New moonscape

Tāwhanga PhD final performance

Image credit – Ngāwai Smith (Marketing and Communications Advisor for the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato)

Ok, i’m sitting at the kitchen table looking out over the lake. It’s sunny but also windy and I’m sending out the good vibes for a summer that seems waaay long overdue. This year’s winter was one of discontent, the content dis-associative in that I was able to make a break from the past that kept me in stasis.

The moon is new and growing fuller as the moments pass, calming these new waters as they escape from beyond their dammed flow. Time to grow, progress and prosper.

I had my second job interview for my dream job. I am praying each day that I get it because instead of planning for the future I can start living the future into existence.

I’m a doctor now lol.

I had my final performance and oral examination last week and the experiences were powerfully transformative. It was good to make performance art in the manner I most love – occupying a cold space and making it into one where I feel safe to live at my best and sometimes too my worst. Performance art, especially guerrilla performance art is amazing in its ability to awaken people to the ideas spaces hide. The ideas hidden in spaces are made manifest through unspoken rules about how to behave –  these become the foundation for our norms. In the art I enacted last week, I simply mapped out a common space that people have to move through on campus at the University of Waikato. I used 3 large adhesive images, shells, condoms and random things from my room like earrings, toothpaste, superglue and necklaces to create patterns on cobblestones. Once I had marked out my space, I then spent time cutting the images up to create an assemblage whilst singing and dancing. Really, I was just performing my ‘happy place’ – the mindset I occupy when I’m in the zone making art. The performance lasted about four hours.

The feedback was really great and the following day at my oral exam, those present remarked that it spoke directly to the themes of my research. It feels weird to have a PhD. I am still processing it. I think about all the amazing places, the self-discoveries, the lessons learned and the figuring out of political processes that have underpinned (and undermined) my PhD journey. I think about the life of a fucked-up, trashed tranny who spent all those nights in dark dark spaces, waiting for death. I think about the tears that seldom fall from my eyes because I have been too robotic to emote. I think about a lot of pain. It feels weird to have a PhD and to feel alive, vital and empowered at the intersection of academia and art. For me, making sense of those two things has helped me make sense of all the other intersections my body occupies – Māoritanga, New Zealander, same-sex attracted, transgender, living with HIV, drug addict, alcoholic, rape survivor, suicidal tendencies, depressive and impoverished.

It’s pretty powerful that a person with all those markers can write a PhD thesis to grow new space at the unique intersection of many oppressions. Maybe that’s my journey in this life, to give life where before there only felt like death.

It’s hard to look back and feel equally happy and sad, but great art is about contradictory tension.

I’m a mother-fucken doctor betches!!!

writing to re-wire

I’m writing up a storm at the moment. It’s research writing – concrete and structural, sensuality sidelined for the hard-line of text to motivate policy plasticity. I love writing research aimed at structural change. The tools of the oppressor, learn how to use them to break the system.

I used to think words were cement, pulling me down beneath the surface to suffocate. Written text is tortuously permanent and pedantic. That’s why the world is slow to change – words have too much power.

This week I’m writing an article that describes barriers to accessing equitable and quality healthcare for Māori who are transgender. So much about public healthcare problematises transpeople and looks for ways to fix us. The real problem is that society needs fixing.

I’m trying not to watch the news. I have been pretty good at filtering out all the faff lately, but since the election in Aotearoa I have been interested to gauge where things are headed. I shouldn’t waste my time because regardless of who gets into power I am still stuck living with an invader’s government. I can manage my life fine thank you very much. I’d be able to manage it a lot better if it weren’t so dictated by billboards, supermarkets, cars, roads, shops, footpaths, farmland, television and satelites – alien terrains terrorising my territory.

I heard a buzzing in the sky the other night. It was faint and because I am always listening to music through my headphones I almost didn’t hear it. When I looked up I saw the unmistakable front and back end lights of a drone. I stopped. The drone stopped. I walked. The drone moved again. I altered the direction I was walking in. The drone wavered with uncertainty. I threw stones at the fucker…eventually it went its own way. That’s the second time I have seen a drone hovering nearby lately. Next time I  get followed by a drone ima browneye the fucker.

I hate this surveillance reality, but I am not going to change nor hide.

I had a blast at a poetry slam last weekend. Betch got her legs out and turned up the heat a little. I laid down some deep shit, as I do. I was feeling shy and nervous, but people really responded and I felt good to deliver some rivers flowing. I was pretty tired though having spent the morning flying to Christchurch for a meeting to present some research and then flying straight back to Rotorua for the gig. This week I have been working from Hamilton and tonight I will spend the night in Auckland for a board meeting tomorrow. Next week is crazy, I’m home in Rotorua for kapa haka practice and a few days chill, then flying to Auckland for a panel on hidden priviledge, flying home again and then back to Auckland for the following weekend to facilitate an HIV community leadership workshop. I get a day’s rest at home in Rotorua before heading to Hamilton to install my final PhD work and perform my final creative work. The next day is my oral examination. Once I’m examined I’m publishing my entire thesis on this blog, which btw is one of the major works created for the thesis.

Dr. Mary-Legs is on huuuuuuurrrr way. Life is busy but somehow the makeup stays all day and the smiles keep on coming.

Fuck those drones – they ain’t got the battery to last my distance.