Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where black is the color and none is the number

The recent Massachusetts senatorial election is why I'm not moving home. Not because of the result, although I am disappointed. But because of the dialogue.... and the vitriol. On both sides.

Those that won are congratulating themselves and gloating, those that lost are crying that it's the end of the world, and the whole country is split down the middle. No, that's not right. The country's not split down the middle, it is broken down the middle. And nobody's willing to blink, nobody's willing to budge, nobody's willing to move.

Watching it from the outside really gives you perspective and the only way I can describe it is sad. Incredibly and heartbreakingly sad. Because it is not anymore the country that I grew up in, the country that I love, the country that I celebrate every time I hear our national anthem or see the stars and stripes. It's a battlefield defined only by its partisanship and one-upmanship and all the time fighting, nothing but fighting.

Don't get me wrong, I know politics is part of the game. But this has gone beyond politics. So far beyond it, that nobody - on either side - can see the endgame anymore, which is supposed to be the good of the nation.

To draw a comparison, I work in a politician's office. I am close to that game. I have a front row seat for it. Hell, sometimes I even get sucked into the game. It's always a competition, and points are kept all day long, at every turn. But here, they recognise that there is a time for politics as usual and a time for it to be put aside. There are games to be won and then there are issues that simply cannot be treated as a game.

Right now New Zealand is working on a referendum to decide its voting system and figure out how, and by what proportion, members are elected to Parliament and then, once elected, how much power they'll have as a party. And on this issue, all of the parties who sling mud and grandstand and play games and keep points have taken a breath, taken a step back, and decided to apply some logic. The party with the majority, who could steer this process because it has the power to, instead decided to bring the other parties along. And the largest minority party, who could use this as a political football to try and make sure they're not a minority next time, decided to take that offer.

Why? Because it's important. Because the country will be better off if they do it that way and because the fate of a nation is not a damn game.

I wish, sometimes, that the US could get over itself and take a lesson from this little backwards island on the other side of the world.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

See that girl, watch that scene....

There is an old adage that says you should dance like nobody is watching. I say screw that.

You should dance like EVERYbody is watching. And then work it. *snap*

No matter where I am, I like to dance like it's Live at the Apollo and the audience includes the Queen, Elton John, Bill Clinton, James Brown, Marily McCoo, Randy Jackson, Debbie Allen and the late Michael Jackson. I like to think my life is like the movie Glitter and I am just waiting for some producer to pluck me out of obscurity and into stardom, only nobody gets shot at the end.

Because I am a human jukebox, I sing along - boisterously - and my dancing involves choreographed steps, outstretched arms, copious amounts of shimmying and the occasional booty slap. I'm an excellent dancer.

I have a friend who told me she once got kicked out of a bar for 'dancing too loudly'. I think that sounds fantastic. I now aspire to dance so loudly that I, too, have to be ejected for the sheer flamboyance of my dancing. I want to develop a series of fitness classes centered around dancing too loudly. I want to launch a nationwide Dancing Too Loudly tour.

My point is this, I like dancing. And I'm adding to the list of resolutions previously stated. I resolve to dance more and more often. And always, to do so loudly.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to time

So I am putting together my list of resolutions. Since I am late to the party and doing this on the 4th, I decided to add 'cleaning out my dresser drawers and refolding and reorganising my clothes' since I did that on the 3rd and can therefore check that off the list. See? I'm already ahead of the game!

That process inevitably let to a culling of clothes that have in the past year become 'aspirational', a concept with with I'm sure every woman is infinitely familiar. Which leads me to my next resolution - to get back to my 'fighting weight' if you will. Not the fighting weight of my youth, mind, but at least the weight I held as I started 2009. Scratch that, lets harken back to the weight I held at the 2008 election, because the holiday season that followed that was, in a word, gluttonous. And I have never recovered.

It's not that big of an ask, numbers-wise, but I am becoming increasingly aware as I barrel toward 35 that time is neither my nor my metabolism's friend. By way of motivation, there is a mini triathlon coming up in three months that I am thinking of training for. Only one of the required skills (swimming) is a strong suit of mine. Still, never one to back away from a challenge, I will hereby declare this bitch ON.

To my co-workers, for what you are about to endure living with Erin On A Diet, I apologise in advance. There is a small support group of former Assistant Attorneys General in Palau who can sympathise.

Beyond that, my resolutions are somewhat mundane. I resolve to remember to take my damn Thyroid pills every day. Which is a task that for some reason seems beyond me. I went for a week without them accidentally on vacation and didn't realise it until my hair started falling out.

Likewise, in my ongoing battle against time, I resolve to do the nightly face cream ritual every night.

Lets see, what else?

I resolve to do more diving and resist the urge to farm old territory and instead focus my gaze forward on new adventures, even if it's cold.

I resolve to get another passport stamp, although that means I will need to send it off for more pages to do that.

I resolve to get my residency in New Zealand, so that no matter what happens there will always be a place for me here.

I resolve to master at least one song from the Dave Dobbyn songbook and, potentially, to take up the ukulele.

I resolve to find a driving companion who will embrace the role of Passenger As Percussionist and play the car tambourine with aplomb.

I resolve to continue my progress in driving every page in the AA (that's AAA for you North Americans) illustrated road atlas of New Zealand.

I resolve to re-organise this blog and post on it more often.

I resolve to go on at least one - if not more - factory tours. Foxton Fizz, I'm looking at you.

I resolve to buy a decent pair of sunglasses and not destroy them.

I resolve to keep my eyebrows in shape.

I resolve to get that next tattoo, a recreation of one of my photos on my hip. I may even resolve to get my current tattoo outlined in a colour that is not prison blue, if I can steel myself to go through the pain of a foot tattoo again.

i resolve to resist the urge to get a kitten, no matter how lonely it gets.

I resolve to stop getting sunburnt and finally master what it takes in terms of sunscreen to survive life under the hole in the ozone.

I resolve to take more, and better, pictures. And perhaps another course. Probably in portraiture. (Currently accepting applications from willing models.)

I resolve finally to start that novel that's been percolating for years.

I resolve to do something meaningful with all of this human rights knowledge this year to make this life lived on the road worth it.

I resolve to be better about keeping in touch with those who mean the world to me. And make sure they know that.

I resolve to focus on living my life as it is now, instead or living my future or living my past.

I resolve to love honestly and well, and without regrets.

Oh, and I thought about resolving to go back to blonde, but that's so American....

Saturday, January 02, 2010

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year...

As I look toward 2K10, I can't help but reflect on the year - or even the decade - that was. I always thought that 2008 would live in infamy as the Worst Year Ever, having been punctuated by the cruel occasion known as the Note Incident of Aught Eight. If you'd asked me a year ago, I would have said it would be hard to top coming home from work to find your live-in boyfriend had left without warning, cleaning out the house, leaving only a note and disappearing into the ether. It was as humiliating as it was soul-crushing, although the former sensation stuck with me longer than the latter.

On reflection, though, many years have been worse. 2006, for example, was the year I buried my father. 2002 was the year I had to say good-bye to him when the Alzheimer's took hold. 2001 was the year my world was shaken first by the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and then by a brutal mugging the week later.

But the benefit of age (and time) is perspective.

2001 will also go down as the year I reconnected with my mother on a road trip that I still think of fondly.

2002 will go down as the year I gained the courage to tell the Law Firm of Doom to f- off and went off on my own. It would be a couple of years before I made my great break from the Golden Handcuffs, but the events of that year set the ball in motion.

2006 will go down as the year I finally shed the 75 pounds I had packed on through years of lawfirm discontent. It was the year I decided to become a DiveMaster. And it was the year I came back home to celebrate the holidays with my bio and urban families.

And 2008, crap as it was, is now known as the year I saw the world change when Obama was elected. It was the year I swam with humpback whales, an experience which changed my life. And it was the year that I found out, through my own personal tragedy, that I do have people I can count on here.

And so, what can be said about 2009? By all accounts, it was a crap year. I started out getting dumped just seven days into the new year and losing a whole new group of friends as a result. I ended it alone on Christmas wishing I was anywhere but where I was. There were two places in particular I wanted to be but both were an impossibility and the helplessness that ensued begat a great and deep sadness.

But perspective being what it is, coupled with advancing age (!), it has only taken a couple of days for me to reflect and realise how much 2009 had to offer me.

So instead, 2009 will go down as the year I has the privilege of showing New Zealand to my mother and Aunt Pat.

It was the year I saw a glorious and magical display of dancing hot air balloons in the Basin Reserve.'

It was the year I finally realised that there is nothing un-feminist about wearing pretty dresses and bright red lipstick and embraced both with two hands. The year I settled on my signature scent.

It was the year I got over my fear of the cold water and got back into diving. And set off to see what Jacques Cousteau called one of the top ten dive sites in the world.

It was the year that I really came into my job and then took on a new professional challenge that showed me another layer of what it means to be a public servant.

It was the year I got over the intimidation of having grown up around talented photographers and took my own shot at taking pictures.

It was the year I finally started driving again and forgot why I had waited so long or what I had been afraid of.

Like a New Zealand Pinot Noir, 2009 had a lot of complexity and a myriad of competing flavours and textures, but in the end it was a very good year.