Monday, May 28, 2007

wahu fili & wahine : a weekend in tufi

Hey lovers

Don't hate me coz I went to Tufi last weekend.

Please don't hate me for playing with the 3 loveliest lasses, Lux, Son and Tope at Cape Nelson, in a corner of Oro Province on the lip of a majestic fjord, fringed by reef and rainforest ... for sipping marguerita mixers and Rob's red wine on our little hut's balcony overlooking the Tufi station wharf and falling into the entrance to the Interior due west straight to the Kokoda Track ... for striking out with Son in the canoe and following the mangrove estuary from the edge of the rippling reef ... for feeding the cuscus black tea and for not getting past page 3 of the latest Patricia Cornwell ... for fishing for Sea Bass and catching Pacific Blue Fin Tuna and Wahu ... for diving into the ocean off Cyclone Reef in the middle of the Solomon Sea without land insight ... for sleeping like a baby under the netted cosy of Room 4 with the the morning sun from the mountains peering through my thatched walls ... for staring at the flanking slopes of Mount Trafalgar overlooking sheer rock faces that plunge into the fjord ... for picking lobster from my teeth and eating coconut orange biscuits on a windswept inlet this side of absolutely remote ... for rubbing cocoa butter into my skin to relieve the sunburn from an afternoon spent passed out on the bow of the good ship Raka, making its way back to the coast after fishing the open sea ... for stepping out on my balcony every other second and being completely awed by the vista of mountains and rainforest rushing inland from the smattering reef ... for trading stories for futures at the long bar and swatting mozzies with tapa ... for reacquainting with Tracy Chapman and falling into slumber to the night-sounds of night-birds and night-frogs and nightly-geckos and all the worlds of night-butterflies they inhabit ... for sitting in the rumble of the Twin Otter and watching the ancient mountains and the hornet vallies and tropical jungles from a thousand miles in the air ... for doing all of this and knowing - only in PNG.

the edge of the world from the flank of the twin otter
steps to a hut don't even begin to tell me I am not wild a boy on the side of a village of 12 the dive instructor and the army man survey cape vogel lighthouse from the bow of raka the view from my balcony ... utterly mesmirising oro's edge fringed by reef a balcony with a view for margueritas and mornings coral coral and fish fish fish ... cyclone reef a thousand miles out to sea
catching sashimi for dinner
how can I describe asbsolute bliss
just a little beachwith a straw daybed and mama opeing her arms to the girls
a bed fit for an islandbaby spot the village
tufi on the side

Thursday, May 24, 2007

moving closer to melbourne than madang

hola lovers

methinks some of you might have been getting that ricebag is moving soon ... yes she is ... she is moving closer to melbourne than madang - in fact, to sydney, to be precise. in one month. for work. for work. for work. and for sydney.

those of you who have been following me these past 2 years in papua new guinea might have heard me miss sydney a little and come to understand that i think what i really missed was the me that was in sydney rather than the city itself ... and then when all my life down there finally got shipped back to png, to have that love affair go through another metamorph ... until on my last trip i realised, i had let her go, that while i found her beautiful, i had let sydney go.

as i said, there's nuthin like crisp sheets and brittle wind, like sun on your face and 5 dollars in your hand as you skip to the beat of the banana-bread clan. that's why i was a Sucker for Sydney, it was all the little, really simple, things that bit me. and I felt clean and good. sometimes. like fresh grass.

and i can't forget the beauty. the old-man pubs. the energy. the shade. the heels and champers on a sun-dial lawn with croquet at 12 and debauchery soon therafter. hallowed and hailed. loads of pretty girls and even some pretty boys too. sand in the sheets and night drives to the shore. i'd like to think i gave as good as i got. but i'm not sure that's entirely true.

in any event, we're on for round 2.

and with woo and bare-bum and MyMama and all my boarders and all my collegiates and all my 4am down-time gals and my semi-precious lovers ... with my ex-pnger's from miss bomana to pinky u ... sydney is going to be one very pretty year. i can just tell.

6 : 6am

today i saw the 6am colour purple fade from the front balcony of my house - and now you can see it too

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

what oprah said

hmmm ... what is it she said?

If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away.

If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay.

Thanks O. Me and my beautiful FeeMcc are finding this out - the hard way. FeeMcc is losing a love to America and he isn't taking her away. Ricebag is being told by LastKissBeforeSydneyBoy that when I am closer to Melbourne than Madang, it isn't going to work.

If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

what did you see today : 5 : split

today i saw a round lady with a headband charging at me with her newspaper as i straddled the left corner of the packed morning elevator, she squeezed/dived through the shutting doors and then pinched me and said "your skirt has split and i can see your pink underpants"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

pick up 52

today was one of those CRASH BOOM BAH CRAP CRAP CRAP days at work where ricebag dun't do nuthin right and her boss knows it and lets her know that he knows it. and that its not good enough. (ouch)

the lesson being, just when you think you're lining up all your aces, someone teaches you how to play pick up 52 instead.

i mean, somewhere important inside, ricebag knows i need to do this steep-curve-learning thing but i gotta tell you - sometimes a not less important part of me is asking WHY do i put myself through this? is this what i am going to do? maybe i am just meant to make a beautiful home and produce a string of barefoot mini-me's swimming in the river, playing in the forest, sleeping in my blium ... babies eating kaukau blackened in the ash and upside-down pineapple cake cooked on a pile of sticks ... the children of my lover ... my own tribe who know what their language means and understand that they have identity and they are rooted in ples and no other geography can defeat that. maybe i am meant to skite off and live a life predicated on the few small truths i have saved after sifting through the debris of the mass of things that pass through a life - rather than living like my real life is going to start "when ...".

so - what is THIS ... this "work" that i do. i respect this profession, i honour its elite and i acknowledge my own accomplishments and my possibility ... but but but ... while i know that what i am doing now is supposed to leading me somewhere, i feel like all i can do is hope like hell that that place is a place that lives close to where i want to be as a person. or is that asking too muchie?? i fear i am leaving too much up to providence.

whatever happens, i just don't want to pass by myself, without wondering. that would truly be an awful waste.

"People travel to wonder at the heights of mountains

at the huge waves of the sea

of the long courses of rivers

at the vast compass of the ocean

at the circular motion of the stars

and they pass by themselves without wondering"

~Thomas Aquinas

what did you see today : 4 : no p

today i saw a scruffy traffic cop in faded blue pantaloons peering over my half-unwound window as i sat in the battleaxe, looking down my zara peach v-neck and telling me "you have no P on your back"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

what did you see today : 3 : moses

today as i was driving down hohola-way i saw through the heat-haze a solitary man wavering on the sandy side of the bitumen shore and i felt suddenly terribly sad - today i saw my uncle moses, my mothers brother, a head of his family, the leader of a tribe and today i saw him wavering on the side of a road, like he was lost

Monday, May 14, 2007

what did you see today : 2 : gorgeous

today i saw my curly haired dentist peering at me over his rimless spectacles and he called me gorgeous

Sunday, May 13, 2007

happy mothers day

to the person i admire above all others - thankyou. for bearing with.

it is truly an honour to know you and a privilege to be from you. i would have never changed a single thing.

little poem

I Pick up a Hitchhiker

After a few miles he tells me

that my car has no engine.

I pull over and we both get out

and look under the hood.

He’s right.

We don’t say anymore about it

all the way to California.

Jay Leeming

what did you see today : 1 : shane

today i saw shane's beautiful face leaning across the front seat of his dad's battered blue mondeo, smiling and calling up to me from the bottom of my garden

6 years ago, one sydney summer night (read: perfection) squatting in the sunken middle of the faded second-hand fold-out 3-seater, set out in my superb enmore flat with woo and the scots and irish traipsing through our 3rd bedroom, i watched a movie. a rented video. i watched a movie where a blonde girl from the henderson kids (beaut after-school aussie tv in the 80s) living in marrickville (in the movie) asked her own flatmate (in the movie) this question every day : WHAT DID YOU SEE TODAY

and the flatmate was required to give a one sentence answer. just one sentence. to describe one thing. one thing they saw. that day.

that day, the answer to her question was : "i saw a goth eating an icecream".

after seeing that scene, i started writing down one line sentences of "what i saw today" in a small cheap black notebook with The Cross imprinted on the inside plastic sleeve. that notebook is the most precious thing i have from my last year at university - not as useful as my degrees - but of all the tens of thousands of words i wrote, it was probably the most beautiful thing i created that last semester.

and it made me see. every day. one thing.

so i am starting again. to keep a record of "what i saw today".

bear with ...

Friday, May 11, 2007

when wishing hurts

something is happening. something is happening.something is happening.

something small but important is happening.

last year i let go of one of the most important relationships of my life - after being shut out for 5 years. i let my cousin FJ go.

and the irony is that the person at the center of our problems is also the one bringing us back together. he is the one who is sick. and getting better. getting better well and well.

because of this family trauma, we spoke for the first time in over 5 years. on the phone. wow. and she sounds like ... like FJ. and i could hear that she was smiling while she was talking and we only talked about our loved one who is sick. but talking to her was strange. i felt like we had never stopped talking. if i'd had to have spoken to her a year ago i would probably have wept. but this week, i understood something in me has changed. i listened and then i heard and then got on with the business of getting on.

i still don't know how i feel. i love her. i love you FJ. dearly. i think that will always be true. theres something about blood and history together which means that even in the shadow of damage, the essence of the relationship is still there. but its hard now.

even though something is happening (and i am grateful for that), i am also coming to understand that i will always love you because thats the truth of us, but. but. but. we will never be the same again, you and i. you hurt me. you hurt me. you hurt me. your rejection of me is a wound that took me years just to acknowledge you inflicted, and now that my tears have stung it clean, i know that i just dont have the energy to reinvest in hoping that we can resurrect soemthing.

just the idea of hope. its exhausting.

you put a gun to my head and made me walk off the cliff. and i free-fell for 5 years. i fell. and it was only 3 months ago that i realized i never hit the bottom of the canyon, but in fact, i had learnt to fly.

so the irony is what you did made me stronger. cleaner. firmer. so then i could let you go.

i. let. you. go. fj.

it was the most difficult thing and it was the most essential thing. something i never ever wanted to do, i never thought i could know how to do. and now that i have i just cant go back. it would take too much. and i just want to put what positive energy that i have somewhere else for a while.

i'm not sure i care that what is broken between us can be fixed. what i am trying to say is that i have picked up my shattered bits and have been making my own mosaic out of them, so please dont ask me to unpick that now. maybe our stories will intertwine in a way that is honest and beautiful and necessary - maybe - one day. but i am happy for that to be organic and fortuitous and for that to be years from now ... if ever - as long as its not wished for. i dont wish for it. wishing hurts. and i'm pretty sure it isn't very useful. it helped me to disbelieve your lack of loyalty. it made me feel worth more to you than i now know you feel i am.

i know. i know that people make up after they break up. but its never the same again. because the trust has to be rebuilt. our shared past has been dishonoured. and while i am not cut up about it anymore, i just cannot forget that. that you did that. and that you have never properly explained why. i still dont truly know why. i need facts FJ.

in truth i dont want the current gaping hole between us to be the end of our story ... equally though i dont want a shared future where we can only be civil to each other. polite family. to me, that's a sham and an insult. i'd rather take nothing at all. give me the blood and guts but dont give me less. and dont imagine that just because time passes that one day i might be able to act like none of this ever happened. you changed me. i am more like you now. and i now know how to walk away too.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

my perfect ring of scars

someone else's postcard :

what you gave to me

my perfect ring of scars

you know i can see what you really are

you didn't hurt me nothing can hurt me

you didn't hurt me nothing can stop me now

ruiner lyrics by nine inch nails

7 years ago. somebody hurt me. he hurt me in the way only a lover hurts a lover. and i don't know if i hurt him back. i didn't think i did.

it took me a long time to forgive myself for letting him hurt me.

and now he wants me. back.

and i don't know if it feels like the beginning of the year 2000 was just so 2000 years ago (god, was it that long?? so many days and dreams have passed since then, i can't even imagine - and yet i am still the same core of me) ... and maybe that time that has passed means we're better people or just stronger people and he deserves a second chance and i do too. i just dont know. maybe it means nothing at all except to let the past lay whereever it does and to say That Was Then.

i dont know. i think maybe if i see him i will know. but should i see him?

i don't know.

some people you just can't rub out of your skin and you rub and you rub until all that is left is a perfect ring of scars. the pain has gone and just the memory remains. but even the memory of the pain is strangely beautiful. edifying.

but the scarring process just wasn't graceful and it wasn't elegant. the heartache was very real and it was pretty messy.

i. just. don't. know.

but having said that, somewhere on the surface of things there is a cord that runs through my body and tells me some of the few seminal things that i know to be true. and one of those things that my body tells me is true is that i can't go back to this man.

but when did that ever stop anyone.

i don't know

what i do know is that when sydney comes, that question will have to be answered.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thankyou Lord.

i just wanted to say a big big thankyou to the Big Man upstairs. Thankyou Lord.

someone very very very important to ricebag and ricebag's family underwent a huge operation in brisbane on wednesday where they opened his chest and fixed his heart and now he is already sitting up and talking and just like himself.

this week ricebag has been stressed (at work) and scared (at home) and silent (not sharing) and sleepless with worry (WORRY!!) and now she can get back to being sharp and less scared.

Lord, if anything happened to you-know-who, i cant even think what we would have done.

to you, the invalid, just know you are one of the most important people in my life and possibly very responsible for the way i am turning out so you have a big duty to stay here with us and make sure i live up to your expectations. and other than my own selfish needs, your job isnt done. all the worlds you came to conquer need you still.

Thankyou Lord. thankyou because no hearts are getting broken this week. only stronger.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

not quite alone

you know how i live alone? well i am not so sure that is true to say. i have a silent, invisible "friend". at least i hope they are a friend. in any event they sometimes leave little reminders that they are there. little things all the time but more activity of late - like so:

  • when ricebag literally throws her towels haphazardly on the washing line, she never pegs them. when ricebag came home to take towels off the line, they were all pegged and hung squarly.
  • ricebag hung several floor mats out to air on the balcony. in the morning every other mat out of 6 was on the ground - if the wind blew them off then it should have blown all of them off, not every. other. one. (not that it was windy - it wasn't).
  • the bedrooms of the house are separated from the living areas of the house by a corridor. this corridor is locked religiously by ricebag who takes the key out of the door when she leaves the house. ricebag came home to find the key in the door and the door open.
  • at least once a day the light in that corridor will turn itself on.

i suppose all these things and the rest could be "explained away". but i prefer to go with what my gut tells me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

national elections 2007 : one vote, one chance

Every 5 years the people of Papua New Guinea get ONE CHANCE to vote right and they seem to have fu*ked it up. A lot.

Sadly, it's not the voters that are necessarily to blame. It's the "leaders" that need a massive boot as far as I can see.

To be fair, I was living in Enga during the 2002 elections and what I saw was the development of complex relationships and expectations based on tribal histories but in a very modern economic (the economics of "I" i.e. who is going to get off best) terrain. The result was the development of a hybrid of promises and stories and alliances and double-dealing which, in any given framework, in any given country, would at the very least, muddy the waters of the most clear-minded individuals.

So the result is that people, as extensions of familial and tribal groups, vote in context rather than on perspective and what comes out are unrealistic expectations which appear to have very little to do with the job of political governance (the World Bank defines governance as the exercise of political authority and the use of institutional resources to manage society's problems and affairs), let alone good governance, let alone democratic governance. Vote in Big Man and the Press On Neck.

It's not that there is no hope. There most definitely definitely is!! And I am so excited by that because the next generation of voters have just turned of age and in a country where more than 50% of the population are under the age of 22, you just have to believe that they are the key to a future in which leaders are chosen based on merit and policy and character rather than the opposites of those criterion. Added to that, I suspect there is a general shift happening in the wider population. Technology and communications have shifted tremednously in the last 5 years - we saw the introduction of mobile phones and public internet access - although not widespread, it's created a swell and hopefully the storm will follow. People are becoming armed, every day, with information and this changes their expectations now that they understand their rights - basically that government is here to manage rather than abuse THEIR resources.

I won't rant today. It's obviously a complicated and fascinating and incredibly frustrating subject which goes far beyond these general expressions of discontent. Before I blog off, I just wanted to present 2 other views and I cite this passage from our national daily, the Post Courier which was published almost a year ago on 17 July 2007 and reproduced in this blog by an expat volunteer in Lae, PNG - Outback To Jungle:

"PNG has avoided the man-made catastrophes prevalent in many developing countries. Yet the state seriously underperforms, with reforms usually too little and late. It’s not a poor country in terms of human and natural resources, but is in terms of household income, employment, social indicators and services. Many public servants are striving with great dedication though few resources. These are the ones who merit society’s recognition, including honours and awards, rather than those in plush offices, earning lucrative incomes or providing party favours! Regardless of the effort of many dedicated individuals, the reality is that PNG’s Public Sector as a whole is failing to deliver. While NCD has fine roads and offices, services and public infrastructure, especially in rural areas, have gone backwards over the years and in many areas are non-existent. Whole villages, which hitherto had access to health services and markets, are now isolated, without road, airstrip or shipping service. They’ve effectively been forgotten by the State, (except at election time). In some cases outside contact may continue through missions or NGOs, generally more attuned to community concerns than government.

PAUL BARKER is the director of the Institute of National Affairs"

"WHAT is happening to this country? Men, women and children may be thinking that everything is okay, but I know it is not. Our political leaders are supposed to be managing the country’s affairs. They do not own the country, they are just supposed to be managing your money, your forests, your gold, your oil and your fisheries industries and not putting the money in their pockets. The country belongs to the people of Papua New Guinea who own PNG. Our current leaders are pathetic, and I am disgusted at some of these Members of Parliament. There are countless issues that have to be investigated and explanations made. The owners of Papua New Guinea are the five million people who deserve to know the truth and we demand to know the truth. People of PNG wake up to this, the Prime Minister does not own this country, You and I do. There has to be a revolution to totally eradicate the current political foundation of greed and corruption and build a righteous, honest leadership. Our political management has to change and the coming 2007 general elections is the perfect time to do this.

Richard POM"