Criticism of your country

Hello or Ola if you’re from Brazil (seriously I seem to be getting a lot of site traffic from Brazil)

There’s been a bit of hoopla in the last few days in New Zealand because the author Eleanor Catton said a bunch of negative stuff about New Zealand in general and the government in particular, and some people think that you apparently don’t say negative stuff about your home country if you’re internationally successful.

Some of the criticism I get, other parts are just ridiculous, mind you some of what she said in the first place I think is true others less so.  All of who said what is here. For the record I agree with her about the politians, not so much about the tall poppy thing and can see her point about how we do try and own individual success collectively (yep all 4.4 million of us helped make Lord of the Rings).  The tall poppy thing I think is in New Zealand we have a particular mould that we want our successes to fit – the quiet, humble achiever who takes success in their stride and doesn’t make a big deal of themselves, basically if you’re successful in New Zealand we want to act like Sir Edmund Hilary. I’ve often thought that if Mohammed Ali came from New Zealand he’d be remembered as ‘that great boxer who nobody liked’ or ‘The great boxer who moved to another country’ because anyone who went around saying they were the greatest in New Zealand just wouldn’t get any support.

But this whole thing got me thinking about the whole idea criticising your country.  Clearly no country is perfect, no country has absolutely everything figured out and also people like different things – even just for a visit, I mean an online friend of mine loved Turin in Italy, I thought it felt like walking into someone else’s hangover (I really do need to post about my travels last year don’t I?)

Effectively your home country is an accident of birth, so in some ways being proud of your home country is a bit like being proud of your hair colour or the socio economic bracket of your parents – it has nothing to do with you or your accomplishments and if you don’t like it you can change it.

I can’t really speak about how other countries feel about criticism but  I think the real issue with people criticising New Zealand is that we’re very aware that we are a tiny little island at the bottom of the world with less people than Sydney.  It happens any time something negative happens to tourists in New Zealand, we start wringing our hands and saying ‘what will people think of us’. So a back packer has their car with all their stuff stolen we freak out and think ‘oh no! They’ll go away thinking New Zealand is awful’ and people give them money and free accommodation and back packs and all sorts and while admittedly this is partly because kiwi’s are generous, it’s also partly so they’ll go away saying how wonderful we all are.

But this situation isn’t a foreigner who had bad experience it’s a kiwi making a comment about the people who are running the country at the moment, people who aren’t very supportive of the arts, people who do like to cosy up to big business and even if it was just her opinion (which of course many will argue it is) well so what? Since when was criticising the government anything other than a right, New Zealand is a democracy after all.  I think if she’d been talking to a New Zealand audience her comments would barely made a blip, but as it was to an international everyone loses perspective.  She was talking about her experience as a man-booker prize winning author from New Zealand, something that exactly one other person (who has agreed with some comments and disagreed with others)

Some criticism I’ve heard of New Zealand (it’s expensive, it’s hard to get around, people are outwardly friendly and welcoming but a little hard to get to know) I think are valid, some of the criticism (mostly that we’re parochial and behind the rest of the world) I think are unfair.  Sure everyone hates it when people move to a country and do nothing but complain, I know when I lived in London I was very careful only to complain about the rubbish banking system (which was the only thing that I really didn’t like about living there.)

Perhaps she could have been a bit more diplomatic, mixed some of the good in with bad, I don’t know.  I’ll get back to you when I’ve won a major literary prize. I would be interested in how other countries  view their high profile citizens criticising the country – does your country go nuts in this situation or just shrug and say ‘ah well, they’re entitled to their opinion’?

And so this is Christmas, And what have you done?

Yes, it’s been a while, practically a whole year in fact, so clearly I have lived up to the title of the is blog and done an amazing job at procrastinating – well done me! I feel I have in many way exceeded even my own expectations. So a successful year then.

Believe it or not I have actually done stuff this year, you know life outside of my house and away from my laptop type stuff.

I joined a choir, worked in the same job all year (a new thing for me!) and it was mostly good and I passed another uni paper.

The highlight from this year has to be travelling.  For a number of reasons I haven’t really traveled much in the last few years but this year I spent a month travelling (sure she blogs about dumb things her cat does but not about the 4 star hotel by the river in Florence). I went to Singapore, London, France Italy and Hong Kong, I got go to places I’ve wanted to go to for ages  and I got to catch up with friends. (including Carolyn who asked what happened to my blog).

I’ve also become an honourary aunty and found out that I’m going to be one again next year as well (different friends!), I also had long weekends in Wellington and Melbourne and managed to use a friend’s wedding as an excuse to go to Hobbiton (Thanks Amy!).

So what’s on the cards for 2015? Well I’m going to finish my damn uni studies.  I’ve got three papers left so I’m doing one paper in semester one and two in semester two, way more writing, hopefully a new car (well new to me), work is a ‘watch this space’ type of arrangement as I’ve got a contract until March but the job market is really strong at the moment so I’m not worried about that.  So who know’s where I’ll be this time next year?  In the words of John Lennon – Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans, so it could be anything. One thing is for certain – I must blog more!

Also a special mention to Caroline who I caught up with

So Happy New Year’s everyone! If 2014 has been a good one, then long may it continue, if you’ve had a year you’d rather forget then it can only go up from here. Let’s see what how this 2015 thing works out.

Motivate me

In a truly heroic effort I have managed to drag myself to the gym three times this week in an effort get this routine thing that people keep talking about. Since I last went to the gym there’s been a change of ownership and as part of taking over the new owners  have painted/stenciled ‘motivational’ phrases which includes ‘you’re just one workout away from a better mood’.  

Now I know I’m a cynic and ‘motivational’ sayings usually bring out my inner snark (as noted by choice of punctuation around the world motivational) but I don’t know who these actually help, especially as actually dragging yourself to the damn gym in the first place rather than going home to sit on the couch and drink wine like any sane person is the main achievement – it’s not like you’re going to sit in the corner with your book once you’ve got there now is it?  So I think they should be more realistic with their motivation, maybe ‘exercise – it’s like cleaning the house except you can’t take turns with your flatmate’  or ‘exercise – no you can’t pay someone to do it for you’, ‘exercise – stop whining about it you still have to do it.’

Of course it doesn’t help that the making endorphins part of my has faulty wiring and isn’t connected to the recognise that I’ve just done exercise part of my brain.

All this got me thinking about Demotivational posters (which if you haven’t seen you should look at – it’ll kill a decent amount of time if you’re trying to procrastinate) and how I should really write posters for them – maybe I’ll get around to it… one day.

Welcome to 2014

Hello and welcome to 2014!  I hope everyone has had a good Christmas/New Years and enjoyed your holidays if you’ve had one.

As it’s the first day of the new year it’s time to figure out what to change going into the new year – what to throw out and what to keep.

So I’m doing the usual things – starting a diet (5pm on day 1 and I’ve succeeded so far), and looking at where I’m at.  I can safely say that 2013 was a great year professionally, a great year academically, an average year personally and a rubbish year in writing.  I let myself get thrown way too much by disappointments and didn’t make enough time for writing.  I was a busy year – I did complete two papers and have a busy job but I still should have found more time for writing.

So what am I going to do about it?  Well I’ve joined a writing forum on goodreads which has weekly short story contests which will encourage me to write, I’m going to have my re writes of my novel done by the end of January, and I’m going to plot out the rest of the series so I do know exactly where it’s going rather than the vague fuzziness of a rough direction I have now.

If I am not actively trying to get my book published by Easter then I deserve to a bollacking.

And of course I will blog more – I know I’ve said it before but I will commit to at the very least one post a week.  I do have an idea for a fictional blog that has been kicking around in my head for a while so I will try and work out the details of that and get it up and running. Who knows – I may even get around to starting on the King Arthur book I’ve been thinking about for a while.

What it comes down to is writing more and reading more – I’ve read that you need to write everyday and that’s what I’m going to endeavour to do.  If I’m not back here within a week someone send in the heavies to give me a talking to.

When things come together in odd ways.

Hi there, long time no post I know.  At this point I’m like that douche bag ex who comes back and promises that this time it’ll be different  only to disappear for ages, or basically the guy from this song.  I come in, blog, make grand promises to blog more then don’t bother for ages.  But this time it’s different I swear!

So this week was my birthday and I did have a bit of a ‘holy crap, I’m 34’ moment – you know when your life is no where near as together as you think it should be (that’s a whole other post…).  But it does seem that there has been a concerted effort by people involved in some of my favourite things to bring me news of new stuff for my birthday.

It started on my Wednesday – my actual birthday (as opposed to the week long celebration period) the BBC announced the title and poster for the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who (current pop culture obsession) then on Friday it was announced that JK Rowling is writing a script for a new film set in the world of Harry Potter and a second Beatles at the BBC CD is being released with a whole lot of previously unreleased material.

It’s like everyone (or at least people in Britain with decision making in specific areas of pop culture) was working to get me stuff I like for my birthday.  Now they just have to repeat it next year.

Life, work and a cat who’s lost the plot

So I’m back and it’s a Monday so what the hell, let’s try and start a routine…again.

I’ve been dreadful at blogging of late and the main reason I came on here was because google have let the power go to their heads and have gone all ‘evil empire’ on things and my friend who owns an online shoe shop has been hit by a new google program which is supposed to stop spam but is actually stopping a lot of the traffic to her website.  The upshot of this is that she’s having to rework her whole website and get links removed from websites that might be dodgy – like this one apparently.

But since I’m here I may as well update.  I’m into my third week in my new job which is going really well, I’m really enjoying it and it’s interesting and busy and varied and we went out to dinner in my first week!

My cat though seems to have crossed the line into all out crazy though.  He’s always been pretty playful but he’s become obsessed with these little multicoloured pom poms that I bought to doctor a jumper for an ugly jumper day we had at my old work.  I really don’t know why but his reaction to them is like how other cats react to catnip.  I’ll try and get a video of it because it’s hilarious and a complete over reaction.

Return of a rubbish blogger


So clearly I’ve been rubbish at blogging lately and will undoubtedly  be sent to blogger purgatory   having my liver pecked by birds or something.  

So what’s happened in the 6 weeks since I posted? Have I been sitting around in my PJ’s eating toast and watching TV on the net? Actually no! In the last 6 weeks I’ve:

  • Gone to work, and managed not to stab anyone or in fact let loose with a long string of obscenities
  • Blown up my hair straighteners with a very impressive bang.
  • Completed two assignments and there for the paper I’ve been doing despite my extreme indifference and chronic procrastination
  • Bought a new laptop (I’m posting on it now – don’t I seem thinner, lighter, faster and quieter?) 
  • I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time reading stuff about Doctor Who on the net
  • Cooked duck for the first time (very successfully too)
  • Started revision version god knows what of my book.

So you know, I’ve done stuff.  One thing is certain though – I need to get better at regular blogging.