Friday flip through the archives: ain’t no use in tryin?

As our move from Auckland inches closer, I’m thinking more and more about the friendships that will change and be harder to maintain with distance. I’m guessing this one will survive.

The song seems even more appropriate now …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpNWSW49IBM

 

 

Zimmerbitch

This song was released in 1965, so I kinda missed it the first time around. In fact, the first time I remember actually listening to it was in 1985. It was a wet, cold Friday and I was visiting a friend and her young baby. She was the first of my friends to have a child – and for quite a long time – the only one.

I was in the middle of a post-grad course and totally at sea trying to put together a manageable thesis proposal. My life revolved around study and partying (probably not in that order), and I think I both pitied and slightly envied her “not having to work” but just being home with a baby – probably reading books and watching tv most of the time. It took another ten years and a child of my own to see how wrong I was about…

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Daily Post Photo Challenge: “… a good day ain’t got no rain”

I have probably said it before, but I am a “glass half empty” person. In truth I usually feel that my glass is three-quarters empty — but that doesn’t make much sense as a pithy observation.

I have a profound capacity to see and dwell upon anything negative in a situation, even whilst those around me experience great joy. The best I can say about this is that I’ve gradually learned to keep my mouth shut (usually), so I don’t spoil others’ pleasure.

The American musician and comic Oscar Levant said that happiness isn’t something you experience, but something you remember. While I subscribe wholeheartedly to that view, I often struggle to even remember happiness, such is my Eeyore-like nature.

So my personal challenge for this week’s Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge has been to bring together the things that make for a good day; those things that get me out of bed and willing to try on a happy face.

In choosing these images I am paying tribute to the scenes, moments, rituals, and above all people, whose presence contribute to a good day — if only I let myself see it.

The title for the post comes from Paul Simon’s Slip Slidin’ Away. I could be the woman, but am trying to choose not to be.

I know a woman
Became a wife
These are the very words she uses
To describe her life
She said a good day
Ain’t got no rain
She said a bad day’s when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been
Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away

Paul Simon, Slip Slidin’ Away

On writing wishes and not re-inventing the wheel

New Zealand kauri tree hung with wishes made for the boy-child on his naming day. Photo: Su Leslie 1999

New Zealand kauri tree hung with wishes made for the boy-child on his naming day. Photo: Su Leslie 1999

Now that I’ve decided to try and make a birthday wishes book for the Boy-child, I thought I should go back to the original wishes made on his naming day. Then I remembered I’d written about this last year at this time (On Ancestry in the Making). It was a lovely reminder of just how fortunate we are in our friends and family.

Rather than re-invent the wheel; here it my original post of naming days and wishes.

This post is part of my countdown to my son’s sixteenth birthday. Here’s what has gone before:

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/six-word-saturday-who-said-boys-cant-wear-pink/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/when-two-heads-are-so-much-better-than-one/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/family-photo-friday-kids-no-more/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/three-weeks-out-and-ive-organised-nothing/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/on-the-importance-of-grandparents/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/on-counting-and-gender-stereotypes/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/getting-over-the-grumps/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/six-word-saturday-on-being-allowed-a-weekend-sleep-in/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/on-raising-children-and-not-getting-enough-sleep/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/back-to-school-for-the-last-time/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wordless-wednesday-remembering-birthdays-past-and-counting-down-to-a-big-one/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/juxtaposition-on-being-reminded-how-far-we-have-travelled/

Black and white: not how I’d describe my family

If family is a community of love and caring, my son is at the centre of mine.

If family is a community of love and caring, my son is at the centre of mine.

It’s kind of ironic for me that Sonel’s black & white photo theme this week is family, because in my life, family is certainly not “black and white”.

Dad, Mum and two of the three kids.

Dad, Mum and two of the three kids.

I grew up an immigrant; half a world away from any extended family.  For most of my childhood it was Mum, Dad and the three kids. I had aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, but they were represented in my life by Christmas gifts  of The Broons and Oor Wullie annuals and tubes of Smarties that usually arrived in February.

I envied the neighbourhood kids that visited grandparents or got to spend summer holidays with cousins “on the farm”. Although my parents were active in our community and both seemed to have lots of friends, I was a lonely awkward child who probably needed the security of a large family; the sense of people that loved me unthinkingly – because we had shared ancestors.

In my twenties, I moved back to the UK where the majority of my extended family live. I got to know a couple of aunts and my grandmother really well and I’m forever grateful for the time I was able to spend with them. Over the years, I’ve built tentative relationships with some of my cousins – and more recently their children.

These are loose connections though, and although I’m extremely fond of these men and women who share my ancestry, often my facial features and in some cases my name – they are still half a world away. So too are my mother and brothers, all in England these days. The only blood relative I have in New Zealand (apart from my son) is my father, with whom I’ve long had a difficult relationship.

On a day to day basis, family pretty much means my partner and son.

My son's Naming Day; surrounded by those we chose to be an on-going part of our child's life. the babies are teenagers now.

My son’s naming day; surrounded by those we chose to be an on-going part of our child’s life. Those babies are teenagers now.

Yet I do have a sense of belonging to a group that is more than community. It’s made up of my friends, sometimes neighbours and some relatives. These are the people I’m close to; those I call when I feel like shit and need advice or a shoulder to cry on; the people who’ve looked after my son when I’ve needed them to – and more often because he likes being at their house anyway. The people I want to be with when I have something to celebrate and even more when it’s their turn to triumph.

The Maori word for this is whanau – which means family, but not merely or even necessarily in a biological sense.  It’s about the communities of care that we construct – whatever their basis. Whanau is the group of friends, second-cousins and god-parents that gathers for dinner sometimes. It sends me out gift shopping for an old friend’s grandchildren, allows me to embrace my partner’s nephew’s half sister as my niece and my son to regard a friend’s young child as a cousin too.

My son is an only child, and in many ways I worry about his lack of family. Yet I’m confident that his whanau – the people we have chosen and who have chosen us – will love and support him. I’m confident too that he will create his own whanau as he grows older.

Thanks to Sonel at Sonel’s Corner for this week’s Black and White Weekly Photo Challenge : Family

ain’t no use in tryin?

This song was released in 1965, so I kinda missed it the first time around. In fact, the first time I remember actually listening to it was in 1985. It was a wet, cold Friday and I was visiting a friend and her young baby. She was the first of my friends to have a child – and for quite a long time – the only one.

I was in the middle of a post-grad course and totally at sea trying to put together a manageable thesis proposal. My life revolved around study and partying (probably not in that order), and I think I both pitied and slightly envied her “not having to work” but just being home with a baby – probably reading books and watching tv most of the time. It took another ten years and a child of my own to see how wrong I was about that.

At the time I didn’t realise she had post-natal depression; I’m not even sure she knew it. To me she just seemed a bit dull and disinterested in things I wanted to talk about (like my totally fascinating and complicated love-life). So when I went to visit, I don’t quite know what I expected we’d do, go out for lunch or something I suppose.

But instead we listened to her old records and I appreciated her taste in music. It was probably a good thing we did, because – quite honestly – being the shallow, self-obsessed creature that I was in those days, without that reminder of her cool, I might have given up on the friendship.

I’m glad I didn’t. We’ve been friends for thirty five years now, and although we don’t see each other often, I value her presence in my life. She’s funny, wise, accepts me as I am – and she knows where all the bodies are buried!

coffeeIn many ways, we’ve continued to live divergent lives. Our socialising pretty much takes the form of meeting for morning coffee every few weeks. Our partners know each other, and we have “done dinner” in the past – but not recently.

We text often and both make an effort to find each other the funniest, most outrageous birthday and christmas cards. I’ve kept some of hers, including a couple that go back to my student days and which live on the pinboard above my desk. Ours in a friendship that has never really known conflict, or even drama. It wasn’t forged in adversity or pain. Somehow, as teenagers we recognised in each other some kindred spirit and that has been enough.

When I started writing this post, I realised that there are no photos of us together. None at all – in 35 years. And that makes this post important to me, because in the future, if my son ever looks through the photographic record of his mother, a piece will be missing.  A kind, funny, clever friend whom I care for deeply and who has shared my journey for well over half our lives. I guess I could take a photo of us next time I see her, but I probably won’t. Somehow that feels like it might upset the balance, and I like things the way there are.