With the silly season upon us, looking down the barrel of ingesting liquid depressants and heightened levels of the white death (only seasonally coloured green and red) at awkward work parties and intense family gatherings- I am not feeling the magic this year.
Have I ever felt the Christmas magic? I don’t know. At best, I may have lukewarm Christmas cheer in a former life. In 2021, the spirit can bite me. The only thing I am hanging out for this year is the cheese ball. That’s right. The 70s inspired, nut rolled, pineapple-filled-if-you’re-unlucky ball o’ cheese. And maybe some white chocolate almonds and candy cane ice cream from the Rob Roy Dairy (which has been available for months, so suck it elves).
Anyhoo- adolescent anger aside… if you also also feeling pressured to put on a snowman sweater (which makes no sense in the Southern Hemisphere anyway) and guzzle down legal downers at a premium cost alongside colleague and less savoury members of your gene pool… How about no?
Let these alternative affirmations or merry mantra enter your consciousness. I invite you to repeat after me. Seriously, try the reply out loud:
1. Bag Humbug!
Reply: Bah humbug. Bah humbug. Bah humbug.
Coined by one of the greats. Or at least one of the great white men, Charles Dickens. Ah the Victorian era. The old, original 19th century Scrooge had lost his only love and turned into a sour-faced, cowardly employer who cared more about profit than people.
Sidenote: The original Scrooge was not as cool as Bill Murray, another articulate great white man, in the 20th century film classic Scrooged.
2. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.
Reply: *machine gun noise* And a happy new year.
Coined as a Christmas classic by Kevin while he was at home alone. AKA Macaulay Culkin. The boy smart enough to divorce toxic parents at young age. TBF, he had the money to do it.
This affirmation starts like mainstream, blank card that cost $1 from the Happy Coin shop, finishes like bad sexting. Basically, the mullet of seasonal greetings. The bonus is that you can say the first two words out loud, and the last three in your head. In your head. In your heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaad. Zombie. Zombie. Zombie. Zombie.
3. Jesus would have hated this commercial BS anyway.
Reply: Amen. And A-womxn.
Coined by yours truly. I mean I wouldn’t worship the guy but he def had some good values and great teaching points in my opinion.
Remember that time he turned water in wine? Yeah, vaguely.
Remember that other time he flipping the trading tables because of the corrupt systems? Me neither. But it happened. Now, cool your jets and hold your horses- I’m not saying Jesus would be flippin’ tables at your local Christmas craft fair but have you tried to go to a mall lately?
That frenzy of false idols is nasty. I love a gingerbread scent candle as much as the next guy but was it worth a whole sweatshop overseas being set up so we could buy a <$10 secret santa gift for Barb? Barb’s cool but I don’t even know her last name let alone what flavour candle she wants.
4. Christmas, too, shall pass.
Reply: Can it pass faster than gas?
All jokes aside, Christmas is a mixed bag for most of us. Tomorrow is my first ever Christmas without ‘family’. Scary idea until I realised that I am safest in my own hands. I am most likely to choose a gift I want, make a meal I will eat without regrets and I can nap. Also, my cat brought me a gift and put it under the tree and everything. As Glennon Doyle suggests, the magic is found in the rubble of our lives.
Wishing you a smooth end of silly season.
Peace in, peace out.
From my empty livingroom to yours,
I am a big fan of crying. An advocate even.
I mean I do, genuinely, give webinars and public talks around Aotearoa celebrating the virtues of crying and the chemical impact on the body and brain (Yay Science!). I encourage, celebrate and reward crying with my ethos, in my work and personal relationships.
Having a cry can be a largely positive and satisfying, self-regulating coping mechanism. Cortisol levels (stress hormone) literally leeks out of our eyeballs. Better out than in, is one of myall-time favourite kiwi sayings.
Better out than in.
I am an a criar. (Cryer?)
In middle school, Jordy Himmelfarb wrote in my yearbook that I was cool but in year 6 I cried so much I could have filled up his pool with my tears. That rich little Jewish kid was entirely right. Year 6 was a tough one. All of my friends had been places in the Enrichment class and I did not. I got rejected from the clique of friends, was forced to hang out with the non-academics and got picked on by my new classmates for being a good-two-shoes nerd. Winning combo.
2021 has turned out to be a similar clusterfuck.
COVID, a return to a career that I love (but is woefully underpaid and underfunded), single-mum parenting, custody share, impending divorce, nation-wide legal lockdown, and I didn’t even have a chance to buy chairs or a rubbish bin for my new house before being launched into teaching remotely and managing 3 kids’ home schooling schedules for half the week.
Cortisol levels were high today, my friends. Very high.
Shoutout to my co-parent for taking my girls out for an afternoon bike ride enabling me to walk to the beach solo and deal to my emotions. I could have stayed home and cried in bed or the shower like a normal person but, tbh, I needed the exercise and fresh air. There’s been a lot of risotto eaten in the latter part of lockdown at my house.
So off I went- strolling and storming past the Forbury Road Four Square with the queue of masked patreons. Feeling like crap and headed for the beach in this post-apocalytic, germy masked socially distances (isolated?) world.
Did I have the balls to cry while walking out in public? You bet your sweet ass that I do.
I can bawl like a motherflippin' boss with almost no shame. It’s a gift really. For me, but also for New Zealand. I am single-handedly trying to challenge the stoic farmer, rugby-hyped toxic masculinity of our society through role modelling. I justify crying for me by knowing that I cry for this whole shaken country.
All the educational research will tell you that if you want to teach a kid how to walk, then you must do more than talk. True about sustained silent reading, true about wellbeing interventions. We have to walk the road together. Teach theories all you want but to quote Rhianna, “me haffi work, work, work, work, work”.
So I did.
I, unabashedly, let tears steam down my blotchy red face as I made eye contact with any passer-bys who weren’t too freaked out to look at me. I cried and I cried with conviction.
Not too much. Largely, the world kept turning. Pedestrians keep walking. Dog-owners kept picking up or ignoring their dogs’ little bombs depending on their moral compass. The ocean kept crashing. Masked-up adolescent skateboards kept missing the landings on new tricks.
Nothing stopped. Except for a blue van.
The driver of the blue van waved me across the road, despite it being a roundabout rather than a zebra crossing. I smile and waved a thank you and aimed to carry on. And then he yelled at me.
Side note: What woman doesn’t love to be yelled at out a van window?
“Are you ok?” Muffled but I heard it. I turned, confused and as I removed my earphone, the driver of the blue van repeated himself, “Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m good. Thank you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I’m just getting divorced. I’m fine.”
“Good. I’m sorry but it's going to be ok. I know you can’t see it right now in the middle of it… but this is going to be a good thing for you… Congratulations.” He brought his palms together at his heart centre.
“Thank you,” I repeated. “It matters, you saying this. Thank you.”
We smiled and went our separate ways.
What happens when we dare to cry in public? What happens when we stop closeting our sadness? What happens when we start feeling without shame?
People want to help. And even if they can’t, that wanting helps. The human overlap helps.
In 2020, as of June 30th it was documented that 654 people died by suicide in New Zealand. On our shores, on our watch. 27 deaths chalked up to COVID.
This is not mean to be a competition.
681 families hurting across Aotearoa from 2020, alone. And that doesn’t include the job loss, the death of dreams and all the hearts and minds that cracked under the weight of a global pandemic. It doesn’t include so many of us immigrants, new New Zealanders not able to see out family overseas. It doesn't include our everyday self-induced bruises. Why aren’t there more of us crying on the street?
I've seen more fistfights in public streets than tears shed.
What are we doing, people?
Crying in the shower? Hiding this loss and pain from our communities. How are we meant to teach our children healthy emotional hygiene if our most real and valid losses are denied? How do we teach each other how to grieve and how to move forward when no one is talking about it. How do we hold each other. How do we let ourselves be held.
Come on, New Zealand. Have a cry. Better out than in.
Peace out, homies. Peace in.
So I am on to myself.
Fortnightly, I have 5 days in a row to myself and while this must sound like a miracle to anyone stuck in a bubble with small children, I assure you it is a mixed blessing. First few days are rad. My friend Iain calls this phoenix time- the space you have to yourself post-divorce to figure out who really are. Which bits can you salvage from 'before' and which bits are dead weight, eventually becoming the flotsam and jetsam of your life’s journey.
Largely, listening to 90s playlists, going for long walks, binging neon and drinking copious amounts of hot drinks is something I enjoy. I zoom everyone I can manage. I vacuum like it's a Saturday Morning dorm inspection at Brentwood College School. I eat bread and cheese. I don't cook.
The tone changes for me sometime between 2pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday. I suddenly realise I am alone in a bubble. I am immigrant who gave up my parents, my brother, 5 cool cousins, a dozen lifelong friends, 22 years of history and roots to settle down and have a family too close to Antarctica. And where is that family now?
I mean Monday night they'll be simultaneously not eating dinner I made and complaining of being hungry until I want to scream but on Sundays that feels pretty far away, Sundays there's not much to do except open a bottle of wine.
I'll skip the rock bottom part of the story. Ultimately, I’ve decided it’s not worth being hung over if I can’t go get a cheeseburger from Maccas drivethru.
Alternatively, for 2 weeks from now I could:
1. Ball in the shower. Good old fashioned ugly cry in hot water.
2. Commit to a movie and actually watch it all the way through and not even text during it. Good old fashioned escapism.
3. Binge sugar which, while also a drug which my father calls “the white death”, is less likely to inspire spewing self-loathing.
4. Sit with the yucky feelings.
Luckily, I don’t have to choose one of these for another 13 days. If we are still in lockdown then, it will be day 26. speculative maths is not my favourite subject.
Today is Monday. We begin again.
Begin better is my goal.
Who knows how it’ll end this time?
Brain: Pssst. Wake up. WAKE UP...I think someone is trying to poison us!!!
Me: Yeah. It was us, idiot.
I am accidently hung over, New Zealand.
And I think you might be. too. If you're anything like me, that one too many glasses of wine (and switch to a G&T mid session) resulted in a very poor night's sleep. And a stupidly full blue bin for bottle recycling.
In my defense some of these bottles are from the houswarming I did in the week leading up to this Lockdown.
In my not defence (offense? Prosecution?), I am drinking a lot in lockdown.
Alcohol is not my friend.
I take that back. Not true. What is true? Alcohol is like the only friend you have during that shifting social landscape phase in high school when your group of friends ousts you from the inner circle with no warming and you need someone to hang with so you take what you can get.
Warning- this moody, insecure new placeholder friend is quite hard to hang out with. An adolescent me didn't understand why but, of course, 40 year old education-expert Adrienne can clearly see that alcohol is the kind of mate you can't really rely on because people can only like you as much as they like themseves. And alcohol is an arragant, self-loathing bitch. Toxic friendshp.
Ok- maybe I'm being a bit hard. We have fun, right? We laugh and dance and divulge a few too many secrets. The recipe for a good time. When push comes to show though, this wee moody Spirit doesn't really want what's best for me and she'd kneecap me before letting me for for a 6am run. She's done it before.
Alcohol is as ubiquitous in kiwi hoseholds as Edmund's cookbooks and more so than wooden buzzy bees on pull-strings. The ultimate legal painkiller.
According to Action Point NZ:
"From the domestic figures released by Statistics New Zealand, in the year 2020:
That's a lot of drink. I could go into it- the research, the reasons, the important conversations around this but I'm feeling a little seedy, so I'm rolling over and going back to sleep.
Peace out, peace in, homies. Meet you for a video drink later?
Welcome to my bubble, people. Haere mai.
Today’s Stats: Coffees, 0; Cups of tea, 1; Hours of sleep, 7.5; Matching pyjamas (with the 10YO), 5; Children in the house, 0. Video calls? Oh, about a billion.
Here we are again. Lockdown 2021. Huge upgrades for me on last year’s pandemic shitshow. I have my own house. Each of the girls have their own room. I actually have a tv (though it’s not hooked up and working yet...details).
Luckily and gratefully, I am walkable to the beach again but a different beach from last year. My internet works consistently, and I am in mobile phone range. Slightly less isolated in my bubble that our first rodeo. Less writing for me this year but probably because I actually have to work for a living this time around. (Nice to get paid and to have a reason to shower and get dressed).
Life is pretty good. I can’t complain.
Actually, I can and I will.
I mean I shouldn’t complain because I’ve got it pretty good but I can complain and I will because we are not doing each other any favours by pretending this lockdown/work/childrearing intersection is all zen and picking wildflowers. In our case, it is zen and picking up interesting rocks, but it is also snapping at the kids, a kitchen full of dirty dishes and a pile of clean laundry on the living room floor flowing and multiplying like self-replicating DNA. (As is the dirty pile in the corridor). So there’s that.
Tybalt died at the end of last year. It is what it is. I don’t have cat. I am alone in bubble. I am grieving my former life. So there's that, too.
Holy Fork-I am in love.
I am text-alert drooling, wearing my fancy lace bras, treat myself to a glass of bubbles in my secondhand, hospice shop crystal flutes in love with my life, myself, and my house atm*.
Being in love is great. That being said, the announcement of another week of Level 4 legal lockdown across Aotearoa did not sound too great to me yesterday after the 3pm briefing.
To be honest, I was pissed.
I have a job I’d like to go to, Jacinda. Students who I’d like to see and help get UE. I have a Bollywood dance class at Rasa on Thursdays and basket-ball team of magic primary school girls I want to coach even though they never listen as I yell, “Hands up for the rebound” from the side-line.
I’m missing poetry night at The Dog with Two Tails with my librarian friends. Coffee doesn’t taste as good when professionals aren’t steaming my milk for me. I have a standing walk date with one of my best mates every Saturday morning at 8am. We were supposed to meet at the shark bell today.
I had plans, Jacinda.
I have places I’d like to go…like Makikihi or Kurow. I want to spread my legs like MP Chris Hipkins told me to. And where the fuck was Ashley Bloomfield the other day?
Jacinda, I still don’t have any stools, chairs or a rubbish bin in my new house. I don't own cinnamon. I want to go shopping like any ordinary kiwi in their right mind with a credit card.
*Listens to “Barbara Gibson’s 4 minute ‘Right now, it’s like this meditation’ on Insight Timer.
Jacinda, I’m sorry for what I said when I was angry. Also, I was hungry. So, I apologise for my hangry outburst. I still want to be on team (of the 5 million). Tell Dr Ash I appreciate his efforts and tell the new civil servant doctor that I respect her and have sympathy for her as Bloomfield’s understudy. He’s a tough act to follow.
Jacinda, I know it’s not your fault. The way I think my kids know it’s not really mine when Netflix isn’t working. Narcissist jokes aside, I know I don’t actually govern reality and neither do you. We just ride the wave of this weird unfolding in this life and try to avoid hitting any rocks.
Better to lose my cool at you than at the front-line workers at my local Four Square, right? You can take it and then go home to your stud of fiancé and sleep it off for 4 hours before you get up to save the world again.
Hang in there, Champ. We are trying to.
Peace out, homies. Peace in.
(*At the moment, not the seedier less hygienic interpretation of that acronym which I only know because of my work as an educator).
I'm just being a dick. No regerts.
You, too, can enquire about this Tyler Sheilds photograph and be offered it for a mere $17,500 USD.
The model is some rockstar's daughter and apparently a few diamonds were swallowed during the photoshoot. This photo is the definition of luxury, indulgence and I am as equally drawn to it as I am disgusted by the whole weird human existence that is big enough to hold both this and children who get sent to school with no packed lunch.
What is this world?
August 24th, 2021
Lockdown 2, Day 7- Haiku Challenge
For my Period 1, Year 11 Class
Two coffees needed
for online lockdown learning.
I've only had one.
Teacher only zoom
Where is my motherflipping class!
Is it not Wednesday?
Peace in, homies.
p.s. It's still Tuesday