Thursday, May 28, 2009

auckland: the city I live in

So, it's Queen's Birthday weekend - wonderful - three days with my lovely family and friends. I'm unlikely to blog until Tuesday - when I'm planning a loooong and insightful polemic about the cuts to tertiary funding and research and development funding in the Budget.

But - the sun shines - kind of - and there's a lot to do this weekend. Tonight, after picking Bella up from drama in St Benedict's St, we're taking all three kids to the iconic Real Groovy to hear Midnight Youth perform. Kids are planning their rockstar outfits as we speak, so to speak. Then home for Friday night fush'n'chups.

Saturday, we're dressing up in our best princess costumes (the whole family - according to Zoe, the world's bossiest nearly five-year old) to attend Princess Wishes - an ice extravaganza, followed by lunch with some lovely friends.

Satuday evening, I'm making roast chicken and entertaining the extended family . . . haven't decided upon the dessert yet - ideas in the comments please . . .

Sunday - dinner with some more lovely friends at the fabulous child-friendly Auckland institution, the Mexican Cafe. Then the dads are taking the children to Night at the Museum to wander through the exhibits in the dark and talk to dinosaurs . . . mothers may drink wine, eat chocolate and watch some ER at this point.

Monday! Well if the weather is fine, we'll do a little biking in Cornwall Park - if weather is foul, it'll be Wii sports and baking all day.


Monday, May 25, 2009

following on from yesterday; a serious discussion about gendered roles

I was anticipating enjoying the panel discussion "I am what I own" that was advertised as one of the highlights of late @ the museum - along with the delightful Sonic Musuem project. The panel, chaired by columnist Finlay McDonald, consisted of music journalist Nick Bollinger, designer Dean Poole, broadcaster Carole Hirschfield, Oxfam NZ CEO Barry Coates, and curator Jonathan Mane-Wheoki. What could have been an interesting discussion, with perspectives from a range of erudite and passionate people was redeemed from complete triviality by the presence of Coates, who brought developing world attitudes to possessions to the table AND offered the comment on the need for artefacts for institutions such as museums and art galleries that I had thought Mane-Wheoki would make, being a curator and all.

What ruined the panel discussion for me, and for those I was with (see my friend Anya's review) was the way Carole was 'cast' as the spendthrift consumer whose only real contribution to the discussion was a list of Prada bags she has owned . . . now, I like handbags as much as the next girl, and I really like Carole - she's a smart, gorgeous, down to earth woman whose made a great career for herself based on both the smarts and the gorgeousness. BUT I dislike intensely a puported intelligent discussion of the position "I am what I own" denigrating into a trivial female who likes stuff for stuff's sake pitted against five men, including her own husband, who were taking much loftier positions about the importance of stuff. Particularly annoying was the reverence with which the audience and panel treated Bollinger's discourse on music and the art of collecting - compared with the laughter that had greeted Hirschfield's claim to collect Prada handbags. Now, is that a gendered value judgement or what? Stuff men collect (music, computers, countries) is worthy of curating and writing about, while stuff women collect is laughable.

I'm not actually a harpy - this kind of public acceptance of gendered roles irritates me because it reduces human beings to cliches. If Carole was happy to take the role of consumer, that's fine - they needed, however, to include another woman who could take another view point too. And perhaps next time, Finlay and Carole could keep chat about the size of their mortgage to a minimum? We actually wanted more of a conversation that, at times, referenced everything from High Fidelity to Margaret Atwood's Payback, managing to keep a sizable crowd that seemed brimful of the intelligentsia engaged. We like panel discussions; we like Prada handbags; we like to think the two are not mutually exclusive - and most of all, we like to think that there is more than one way to be a woman in the twenty-first century.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

very very trivial things (and some of import)

Here's my sister and me at Late@ the Museum a couple of weeks ago. I do like the way, without actually thinking it through, we match. We were a bit sad that Norrie didn't want to know what we were wearing (just wanted to comment on our legs - which are unfortunately NOT in the picture) so I'll tell you now: Jane - oxblood crocodile platform pumps (unsure); ubiquitous black opaques probably from stall in Korea; fan print ruffled mini skirt, Top Shop, thrifted (by me - a Jacqueline Fahey moment); crew neck merino from Glassons; leather jacket from market in Florence; bag (unseen) Chloe. Me - pointy-toe witchy-poo shboots, thrifted; zambesi arabesques leggings; bow-neck mini sack dress from lovely girl at that market-y sort of shop in high street by the pumpkin patch; zambesi cord jacket (can't remember its special name); bag Louis Vuitton. Our brown/cream/coral tones with black make us look especially matchy-matchy, which is quite unusual for us . . .

This, of course was pre- Hillary controversy, with Vanda Vitali wandering around looking small, glamorous and deadly, like a mix between ol' Nuclear Wintour, your high school art teacher, and the women's studies lecturer who liked to overuse dichotomy in class discussions. I smiled broadly at her, just so she'd not think I was one of the trivial fashionistas there to view the lovely if somewhat predictable Cybele range, Halcyon. I did like this dress:but the rest of the beautiful garments were the sort of thing I always think I'd like to wear when I'm old. Which I am not, yet.

BUT Vanda Vitali is - old enough to know better than to dimiss a nation's valid concerns as ignorant noisemaking - and, one would hope, mature enough to understand that while she, and the Museum as a whole, may have finely argued professional reasons - such as correct storage, public access etc - for seeking to clarify the meaning of Sir Ed's will, to be seen to be failing to take into account the personal and public history of the Hillary family is, shall we say, unfortunate in someone who's in the business of preserving history.

As one who's entered the archives of the Museum on many occasions for work, I know the vast and amazing resources and artefacts stored there. I'm also keenly aware of current international practises regarding ensuring access for indigenous peoples to artefacts with wairua - perhaps the Hillary papers and ephemera could be regarded in this light, as containing wairua and requiring frequent handling by the whanau to preserve, share and document that spirit? Perhaps I should tweet the Prime Minister and offer my services in the dispute resolution? Trivialities aside, this conflict reflects very real concern in the museums and heritage sector (did you know we were a sector?) about the stewardship of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

strange things are afoot at the circle k

After a little over six months at this "new job", I'm finally feeling like I can predict how busy I'm going to be and therefore how much down time I might have to do other kinds of writing. So I'm setting myself a challenge for the next year: I have a thesis chapter to adapt into a journal article; a conference paper to adapt into an article for one of my favourite sites ; and, most momentously of all - and rather inspired by the dedication and success of the lovely Andrea - I'm rededicating this year of writerly thinking to the BOOK. Yes, I may even have to put a word-count tool in eventually . . . once I've figured out how one does that. There'll still be rants, clothes and other Kate-like stuff, but I'm going to try and use this blog to make me write. I have money, and a room of my own, so there's really no excuse now.