Saturday, March 26, 2005

Breathing Space

Here are two pictures of my room and one from my room.
Don't read too much into the prodigious amount of alcohol on display. Ok, do.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Moving on up

I've moved. Upstairs. This may not sound like much but it has made a huge difference to my quality of life. For a start, I'm now on the top floor of my flat, and it's all mine! Mwhahahahaha!!! This room is the top floor, it has much more space, it has an en suite and it has a great view. Those material things.... When I get batteries for my camera I shall take a picture of the room and the view. The summer that comes in through the windows you shall have to imagine yourself. It is the sort of room where I could easily wile away a summer soaking in the sun, drinking beer, talking rubbish and watching the neighbourhood at play in the meadow beyond.

The biggest enhancement to my quality of life comes from being above the strange wandery around guy who lives on the first floor and who's room is above my old room. SWAG is one of my housemates who keeps very late hours (dinner at 10.30pm, bath at 11.30-12.00am (a right bugger when it came to closing time and the need to go to the toilet. All I can say is thank goodness for the meadow behind my house), pottering in his room till 2.00am, then bed). In the middle of SWAG's bedroom is a floorboard that squeaks. It squeaks loud enough to wake me up. Being the sort of stress cadet that I am, I found it impossible to get to sleep when I knew this was coming. Could I get over this? Could I deal with it? Could I bollocks.

Now... Now I'm the one with the squeaky floorboard, I'm the one who is above him. I'm on top, as it were.... Mwahahahahaha!!!

But I am a merciful man.

In my beautiful room.

Social Justice

There's been a bit going on in my head recently. Some of which I can't talk about because this aint the forum for stuff that, well, intimately involves other people. However, the thing that is dominating life for me is the departure from Oxford of my friends Justice and Anita.

This is us punting on the Isis last summer. Anita is the one doing the work. Good girl.

Justice and Anita have been (HAVE BEEN?! Still bloody are!) very good friends to me. It grieves me to see them leave. However, I have always known that for Justice Oxford was only a temporary stop for him. He was just waiting for something. Fourteen months later he managed to convince Anita that he was the man of her dreams (she can be a bit thick sometimes) and it was time.

Even though it grieves me, I accept that for Justice there is a need to act on his name. Quite what that will look like is unknown. That unknown is somehow assuring.

In that time honoured line, it has been better to have shared life with him and Anita. Wherever they go will be the better for having them.

And he knows that I would have kicked his arse if he had stayed. Now piss off you beautiful and good man.

Monday, March 14, 2005

One in Four

According to the New Zealand Herald, one in four tertiary (post-secondary) educated New Zealanders live outside of New Zealand. I'm one of those 25%, having spent seven years getting a BSc in Geography and a BE in Resource Engineering and now I live amongst the towers of higher learning that is Oxford. Russell Brown has written about the various responses. I wish I'd seen the questions because I don't feel represented. Not surpisingly, he rounds on many of the respondants. Many of the reasons for people leaving and not returning include:

Financial reasons
"I'm Maori so in NZ I will be expected to go to prison sooner rather than later. In Aussie it is seen as a God-given right that everyone owns their own homes/cars/playthings, and the incomes and costs support this. It's going to take a lot more than patriotism to lure expats back to NZ. I do not know anyone insane enough to work for a pittance, pay extraordinary rent, and then happily inform the family unit that in order for NZ to grow this family has to live like paupers."

Race relation reasons:
"I have a problem with the thought of living in a country where my children will be discriminated against because they are not defined by NZ law as belonging to the Maori race."

and education reasons:
"I'm no longer confident that NZ has world-class education standards, and the best schools here in New York City are very good. I want my daughter to have the best education."

Maybe I'm going against the grain, but none of these reasons have anything to do with the fact that three and a half years after leaving Aotearoa, I am still yet to return, and nor do I expect to return for at least another two. They are not remotely close. I'm not to naive to suggest that laziness might be a reason I'm still here, but it is a laziness that is rooted in a good. I'm still here because I have invested a hell of a lot into my community. This is a community of people that I love dearly (ok, some more than others ;-)), and I am not prepared to let them go. Staying here has nothing to do with money or education or race relations. It is simply because it is in Oxford that I have chosen to do life. Moreover, if I move back home, there are a whole lot of people that I am going to miss. I guess that makes me a little selfish. That aside, New Zealand made me who I am and gave me fantastic oppotunities to explore and grow and experience life. Do I feel obligated to repay that? I guess so, but I also have an affinity with paying things forward. I never left home to make my fortune, I left home to go and see some friends and to broaden my world view. That then grew into developing community. I'm pretty sure that if I had stayed at home I would be much better off financially. Instead, leaving NZ has cost me financially. the dollar has got stronger, I earn about the same as I would do in NZ and as a result, my student loan repayments have got that much harder. But then, money has never been what drives me. Which does (in an aside) present the question, what does drive me? I think Taylor Mali says it best in Silver Lined Heart:

"I’m for the courage it takes to volunteer
to say “yes, I believe in this and I will”
I’m for the bright side
the glass half full
the silver lining
and the optimists who consider darkness just another kind of shining.
I’m for what can be achieved more that for what I would want in an ideal world.
I’m for working everyday to make the world a better place
and not complaining about how it isn’t
so don’t waste my time
with your curses
on verses about what you are against, despise and abhor.
Tell me what inspires you,
what fulfils you and fires you.
Put your goddam pen to paper
and tell me what

Cheesy this may be, but I don't care.

I'm also aware that due to the nature of my job, I have got myself into a rather specialised little corner. Luckily, Brown can understand if not agree with my view:
"Some are happily settled elsewhere for life, some would like to come home but despair of finding a comparable job, and some will, eventually, return. I'm sure they have their issues with their birth country, but none of them are as embittered as some of the people who wrote to the Herald."

The bugger even made me feel homesick:

"We own a decent chunk of equity in a house only five minutes' drive from the centre of town; there's a beach around the corner and plenty of room to play. The schools, contrary to what you may have heard, are excellent. And it's home. I went to Pasifika on Saturday, and you can't do that anywhere else. And I'm sorry if this sounds wanky, but I'm not only in it for me. I want to be part of the story here. The scale of things means it's possible to do that, to actually make a difference."

In response, I offer this. (BTW, Russell, it doesn't sound wanky, however the use of that adjective does sound like my father). I don't get the little bit of equity near the beach, and last weekend I didn't go to Pasifika. Instead, I live two minutes walk from the Thames and on Saturday I did deliveries for Besom. In Oxford I also get to make a difference.

If it's ok with you, I am going to carry on loving my country but, as Taylor also put it, "I'm for admiration from afar."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

In the Darko

You are my people and I am your man. In that spirit of community, can someone please explain Donnie Darko to me.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I'm Rich but I think I get his point

I don't like to put private correspondence into blogs but in this case I am going to make an exception, although I won't say who sent it to me. A friend of mine has sent the following:
"i am having a ball hanging out with this girl i'm seeing. we laugh like
crazy and generally just have fun all the time. talk and get so open towards

this is what life's about. all the millionaire shit around me is generally

i would love to be rich, but not at the expense of my life."
I love this sentiment.