Libertine in Dreams

life in e-motion


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Dad

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Today marks one year since my Father passed away.

One year since I last saw him.

It’s been one year since I last heard his voice.

A year since I last patted his head; last brushed his cheek and last felt the warmth fade slowly from his hand.

I still can’t quite believe he is gone.
We used to joke that he would be around forever to torment us with his endless chatter. That even if he fell ill and was bedridden; even if he couldn’t walk or went blind; that he would still be talking endlessly, and that would be our punishment for all the times we were unkind to him or spoke badly about him. We used to laugh about it and say he would outlive us all, just to spite us.

I wish it was true.

One year on, and I can’t count how many times I’ve wished to seek his counsel.
We clashed and disagreed all the time, but no one’s advice was more important to me than my Father’s.

All his words of wisdom have seen fruition. Especially his advice on love – “No one will love you until you learn to love yourself”.
Also, “Renate, find yourself a palagi to marry. You will have an easier life because Samoan men will only cause problems and bring pain. Faakoa e iloa lae fai le koalua i le aso a le lua faaipoipoga a e alu aku le solo a le fafige ma le fagau.” (“You will only know about his wife when she shows up on your wedding day with his children in tow”). How right he was.

Someone said to me that I have to remember all the good and forget the bad.
I have considered this at length and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s an impossible ask.
Perhaps with the passage of time, a dulling of senses will render all my memories rosy. But for now, all reflections of my Father are definitely not rosy. I still hold his memory up to the light and inspect the many flaws and broken pieces.
I cannot sanctify him, even in death. That is not who he was, and it is not who he will be when I tell my children and my grandchildren of their Papa.
I will speak truly of the good, the bad, the ugly and the love. This honesty is his greatest gift to me and one I hold on to the tightest as I make my way through this life.

It’s the little things that catch me offguard.
The sound of his truck pulling in to the driveway. I still expect to see him getting out of the driver’s side and walk in to the house with his plastic bags of goodies, complaining about his workers or rejoicing at a good deal he got for his vegetable haul.

I still complain in to thin air when I find a dirty dish on the counter and for a split-second I convince myself he left it there.

I still expect to see him sitting at our round dinner table, looking outside or off in to space – deep in thought.

I have been counting down to this day for months. It has become a life beacon, of sorts.
For some time now, I have convinced myself that I just need to get to the one year mark and beyond that, I would be okay.

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So here I sit, on the beach at Tafatafa (one of Dad’s favourite places) and I am thinking about the future.
Will I be okay? Will my Mother be okay? My brothers? My sister?  I think of my nephews who loved their Papa so much, and I am sad that he won’t see them go off in to the world – to conquer and follow their dreams.

The truth is we haven’t been the same since he left.
I have not been the same.
Every feeling is more acute. Every experience is felt for what it is. Every person is held accountable.
I also see my Mother with different eyes – the eyes of someone who has accepted that one day it will be her turn, and then mine.

Perhaps it’s a morbid way to live, but it helps.

So what of the future?
Can I build on the legacy he has left behind in all of us?
Can I make him proud? Can I take care of my Mother in his absence?
I don’t know for sure. But I take all the lessons – good and bad – with me.  I hold them close and use them on my journey.

I’m grateful for the years I had with my Father, and I’m grateful for having the opportunity to learn from such an interesting, brilliant, infuriating, insightful person.
I hope to make him proud in the years ahead, and despite my disillusions and wavering belief system – I hope to see him again one day.

I miss you, Dad.

RR xx

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Before

Before I lose the fullness of lips,
The softness of curves,
The quickness of heartbeat,
The light in my eyes

Before I shed the delicate husk of a lover’s pout,
Before your eyes see through me,
Before my blood runs cold,
Before the sigh you inspire leaves my lips,

Before now is then,
Before


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finding a new way

Love Is Unselfish

First Corinthians 12:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I’ve been soul-searching of late, and someone suggested I read some scripture for guidance and peace of mind.

I’m not someone who usually quotes from the Bible, but I thought I could do with a different approach.

My usual approach is one of healthy skepticism.  A devil’s advocate, if you will.
But as satisfying as it has been to gain the higher ground; to find myself in the right most of the time, there is a pervasive emptiness that keeps loving relationships and lasting happiness out of my reach.

So here I find myself, on a Wednesday afternoon, reading scripture online and trying to decide if I can bring myself to accept the wisdom therein.

The first one I connect to is one of the most well-known, and oft-quoted:
First Corinthians 12: 4-8.
My favourite part of it – “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Perhaps it’s because I currently find myself wrestling with emotions of that nature.
Of sacrifice, of belief in someone other than myself, of placing myself at the mercy of someone else.  Of enduring all things.

My Dad always used to say, no man is an island.
He would say this when my stubbornness prevented me from engaging in a healthy father-daughter relationship with him.  I could never just let it be, let him be.  I could never just leave anything alone or enjoy our time together.  I always had to be right.
I resented everything he said that was contrary to what I believed, as I believed what I believed and that was that.

Hubris.  It will fuck you up.

It’s taken me a long time to accept that my ego has brought me as much pain as it has opportunity.

And as I find myself surrounded by empty seats and lost connections, it’s been humbling, no, humiliating, to have to accept that if I want anything to change, it must begin with me.

So here I am, googling scripture on a Wednesday afternoon, trying to find something that connects me to something more than my beloved life truths.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Endures all things.

This is what I need right now.  To put my faith in what I have in my heart.  It’s real, and it comes from me.

I don’t know if it’s enough to repair relationships and friendships I may have lost, but it’s a good start for repairing my relationship with myself and those still left around me.
So here goes nothing..

 


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Magifezo

Okay, for those who care about local politics and the upcoming Elections and are interested in the differences between the ruling party (HRPP) and the Opposition (Tautua Samoa), I’ve attached the two Manifestos below – as released by each party this month.

General Elections are next week, so if you are still unsure what each party stands for and what they plan to do for the next five years – now’s the time to do your research.  As expected, the media is covering every aspect of the pre-election buzz and the verbal jousting is going back and forth through the radio programs and press conferences.
What a time to be alive!

I’ve gone through both Manifestos and I have my own opinions.  I won’t share them in this post as I only wanted to share the documents themselves, as I realise that many people simply rely on the media analysis and cherry pick what they deem to be important.

So here’s your chance to check it all out – directly from each political party.

Happy reading 🙂

ps – No, you’re not confused. There is only one page for Tautua. That’s what was provided to the media at their launch.


 

Tautua Samoa Manifesto

HRPP Anavatau SAMOAN

HRPP Manifesto ENGLISH


 

 


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Relax, Renate. Relax.

I’ve been away from the office for almost two weeks now.

At one of the busiest times too (General Elections around the corner).

Oh I didn’t want to take time off. I was forced to.

You see, I’m one of those stubborn people who will keep going because ‘mind over matter’ and as long as the heart is willing then everything else should follow suit. i.e. I refuse to accept that I am merely a sack of human frailty and ought to take care of myself instead of pretending I’m a robot.

Two weeks ago we had the Samoa National Kidney Foundation team in to our office to give everyone a health check. The basics like cholesterol, sugar and blood pressure tests. I was rushing around as usual and forgot about it so I went later than everyone. I took my folder of work to do while I sat and waited to be tested. Work has been hectic and I have to take advantage of any spare moments to clear off my To Do List.

I take the first test, Diabetes.

This one makes me nervous and I wait for the gentleman testing me to drop the bomb. I’m SURE I have diabetes. It’s in my family and I know my way around insulin and the sugar pills.

So there I am, trying to joke with the man testing me but inside I’m an utter wreck. I’m expecting to hear 18 or 20.

“5.3, that’s good”

I’m gobsmacked. I don’t have a sweettooth, but neither did my Dad and he succumbed to diabetes. A feeling of elation brings me back from the darkness. I’m beaming away and boasting to my colleagues who are waiting for their checks.

I’m told to collect my own urine and await the next test.

I do it. I realise I haven’t used the bathroom all day because I’ve not drunk any water nor have I eaten. I then remember that the first pee of the morning is optimal for pregnancy tests. Not sure why that popped in to my head, but it’s there, and I eventually begin to daydream about my children and passing on my superior, non-diabetic genes to them.

I return with my jar of yellow fluid. The gentleman testing it tells me I have elevated levels of something or other. I don’t understand him and for a moment I take stupid pride in being uniquely elevated. It’s then explained to me that I have high cholesterol.

Great. My love of butter and cheese is coming back to haunt me (I’m someone who zaps a chunk of cheese in the microwave and eats it with a fork).

I am taken to the next test for blood pressure.

I’ve always had low blood pressure. Even during the years I was a heavy smoker. The doctors could never explain it, and I was told several times that it was too low.

Not this time.

This time the machine shows a reading that raises the eyebrows of the lady working the machine.

She shakes her head and resets the machine.

“Is that high?” I ask.
“Yes it’s a bit high” she says, rather kindly.

Now they want to take a reading with me standing up.

They try and fail six more times. I ask her what’s happening and she said the machine can’t read my blood pressure.

It’s so fucking high the machine can’t zero in on it.

After a few more attempts, she eventually tells me to go sit in a corner and try to relax.

At this point I am anything BUT relaxed. I’m starting to freak out a little bit. When did this high blood pressure creep in? When did my body go from invincible youth to the aches and pains of middle-agedom? When did I get OLD?? I can’t remember the transition, and I sure as hell don’t appreciate the change.

I sit and ponder my mortality and sink deeper and deeper in to despair. Is my life over?

Will I now meet the same fate as my father? I didn’t have as much fun in life as he did so now I’m getting angry. It probably doesn’t help the blood pressure but I can’t help myself – must blame him one last time for something.

After twenty minutes, I go back and the machine still doesn’t take a reading. Three times we try. No luck.

At this point I’ve written my own eulogy, and make the silent decision to do whatever I want with whomever I want because I probably only have 30 days to live. Obviously.

I try to clear my mind and relax while she keeps trying. Eventually I hear her say she’s got it. And now it’s even higher than before.

Brilliant.

I now move to the line that takes me to the Doctor who will explain all the tests. I use this opportunity to go through my folder of stuff to do and manage to clear a few items off the list.

I get to the doctor and he basically tells me I should be having a stroke with my blood pressure readings. I sit there numbly and dumbly while he explains what to do and the next steps.

And they are to go to another doctor and get some pills so I can stay alive long enough to change my lifestlye.

Awesome.

I start to cry because…. I don’t know. I feel like life is a sham and stressing over work and responsibilities is truly a waste of anyone’s life.

I start to ask myself why. Why? Why care so much about my job and making people happy? Why care so much to do a good job and make the effort to be honest and go the extra mile for the benefit of someone else. Why? What am I doing this for? It is literally killing me to be this way.

So after my teary moment with the doctor I exeunt stage right and go straight to my office to stare out the window.

Existential-deep-thoughts-mode activated.

Co-workers come in and try to talk to me but at this point I’m in la la land. I just can’t worry anymore.

All the stress and drama and scheming and backstabbing of recent weeks and months has taken a physical toll on me and I can’t take it anymore.
I go home early (4pm).

The next morning I go to another doctor and he confirms it all. He prescribes me some pills (yuck, I loathe) and says I need to calm the fuck down.

I go and take more blood tests and buy my pills from the hospital (it’s very efficient and cool in there. Props to MOH for a smooth operation). Despite the usual hiccup of the blood test taking forever because of my shy veins, it was a stress-free undertaking and I was back at work by mid-morning.

By the time I got there the whole office was looking at me with pity. They all knew about my situation.

Just great. It felt like that scene in Dead Man Walking where the guy is a dead man walking.

I don’t like to show weakness so I was most unhappy that my colleagues knew I was one burst blood vessel away from a floral funeral arrangement from them all. But if it means they might understand the results of their actions and the load of work facing management (because they think it’s a walk in the goddamned park) then maybe I can accept some of their pity. For the team.

After the quiet shuffling outside my door was too much, I decided to talk to them and everyone had the same advice for me – find a husband.

“He will share your stress and you won’t suffer as much.”

These people have less white hair than me so maybe there’s something in this ridiculousness.
Five years ago I would have screamed bloody murder at such a suggestion. But 2016 Renate is seriously considering the wisdom behind such words.

I mean, maybe they’re right.

When I was coupled up, it was nice to have someone to rant to and be a cry baby to.

Not forgetting the magical nocturnal and sometimes diurnal de-stressing techniques of couples.

That helped. A LOT.

So instead of dismissing their comments as simplistic nonsense, I dismissed it as unrealistic nonsense because I don’t know where one would even go to get a husband. Is there a market? Can I buy one?

I decided to take some time off and my boss agreed with me. He even hugged me. Yikes.

So now it’s been two weeks of eating, sleeping and pleasure-seeking activities.

Honestly, I’m bored AF. But I am enjoying the down time because I don’t think I’ll have another break until Christmas.

Unless there’s a new government after elections… I’d probably be out of a job so there’ll be plenty of time to relax and tend to my garden of weeds.

If I’ve learnt anything in the past months and weeks, ignoring your mental health is a recipe for a major health disaster.

I absolutely MUST take time out every week for “me” activities and relaxation. I need to find ways to decompress. I have to socialise. I have to try new things. I have to leave my house more often!

I have to give myself some room to breathe.

Basically, I have to learn to let things go from time to time.
If you know me, you’ll know this is a big ask for me.

So anyway, that’s my tale for today.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, I urge you to step away from it all for a short while.

Your responsibilities will always be there.

Your family will still be there when you return.

The work will always remain.

You are not the only person who can do anything.
Take care of yourself first and you can take care of everything else after.

A huge thank you to the team at SNKF who provided a great service to our office and caught a few of us who were on the brink of disaster. Your work is truly appreciated.

If anyone out there wants to get a health check, please contact the Samoa National Kidney Foundation and have yourself tested for these common lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

So now all I have to do is find myself a husband… 😉


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New office neuroses

My office recently relocated floors in our building.
My office is now sharing an office with another office.
I am now breathing the same, reconditioned air as ten other people within five square meters and I tell you – it’s not doing my face any favours.  I look like the loose ends of a hobo’s ass.

What I discovered on the sticky floor and damaged walls of my new office:

  • Some lovely used cotton buds, complete with gooey yellow ear wax.
  • A few toothpicks fashioned from paper clips and match sticks.
  • A line of industrious worker ants, chipping away at food scraps that have fallen from the mouths of chimpanzees.
  • Curtains that have been used as napkins and handkerchiefs.
  • Windows that haven’t seen a splash of Windex or even the moist breath of an honest soul.
  • The salty taste of vindictiveness in the air.
  • Moult from a shape-shifting opportunist.
  • and Bible quotes glued to the wall.

I miss my quiet office, with nary a light-fingered soul to be seen for miles.
I miss being surrounded by smaller amounts of bullshit.
I miss the promise of not being interrupted every 10 mins for a new toilet roll or a tin of milk powder because the milk powder given just yesterday was consumed by the milk powder gremlin.
I miss walking in to my office at my optimal performance time of 9am-ish instead of the 9am time the attendance book monitor expects of me.
I miss staring out the window, deep in thought about what I want for lunch, instead of staring out the window, deep in thought about the exact number of bones I would break if I leapt out the window.

I’ve resorted to streaming classical music to relax.

Okay, here’s hoping next week doesn’t turn me in to a raging tyrant.


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Second Letter to the Editor

18 February 2015

Editor of the Samoa Observer
PO Box 1972
APIA

Dear Editor,

Re: “If you want advice Rivers, ask your boss Tuilaepa. He knows.”

I thoroughly enjoyed and was greatly amused by your lengthy diatribe in today’s Observer.
If I was easily cowed and unsure of my own mind, I would have been shamed by your public chastisement.  Luckily for me, I have been blessed with a strong and independent spirit, and I don’t scare easily.
Respectfully, I don’t need to ask the Prime Minister for his advice on this matter because this woman is capable of thinking and speaking for herself.
I won’t resort to personal attacks, because I have too much respect for you as a wizened wordsmith and an embattled media sage (and also because it’s not my style).  However if you would be so kind, I would like to address a few of your comments:
1. Like most Government offices, yes, my office is tax-payer funded.  And to a great extent, so is yours.  Where do you think the POs come from to pay for all those Government ads in the Observer?  That is tax-payer money:  yours AND mine.
2.  In reference to: “For someone who’s just barged in…..as if she’s Tuilaepa’s gift to the media.”  Well, thank you.  I’ve never considered myself to be a gift.  But now that you mention it, you might as well enjoy my presence.
3.  No one is forcing the Observer to print what you consider to be “page filler” Press Releases from Government.  And by Government, I am referring to any informational release from any Ministry, Authority, Corporation etc.  If you believe their work is not worthy of your “free” publicity, then you are well within your rights to decline them in place of your own news items.  Far be it for any Government agency to clutter your paper with what you deem to be “trash” such as national development news, community projects, educational programmes, health initiatives etc etc etc.  It may not be the “hard news” you prefer, the kind that guarantees your newsprint to sell out, but in my most humble opinion – it’s valuable and important information for the greater community who deserve more than the latest titillating, sensational headline.

Whilst you have made your feelings very clear in today’s editorial devoted entirely to me, I’ll tell you now that it doesn’t faze me.  At all.
I will remain a loyal servant to the public and continue to go about fulfilling my duties.  And to reiterate, those duties include clarifying some of the misinformation or worse, disinformation, put out there as ‘news’ about Government.  After all, that was the onus of my letter to your office from 15/02/15 – to clarify that my office did not request the Observer to “hold your presses”, as your newspaper erroneously claimed.

To wrap – I consider you all colleagues, and yes that means the Observer’s reporters too.  I know them all, and they know me.
My office serves many other media organisations.  The Observer is but one.

Here’s wishing you an unceasingly prosperous 2015, Savea.  May you continue to show us your wise, patient and profound thoughts in your editorials, for years to come.

Faithfully yours,

Renate Rivers