover him; they will listen to the music, see the different incarnations, go to museum exhibits dedicated to him, watch the films and the television appearances but they will never capture the essence of him. I have tried to explain my feelings for him to people who don’t him well – yes these people actually exist – but the fact of the matter is if you don’t already feel it you will never understand. The era of David Bowie, they were the golden years – a one off experience, never can be repeated. I heard the term Generation Bowie today – that’s you and I – the lucky ones. Are you going to be okay? He may have transitioned taking a big piece of my heart with him but the point is he existed in the first place and there is something joyful in the knowledge of this. The sun will keep on rising and I will continue to be exactly me so yes I am going to be just fine… eventually. For now though I need to cry.

Sat Nam


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this kiwi girl muses about… that kanye guy

Is Kanye any good? Madonna must think he is, she has chosen to work with him on two albums to date and his albums sell AND they sell really well, so there must be something there however, I’m still on the bench about it for apart from ‘Gold Digger’ I don’t know his music. His narcissism, the tacky choice of wife, the disrespect he showed Taylor Swift (at the 2009 MTV awards) and Beck (at this year’s Grammys) and tanking at Glastonbury are all I know of him and knowing this doesn’t exactly motivate me to take a listen to his music. Or go see him live, earlier this year a girlfriend and I were discussing whether we would go to Wireless, but upon hearing Kanye would be headlining I kyboshed the idea. I believe the words ‘no way in hell’ were used (thankfully she agreed so no one missed out).

Music is littered with rebellious, controversial and naughty characters but Kanye does not come under any of these handles. Kanye is Kanye and he uses his platform for Kanye. I think that is what I abhor the most. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying there is anything wrong with ambition and confidence, Taylor has an abundance of both and still manages to stay classy. Nor is there anything wrong in chasing the cash, Beyonce and Jayz are very clear that they are all about their brand. Where it goes wrong for Kanye is that when it comes to role models he’s up there with other unsavouries like Kate Moss, Putin, Katie Hopkins, – people to NOT admire or aspire to be.

I saw him once, I walked past him and his entourage outside Harvey Nicks. He looked little in amongst his group, that’s what I remember, little with an energy of self importance. So Kanye, by all means declare yourself ‘the world’s greatest living rock star,‘ similarly in 1984 Madonna told Dick Clark ‘I want to conquer the world,’ but the thing is – like Madonna has – you need to be able to back that shit up, or else you will find that all you are is ‘the greatest living twat.’

Sat Nam


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club tropicana

clubtropicana
A few posts back I mentioned Desert Island Discs and since then I’ve been asked either one of two questions; what did I mean by Desert Island Discs or what would my selection be, so…

Desert Island Discs is a radio programme that is on air on BBC Radio 4, on which the featured guest is asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island.
Now you know what it is, onto my selection but first you need to know it will be a cold day in hell before this could ever be a reality. Club tropicana it definitely would not be and I’m not someone who would survive that kind of situation on account of –
*MOSQUITOS and creepy crawlies in general and
*I do not like being out in the sun (sensitive skin) and
*I have no survivor skills; I was never a girl guide, never managed to stay motivated enough to finish the Duke of Edinburgh award, and have never been able to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together (and actually if your name is not Bear Grylls is that even really possible?)

But in a parallel universe where anything is possible these would be my choices.
eight pieces of music
In choosing these songs I thought about the best case scenario of being on a desert island (like there is one!) and I figure if I was to try survive it I would need to stay positive and motivated so I chose these songs for the happy vibe they give me; and then because my shortlist came to over 50 songs, to help narrow them down further I opted for their theatricality, because if I’m going to be alone on a desert island you can be sure I will be channelling my inner rock goddess, singing to my heart’s content with no fear of anyone telling me to shut up or threatening to kill me (thanks bro, still haunted by what you did to my favourite Madonna poster all those years ago!)
♣Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. I couldn’t survive without bringing a little Mac with me, and I imagine I’ll be doing a lot of dreaming on this island so this song seems appropriate.
♣Cruisin by Smokey Robinson. Every time I hear this I find myself in a duet with Smokey.
♣Sound and Vision by David Bowie. Click here to read why.
♣Nessun Dorma from the opera Turandot by Puccini sang by Luciano Pavarotti. Have to have some opera on the island to keep things a bit civilised; although this isn’t my absolute favourite opera, it’s the one I feel I can do the best impression of.
♣Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush. Such a sexy song. I like the idea of prancing around to this.
♣Because the Night by Patti Smith. If I could go back in time my era of choice would be New York in the late 70s/early 80s – the years before AIDS; I’d dance at Studio 54, be photographed nude by Robert Mapplethorpe, hangout with Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and a not yet known Madonna and watch legends like Blondie, Talking Heads and Patti Smith perform at CBGB. This song is all about dirty sex for me, so if I’m not getting laid I might as well have something with me to remind me how good it feels.
♣Happy by Pharrell Williams. The title says it all plus one and half years on and I’m not the slightest bit over it.
♣Into the Groove by Madonna. What? Did you really think I would get myself deserted on some island without her? She’s been with me since I was ten years old, I’m not about to be without her now. Click here to read why this song still does it for me.
Castaway favourite: If all my music were to be stolen by a monkey and I could only save one disc it would be Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. The Mac are always my go to when I’m feeling happy or when I’m feeling blue or just cos.

a book (you are automatically given the Complete Works of Shakespeare and depending on your preference an appropriate religious or philosophical work).
It’s a tossup between
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Pros: It’s my favourite book, and who knows how long I am being cast away for so it has to be something I never tire of and I already read this at least once a year so it’s got staying power. And what a great role model for someone trying to survive on a desert island; Jane survived an unkind aunt, Lowood Institution, the Moors and a crazy woman. Cons: None. It’s my favourite book.
The Oxford English Dictionary. Pros: Firstly being cast away is no reason to be a dunce and secondly I’m a word geek and take great pleasure in reading the dictionary. Currently I’m working my way through words beginning tri (yes I’m ace at Scrabble, if anyone wants to Words with Friends with me my handle is Ree2311).
Cons: I maybe a word geek but it is a bit geeky to take a dictionary.
and the winner is… neither I’m not stupid, I’ll take a How to Survive on a Desert Island for Dummies guide along with my Shakespeare and Bible.

luxury item (it can’t be a living thing or be of use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside)
I did consider notebooks and pencils so I could continue with my musings but I have chosen a more practical item -> a bath with a supply of fresh water for it has multiple uses. It can be used for shelter, to sleep in, to store water and of course to bathe in.

Alrighty that’s me ready to cast away, now over to you.

Sat Nam