Sep. 19th, 2016

[No Subject]





Goodreads Book Giveaway




The Matchstick Girl by Suzanne Hocking




The Matchstick Girl



by Suzanne Hocking





Giveaway ends October 22, 2016.



See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.







Enter Giveaway


Nov. 14th, 2014

International Coming Out Day 2014




It's never exactly the right date (Oct 11) when I write one of these annual posts, because the date is never the reason I'm writing. An event will happen unexpectedly somewhere around this time of year, a prompt that will suddenly fill me with fire. This year it was a book (Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan - highly recommended). I know from long experience that that fire only lasts so long, and if left for another minute, another hour, it will dwindle. Soon enough, the urge will pass, until something that was ephemeral and urgently pressing for existence will sputter out, unremarked upon. The sadder part is that it was surely something essential, something pivotal, lost forever. I've grasped similar moments before - skived off a class, interrupted a good night's sleep, delayed a deadline, because I just had to leap on the spark and fan it to life right that second. It was always worth it. I remember those moments. And I remember the ones I missed, and wonder what they might have been, what impression they might have lit in the underbrush of life. Ignored, each one is just a wooded patch of dirt like any other patch of dirt where a campfire might have been.

Campfires are about intimacy and common warmth. They are about connecting with others or yourself around a central source of heat and half-light. Every time I'm stirred to write one of these yearly posts, it is in the hope that it will be like a campfire. A centerpiece for a conversation, for shared feelings, for kindredspiritship (shh, I know that's not a word). I write them because I know what it's like to feel alienated, and some part of me is always seeking reassurance that that's not the case anymore, that I'm not alone, and in turn, I'm seeking to impart a sense of belonging to others. People who survive on self-validation alone are rare creatures, I suspect. For the rest of us who rely on a sense of connection, whether with one person or with many, emotional support is key. To be sent away, or denied access, forbidden the chance to belong, that is rejection.




Rejection. It's an ejection, and then it's a repetition of that loss, a re-ejection, because it keeps happening over and over again. Whether memory or a new reality triggers that visceral forcefield, the feeling of being pushed away is the same. It's there in the bad times, and it's there in the good times too - each in their own way are reminders of what you no longer have. All campfires cast a shadow. Anywhere intimacy and acceptance are on clear display, burning brightly, that shadow falls, triggering flashbacks of deprivation, absence, abandonment, the cold, the dark, unwanted, alone. Worse than simply being blocked off, ejection implies a state of having once been inside. How much worse it is to have intimacy and then be expelled from it.

I just typed "family rejection" into Google Image Search and LGBTQ+ issues were in the majority from the very first image. I didn't even have to make the connection. It's there already.



In 2014, coming out as LGBTQ+ still means rejection for so many people, still means being ejected from the intimate support group you've known your whole life simply for loving someone or for being born into the wrong body. 40% of homeless youth in America are LGBTQ+. That's a staggering statistic. To have no home is the ultimate form of rejection. To belong nowhere. To have been cast out from every possible sanctuary. To have no hope of finding one.

I can't really talk about suicide this year. It's too raw a topic. But consider it written that being rejected for who you are opens a pit of despair to which, for some, only one solution seems possible. LGBTQ+ suicide rates are disproportionately high and they are preventable.

Q: How?
A: Don't reject someone you love for being queer.

Most especially don't reject your children. They will never fully recover.

Of course, I'm speaking to the wrong audience. Anyone reading this is going to be strongly on the side of diversity and support anyway. Therefore, a message of awareness is a bit beside the point.

Instead, I'll extrapolate and make the assumption that at some point each of us will encounter someone who is suffering from rejection. One of the most basic salves for rejection is acceptance. It doesn't matter where that acceptance comes from, only that it's there. It doesn't even matter that we recognize the need for it when it crosses our path, only that we exemplify it in our daily life. You never know when you'll brighten someone's day, or provide a ledge to grip when their pit seems unscalable.

LGBTQ+ acceptance is of a specific kind and not difficult to apply:
  1. A stranger smiling at two boys or two girls holding hands on the street.
  2. A medical professional saying "he or she" without prompting when the subject of a date/partner/spouse comes up.
  3. A coworker, in a conversation about the holidays or Mother's Day or parents in general, allowing space for people who don't have close or even civil ties to family.
  4. A friend listening for a while after you've been triggered into doubt and sadness.
  5. A team leader defusing derogatory remarks about gender and sexuality.
  6. A teacher using inclusive language (e.g. pronouns) and perspectives on the future (e.g. gay marriage) in everyday conversation with students and parents.
  7. A school peer speaking with casual ordinariness about a LGBTQ+ family member.
  8. A passerby wearing a novelty slogan t-shirt.
  9. A store with a rainbow sticker on the door.
  10. An octogenarian slyly revealing a same-sex kiss or affair in their youth. "We all did that once, dearie, or wish we had!" (true story)


The list goes on. Often it is our subconscious actions and attitudes that make a difference without us even knowing it, to people we will probably never see again, for whom our smile or words or novelty slogan t-shirt eased the pain of rejection. There is a place around a campfire for all of us. No one should have to feel on the outside, unwanted. Of course we all do from time to time. But that doesn't mean the feeling is deserved or permanent. Be kind, rewind discrimination. The simplest gestures of acceptance can help heal the damage caused by abandonment.

Jan. 25th, 2014

Unexpected Nomination

Whee! I've been nominated for fic awards! What a nice surprise to find in my inbox today.



Blood and Fire is a short piece I wrote yonks ago, and apparently it has garnered me a little attention.

May. 14th, 2013

Pink Shirt Day

Support Pink Shirt Day Aotearoa this Friday, May 17 and take a stand against bullying in our schools. (Does wearing pink pyjama bottoms in bed all day count?)

It's all about context, yeah? Learning how to navigate, manage and resist negative currents is an important life skill. It builds character, emotional resilience, confidence, problem-solving skills, communication skills, the ability to distinguish toxic relationships from healthy ones, and ultimately promotes personal growth. No one is going to grow up entirely free from conflict, and no one should. Schools are always going to be a testing ground for interpersonal dynamics and immature behaviours; to a point, dealing with them IS the point.

Being overwhelmed by unrelenting personal attacks, however, is a separate issue. When a child or teen's character, emotional resilience, confidence, and growth are stunted by a disproportionate amount of negativity (whether in frequency or intensity or both), that is bad. That is bullying. That withers them, turns them inwards, turns them to self-degrading, harmful reactions that can have lifelong consequences.

I was bullied at school. I was a loner bookworm who had books stolen, who was ridiculed, stabbed with a mechanical pencil, set up for cruel practical jokes, had my online accounts hacked, had untrue rumours spread about me, had rocks thrown at me on the walk home, and those are far from the worst things young people have to put up with these days. Fortunately I also had people - mostly teachers, but also my brothers, and the rare fellow student - who stood up for me. Who got my book back. Who ran off the rock-throwers. Who gave me a kind word. I remember them. I'm so grateful for them.

Now, as a functioning member of the adult world, I want to BE one of them. The supporters. The heroes. The dissenter wearing pink pyjama bottoms who empowers rather than minimises the kid who's different.

It gets better.

But only if we pay it forward, pay it back, and paint the town pink.


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Dec. 30th, 2012

2012 End of Year Meme

Oct. 22nd, 2012

Happy Birthday, Aldi!!!!

It's your birthday! And you are amazing! And I love you more and more. And you are looking gorgeous and soon in a couple of days you will be HERE instead of on the other side of my Skype camera. And I love all your new clothes and your presents had better arrive soon and wow look at the hardwood floor in your study! You did all that in A DAY. WHO DOES THAT? You are queen of everything and today you are the most special person in the world and everyone should bow down and worship you and send you thoughtful comments and remember you in their happiness and send you some of it so there are little bits of happiness all floating around you from all over coming together in a cloud of little fireflies. So that's rambly and silly and well-meant and if you are embarrassed by your girlfriend publically posting this YOU WILL HAVE TO DEAL. Have aaaalll the silliness and hugs and presents and cake and wine and you are the BEST. WE WILL CELEBRATE SOON.

May. 20th, 2012

Eeeeee!

OMG. It's official. My novel is shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize! Stephen Fry - STEPHEN FRY!! - and Philip Pullman will be reading it. This is one of the best things in my life ever.

Excuse me while I go dance around the flat some more like some kind of rabid flapping bird.

http://www.dundeebookprize.com/pressdundeebook.htm

Why I love living in New Zealand


A poll from a major NZ news site.

And okay, at first glance 5885 votes isn't a lot, but it's the voice of the people. And when you consider the population of the country, it's a significant cross-section. 

This makes me happy!

Dec. 17th, 2011

New Year's Meme 2011

It's that time of year again. Where the heck did 2011 go? Seriously. I swear it was just February.

Read On... )

Dec. 9th, 2011

Flathunting

Flathunting is hard.

Jun. 6th, 2011

[No Subject]

This song just came onto my iTunes - I still love it. It's simultaneously so cynical and so full of redemption. Reminds me so strongly of older days, and keeps on having relevance too. Craig on a stool in an underground university campus bar. I was nursing a Bailey's among tables set with tealights, mesmerized at how music and poetry could arise out of a man on a makeshift stage just because he strummed his fingers, opened his mouth.

"Stabilize"
Craig Cardiff

protest singers and protest songs
muckrake earthquake sing alongs
all anyone really wants
is a song to call their own

monkey catch monkey throws
hot knife soft kiss overdose
you say beauty fades and i say
beauty grows all around

it's ok, it's all right everything is starting to stabilize, stabilize
we deserve more than this i believe
all the things i've learned not to miss come back in time, back in time

mean words you didn't mean
start scratch film movie screen
cherry bomb the bad parts
cause the bad parts are long gone

change makes and breaks apart
moves ahead and back apart
wake up one day to find
you've become everything you've hated

it's ok, it's all right everything is starting to stabilize, stabilize
we deserve more than this i believe
all the things i've learned not to miss come back in time, back in time
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Feb. 19th, 2011

*points dramatically*

I wasn't imagining things! A thick coil breached the surface of the lake just as I passed, and then there was a big underwater commotion about 5 metres in diamater. There's a serpent in the lake. I knew there was something in there.

Also, I am awesome and did great work on my assignment. Halfway done at least, including brilliant analysis. (I am a nerd and enjoy being in the zone when doing big essays that interest me.)

Also, walks + iPod = happiness.

Also, now I get to reread more Underwater Light *manic obsessed grin*

"I think," Draco said with great deliberation, "that you should crisis her."

"Crisis is not a verb," Harry told him blankly.

Draco waved a sugar packet dismissively. "You know what I mean."

Feb. 13th, 2011

Just Because

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Feb. 12th, 2011

First Week of School

So here we are, at the end of my first week of school. It's my first weekend as a mature student (which I'll be spending as my freelancer self, but that's beside the point) - tadaa. *plants flag*

I really had no need to fret. I have different expectations for the road-time, of course, and that'll come soon enough, but the classroom sessions are unbelievably simple-minded. If I didn't have an 80% attendance requirement, I probably wouldn't be going to some of these lectures. Compared to the curriculum I was trained up in at Queen's, the level of learning here is very basic. The tutors hand-hold like you wouldn't believe. A couple of examples from last week's lecture of fluid balance and eloctrolytes.

1) TUTOR: "I don't want you to have to write too much."
2) STUDENT: "You mean we have to come up with our OWN topic for the assignment this year? Can't you just give it to us like last year?"

Best as I can tell, I'm either the oldest or the second-oldest student in the class. The Swedish guy might be over thirty. But most of my classmates are twenty at best, wee school-leavers, who have very little experience with either tertiary education or being on the ambulance. So I'm miles ahead of the game. The other new guy and me have teamed up, since we have very similar backgrounds as volunteers. Everyone else's inexperience is sort of frustrating. The course isn't exactly designed to challenge them. I'm concentrating on learning my new skills and then practising them rigorously so that I'll perform well on the road.

Speaking of new skills, I'm now more awesome than I was before. By the second day, we were already practising our IVs. And on Thursday I passed my sign-off assessment! So I'm trained in sticking needles into people now. Exciting, eh? *manic grin* I keep catching myself studying people's veins. Possibly that's a bit weird...?

Our first clinical block starts in a week, and that runs for 4 weeks. In that time, I have 8 days worth of ambulance placement time, and the rest is mine to do with as I please (work and do assignments). Basically, from Mar 7-21, I'll have no class or anything. I'm already going back to Nelson on the 9-13 anyway for what was meant to be a short visit. But now there's a chance I'll be able to do my police and ED placements in Nelson, so depending on how rostering works out I may stay longer. We'll see. I'm waiting on news about that. As long as I get to do the ambulance shifts here, for big-city experience, I don't mind where I do my other placements. So keep your fingers crossed.

My flatmate and I are starting to feel more comfortable with each other too. We've had some evenings bonding on the couch with teh cider. She seems pretty confident of my ability to rock the degree, and hopefully I'll live up to her confidence in me on the job as well. She's known as a quick judge of character, so I'm pleased she's trusting me already. And the cat is a sweet little nutsoid who spends all day sleeping on my bed and all evening bringing us moths and cicadas.

So that's that. Now who wants to volunteer their arms? (Willow does.)

Feb. 3rd, 2011

Love Meme

Taking my cue from [info]crowgirl13, I'm linking to this year's love meme. I get attached to the people I care about, and I value the opportunity to tell you just how much and why, so I encourage you to make your own threads too.  I also like to feel the tug from the other end of the line on occasion, so feel free, without expectation or pressure or judgement, to say something into that pair of old tin cans and string I've got strung up between our attics. 

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Feb. 2nd, 2011

Peptalk from my iPod

"You'll wake up tomorrow and wrestle the sorrow that holds you down today." - Melissa Etheridge, I'm The Only One
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Jan. 31st, 2011

Moar Photos

Hey folks!

Updated photos of my neighbourhood here.

I wasn't able to get the ones I wanted of the cafe, 'cause it was closed by the time I got there, but the rest of the walk was beautiful, as you can see. I love these shady winding walks.

I've taken a liking to the street signs around here. "The Companionway." "Discovery Dr." "The Sounding" - that's my favourite. It reminds me of whales or dolphins or bats using sonar to find their way in unknown waters... which feels appropriate enough. Of course they're actually all named after vessels from James Cook's fleet, but I shall adopt them for my own use all the same.

And here's two pics of my room, now upgraded to "furnished" status.


Jan. 30th, 2011

Wellington: Day 3 & 4

Yesterday started with the now-familiar feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, but I can cheerfully say that it got better as soon as I got up. I made the decision to put my walking shoes on and go exploring the neighbourhood. Boy am I glad I did. The little village shopping centre is at the end of a 15-minute walk that passes through hilly parks and suburban houses, all beautifully landscaped, and takes you around a pretty lake before arriving at the hamlet. There are ducks on the lawn and in the reeds, with free stale bread offered by the bakery. There's a small library and a coffee shop, where I ended up spending the next few hours. I got myself a guava juice and spent a while on the couch working on my novel. The complimentary library of books beside me included Dragonbone Chair and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and LotR. I could easily spend my time there just flicking through old friends. And then they tempted me with a fresh cinnamon bun slathered in brown sugar icing, so I picked one up to go on my way out. Yum.

Then out of the blue Theresa texted me saying she and her bf were in Wellington for the weekend! She's due to fly out to Australia on Monday, so they decided to make a good time of it. We met up and spent a few hours catching up and exchanging ambo stories before they took the train back downtown. So I wasn't lonely yesterday after all.

In the evening, I curled up on the couch with my laptop and season 4 of ER playing on the dvd player, while I chatted and played games. It was blissful.

Today I slept in till late, and was planning to take the same walk back to the village with my camera. Alas, that didn't happen. Instead I did some work, and then ended up going shopping again for the rest of my furniture and room needs. I'm up to date with bed linen and school supplies now. At the moment I'm looking out the window at a gorgeous sunset over the hills...



and I might watch some more ER tonight. Tomorrow, my tip-shop stuff gets delivered, so that'll be exciting. I can really finish making my room nice!

My housemate disapproves of Harry Potter and all YA/children's books, however. So that may have to be a point of debate in the coming months!

A week till school starts now. Hopefully I'll feel less in limbo when that comes around. Honestly, it's probably just that I have time on my hands all of a sudden. I just had what one could legitimately call a 'weekend' - as in two days in a row where leisure activities are prioritised and commitments are social and/or pleasurable in origin. I wonder if I'll get used to this?

Wellington Photos

I didn't get a chance to do the neighbourhood circuit with my camera, but for now, here's what the place looks like. I really did luck into a great deal.

Venus Place

ETA: Obviously, my room still has some ways to go. The tip-shop table and dresser arrive tomorrow, and today I spruced things up with a duvet/sheet set. More pictures of my room to follow.

Jan. 28th, 2011

Wellington: Day 2

This evening my room already looks a lot different than it did this morning. This morning I woke up on an air mattress, hooked an arm around my laptop, and spent the next 3 hours checking sites, doing work, and finding reasons not to get out of bed. (Hey, it can be intimidating starting fresh - and my new housemate sleeps in on nightshift nights, so I had plenty of reason to stay quiet.)  But yeah, it was almost 11 before I coaxed myself out to the shower and dressing stage. After that, though, things picked up. For starters, I got a parcel! In the mail. On my very first day of being here. Thank you so much [info]angelsasha for a delightfully well-timed surprise.  

And then me and mah car left to take on the list of stores and supplies I'd made out. Thanks to Trash Palace (recycled furniture 'n' stuff depot at the local tip) and the amusingly jolly man who haggled with me over all of my purchases, I have a table, a dresser and an office chair.  And they're nice. Not IKEA, but plenty bohemian enough for my new student lifestyle.  Then I snatched up a great deal on a new sofa bed and somehow managed to get it home in the car. It involved bungee cords, rope, and 20cm of bed hanging out of the back of my car on the motorway.

Note to self: the next time you spend 2 years working in the Trade department of a huge DIY store, regularly watching people tie stuff onto vehicles, learn how to tie stuff onto vehicles.

So that was an adventure, lol. But I made it home, and fully stocked my side of the pantry, and chatted with Aldi, and then my grandparents and uncle, and unpacked my clothes, and made dinner. And now I'm alone all night, to do as I please. Debating whether to watch a movie or read a book.  Stryker will happily keep me company for either.

I'll start taking some photos soon.