Saturday, 30 November 2013

Thoughts on Deception

It’s hard when you realise that someone isn’t who you thought they were. Sometimes you meet someone and you think there must be more to them but no they are exactly as they appear what you see is what you get. I’ve always thought that was a pretty good description of me but what I’ve realised is I’ve been fooling myself. You see the person who isn’t who I thought they were; it’s me.

I’ve not posted here for months. I’ve told myself that I don’t have time to write. Or that there’s nothing to write about, after all this is a travel blog and I’ve not done much travelling since I arrived in Wellington. I’ve been living with a terrible internet connection so uploading what I write is difficult so why bother writing. All perfectly plausible explanations and all bullshit. You see when I write I write from the heart. I’ve not just not been posting, I’ve not been writing and that means I’ve been hiding from something. Finally I’m ready to face that something.

Since arriving in Wellington I’ve been living a very normal life. I’ve been staying a hostel where there are a lot of long term guests so there’s not too much change in my circle of friends. I’ve got a steady job and tomorrow I’m moving in to a flat. I’ve been living a very normal life. I’ve put a lot of effort into it. A few weeks ago I had a melt down because I’ve been trying so hard not to miss Josh. Been trying to force myself to be interested in dating. Trying to be something that I thought I should be rather than just being who I am. I tried really hard but you can’t force grief, it sets its own timetable. So I found some calm in admitting that I still miss Josh. I miss our life and all that I lost when he died. I thought that was it but I still wasn’t writing then this morning it hit me.

I’m through with being reasonable and understanding. I don’t care if it’s not logical and not fair. Yes I have a great life now and I am thankful for it but he left me. He didn’t mean to, he didn’t want to and for years I’ve been saying that’s ok but it’s not. He left me and everything changed. In an instant everything I thought I knew and everything I had was gone. And I am angry. I am so angry. He left me. How could he do that do me?? I have a playlist that I listen to when I’m having a bad day. It’s got Avril Lavigne’s “So much for my happy ending” on it. I always thought that my anger when I listened to that song was directed at life but it’s not it’s at him. He LEFT me. He left me behind and went where I can’t follow. You can comment on this and tell me he didn’t mean to. You can tell me that it was a senseless accident and no-one’s fault. You can even tell me that he loved me and he didn’t want to go but I know all that. I can quote you reasonable until the cows come home but it doesn’t change how I feel. I am seriously pissed off.

We didn’t have it all and it wasn’t perfect but it was damn good and about as close as you can get. It felt so right and nothing has felt like that since he left. Nowhere really feels like home without him. There are times when I think I’m good. When I thing this time I’ve got it sussed but the thing is I don’t feel like me. I was finally comfortable with who I was. He loved me and it gave me so much more. You can tell me he still loves me that it’s not something that can be taken from me but I’m not the same person I was. I’m sure he’d love me even now, he was unwavering like that but it’s not the same. He’s not here to help me figure me out anymore. He left me to do it on my own. He left, he’s gone and I am so sad for all he’d missed and all he still has to miss but I’m angry too. And I’m allowed to be. Why didn’t he see that car? Why did he have to be him. Why did everything I loved about him have to be the things that led us to this place. Him god knows where and me here, alone.

He was my other half, ergo I am half. I feel incomplete without him. I hate that. I’m a person in my own right. I’m not defined by anyone else yet I feel it still, that hole. That ache in the stomach that I thought by now would be gone. Over four and a half years of missing him and the wrong song, a bad day, a stupid advert on TV and it all comes rushing back, the pain, the black hole in the pit of my stomach. I have a great life. I should be able to appreciate it. I shouldn’t still be dealing with this but I am, because he left. He was taken. However you phrase it he’s gone. Do I forgive him? No because deep down I know there is nothing to forgive. I know he didn’t want to go so I am sorry. I am sorry that I’m angry but like the sense of loss and pain I’ve learnt to live with this is something else I need to work through. And I’d say I’ve made a pretty good start, even if it did take me a while to get here.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Singapore: More than just shopping

Singapore day three and I once more I had no idea what to do. Having purchased a lens I couldn’t really afford the day before I wasn’t really in the mood to go shopping so what would I do? Well one thing I love to do is visit art galleries so maybe that would be the thing to do, or I had heard that Sentosa Island was worth a day trip not to mention taking the cable car to get there. In fact it turns out there is a lot more so Singapore than shopping, though should it ever become an Olympic sport I for one would not bet against them.

As it was a Saturday I figured the island would be busy place and it was the most expensive of my options so I quickly discounted it. Instead I settled on visiting the art museum. A new gallery is in the process of being built and I would dearly like to visit Sentosa so I shall have to return for another short visit one day. For this day though it was art and more photography.

The art museum was different again. It was small with varied exhibits that are probably classed as modern art yet had a more classical feel than what I usually associate with the label. I found myself appreciating the exhibits and paintings more than I usually would. Of course this feeling was possibly  helped by the number of photo opportunities they presented. I spent most of the afternoon there before heading to the Sands Resort. The Sands Resort is far too expensive for my backpacker budget but their infinity pool is the longest in the world (I think)  and very high up. Since the clever owners know that plebs cannot afford to stay they charge tourists to visit a cordoned off section known as the observation deck.

It was worth the money. I went up not long before sunset and got many photos before during and after. I didn’t check out the bar, instead once I had as many night photos as I thought could stand looking through later I returned to ground level to see the light show I had heard so much about. On my first night had seen the lasers from the resort and didn’t understand what the fuss was about; it was cool but nothing special. However from the observation deck I saw the real light show, I had been on the wrong side of the harbour before! Thankfully there are two showings every night so I managed to see the second from the right place this time. It was impressive. Three semi circular water fountains became shimmering screens which the different laser banks projected various images on to matching the music playing in the background. Since it was already dark after the nigh show I  set up my tripod and, with a little help from a fellow photographer, attempted a few night shots. Thanks to the tripod they actually turned out ok; yay for the tripod, a
worthwhile purchase even if it did turn out to be a rather expensive one!

It was late but I managed to get one of the last trains back to the hostel where since I was still hyped up from my photography session I finally uploaded the photos from my brothers wedding to Facebook, along with many many spelling/typing errors which my friends and family took great pleasure in commenting on. My advice is do not try write ‘witty’ comments on your photos when it’s late and you are still jetlagged. Still it was fun and a good end to yet another photography filled day.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Singapore And My SLR

The lack of good photos from my brother’s wedding made me determined to get back into my photography as soon as possible. Singapore is a vibrant city full of shops but I read that the botanical gardens were worth visiting so I decided to take Zack and my SLR for a day out. The metro was cheap and took me straight to the gardens which turned out to be extensive. Straight away I saw some decent shots and with some trepidation I took out my camera. The day was as humid as before and the lens fogged up but once it cleared I was able to capture the vine arches and even get a shot of Zack to start me off. I was just starting to get into the day when my battery died. This isn’t a problem as I always carry a spare except I couldn’t find it! The whole purpose of the day was to practice my photography with my SPR and all of a sudden it was nothing but dead weight.

I was really annoyed at myself for not checking that the spare was where it usually was. I soon rallied and decided to get some lunch and asses my options. Lunch revitalised me and I decided to walk round the park and find a good spot to read my kindle. After all why waste a beautiful day? I found a lake with benches and sat down to read but before long I spotted a turtle swimming towards me. In Australia turtle spotting was a bit of a hobby so I was delighted to see that he was not alone. Though my SLR was low on power I had my small camera. It was at the bottom of my bag as I hadn’t planned to use it and I thought it was just typical when my everything in my bag practically fell out but before I could get annoyed I noticed my spare battery! The day was back on track.

I spent the next few hours taking hundreds of shots using as many different setting as possible. As well as the multitude of turtles there were swans and other birds as well as of course the beautiful garden scenery. The weather held for most of the day but when the clouds started looking ominous I put away my SLR and headed for Orchard Street to check out the shops beyond my budget knowing that I wouldn’t be tempted.....Or so I thought. Before the expensive shops started I stopped by a more reasonably priced cafe for some cake and iced chocolate as my treat for the day.

As I walked past all the designer shops I realised that shopping could easily be a full time job here but I resisted until I was past the expensive shops. As I headed back into normal people territory I spotted a small camera shop where I thought I might venture in to purchase a tripod as I really wanted to get some decent night shots of the river and surrounding buildings. I found a cheap and compact tripod easily enough but before I could escape the sales lady was showing me a new lens. I am poor and I have no room I told her, but it is half price and small she insisted. Obviously I gave in and left even poorer but excited at having a new toy to play with.

I kept walking until I reached one of the shopping centres near the harbour where I found a cheap department store that had a perfect new rucksack. It had many pockets and would be far more convenient than my trusty one pouch bag that had lasted for more than two years of travelling and days trips. My camera, new tripod and lens fitted perfectly in the main pouch with room to spare for future lens purchases perhaps? The multiple pockets meant that as long as I could remember which pock held what I should be able to find my iPod, phone and purse ore easily on future day trips.

All that spending wore me out so instead of heading back to the harbour I returned to the hostel and editing my photographs from my brothers wedding. With some judicious cropping and an edit here and there I had more good shots than I had previously thought. Feeling rather please with myself I headed to bed looking forward to seeing what the next day would bring.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Singapore ArtScience

Though I only had a limited time in Singapore I was happy to take the days as they came. I loved not having to get up and not making any plans. The hostel provided a breakfast of toast and fruit until the middle of the afternoon so there was no hurry for me to get up and nowhere I needed to be.

My main impression of Singapore was that it’s a great place to visit if you want to shop. Everywhere I went there were shops and stalls and shopping centres. Even though I wasn’t too interested in shopping I was glad of the respite they provided from the high humidity of the city not to mention that where there are shops there is usually cake!

My first day in the city I started with a quick visit to china town but since I wasn’t looking to shop I had soon seen all I wanted to. I walked through the city until I reached the harbour where I enjoyed my first cake experience and used to free wifi to see what there was to do in the city other than shop. I discovered I was not far from the ArtScience museum, as a lover or both art and science I knew I had to visit. The building was an interesting shape which reminded me slightly of an American baseball glove. I later discovered that it was designed to look like an opening water lily and was a great feat of architecture, oops.

Inside I discovered there were two paid exhibitions and one floor that was free. Usually I’m all for the free but one of the exhibitions was for lego art and the other was an Egyptian mummy exhibit. I am interested in ancient Egypt but would have given it a miss as I have seen quite a few exhibits in the last three years. Fortunately I couldn’t resist the lego art exhibition and it wasn’t that much more expensive to go to them both so I though what the hell and bought my tickets.

I started with the mummies and was glad I had decided to give it a chance. Before the exhibit we were shown a short 3D film which was surprisingly rather good. The exhibit was well spaced out with the information on the exhibits interesting without being too overwhelming. They even had a room set up to explain the mummification process and I especially enjoyed finding out about the mummy who was mummified with a bowl on his head. The experts think that the bowl used to collect excess fluids was accidently left in place and got stuck over night. There are marls that showed attempts had been made to remove it indicating it was not meant to be there. I do hope the poor people who left it there were never found out as am sure their punishment would have been very harsh. I still find it creepy to think there are dead people inside all those and ages but I like seeing the everyday artefacts and learning about such a different culture.

The real highlight of my day was the lego art exhibit. I found myself looking at the and thinking that anyone could have done what the artist had done but that only he had the vision to see it. Though I’m not sure most people would have the patience as some of the pieces took him months to complete. As well as enjoying the art I found myself agreeing with his descriptions of his pieces and his inspiration. He too once had a proper job and gave it up to follow a love of something very different. I was amazed at his vision and the things he managed to portray with multicoulred bricks and nothing else.


After taking many photographs and placing Zack in various stupid places I decided it was time to head back to the hostel. Though I was happy to take it easy I thought that maybe I would try get up a little earlier the next day but my good intentions were foiled by the beautiful night skyline. I did my best to capture it with my small camera but soon realised I would have to return with my SLR another night.

Once back at the hostel it was time to start going through the many wedding photos to see if I had managed to get many decent shots. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few good ones but frustrated at how my lack of experience had messed up some including the first dance. Also I soon realised I had failed to get any of the groom with his parents. I that was one shot I the professional photographer had got so I knew they’d have some but I wished I had managed to get a few during the reception as well.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Thoughts on The Aftermath

For me it's always afterwards that the grief sinks it's claws in. The days following my brother's wedding were hard for me. My parents generously paid for hotel rooms for us so I could see both them and my brother as much as possible before I left the country again. I am not proud of the fact I was not appreciative of this at first. I felt awkward accepting so much from them when I give so little. I felt awkward staying in a place where up until then all my memories included Jonathan and sadly I hated being served by someone who could have been him fourteen years ago.

Despite all this I enjoyed my time there. I got to see my in-laws and spend the whole afternoon and evening with my brother before I left. I hadn't realised how much that would mean to me as we're not exactly close. I'm too withdrawn and far away for us to be in daily of weekly contact but we do care deeply for one another. Spending time with him and his wife so soon after they were married was a true gift which was only possible due to my mother persistence. I won't say much but I will say I made my mother unhappy which I deeply regret. It is something I vowed not to do when I left for Australia the last time and I regretted breaking that vow, especially when she was trying so hard to be supportive. I was determined not to be so selfish and yet here I was hurting the one person I could always rely on. She called me on it and I apologised and since she is my mother she forgave me.

I mention this for two reasons. One I want to publically acknowledge that my mother was right and that I was a spoilt brat and I am deeply sorry I hurt her. The other is that she called me on it. She treated me like a grown-up who has to take responsibility for her actions and that makes me happy. No more am I treated as something fragile. Yes they know I hurt but now I am strong enough to take responsibility for my actions and to have to account for it when I do not.

As for the hotel, when we checked in it was full a place full of memories I had never had to confront yet when I left it was just another, not very great, hotel. I won't go back by choice but if I had to then I could and it would just be another place we used to go like so many more that already exist. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Footloose and Fancy Free

Well my brother and his wife were tied together forever in the nicest of ways but I was still footloose and fancy free. In the days following the wedding I managed to have lunch with my in-laws and dinner with my family and my sister-in-laws parents and spend the whole afternoon and evening with the newly-weds. Now usually I wouldn't intrude but since I was heading out of the country I was glad to have to opportunity to spend time with them before travelling again. We took our cameras to a local small zoo and turned them on the unsuspecting animals and plants and occasionally each other. It wasn't all roses but that's a different post but in the end I am glad that I had that time and I was sad to leave everyone behind. I was not sad to leave the weather. It had been awful for my short visit home and I was delighted that I would soon be back in the tropics.


Instead of the usual quick stop over I decided to follow the example of many before me and stay in Singapore for a few days and I wasn't disappointed. As soon as I stepped off the plane I felt the familiar heat and humidity and I couldn't wait to get in to my old outfit of shorts, skirts and light tops. I caught a shuttle bus to my hostel, I vaguely remembered that there was public transport but as I had been without internet for a few days I wasn't sure so thought the shuttle bus would be the easiest way to get there. On arriving I discovered one of my roommates was an English girl who was only there for one night. Her friend had recommended a great restaurant in little India which turned out to be as good as promised an very reasonable after my exposure to Australian prices. After dinner though I was tired it was still to early to sleep so she suggested we grab a beer and take in the local scene whilst attempting to battle the jet lag. I'm not much of a beer drinker but I am glad I developed a slight taste for it recently as cider seemed to be an unknown in Singapore. The beer was light and cold and the company was great making my introduction to Singapore a chilled night but still one to remember.

Though I would have enjoyed exploring with her the next day I knew she would be up early as she only had one day to explore the city. I guess in a way I'm out of practice at being a tourist or maybe it was the jet lag or maybe it was the events of the last month catching up with me but whatever it was I was exhausted. I slept the morning away but woke up feeling refreshed and ready to see what this new city had to offer. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Thoughts on Attending my Brothers Wedding

As you can imagine this was an extremely emotional day made even more so because of the absence of the man I love. It frustrates me that my joy at even the happiest of occasions is dimmed by the knowledge that he is not there sharing them with me. I've never been one for crowds yet with him by my side I felt I could do anything. I still don't like crowds yet now it is the memory of him that gives me the courage to face them . Sadly on this most important day my courage failed. Thankfully I had both of my families on hand, not to mention my mother best friend, to keep an eye on me and give me safe haven. I stayed close and only ventured as far as my cousins table when I was feeling brave enough to attempt social. As a youngster I was chronically shy and though I did not retreat in to full teenage mode I found the whole day slightly overwhelming. As much as my friend's wedding years ago made me sad I had not given our families this day my brother made me happy for me that I had not been faced with it.

I am glad the day was everything my brother and his bride wanted but for me I was happy behind my camera recording what I could. I was content to speak to those who knew me well and would understand my awkwardness as part of my nature not an intent to be rude. I was glad I could hide amongst the familiar in a setting that was so unfamiliar to me. See I am not so brave. I face the unknown on a regular basis. I will jump off bridges, out of planes, dive the deepest oceans and go into the unknown without a missed heartbeat if I can. I will travel on my own, make friends as I go and trust that somehow life will all work out. But ask me to go to a big social gathering and participate and well, it's not as bad as spiders but I'd rather take the high jump. I'm just not good with crowds, never have been. In my line of work I can fake it and I can deal with them when I have to but when my emotions were so mixed and so deep on this day that it was just too much. Thankfully sister of the groom when the bride has a sister is the easiest job on the planet. Turn up, get your photo taken, in my case do a reading. I wouldn't have missed that day for anything and I am glad I have reached a point where I could participate to some extent but I can't help but wonder.....If he had been here would I have done better? Could I have done more? And if the answer is yes does that make what I did any less?

The fact is he wasn't there. I did my best. I missed a few dances and at the end of the night I went home alone, to an unfamiliar bed where, thanks to the thoughtfulness of my mother, I had his jumper, my stuffed dog and a brand new laptop to work out my feeling on. The next morning I discovered the joy of creating bubble]y mouthwash when you try use toothpaste as mouthwash (I had forgotten my toothbrush) try it, it's awesome fun. I had breakfast with my family and I tried not to hurt because he wasn't there. Maybe I shouldn't have tried, maybe if I had let someone in and shared my pain then it wouldn't have been so obvious but then hindsight is a wonderful thing. All I can hope is that my sadness didn't diminish anyone else's happiness. That when it mattered the most I came through. And if it didn't well I tried. I tried my best and I am proud because I know my best is so much more than it was even one year ago. Most of all I hope that the bride and groom had a fabulous day, that they didn't think of me too much (I'd say not at all but that's just not them) and that they will always be as happy as they looked that day. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Reason For Going Home aka Big Brothers Wedding Day

Finally the day had arrived for my big brother to become a married man. The bride looked gorgeous in a dress that suited her like it had not only been made for but designed for her as well. My brother scrubbed up not too badly but most importantly they looked so happy and in love anytime they were together. It was an short but emotional ceremony. I was slightly terrified as they asked me to do a reading which in the end I wrote myself. Now I hate public speaking and there were 120 odd people there but this was something I desperately want to do and do right for my brother and his bride. I was so proud of them both and proud to be able to share in their special day. Well I messed up a little but the emotion and feeling were understood I think so I got away with the odd missed word, shaking and very wobbly voice.

Next came the photos where I entertained myself my taking photos of the photos being taken and stealing the odd nip of rum or whisky from the obliging grooms men. Only to help keep me warm you understand, after all it was a chilly day. Eventually the photographer was done and it was my turn. Oh not with the bride and groom, they still had a long way to go with the professionals, I headed back to the venue and got my SLR out to see what I could do with it before dinner.

I had great fun wandering round the venue recording the details of the day, flowers waiting to be gifted, a rather unique ceiling and of course the tables once they were set. Oh of course friends and family who were foolish enough to stand still long enough for me to take a snap. Once we were the wedding party arrived back at the hall and we were all seated it was time for the speeches. Now at least during the grooms speech I had an advantage. I had been allowed a sneak preview that morning when I had gone round for a cup of tea and to collect my flower. I knew who to aim my camera at and I was braced for the mention of Jonathan and who he was missed. Even with preparation I still had to raise my camera when the attention was once more on me as my brother informed the hole gather that I had written the reading I had stumble through earlier that day. I'm sure I looked strange snapping at that moment but when in doubt take a photo is my motto and I'm sticking with it. The same practice save me a few times that night. As happy as I was to be there and as delighted as I was for my brother and his new wife the absence of my love was keenly felt at times. During the second dance when I knew I should have been on the floor I had no-one to dance with, thankfully I was able to get some good arty shots from a hand balcony instead. And during a particular wedding favourite which for some reason the band sing of love lost instead of happily ever, after as I would expect at a celebration of love, I retreated once more. Mostly though I managed to remember that it was night for celebrating what was and joined in, which was rather easier once I swapped my pretty heals for less pretty but infinitely more comfortable flats!  I even managed to steal a quick part-dance each with the bride and groom towards the end of the evening.

I am proud to say that I was among the last to leave. I walked with the bride and groom to the hotel across the road where we met the brides family. I may not have been in the best condition but I did think it would be nice to join them for a quick drink as I knew so little about them. Soon though the day really was over and it was time for bed. It had been an emotional day but I am glad to say mostly for all the right reasons. The day had been a celebration of my brother and his new wife's love and I wouldn't ave missed it for anything. It was without a doubt, a day worth coming home for.