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Washington Heights

September 19, 2017

If you look up Washington Heights in the New York Lonely Planet guide you’ll find that it is rather low in the list of priorities. Aside from the Met Museum’s Cloisters outpost and the Hispanic Society of America’s galleries (alas, the latter closed until 2019), there’s a mere smattering of minor sites. In other words, a normal tourist probably would never make it up this far. Harlem, sure, there are some big and famous places and everyone’s heard of it. But Washington Heights, I never even heard of it before I came here!

I shall provide you a map so you know where I’m talking about, and another map which is very much out of scale and demonstrates the neglect (particularly because Hamilton Heights seems to have been partially an invention of people who didn’t want to be a part of Harlem):

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Administrative matters

September 15, 2017

Note: In keeping with the subject matter, this post is late, excessively detailed, and too long. Sorry!

As you may know, I am a US citizen, even though I haven’t lived in the US for very long at all – a few months after I was just born and another few months when I was 14. So to move over here was not quite as administratively trivial as it could have been. Though as I have gradually come to realise, nothing in America is administratively trivial.

First of all I had to renew my passport, which I was actually organised enough to do about 18 months ago, around the time that Lis headed off to NYC for her auditions, just in case I would need it. I managed to actually do it all, not online exactly, but via post to the Auckland consulate, so I avoided the trip up there. However, to get a Social Security card I did have to make a trip, which turned out to be a bit of a mission!

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Moving in

September 5, 2017

Welcome back! The next chapter of our New York life is how we moved into our very own apartment.

It began with Lis heading off for her ‘first day of school’ which she had to be up bright and early for. This left me with all 8 of our suitcases to transport around 60 blocks north. Rather than faff about we decided to just hire a giant SUV to pick us up and filled it with bags – as a one off cost it was totally worth it compared to trying to fit things on the subway or a regular taxi.

It’s surely always a little stressful to be moving in to a place you’ve never seen and have no idea what it will be like, but the signs were good from the first view of the lobby:

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Getting there

August 28, 2017
tags:

By road, sea, and sky

Our journey began on the 14th of August with the trip known to google calendar as ‘Boat to new life’. I’d packed everything I wasn’t throwing out or giving away into my car (parked outside the apartment because I’d handed in my parking garage clicker earlier in the day) and slept on my mattress in my sleeping bag in the lounge so that I could be sure I’d done my duty and cleaned up my room properly.

I arrived at the Blue Bridge terminal for check in at about 6.45, and got a text from Lis saying that there had been a crash and the Hutt motorway was backed up for miles. One of many potentially catastrophic things that could have gone wrong! But fortunately it cleared in time and we checked in right on time, not that they probably would have minded us checking in late anyway because we sat around for about 20-30 minutes before we could drive on anyway.

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Haiku for Jeremy

June 10, 2017

Wellington’s seasons blur
It’s colder now that it’s June
Yet May’s windy threats
Relent to brittle stillness

I had a dream involving hera lindsay bird

May 19, 2017

I had a dream involving hera lindsay bird

It happened during a dark and stormy night
Well it wasn’t even that stormy and night is aways dark
But it rained a lot and the reason I probably remember this dream involving hera lindsay bird
Is that the rain woke me up

Anyway
Within this dream involving hera lindsay bird were several recent events and thoughts of mine which I’d had during waking life
Which is one theory of dreams according to my understanding

For instance

I have lately decided that I should try to ‘get into’ poetry more and have purchased and read several books from hera lindsay bird’s employer Unity Books
And though these have included popular NZ writers like Kate Camp
Bill Manhire, and Ashleigh Young
Alongside Jenny Bornholdt
Who was posthumously recommended by former Unity Books staff member Nigel Cox in his book Phone Home Berlin
(Which I only just finished because I had been putting off reading his last words)
And whose collected poems include one with a description of Nigel in life and ashes

In spite of these connexions
None of the books I bought were the debut collection by hera lindsay bird
The reasons for this are complicated and only partially explained in this poem

I have however read some of hera lindsay bird’s poetry via popular website The Spinoff whose sponsors include Unity Books

And have also read some interviews with hera lindsay bird
By people like Steve Braunias, which were clearly conducted by internet writing rather than in person
Because nobody would talk like that in real life and Steve would have seemed like even more of a creepy older man wanting the approval of the new hip generation
If he’d said those things to hera lindsay bird’s face

Anyway

I suppose my dream, like this poem, was not about hera lindsay bird but my own strange version of the literary phenomenon sweeping the nation

In this dream, a setting on a rooftop somewhere in Wellington
Decorated somewhat like the Lux festival
Except more ‘arty’ because arty types such as hera lindsay bird were in attendance as part of some sort of exclusive opening event
And much larger than any known rooftop space on Wellington
(such inaccuracies are common to dreams as I’m sure you know)

This setting provided the backdrop to myself and hera lindsay bird engaging in conversation
Typically for a dream, I don’t know what we discussed exactly except that hera lindsay bird seemed to be “into” me
Noting this and being a generous person
I asked her whether she would like my number
A poetically subtle reversal on the usual request for the other’s number
Reflecting the supreme confidence which I apparently possessed in this dream

Of course she accepted

And at some later time instantly occurring in dream land
I think in a garden bar or such
We were talking again, and to avoid any heartbreak I worked in a reference to “my girlfriend”, which seemed to depress hera lindsay bird who was “into” me
And we continued and finished the conversation politely
but never met again (obviously I didn’t dream forever after but you know how it is in dreams where such things are known)

Of course the only reasons for telling people about your dreams are:

1. Something so weird and strange happened that it is immediately interesting

or

2. It is some sort of “meaningful” dream and you want to have a reason why you dreamed that

In this case I enjoyed the combination of unconscious poetic critique and examination of an author I haven’t actually read

and

The nostalgic reflections of my past romantic and poetic adventures through the shattered kaleidoscope world of my dream

And of course the opportunity to write all this up in a style aping not the real hera lindsay bird
But my own version of her poetry
As filtered through my dream version of her
Seemed too good to waste

So the main thing I guess I am aping is this pop culture deliberate bad lowercase internet meme writing carelessness
Into which are smuggled the same poetic revelations through metaphor that have always been revered
But in a way that seems like they are accidents
Though of course hera lindsay bird’s academic history means that this in itself is clearly a put on of the order of Pierre Menard

In my own case as a PhD in Physics who works for Statistics NZ and is pretending to know what I’m doing on the poetic stage
which I guess makes me sort of the governor Sancho to dream-hera lindsay bird’s Menard
In this literary metaphor which is already too fancy to get away with
When trying to pretend to naivety

Anyway
This view of hera lindsay bird as a true romantic at heart hiding behind blah-zzz irony but itching to release the beauty of language upon the masses
In the same way that Smelly Cat was released upon us all
Is much like the psychology that leads to the all too common older man wins over defensive young woman via intellect genre
That no doubt hera lindsay bird loves dearly
But which, honestly, the last thing I want to here is pretend that I’m in any way interested in
or more importantly attractive to
hera lindsay bird
This is my dream not hers
and
I got a girlfriend that’s better than that

So the thing to do here would be to use this dream image to suddenly illuminate that feeling that we have all had of idealising, dreaming, reading too much into small moments of common conversation with a fascinating and wonderful person
only to realise that either they are way too into the television sitcom “Friends” to be someone you could go out with
Or they have a boyfriend
Or you suddenly realise that maybe they are into you but you really didn’t mean to break their heart and you feel bad but also not even sure that you have

Ideally perhaps in this context it would be most twistingly ironic to do this by throwing in a reference to some dreamy Yeats or other that ‘everyone’ has heard of but really only poetry nerds would get

However

I haven’t yet got far enough through the collected works of Yeats which I bought the other day from Unity Books
To have such a reference at hand

So if you would be so kind

Imagine yourself at the edge of a glassy lake
In the centre of which, atop a tiny island is balanced a moss-crumbled castle
which an ancient prince constructed to imprison himself
After his fair maid chose another
And at the limits of hearing, when a certain soft breeze blows
The strains of an old song can be heard:

Sometimes love don’t feel like it should
But baby
it hurts so good

For the Birds

March 21, 2016

For the Birds
Mark Anderson, Jony Easterby, Kathy Hinde, Marcus Mcshane and Tane Upjohn-Beatson, Johann Nortje and Cameron May, Ulf Pedersen, and Esther Tew
Otari-Wilton’s Bush
Friday 11 March 2016

Otari-Wilton’s Bush is a special place even on a normal day. It’s a little patch that’s been relatively isolated from human destruction and contains amazing things like an 800 year old rimu tree and of course an abundance of birds. This event/installation worked with the aura of the bush and created a series of lovely spaces that included humour, fear, beauty, and most importantly a whole lot of wonder.

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