Proust Questionnaire for my 35th Year

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

An uncomplicated life. Have only what you need, nothing more, nothing less.

2. What is your greatest fear?

Apart from the usual fear of heights, deep water, bees?

Probably to be known. I just prefer to be an enigma. I’ve only met three people who could read me like an open book, and I married the first one.

It’s terrifying to find someone who has the ability to see you. Maybe it’s because I never trust anyone who has that kind of perception. Or I just don’t like anyone seeing the worst in me.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I’m not sure if I understand this question. Is anger a trait? Cause I don’t like how easily that button can be pushed by outside influences.

But that anger can’t be pointed inwards, it’s just poison for me. It’s so much healthier to have it directed outwards, towards humanity.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Selfishness. I can’t vibe with people who value their comfort over other’s happiness.

5. Which living person do you most admire?

Kevin Parker, aka Tame Impala. Lonerism came into my life at just the right time, and Currents is the soundtrack to my life.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Definitely my wardrobe. Luxury is the only vice I indulge nowadays, and it’s been a treat collecting designer items I desired in my youth. You have to be super careful about it though, if you don’t do your research you’ll end up wasting your money.

7. What is your current state of mind?

I’m in a strange state of mind right now. It’s like I’ve been seized by the back of my neck and forced to confront an unsettling truth about myself, an unmet need that I don’t want to admit to. But I’m not looking away. I can see it, understand it, accept it. Now what? There are so many questions and I have no idea on how to get them answered.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Obedience. Fuck that noise!

9. On what occasion do you lie?

Honesty is important, and I usually don’t like lying. I get accused of lying but that usually comes down to me being factually incorrect. I will lie for two reasons:

  1. To avoid being hurt/hurting someone else’s feelings.
  2. Fuck with somebody for shits and giggles.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

The older I get, the more I like my appearance. I know my body is slowly starting to disintegrate on me. But I’m okay with that!

How about this: I don’t like how tired I look. It’s vague but true.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

How am I supposed to narrow it down to one? Maybe whoever owns all those fast fashion labels like Shein, Missguided, Boohoo, etc. etc. That industry is toxic!

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Everyone likes confidence, passion, intensity in a man, and I’m no different. But that’s such a boring answer.

A quality that’s more unique to myself is elegance. Most of my man crushes have great style. This doesn’t mean I’ll swoon over a flashy peacock of a man. But a well-polished appearance and a classic, low-key style can do things to me for sure.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Is earthiness a quality? If it is, I think that’s what I like in a woman.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Probably the words ‘shit’ and ‘fuck‘. If I lived in a household that had a swear jar, I’d be broke in a day.

I never found my speech strange in New Zealand, but I catch myself saying Australasian slang and the Irish assume I’m Australian.

I’ve found myself saying ‘this is nice’ a lot. It’s for two reasons: to communicate my pleasure, and to verbally bookmark the memory and assign it to the good experiences part of my mind.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

There’s no love I consider above any of the other loves I have. They’ve all changed me in different ways.

The love I talk about the least is Clarence. He was in the Navy during WW2, stationed in the Asia Pacific region. That man was the most honorable person I’ve ever met. I’m sure he knew about my situation, but he was as powerless as I was. The only time I could sleep peacefully was in his study. I’d walk in, curl up on his big armchair, and fall asleep while he read a book.

He died not long after I was taken away. I have a tattoo of a poppy on my wrist, to remember his kindness.

16. When and where were you happiest?

Fuck. That’s such a difficult question. I can give happy moments, but I wouldn’t dare rank them.

Watching movies while hugging my father and eating snacks. When my first love suffocated me in a bear hug and walked into the sea, my legs wrapped around their waist. Spooning my second love as they were lying on a trampoline, stroking their hair. Watching TV on the couch with my husband, my legs resting on his lap, and he strokes my thigh, squeezes my calf, or holds my ankle. When we do the greetings/goodbyes at the meeting house, and I’m embracing and kissing a line of smiling people who are happy to see me.

So I guess I’m happiest when I feel that kind of intimacy. The when and where makes no difference.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d like to have been good with music. Any musical instrument. Maybe I have a hidden talent for dinging the triangle? (Not a euphemism)

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to change my eye color. Green eyes please!

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having a higher academic qualification than my husband. He’s still smarter than me though.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I would come back as an animal, something in the cat family. Something with big, cute eyes and sharp claws.

21. Where would you most like to live?

In New Zealand, number one would be Otago Region. It’s just one of those places that seems to match the landscape of my mind. But practically, it would likely be Kapiti Coast. We are considering a retirement property there, but nothing is certain. It might not even be worth retiring in New Zealand, especially with the cost of living.

In Ireland? Somewhere in South Dublin or County Wicklow.

In the world? Probably somewhere in Europe. There’s a list of five countries that we’re thinking of. I want to go visit and make sure we love it before we live there. Maybe the Nordic countries? Maybe somewhere near the Mediterranean? Who knows?

I thought I’d live my adult life in Auckland or some Australian city like Melbourne or Adelaide or Brisbane. But that didn’t end up happening!

22. What is your most treasured possession?

There’s nothing I own that I can’t walk away from. But I guess the possession I treat with kid gloves is my Harman Grubisa dream coat. I keep it in a special garment bag, it only gets worn on special occasions. It’s my baby, I would only sell it if I really needed the money.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

When you do your best, do the right thing and still lose.

When you believe you are a valued part of someone’s life, but you’re actually considered a burden.

24. What is your favorite occupation?

Comedian. It seems like a pretty interesting profession.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

My delightful bosom. Grew them myself!

26. What do you most value in your friends?

A good sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at my behavior, we’re not going to stay friends for long.

27. Who are your favorite writers?

Lucy Foley comes to mind. She’s like a modern day Agatha Christie. I like Agatha Christie too, although I prefer to watch the television shows based on her work than read it.

I like Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m getting into Maurice LeBlanc’s Arsene Lupin series, and I’m trying out Dorothy L Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries. I haven’t read enough of either to know if I’m in love yet.

I own a few Raymond Chandler and George Orwell books, but I don’t think of them as my favorites. I have the entire Chronicles of Narnia but that’s more a nostalgic love of the series.

The writer doesn’t really matter to me, just the story. I used to read long, dense novels when I was younger, now I prefer a short story or a nice poem. But if it’s good, I’ll read it.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

Frankie Bergstein from Grace and Frankie. She is everything I’d like to be one day. Maybe not the divorced and living with an uptight businesswoman part.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Jane Austen. She’s not my favorite author, but girl really knew how to write about petty annoyances. I can identify with that!

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

No idea. That soldier on Snake Island?

31. What are your favorite names?

Girls: Lauren, Katherine, Susan, Emma, Rachel, Nicole, Layla.

Boys: Daniel, Thomas, Logan, David, Michael, Robert, Christopher.

I like normal government names, and a unique nickname.

32. What is it that you most dislike?

Unnecessary packaging that can’t be easily recycled. It ends up becoming litter at worst and landfill filler at best. And we know that companies should take action, but they’re too lazy and stingy to do the right thing.

33. What is your greatest regret?

Staying silent. I fucked up so much of my life by not using my words when I really needed to.

34. How would you like to die?

Quickly! I’m hoping assisted suicide is an option, cause when I’m done with life, I’m done.

35. What is your motto?

One must cultivate one’s own garden.

Proust Questionnaire for my 35th Year

Dogfish by Mary Oliver

Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing
kept flickering in with the tide
and looking around.
Black as a fisherman’s boot,
with a white belly.

If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile
under the perfectly round eyes and above the chin,
which was rough
as a thousand sharpened nails.

And you know
what a smile means,
don’t you?

I wanted
the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was

alive
for a little while.

It was evening, and no longer summer.
Three small fish, I don’t know what they were,
huddled in the highest ripples
as it came swimming in again, effortless, the whole body
one gesture, one black sleeve
that could fit easily around
the bodies of three small fish.

Also I wanted
to be able to love. And we all know
how that one goes,
don’t we?

Slowly

the dogfish tore open the soft basins of water.

You don’t want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen

to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

And anyway it’s the same old story–
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
to survive.

Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
or mean,
for a simple reason.

And nobody gets out of it, having to
swim through the fires to stay in
this world.

And look! look! look! I think those little fish
better wake up and dash themselves away
from the hopeless future that is
bulging toward them.

And probably,
if they don’t waste time
looking for an easier world,

they can do it.

Dogfish by Mary Oliver

Start at the beginning

Monarch

“What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time.” 

This is the first street art photo I took with a DSLR. A simple shot of a monarch butterfly on the stairs of St. Kevins Arcade. It may not look like much, but it started an obsession that continues unabated to this very day.
I am so lucky to have people who understand my passion and give me leave to pursue these temporary works of art. I capture these murals with my camera, so they can achieve some sort of permanence somewhere other than my memories.
Council workers can buff them away, taggers can vandalise them, even time can weather them into obscurity. But on film, they are preserved in their prime and can be appreciated by the next generation of urban artists.

I’ve been absorbed by this compulsive hobby for four years. And I’ve loved every moment of it. I only hope you, dear reader, enjoy it as much as I do.

Start at the beginning

Dreaming with a Crocodile

ND8_7836Sometimes you find the most beautiful art in the most inconvenient of places. This surreal mural is situated three stories up in Newton. The only good vantage point is from Ian McKinnon Drive, so I forced my husband to drive as slow as possible so I could get a good shot.
This piece is called ‘Dreaming with a Crocodile’ by the Mexican urban artist Edgar ‘Saner’ Flores. The Mexican beer brand Pacifico brought him to New Zealand to showcase his exhibition and to create a mural for them. He says“The mural is inspired by our trip to New Zealand and our journey through life. The characters and symbols, like the driver with the jade mask represent all those who face new experiences and take challenges that make them lose their fears regardless of the outcome of things, always guided by reason and trust (the house and the kiwi on the tip of the spear).”
I like how he gave it a little touch of Kiwiana by spraying a tiny kiwi on top of the birdhouse. And I know personally (thanks to Instagram) that he thinks our little country is wonderful and would love to come back again.

Dreaming with a Crocodile

The Mysterious Artist on Cross Street

Old Lady

Street art photography is truly a sophisticated pastime. You find yourself hanging out in the most glamorous locations, like rubbish infested alleyways and dodgy car parks.
But my personification of a stray cat has it’s perks. I found these amazing stencils hiding in the corner of the Cross Street alleyway/carpark. The work reminded me of the stencil artist Christian Guémy, even the signature bears a resemblance to his cube moniker.

So I have a question: who are you? I’d love to see more of your work around Auckland.

Man 1 Man 2

Image