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!!!

Yayday

image

Yayday payday making me queenly in my kingdom. Don the fanfare fashion and bare witness, the whiteness is just a wash and although awash through my thoroughfares, I am thorough enough to apply colour where necessary.

I’m on the other side of submission and it feels pretty fairy. Glittery glissandos of generous abundance…dance, it always makes me feel better.

I still have a few final performance works to prepare before examination but the seriously hard yards are done.

When I think of this PhD journey I want to cry for the extended pain of rebirth, but without it I was withering, wasted and just a watered-down version of reality. Sometimes you gotta feels the feels to fully feel again.

Since submitting I had a few job interviews scheduled, but after the first one realised I already have created the beginnings of my dream-life. I’ve reset from colonised circuitry and am now whole as the Māori person my ancestors intended for. I didn’t go to the second interview but instead committed to the projects I am working on which excite and fill me with hope…suddenly I have been blessed with more work doing what I live for.

I have taken myself out for brunch…the rosé is delicious. One of the men I dated during the first part of my PhD always gave me shit for eating out by myself, but I enjoy my own company…I am a pleasure to be with.

And so as I order a second glass of wine and some fries because the eggs, bacon and mushrooms I ate will not sustain me for the amount of research words I need to progress today – I enjoy the wintery sun, I give thanks to my tūpuna. I give thanks to atua and I give thanks to the many tāngata who have helped me on this journey and am excited for all that is to come.

XXX

Nerves of steely heels

image

The weather has been warmer this week, although winter is nearing closer. I cast my mind back to the sweltering of Rarotonga…that was a time in my life I shall probably not forget, mostly because I did not enjoy being there at all.

The hostility of love when neither partner can fathom feelings, let them go and simply enjoy the surrounds. I can’t go back and change things though…maybe it’s all history forever.

I’d like to think not.

I’m fretting a little as a ready myself for a nighttime cigarette before an early night. I’ll be getting up early before the camera crew and interviewer arrive. Luckily I know the person interviewing me.

I’m a bit scared about opening up to a faceless audience, revealing my traumas. When I commit to talk story as research it’s always powerful. I definitely know my shit and I have aeons of ancestors within my throat, they can be heard in the resonance which bewitches. I lull minds to awaken with my talk-story voice…it’s ancient and lyrical.

But still, it’s me…people will watch their TVs and through the feature, people will know how fallable I am. I need to keep reminding myself I came back from the dead and have rewoven myself, and that’s a transformative tale to uplift others.

Sleep, sing songs of echoed anachronisms, like lullabys of words forgotten and out of their use by dates. Fates collide in the stillness of a body that sways between states.

Maketh me through mimicry, pretend my heart still beats, neatly folded away within layers of forgetting. The sun it rises and falls so slowly. I tamed it to give myself time to shine.

It’s all mine, a minefield of yielding but never stopping, bending but never ending. Begin again and again and again.

Otown news

image

Tears of sorrow, joyfully trace soothing rivers upon my cheeks. They are ancient memories, like glaciers melting that set the past free.

In the wee hours of the morning as the heavy fog sets auroras alogow, I alight into the mist…I must dance in the haze.

Amaze me, every days and all of the nights, set sights higher and envision peace amidst the screaming collision of worldy chaos.

Adiós my friend, I love you.

Yesterday was the first day of a funded two day media training workshop I applied to attend. It was intense but I enjoyed that I’ve become fluid and adept in an interview situation, even in front of a camera. Today I’ll pitch my PhD research to a panel of journalists. I already know it’s newsworthyness.

My PhD is filled with so much anguish, negative experience, abuse, trauma healing and beautiful love. It’s so me.

I’m about to let my research fly beyond gender binaries and barriers to good knowledge about sexual identity.  

Adiós my friend. I love you.