Empathy. For almost nine years, until March 2014, our home was a funny wee bungalow in Christchurch's Flockton Basin. The second time our house flooded we walked away. We were lucky to be in the position to buy a new house that has, slowly, become home but we are left with the remains of our old, much loved home, which is growing mould and subsiding along its north wall while we try to show our insurance company the pointlessness of relining walls which keep cracking as the foundations move.
My parents came to New Zealand, from England, in the mid 1960s. Dad had done his military service on Christmas Island (where they were testing H bombs but life was otherwise idyllic) and had wanted to return to the Pacific ever since. He found a job in Nelson working with DSIR as an entomologist and he and Mum boarded the Ruahine and sailed right across the world to start a new life.
The first year was hard on Mum. Without work she was isolated and her sense of identity was slipping. When she did secure some relieving work at a primary school she found the contrast between school in New Zealand and the, rather progressive, school she had been at, too much to bear.
Eventually Mum got a position as a children's librarian where, despite some trying working conditions, she spent 19 years running legendary story times and creating a happy little space for hundreds of children. When the DSIR moved to Auckland Dad decided to stay in Nelson and became a jeweller, first learning from, then working alongside, Jens Hansen. Somewhere in there they bought the house where, aside from a stint of house-sitting the year I was born, they have lived ever since.
My parents are aging now and I know there is a day coming when they won't live in that house any more. The odds are good that, when that happens, the house (with its rimu floors and ceilings and my purple bedroom) will be bowled and the section (where half a dozen cats are buried) will be subdivided. Other places have been home since I left at age 18 but my roots are firmly planted in that quarter acre of Nelson soil.
I'm struggling to find the exact quote (though I'm pretty sure it was in an interview with Geena Davis) but there's research that indicates that, when we look at a crowd, we think there is gender balance when there are way less than 50% women. If our mental picture of equality is so very skewed that we think a group which is half women is unbalanced, then we need a quota to tide us through until our perceptions match up with reality.
Once, long ago, I was left unable to pay my rent due to a flatmate suddenly moving out just before Christmas. WINZ couldn't, they said, help with the rent, but they could give me a $60 food voucher (to be spent in a single trip). I had already bought food for the week (which was why I didn't have money for extra rent) and, with only a tiny fridge and even smaller icebox, I couldn't stock up on fresh food, so that $60 was spent, almost entirely, on treats like chocolate biscuits and orange juice. I couldn't get my actual needs met, but I was able to buy a few scraps of happiness.
There were definitely times when the UCSA building was more like home than whatever flat I was living in - when I hung around until there was no one else left.
I remember there being lots of little corners (and sometimes the whole UCR) where a young couple could squirrel themselves away for a quick... um...conversation.
I remember Student Health where they were always a bit cross if you let yourself get sick and every prescription was for three boxes of condoms.
Eating dubious food and drinking even more dubious beverages in Jimmies whilst calculating the speed of light in pineapple lumps per pico second or casting ourselves in an elaborate Lord of the Rings parody.
Sitting on top of the big brown heaters in the LCR with the man who would later become my life partner and snarking about the people walking past.
Walking in one day to find all the LCR furniture had been shifted round to resemble the deck of The Enterprise.
Like many of us I hadn't fitted in at high school and Uni was the first time I felt like I had a tribe. I haven't been in the UCSA building for a Lo g time and I've lost touch with many of the people I knew there but I liked to think about the line continuing.
We called those shorts "fanny crushers".
I remember mufti days as being incredibly high pressure - you only had a few days a year on which to make an impression so everything had to be perfect. My kids, who have never worn uniforms, experience no such pressure. They, and their classmates, dress in all sorts of ways - sometimes for comfort or practicality & sometimes to express themselves, but any status clothes afford does not appear to come from money or conformity to a standard.
My memories of wearing a uniform involve being cold in winter & hot in summer, wearing Monday's stains all week because I only had one pinafore, my mother stressing over whether my blouses were ironed, and always, always wearing shorts underneath so I could swing on the bars without embarrassment.. If schools must have uniforms they should be cheap, flexible and easy to care for
One of the things I like best about NZ Twitter, is how often I find myself talking to a public figure about something completely ordinary like kids, or pets, or recipes. I'm not sure if it's a feature of our purported egalitarianism or just that we are a smaller, and therefore, safer-feeling community, but it's quite a lovely thing.
Emitting the sort of screechy laughter that startles my family. Thank you.
I don't think it's unusual for couples to have periods where one partner isn't able to, or doesn't want to, have sex for a while. In healthy relationships this isn't seen as on-going refusal because the other partner knows not to pester. It might be reasonable to assume that certain types of relationships are sexual ones, and it's fair to be disappointed if they turn out not to be but it doesn't mean anyone should have to have sex they are not fully enthused about because they "owe" it to you.