Monday, 31 December 2012

The post I have to write.

Ok, I'm throwing this in in here today, in the hope that no one actually reads it. Yeah, pretty weird for a blogger, I know. But the idea is to post it now, in the hope that 2013, I can be all like "oh, you missed that news? I totes posted about it last year"

Cowardice, I admit it.

Vop's name is Rosena. Rosi for short, or Rosi Posi Puddin and Pie, or Rosi Posi Japanosey. Or Cup Cake, or Petal.

The last pic is of her with her three favourite things. Her bear, Puddin, her plastic stethoscope (because she wants to be a Doctor) and her dog, Bubbles.

Rosi no longer lives with The Husbang and I. She's gone. Back to the village. It's been 4 weeks today. The adoption will not proceed.

There was a third party involved, working maliciously behind the scenes, to upset the process. A person we had taken into our hearts and home and into our confidence. Someone who underneath our very roof was manipulating us and Rosi, to achieve this very outcome. Someone, I now suspect may have been her natural mother.

A decision was made and we didn't have the legal standing to counter it. The village came and took her four weeks ago today.

Rosi was happy to return. When I told her the bus was here to take her back to the village, she smiled.

And my heart shattered into a thousand tiny fragments that still lie in my belly poking sharp little holes in my soul.

And so she skipped, as is her want, to the bus, and was driven away.

And we haven't heard a word from her, or the village since.

Everywhere I look, there is a Rosi-shaped hole. In my heart, on the couch. I've closed and locked her bedroom door, so I don't have to look in there. And so I police myself from lying on her bed, holding Puddin and crying until I am raw inside and out.

The Husbang is bereft. And deals with it by working more and talking less. He's as far from me as is Rosi. We circle around each other, repelling and attracting at the same time. I see that English stiff upper lip quiver every time we pan past Sesame Street as we channel surf. But when I ask him to talk about it, he finds something more pressing to do. And my need to constantly go over and over and over and over what the third party did, wears him thin. My tears rasp on him, like sandpaper, leaving Rosi-shaped grazes.

One of the last things Rosi did before everything tilted in its axis, was to put up the Crimbo tree. I can't bear to touch it, or turn on the lights, or take it down. It sits there, mocking me. Reminding me that once, only a few weeks ago, I was the mother of a healthy, happy nearly 5 year old. That I let some take. That I should have been aware of the Benedict Arnold sleeping in the spare room. The Crimbo tree watched, as my daughter smiled and skipped, happily, away from me.

There was no warning of my world being torn in two. None at all. And I can't see how I didn't know it. I can't understand why a MOTHER wouldn't have.. or couldn't have, known.

One minute we were playing racing games on the outer bank of the Yoti and within an hour, I was told my child didn't want to live with me any more.

Because white people have 'too many rules".

We pleaded, and cajoled and used Benedict Arnold as a spokesperson, to speak with Rosi in her own language, only to later find that this person had spent the past three weeks manipulating us, and Rosi. And while we were trying to find out what our legal options were, this person came to our house, with the village bus, and took her away.

So I am left here, with a blog I began to chart my journey with her and a pair of Disco Sandals under the couch I deliberately vacuum around.

And I don't know what to do with either.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

So?

How was your Crimbo?

Mine was hideous.

The electricity went off on Crimbo Eve, and the genset kicked in, which is all normal for Lae, except that it never went off again. The owners of the compound, those ones who can't get a workman out to fix our alarm system for almost 18 months, had an electrician here, on Xmas Day.

Like wowza.

Who told us there was no electricity coming from the pole, to the house, and turned the genset off. Because it costs so much in diesel to run.

So, no electricity on Crimbo.

Meaning no panini press. No oven for cooking. No electricity to charge computers for Skype-age with kids and friends.

No charged phones, so no phone calls,

No air conditioning, my friend.

No lights, no television.

We made a sneak raid on the 'fridge, to get out the ham, but we had to be careful not to let too much cold out, to keep the food from turning. Who knew when it would be back on again.

So we had ham for Crimbo.

And 4 boiled eggs (gas stove, lit with matches)

Can't get much more deconfuckingstructed that that, can you?

We thought about cooking the chicken, in the gas stove, but it was 98 degreesF here on Xmas day, and with no airconditioning, that was just asking for a heat-stroke.

And, yes, at the risk of sounding like a petulant douche-canoe, we argued.

For more reasons than I dare confess to, I am hating this place right now.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Open Leter to the Westboro Baptist Church,

Dear Westboro Baptist Church, aka Batshit Crazy Hatemongers,

Here's my **snerk** vision for you. You see, I live in Papua New Guinea, where we worship Pikkiwoki. (Google him, he's real). Anyway, I was preying to Him the other day, via an involved ritual that required me to carry a pig and as many coconuts as I could (in preparation for the ORSUM afterlife Imma going to have with Him [Mud Be Upon
His Name]) and I had a Vision for you. At first I thought it might be the malaria kicking back in, but Pikkiwoki ASSURES me it's real.

Anyway, here's what Pikkiwoki says your future holds. You're all actually queer (not that there's anything wrong with that) and Santa is going to come to you in **insert gender of choice** and dress in his most enticing best (Imma betting sequins and Birkenstock's) and you're going to be overcome with teh mad gay passion and get all jiggy with Gay Santa. And one of Gay Santa's minions (probs me, cos I am TOTES his Handmaiden) is going to video it and put it up on The Tubes of You and people ALLLL over the world are going to laugh their fucking arses **pardon the pun** off, when Pikkiwokki reveals that your homophobic rantings are really the pathetic cries of repressed, evil little douche-canoes who use a Bronze Age book written by goat herders to justify their hatred.

But wait, there's more!

As you squirm around the various forms of media, like so many of your hate-filled ilk have done before you when their represses sexuality is finally discovered and their previous hate-filled sermons turn out to be a repressed loathing of themselves, as you snuffle and tap-dance across Twitter or FB or Faux News, trying to justify your "outing", Pikkiwoki and his totes BFF, Satan (oops, sorry, dyslexic slip), are going to be sitting up there on Mount Wilhelm PISSING their pants with laughter. Cos PRIOR to your furtive couplings, Santa has filled his various gay-friendly orifices with the harshest of FUNDIE BULLSHIT ARTIST HATING AMOEBAS, which will have found their way into your bloodstream and have given you all the most AMAZING case of Galloping Knob/Pussy rot. It's like a gift from Pikkiwoki, you know? FBAHA is Pikkiwokki's gift to True Scotsmen everywhere.
  Your various organs will gradually and painfully begin to look like you've contracted some nasty hemorrhagic virus, like Ebola. And you will die in the most excruciating way imaginable and at the very last second you will realize that YOUR god is long dead, and Pikkiwoki is DA ONE, and his face will be turned from you (Cos he's eating pigs and coconuts up there on Mount Wilhelm) and you will die screaming his name, unshriven.

And when you get to whichever dark recess of hell that is reserved especially for slime like you, you'll meet Mr Huckabee and John McTernan and Pat Robinson and Ken Ham, and your special Pikkiwoki punishment will be that your eyelids never close and you have to spend eternity looking up at teh gays and teh feminists and teh godless liberals, to whom Pikkiwoki will grant eternal life and you'll see the transformation of our society without bottom-dwelling fucktards like yourselves, and it will be good. And gay. And queer and straight and asexual and transgender. And fair. And equal. And rational and informed.  And what's between your legs won't define whether you can legally bind to someone. It won't be words like homo. Or hetero. There will just be love.

And you'll hate it. And you'll decry our lovely new civilisation with your puny hatred-filled voices, even from the pit of Hell.

And we'll make the unicorns poop on you.

Sincerely,

Vacuous O'Possum, R.N, Santa's Handmaiden (Duties largely ceremonial).

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cancelling Crimbo

Now, before the hoards "You godless heathens shouldn't celebrate Christmas" descend on the comments page, let me tell you. I've always celebrated at this time of year, whether as a christian, a pagan and now as an atheist. I believe that there is something quite lovely about taking a single day out of our immensely busy year to celebrate relationships with whomever we define as important. Whether that be family or friends or any other definition.

The fact that we're actually celebrating the axial tilt is another post.

So last year we hosted an Orphan's Crimbo, for anyone in Lae whose family was away, and had nowhere else to go. And it was ace. We had prawns and fish and ham and chicken and pretty much all the trimmings.

Some of the said trimmings had to be adjusted slightly. It's 35 degrees Celcius up here, with 90% humidity. I am not making a goddamn plum pudding.

But I make a mean plum pudding icecream.

So this year's Crimbo-ing began with me having a full on bat shit crazy meltdown because I couldn't get the ingredients for said plum pudding icecream.

And ramped up from there.

I'd previously seen all the ingredients but had chosen that fateful decision that proves I'm still a noob up here: I'll buy it next week.

IF you see something you want or need up here BUY IT WHEN YOU SEE IT. Because it may never come back.

Apparently the ingredients I needed were in Lae, in a shipping container that was going to be unloaded in the New Year

I'm up at Food Mart being all like WHAT THE FUCK I NEED CURRANTS AND SUET NOW, BITCHES!

This is a supposed christian country and you don't have glace ginger??? WTF?? It was one of the gifts bought to Baby Cheezles by The Wise Men!!

WHAT SORT OF PAGAN HELL DEMONS ARE RUNNING THIS SUPERMARKET???

But that's Lae. No currants prior to Crimbo but there will be shelves of the little fuckers sometime next April.

So after the Great Suet Rage, The Husbang gently suggested that maybe.. just maybe.. this year I didn't HAVE to host Crimbo, and if I did, it would be okay NOT to have a version of a pud.

Now that's just some bat shit crazy right there, my friend.

No pud on the Crimbo table? No hand made shortbread, or rum balls or apricot slice? No Grandma's Punch (secret ingredient: cold tea), no stickjaw taffy?

Once, many years ago, The Husbang bought me a ZILLION DOLLAR full-on full-size Italian profession chef oven,

And I tried to rotisserie 6 chickens in it, because.. well.. because I could.

And it didn't work, and I got more and more frustrated and more and more insane and I was all up in that damn ovens' grill (Hah! Punster Iz Me!) screaming "WHY DO YOU HATE ME?", and The Husband gebtly took my sobbing, wracked face in his hands and said to me gently::

"You  Are Not Your Food"

We slept in different suburbs that night.

I'm a wog, ok? That movie :My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? That's my family. NOT my family of origin, but the family I have created around me. You come to my house and the first question I ask you is "Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat?"

To me, I hear "I love you", when I say those words.

I don't have blood in my veins, I have gravy. And salsa and mole and coulis and balsamic reduction.

So the thought of not spending hours in the kitchen preparing for Crimbo is an anathema to me.

Doesn't not cooking up a Crimbo feast mean I am a bad person?

Surely?

So The Husbang pointed out, that under the circumstances maybe this year we could just go all simple. (Although he used the word 'deconstructed" and made an analogy to food which helped my mind make the switch. "You'll be like Heston, getting back to a more deconstructed lunch").

And we got talking, and he gently eased my into the idea that I can still be a good person without scaring the bakery staff at Food Mart because they had spelt flour last months, and I didn't buy it.

So he sent the email for me. Cos I am not yet at a point where I can actually take responsibility for  clearly being a bad person who hates my friends canceling Crimbo. And he cc's me in on it and you know what?

When I read it, this most enormous sense of relief flooded over me.

I will still get a Crimbo, but it's just us this year. And we're still planning Crimbo shenanigans, but instead of a turkey with 2 different stuffings (chestnut and bacon for the neck, orange and sage for the cavity), we're going to buy a ham.

You can buy hams!  Pre-hammed!

Who knew?

And we're going to buy cheese and mustard and his concession is that I can roast a chicken and stuff it, but I am not allowed to bone it and use anything that requires goose fat or larks vomit and the words confit and de-glaze have been banned.

And we're going to sit on the couch and watch "Love, Actually" and get out the panini press and have ham and cheese and mustard toasties and then eat icecream out of the tub.

And you know what?

It feels okay. Better than okay, actually. It feels nice.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Context.

I live here on the basis of a 'dependant" visa, attatched to The Husbang's work permit.

This fact irks me no end.

I've been musing muchly over what it means to define myself as a feminist lately.

Now, before we start, let's get a few things clear. I realise by virtue of the fact I am white, educated and was raised in a First World country, the very fact I can 'choose' that label or proscribe to it, means I am in a position of privilege. I get that.

But I caught myself thinking about my personal feminism the other day, while my maid (haus mari) was ironing my clothes.

And rather than feel shame, it made me realise that any 'ism' is about context.

I don't work for money up here. So basically, I'm a trophy wife. I have a maid and a garden boy and guards and I don't have a car, so I rely on The Husbang to come and get me to take me shopping. The highlight of most days is thinking of something nice to cook for dinner.

In a first world country, I sound, on paper, like all the women I despised as Stepford Wives.

But here's where, more and more, I realise that being a feminist is a) a western construct and b) relative only in context.

My haus mari learns to speak better English by being employed by me. That makes her more employable. It empowers her up here. And maybe she'll teach her daughters, or sisters, thus empowering them. And maybe, rather than grow up to be haus maris, they'll feel empowered enough to do something else. Their English will open doors similar to having a Uni degree back home. They could work in a shop, or a business!

And she teaches me Tok, which empowers me to be able to communicate better with local women.

Yeah, ok, I don't have to have a maid to teach local women English, I get that. And yes, I have volunteered to teach English to local women via the local Lioness Club.

Employing Betty also means that she's paid. And paid very well. Which means she can afford to educate her son and sister in PNG where education isn't free (well, not yet anyway). She has saved enough money from being a mari to buy land. On which she is building a house. So that women and girls in her remote village in The Highlands, can come to a more urban locale and live a little safer.

Just a side note on pay scales up here. The average wage here is about K2.30, or about $1.15US an hour. Education for a child in primary school is about K500 per child per year. We pay our mari K30 a day. Not much by home standards, but an enormous wage up here. Why don't we pay her more? Wouldn't that be more 'feminist"? Let me tell you a story about Don.

Don was the brother of one of our original guards. Don worked as a private guard for a CEO up here. He got paid ten times as much as an average guard. The equivalent of $10USD an hour. One day, a new guard turned up at the CEO's house and said "Don doesn't work here anymore. I'm his replacement".

The new guard had murdered Don. Hacked him to death with a machete, all to take the job.

You walk a LOT of fine lines up here, and it's all about the context.

Being a feminist up here means there are no Reclaim The Night marches to participate in- although I am doing some work behind the scenes to maybe organise one. The safety issues of which would be ENORMOUS, btw.- there is no Wymyn's groups to attend or collectives to work in (not that they solely define feminist).

It means sitting under a mango tree in remote villages and holding pikininis while talking to women about their lives. And sometimes, very rarely, being honoured with stories of how men took their power. And rather than jumping up and suggesting a mass bra burning, you delicately ask IF-  not WHY, but if, the women want it back?

"Do you want it back?", I say. And watch as the seed gets planted.

Feminism up here is about our choice to adopt a girl from a village right in the heart of Misogyny Central and walk the fine line with her between Western empowerment and her cultural roots.

Feminism up here is about calling out white men, some of which might be CEO's, when they "STTTTT"  for a female waitress down the Yoti (it's a very specific sound, somewhere between a hiss and a whstle, ending in a plosive T, and it's how men, both white and brown get a woman's attention)

It's about calling them out on that fag/bitch/whore joke they think is so fucking funny.

It's often about being ridiculed and having rumours of being a lesbian circulated about you. But that's not specific to PNG, as we all know!

Feminism up here is about joining anti-Violence groups, yet needing a guard on your compound gate 24/7. It's about not being able to go to a meeting for the Mari Seif Haus (women's shelter) because there are riots in the street.

It's about joining something as anachronistic as the Lioness Club, and fund-raising to provide training for women in prison, or hustling for donations to print pamphlets on Breast Cancer awareness.

It's not about designing a huge YES, YOU CAN! banner for a mass rally, it's about gently telling a young girl who wants to be caddy at the Golf Club; "yes, you can", and then making sure you take responsibility for planting that seed by ensuring she doesn't get raped or beaten for wanting to do something so culturally inappropriate.

It's about access to resources and empowerment and opening eyes and ears and doors EXACTLY the same as it is in the West. The context is just to very different.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Post Connecticut shooting musings

See, the thing is, I believe (and it's simply MINE), that America HAS to have an enemy. Whether it's the Russian about to nuke them, or the North Koreans or the Cubans or the Iranians or the Muslims. On an individual level, it's the 'whackjobs in my city" or "the black gangs" or some other "OTHER" that is out to get you. Look at the development of James Bond movies (yes, I KNOW he's British!). When the Cold War ended, it was the Koreans. Or the Colombians. It's JB's 'thing" to save the Superpowers (i.e Britain and the US ) from "them", whoever they are perceived to be at any one given historical moment. SMERSH, or drug cartels, or whomever.So maybe it's like that for the citizens of America? Maybe they've grown up on an insidious diet of "They're coming to get us", from earliest colonization, thru the Wild West days, via 9/11. Maybe they've been sold the lie that they actually do NEED all this weaponry? It's the reds under the beds mentality, perpetrated by whom? I don't know. Maybe the governments? Maybe the media?

And that's what I am struggling with, and is the root of my questions, which clearly appear un-informed and US-phobic to some. Australia had the same mentality during WWII when the Japanese really were coming to get us, but since then, we've had no fear of some imminent bomb to descend on us, fired by some distant enemy. Hell yes, we got involved in George Dubba Ya's fights, but even post 9/11 there was no imminent sense that we all had to arm ourselves against some possible invasion by "the enemy". I'm sure we have doomsday preppers in OZ, but we sure as shit don't have a 'reality' show about it.

Of course we worry about home invasions and our houses being broken into and our kids being raped in their beds. That shit goes down every day in Aus. What we don't have is the social/communal mentality that we must keep a gun in the house "just in case". Some of us might keep a baseball bat by the bed, or an hickory axe handle by the door, but there is no pervasive "They're coming to kill our women and take our precious metals" mentality.

The Australian government talks a lot, at the moment about illegal refugees and "our borders being overrun", and yet, there is no sense that we all have to race out and buy a gun, to protect ourselves from these faceless hoards.

300 million guns in America? Honestly, when I was growing up I didn't know ONE SINGLE FAMILY THAT HAD A WEAPON FOR PERSONAL PROTECTION. Not one. Maybe some did and I didn't know about it. Maybe some Dads had rifles in the cupboard for hunting. The point I'm making is that before the gun laws changed in 96, I didn't know ANYONE who had a gun, hand gun or otherwise simply to protect "me and mine".

How many Americans of my age can say that?
When I was in Chicago earlier this year, I was approached by a scary guy on the street. He rode past me on a bike and said "Hey baby, what's your name". I gave him a kinda "Pfft, whatever" look and the next thing I know he'd got off the bike and was coming towards me saying "What? You're not going to tell me your name".
It never ONCE dawned on me that he might be armed. It never once dawned on me that I should have bought a handgun to have in my purse. All I could think of to do was to get back into the restaurant, with my friends and "arm" myself with the safety of numbers.
I told him to "Fuck off" as I side-stepped him and went back into the restaurant, never even considering he'd shoot me. Attack me with his bare hands? Yes. Call for his mates and drag me somewhere? Yes.
 Follow me into the restaurant and shoot the place up?
 Never. 
It's simply NOT how Australians think. Guns, even when we're standing on our own, in a street in downtown Chicago,  are not what we reach for- physically and intellectually- as a first resort.
So all this personal safety thing? Imma not smack talking America about it. I simply don't understand it. Really? It seems that most of you live in a perpetual state of fear that "someone" is coming to get you and you better be armed, just in case.

Who did that to you?

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The US gun control debate.

So, I am trying to openly and honestly debate gun control in the US, with a couple of people on FB. The utter insanity of the tragedy is another thing altogether, but I keep hearing this "I own a gun for personal safety" or "for home protection" Seriously people? You live in AMERICA, most of you in downtown Averageville. How likely is is that you EVER actually going to need a gun?
Even if you lived in BubbaFuckah West, peopled with "Deliverance" rejects, you REALLY think it's ok to have a gun 'just in case"?
 I live in LAE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, described by The Lonely Planet as "the most dangerous city in the world outside a war zone" I have riots and murders in my city, if not in my fucking street, on a daily basis. I live in a city where we are all regularly updated as to where we can and can not go. My friend's children saw a man shot dead in front of them, last Sunday.
Being "hands upped" is a daily factor, yet I drive and shop and eat and play and visit with friends and sleep and conduct my daily life quite well and normally.

And I don't own a gun.

You're worried about home invasion? Do the fuck what I do. Live behind 9ft steel fences and razor wire, with (unarmed but baton-ed) guards on the gate 24/7 and have your bedroom zone locked away behind a rape gate. Get a couple of guard dogs.

A gun should NEVER be your first option for "home protection". Get some steel bars on your fucking windows, man.

Friday, 14 December 2012

The language of Lae.

PNG is the most linguistically diverse place on earth. Most people up here, despite many of them having little or no education are bilingual,even trilingual. Most locals speak their regional language (As Ples** or Tok Ples) and either Tok or Mutu, the two official languages. These are not dialects, they are different and distinct languages. And most locals up here speak English. Which means your humble gardener, or flowa boi, probably speaks a couple more languages than you do.

**(As, as in "Arse" Place.. as in where you sit down, your home village)

Not bad for a country where the locals are often frowned upon by some expats as stupid and lazy.

The most used language up here is  Tok Pisin, or simply "tok" as it's known . Although it was originally a pidgin, Tok Pisin is now considered a distinct language in its own right, because it is a first language for some people and not merely a lingua franca to facilitate communication with speakers of other languages.

Tok is an awesome language, derived from English picked up in the cane fields of Queensland during the very dark Blackbirding years, a huge smattering of Australian English brought in by soldiers during WWII, with some German and Dutch.

All letters only have one possible pronunciation. There is no "F" in Tok, although given that most people also speak English, it has kinda crept into Tok via the back door. But a tru tok speaker would never use it.

A is always pronounced as the a in "father", E as in "example", I as in "issue", O as in "code" and U as in "clue"

Vowels aren't followed by the "R" sound, so "work" is "wok",, pronounced just like the Asian cooking implement.

Some of my favourite phrases are "gras bilong het" (grass bilong head) or hair. Usually just shortened to "gras". Not to be confused with "maus gras" or a beard/moustache. "Skru bilon han" is elbow.

A "wantok" (one talk) is a dear friend, someone who literally speaks the same as you, linguistically and emotionally.

Tok can sound kinda rude to the non speaker.  "as ples bilon mi, em bikpela bagarap" which sound a little like "arse plaice  bill on me em bickpela bugger up" It means "My home village is badly damaged".

One of the words that causes Newbies to do a double take up here is "pinis". It means "finish" or "end", so it's perfectly acceptable up here to say ' Yu em pinis?"

You're  not being asked if you're a dick, you're being asked if you've finished..

The first time I was invited to a "Go Pinis" party, I was pretty sure I was being asked to put my car keys in a bowl, and get on with (hitherto un-explored) my wife-swapping self.

Newp, it's a party thrown for people who are leaving. You have a go pinis party when you leave a job. Or te country.

"pis" in Tok Pisin could mean in English: "beads", "fish", "peach", "feast" or "peace".
"sip" in Tok Pisin could mean in English: "ship", "jib", "jeep", "sieve" or "chief"

Far be it from me, an avowed atheist to  promote the idiocy of religion, but the lord's prayer is a great way to learn Tok, because almost everyone knows the words. Sound the words out, using the vowel rules as I've described, and you can hear the meaning:

Papa bilong mipela
Yu stap long heven.
Nem bilong yu i mas i stap holi.
Kingdom bilong yu i mas i kam.
Strongim mipela long bihainim laik bilong yu long graun,
olsem ol i bihainim long heven.
Givim mipela kaikai inap long tude.
Pogivim rong bilong mipela,
olsem mipela i pogivim ol arapela i mekim rong long mipela.
Sambai long mipela long taim bilong traim.
Na rausim olgeta samting nogut long mipela.
Kingdom na strong na glori, em i bilong yu tasol oltaim oltaim.
Tru.

And my personal favourite, a road sign in the Ramu Valley:

Ol man an mari, yu save.  Draiv isi isi. Yu noken lukatim ol bullamacau on rot. Yu bagarap im ca.

(Everyone take note, Drive slowly and watch out for Cattle crossing the road. Or you will have a car accident)

 Got it? And Tok creeps into your everyday conversations with native English speakers. With a large smattering of colloquial Australian English thrown in. I might greet a couple I know with "G'day tupla!  (Hello, you two). I couldn't 'phone you earlier because my Digi (cell) was bagarap (broken) Yu olrite? (are you well?). You going to the barbie for Jane's go pinis ? (farewell barbeque) I'm isi isi on the piss down the Yoti tonight." (I'm going easy on the alcohol at the Yacht Club tonight)..

What it sounds like to the English-attuned ear is

Giidae Tooplar , I coodn phone you earlier bcz meh didgee was buggered rap. Yoo orait. Yoo goin to the Barbie for Jane's Penis? I'm easy easy nda piss down the Yoddy tnite.

And it's said REALLY fast, so all the words kinda run into each other and leaves you wondering why Tupac is performing digital buggery on a Barbie Doll with Jane's penis while Izzy is urinating on Yoda.

It's a language not for the faint hearted. Then there's learning what a "chook raffle" is, or "footy" (pronounced "fuudie), or knowing your 'mates' are "ARSOL's" and why on Tuesday's The Yoti (pronounced 'Yoddy') draws a meat tray.

Welcome to PNG, the land of the unexpected.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Shopping in Lae.

It's doable. Hard but doable. Imma talking 'stuff' shopping here, not food. I knew  a family that left most of their belongings behind in Australia, because they were told you can't buy cleaning products up here. So rather than fill their container with pictures and knick-knacks that ease the transition and remind you of home, they filled their container with bleach and mops and sponges and floor polish and shampoo.

Imagine their suprise when they found shelves filled with these exotic items, at all three supermarkets in Lae.

When I first arrived in Lae, there had been no honey in stock, in any supermarket for months. Then, overnight, a shipment came in and BANG! There were aisles and aisles, filled from top to bottom, with tubs of honey. All the same brand, all the same size. Imagine and entire aisle of Costco's filled with exactly the same product.

In Lae, we don't have any clothing shops, per se. You can get shoes and t-shirts and the like at SVS, but there's no store that just sells women's clothes.

There are no malls in Lae.

That was not a typo. There are no shopping malls in my city.

We shop at the various second-hand outlets in town. And noone is ashamed of it.

Cos the alternative is going naked, or never having new clothes.

Naked is not an alternative you want me to consider, trust me.

You can pick up some awesome bargains. I just bought a Calvin Klein top, brand new, still with the tags on for K4. About $2.

You can buy bikes for kids and Barbie dolls and hula hoops and basketballs and slides and beds-in-the-shape-of-cars... all new, BTW.

You just have to know where to look. And you have to steel yourself for the inevitable drive to 17 different parts of town, and how some of them might be no-go zones because of street works or rioting and when you do find that perfect gift for Junior for Crimbo, you have to wait for 90 minutes while some gormless shop assistant gets you a price on said item. Then, having decided on said purchase, you have the delightful experience of waiting in line for another hour while the 6 people in front of you hassle and yell because their EFTPOS card has been rejected or, even better, the entire electronic banking system is down and you didn't bring enough cash.

Look, not all stores are like that, but MOST are.

So, it's Crimbo time and a Lae expat woman's mind turns to presents. The first year you're up here you send home Madang pottery and Goroka coffee.

The next year you send home hand woven baskets and bilums.

The third year you send home carvings, knowing that most people back home have a) no idea what a Sepik River Yenichenmangua hewei mari is and b) PNG carvings don't exactly go with the decor in most Western houses.







Now, I have a house filled with wondrous items like this, but I live here. This isn't exactly the sort of thing you send home to Mom in her minimalist loft-style Bauhaus apartment, is it?(well, maybe it is, cos that's kinda how I roll **evilleer**)

I have a wall clustered with penis gourds, so what would I know?



Also, shipping from PNG is a monkey bucket of money. It's prohibitively expensive, which is why you all got coffee last year.

I sent home a baby's outfit recently. Cost me $1. Weighed 250g. Cost me $60USD to ship it to the States.

There's also lots of silly little laws in other countries regarding sending products made of wood over their borders. They require fumigation and certificates and other bothersome things THAT ADD TO THE COST.

Yes, there's ebay and we use it beaucoup up here, EXCEPT the interweb is so unreliable that you often miss out on auctions or, as recently happened to me, the payment doesn't go through because electronic banking up here is a FUCKING NIGHMARE. The payment was flagged as 'suspicious' by the bank in Moresby and reversed. This happens ALL the time.

Now, let me precede the next part of this post by saying this. I used to run a food blog and my inbox became clogged with companies offering me free 'stuff' if I'd review it. I did it once, for a juice company. The sent me something I will call "Orange Marvelous"

My blog post was called "Orange Meh"

And I never did it again.

However, this little blog is about sharing information that makes living in Lae easier. And I freely admit the owners of this business are friends of mine.

Here's what I did this Crimbo.

I went here:

Eclecticity - Chicago's Snazziest Store

You give Siri a brief description of the recipient and she snerfles through all the awesome stuff in the shop and ships it to the intended giftie. I particularly love their pillboxes and trivets. She CANNOT be stumped. Here's a sample of the directive I gave her this year.

"He's, like 20, and amazeballs handsome. But geeky. He's into vintage steampunk hats and  krakens. He reads voraciously, so no books, because he's prolly read it. He's 6ft5 and also into cooking and acid and begonias and racing cars"**

She found this person the perfect git!


These beautiful women are made of exactly 3.14159 different and distinct types of orsum. Live in Papua New Guinea and need your Crimbo pressies shipped to OZ/UK/Zambia? Hell, why not use a store in Chicago?! Seriously. Use them. They like it. And they're goddamn rockstars muthafarkin beyond fabulous! And they'll forgive you when your international transfer doesn't go through ;)
 
** SOME of that is a complete lie!

The previous post.

I'm going to be an ostrich and whack my head in a bucket of sand. I can't blog about it yet. I will, one day, soon. Because it speaks to the heart of this blog. But not now.

We will be returning you to your regularly scheduled dose of profanity, hilarity and frustration soon.

MM.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

blogging about blogging

Despite the fact that this little corner of teh interwebz has only 2 dozen or so posts, I am not a noob at this. I blogged for 5 year under another name, on another topic, in another country. Part of the reason I started THIS blog is that I wanted wider scope to discuss things like politics and religion and gender-issues and basically give my bad-ass, loud, opinionated bitch a platform from where I could rant maniacally about, well, anything.

It's pretty hard to voice your utter, deep, pathological disgust at batshit crazy white men Republican policies, or rave about the blame culture of rape, on a food blog.

So, when I started MM, I decided I wanted it to be warts and all, balls to the wall about stuff I find interesting. Interspersed with the occasional recipe and an update on Vop. I wanted it be be exactly what it says up there in the header. Part Mommy blog, part travelogue. Part femiNazi ranting, part resource.

And here's the thing. I've been brutally true to that over the past year.

But now?

You see, something's come up. Something big. Something that changes my world. Something that's left me battered and bruised and lying bleeding in the gutter.

And I don't have the guts to blog about It.

If you've seen "Julie and Julia", you may remember the scene where she and her husband have an argument, and he begins to blog about it, and then deletes it. Because a) her marital woes aren't relevant to a food blog and b) as bloggers we often share too much. Open ourselves up to ridicule. And some of us choose to only share the good and the funny.

But when I started MM, I didn't want to BE that sort of blogger. I wanted to talk about the good and the bad and the utterly soul-numbing HARDNESS of living in Lae/adopting Vop/being a woman up here.

And I thought I was doing it. And doing it well.

Until the past 10 days.

It's partly the hoary old chestnut of "If I say It out loud, it becomes real", but it's much more than that. I speaks to the very heart of what this blog is about. It speaks to the heart of who I thought I was up here.

I truly don't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut if It marginalizes me within the Mommy/expat/PNG blogging community. I've never proscribed to assign myself any of those labels. It's not that which holds me back.

I'm not too sure what it is, but every time I've pressed that "new post" button to write about It, my soul has fled through my eyes, and left me bereft.

I have lost my edges. I can't remember where my 'me' ends and the rest of the world begins. My margins are as blurred as my tear-wrecked vision. Words that used to flow from my fingers in bright, sharp streams simply won't come when I try to write about It.

It even has a capital letter when I think about It.

No, the Husbang hasn't had an affair. That would be a would down a primrose-fucking-path compared to It.

So, if I can't write about It, how can I write/blog about ANYTHING? This isn't a food blog, wherein it's not important to mention extraneous "stuff".

This is a blog about Vop and Lae and expatting and adoption and fighting misogyny up here and. well, read the goddamn header, or a post or two, and you'll see.

This blog is simply about me.

And It has taken the me I thought I was and broken it into a thousand sharp shards which, instead of glittering with hope and promise, lie dull and bereft.

And I have no energy to gather them up to myself and put them back together.

Monday, 10 December 2012

And the winner is.....

Yep, this little corner of teh interwebz just won The Silver Medal for Best Expat Blog in PNG.

**sniff**

I'd like to thank The Academy, my parents for not practicing contraception, Cthulu and the doods over at Expats Blog, who help a whole lot us us displaced expats connect with each other and stay sane. Thanks, too, to all that voted. This blog is mostly about keeping me sane and out of mischief, and also to provide a resource for prospective expatters to Lae, but getting kudos from your peers is a lovely, unexpected validation.


Expat Blogs

Sunday, 2 December 2012

OCD-induced anxiety

If you suffer from the slightest degree of OCD, I recommend you don't move to PNG. It will make you head 'splode.

I freely admit to suffering OCD about MANY things. I have known to become anxious because my couch is 8 degrees out of true straight alignment with the floorboards. I clean my house starting at the same point every time and finishing the same. If I don't do it like this, it doesn't feel clean.

Oh, so sue me, I'm a freak.

But a NEAT freak, with a Type-A personality and a fucking clean house, my friend.

Lae suffers from hundreds of small tremors every year, which means I spend a lot of time straightening pictures and knick-knacks that have moved mere millimeters out of line.

It's kinda what I do, you know, instead of having a job or anything important like that.

In fact, the step-monsters only disclosed to me on their recent trip up, that when they wanted to piss me off, they would get into my pantry and move the spices around.

That's pretty much a declaration of war, right there.

So, yesterday The Husbang finally got around to hanging some of the pictures that came up from our last house in Australia.

In particular, there is a beautiful Monet print that my father bought me on one of his trips to Europe. Purchased at Giverny I believed, and then hand-finished by hm, and framed.

It's one of my few pride and joys, made all the more important because Dad's been dead nearly 6 years.

This picture has hung in various houses across the world, either above the mantlepiece or in the bedroom.

So The Husbang and I are measuring up the bedroom wall to hang said pic.

Husbang is as bad as I am in the OCD department. It's one of the reasons we've stayed married all these years. He's as nit-picking and neurotic about pictures and couches and storing spice jars by size and alphabetizing them and things being in the right place as I am.

So here's where PNG, and in particular PNG workmen/builders get their evil revenge on us.

There is not one single wall in our house that is straight or level in any plane.

The wall on which I want to hang this picture has a 5 inch differentiation from one corner to the other. Which means that no matter how you hang the picture, it doesn't ever look straight.

But there's more. On said wall there is an airconditioning unit.

Not in the centre of the wall.

On either side, and just below the AC unit, there are 2 wall lights.

They are not evenly spaced in relation to the AC unit.

The airconditioning unit isn't level. It falls to the left by an inch.

The switches for these lights are not evenly spaces in relation to the lights. One switch is underneath a light fitting, and the other is bangfuckingsmack in the middle of the wall.

Now, our bed is centred in relation to the light fittings, which means the AC unit is all squiffy in relation to the bed.

When we have sex, we have to turn around and face the foot of the bed, because if either of us look up and see this abortion of angles and relative-spacing anarchy, we faint.

So, The Husbang is standing on the bed, I am holding my Dad's beloved picture and we're both getting angrier and angrier. The Husbang, tha man who once re-tiled an entire bathroom because the tiles against the bath were 3mm out of true, starts saying things like "Do they do this on purpose?" and " Maybe we should move to Sweden?".

The alternative was to put the painting in storage, but really? Why allow the evil machinations of CLEARLY a demonic group of plasterers and  electricians who are planning to overthrow the expat community of Lae by making their brains explode via OCD-induced anxiety win?

This is war, people. Haiti had its L'Ouverture, Rome had Sparticus, MANY nations have thrown out their usurpers but none as craftily as the way the sneaky machinations of Lae Builders have manifested.

In a show of defiance, we've hung the picture!! Oh yes, take THAT Builders Navvies of Evil!! You shall not win, you Demonic Decorators of Dissent. I can't actually SLEEP in the bed, nor LOOK at the picture without trembling with anxiety, but it's a small price to pay to triumph over these Type B Terrorists.



   However, we both needed a Valium and a lie down afterwards. In the spare room. Whose light fittings don't match.



I'm buying us sleeping-eye-patches-thingies for Crimbo,