Last week was kind of a busy one for me, final week of summer school and all that. I had an exam on Thursday for which I had to write four essays, prepared in advance so the pressure was higher; once that was over, I took a couple of hours off before I had to turn straight to the final essay and catch up on notes for my other paper. The final essay alone was 50%. Meanwhile, on Saturday we were attending a cultural festival in the inner city east where we had a stall for us weavers and sold our small work (putiputi mostly) cheap out of respect to the demographics of the area. Even with prices probably half of what they should have been, even a little less, we made a staggering $175. We’ll be setting up a bank account to funnel the money straight back into our mahi, paying for dyes and petrol for road trips for when we want to harvest outside of the city. (In April, we plan to take a trip to Kaikoura.)
The day after my essay was due we had our usual weaving class at Te Awa o te Ora, which was somewhat overshadowed by the budgeting guy who’s coming in at the moment to patronise to everyone. I mean, budgeting advice, that’s hella useful, but this guy… To fully understand, the demographics of this place are: mostly Māori. Mostly mentally ill or intellectually handicapped in some way. Mostly on either the sickness or disability benefit. Things he talked about included how expensive it is to run a car and how no one on welfare had one in 1974 (duh, a lot less people in GENERAL had them, and very few people in the room have one NOW) and the fourth item on his template budgeting spreadsheet was repayment of debts to WINZ. Because beneficiaries, you know. He also told us all about how if you have four or five different debts to WINZ you can consolidate them and repeated several times that if you spend over a hundred dollars a week on cigarettes they’ll probably tell you to cut down. If anyone even vaguely knows of anyone on a benefit that spends half their income on cigarettes I’d love to hear about it because seriously, how would they ever cover the rest of their bills? He also talked about how to make extra income, like collecting cans to recycle and selling spare assets on TradeMe, getting a job, and talked quite a bit about how people dump furniture on the footpath and you can pick that up instead of buying new. You know what you need for that? A car. With a towbar. And a trailer. You know, the thing you told us all was so expensive to run.
Anyway, enough of that. Once he’d gone, I started work on a kete that I’ve had the whenu waiting for for ages, and my sister came up with a name for our group: Putiputi Whetu. I have all the course materials for next semester (ie, Monday) as of today, so I’m ready for that. I have I think one week left of work. And tomorrow is That Day.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do with myself tomorrow. Maybe sit around and play games. Catch up on tv. Drink. Bake and eat cake. Move rabbit cages around. Or sit online wallowing with everyone else. We haven’t had any repairs yet aside from patching up the roof where the chimney fell through, but the waste water works outside have been fucking up everything for the last couple of months and we had the asbestos testers in yesterday. EQC says we’re under cap. Insurance thinks we’re over. When repairs eventually start we’ll move out for (they say) two months, so probably a lot longer. Depending when that happens, it’s possible that I might as well fuck off to Wellington. A bunch of schools have just been announced really for real this time as definitely closing (sorry, “merging” still means one is closing), including several that have had very recent upgrades and new buildings done and the government is being caught lying about pretty much everything.
Painted on a bare wall in the city centre
Amidst the shards of glass
& twisted steel
Beside the fallen brick
& shattered concrete
we began to understand
that there is beauty in the
Strangers do not live here
I’m not sure how long that poem’s been up but I’ve walked past it before. I took that photo yesterday (after noticing the way the bottles rattled as I walked the aisles at Bin Inn, and the traffic lights swayed in the wind as I leaned against one waiting to cross the road) and the last line’s been stuck in my head. In some ways I think it’s no longer true – the initial pulling together of the community has long since worn off – but in others it is. Everyone’s pretty broken around here, going through similar things.