Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: A Thought Went Up My Mind To-day

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  • Amy Gale,

    We laugh now, but at the time I was genuinely traumatized by the suggestion that I might not be able to make proper friends. That's no small thing to tell someone who's just left everyone they know on the other side of the planet.

    It being high summer, I was also rather alarmed by the indication that Americans showered "every day". Only once? Ew.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Excess baggage fees are still cheaper than any other mechanism for moving large amounts of your stuff quickly to where you want it.

    Uh, that was also true locally. So I'm told. No tears involved.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Bevan Shortridge,

    Grace Dalley wrote:

    It's hard to imagine what life was like when infant mortality was so high. Nowadays the death of a child is a rare tragedy; what must it have been like for families to expect to lose a number of children?

    There seem to have been different ways of remembering children who had died. My great grandparents had ten children, with son and one daughter died young. In my grandparents house was a cast in what seemed to be marble of a baby's face, which I was told was a child who had died. There was also a photograph taken of an older boy's face. I thought he was sleeping in the photograph until I was told that it was taken after he had died (this had happened in 1889). Much later I read an account of a visitor to the household who described my great grandfather's grief over the death of his (then) only son which had recently occured. The two who died had later born siblings who were given the same names. Another way of remembering them perhaps?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 122 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Grief hasn't changed but the way we deal with it seems to be very different from even our parents. My Dad's second daughter died when she was three. I never even thought of him as a bereaved parent until about 6 months before his death, when we talked about her, and how he had dealt with it. He told me he was lucky because he was able to go to work. That stopped me in my tracks for some reason. I found it so poignant, so heart breaking, that your child dies, and you deal with it by just going to work every day, and never talking about her. Maybe things aren't so different after all.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Also: clothes-shopping is pretty cheap over here, if you need to supplement your stuff. It's also really quite boring.

    QFT.

    Don't despair too much, though. Interesting places can be found, eventually, though they may be interesting in ways that differ from your traditional favourites. (Will anyone sell you a pair of gigantic Wellington-style trousers? Not as far as I can tell.) You'll also always have trips home, plus a ready answer whenever anyone asks what you want for your birthday.

    Oh, you know what else? Blundstones (assuming you like them). They are extremely convenient in winter when you are continually putting on and taking off shoes as you move between indoors and outdoors. It's not that they are unavailable here, but they are priced as a luxury fashion item rather than a pragmatic work choice.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I found it so poignant, so heart breaking, that your child dies, and you deal with it by just going to work every day, and never talking about her. Maybe things aren't so different after all.

    He sounds very pragmatic. Working probably is a very good way of dealing with that kind of loss. Inaction can lead down the path of depression and despair really fast. And talking about it, whilst a very good solution for some problems, might simply be impossible when the grief is too powerful. At least when you work you are typically surrounded by and interacting with humanity, and your mind gets respite from dark thoughts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Oh, that pamphlet is fun!

    This direct approach to people sometimes leads to difficulties for Americans when dealing with people who come from cultures where such directness is considered offensive or insulting.

    Huh. I think Americans are quite oblique and indirect when you compare them with New Zealanders. Or perhaps that's just me.

    khakis, khakis, and more khakis

    Do *not* even get me started on this. I have bitched about it for over a decade to anyone who will listen. It's like they're all in some sort of cult.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    The two [children] who died had later born siblings who were given the same names. Another way of remembering them perhaps?

    A set of three names repeated on successive lines of a headstone caught my eye in an old cemetery a few years ago - this in Stafford, essentially a ghost town formerly gold mining on the West Coast. They died in 1877 aged 21 months, and 1881 aged 3 years, daughters of Richard John and Louisa Jane Seddon of Kumara.

    The initial eye-catching part for me had been one of their given names, Youd, being the distinctive maiden name of one of my great-great-grandmothers from Lancashire. And indeed, on further enquiries, I find she and 'King Dick' RJ Seddon were second cousins.

    I've found only an inaccurate single line on these daughters and their deaths in the Seddon biographies, but through the marvel of Papers Past have picked up a little more. The first Catherine drowned in a water race close to their Seddon Street home in Kumara. Three hours were allowed for the funeral procession from home to cemetery 15 km away - it would be more a brisk than funereal-paced walk even if the roads were good. From the dates and more specific ages Louisa Jane was 3-4 months pregnant with her next child when her toddler died, so the transferred names when another daughter born. How much greater then, their tragedy when she too died, not in newsworthy fashion so presumably by illness. The young Richard John Seddon was M.H.R. by then and parliament was in session, he was granted 2 weeks leave, headed home, steamer to Lyttelton but heavy rain on the Coast flooded the rivers and the coach to Hokitika was delayed for days, he didn't make it to the funeral.

    I wonder what support he was for Louisa Jane when he did get home? What effects, those scars on the heart(s)?

    Maps has an interesting post on current battles in the history wars in Britain, but making a point that history becomes much more accessible and meaningful through the windows of family history and genealogy – I think he’s right.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    @BenWilson - it's okay, I didn't think you were judging me as cold - I know my personal feelings on the subject are quite different from a lot of peoples. It's not that I don't see why they feel that way or where they are coming from, it's more that I don't share so much in it.

    @Amy Gale

    You could make your cat a little sweater to wear while it plays...

    Don't think this hadn't occured to me! :D

    @recordari - cats, farts and Bukowski - it's a recipe for success! :D

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    cats, farts and Bukowski - it's a recipe for success! :D

    Phew, saved from more contextual invalidity. Must try sticking to topics better, as my mental linkage system is rather obtuse at times. It was rather for your benefit though, so glad you noticed (even if I retweeted it) ;-)

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    Haha to "retweeted". Ah Twitter, you have changed us forever.

    It's like you know me. Scarily like it.

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I didn't get any of those. Is this a Fulbright thing?

    It's a Fulbright Gateway seminar, yeah - they seem eager to emphasise that Plagiarism Will Not Be Tolerated In America at every opportunity. In bold letters. On its own one-sentence Powerpoint screen. (I mean, I'm sure we learn other stuff, too.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Bevan Shortridge,

    The talk of treating the dead made me try and figure out what I've long thought was a bizarre remark about my great grandparents in an acquaintance's diary when they were living on Capri (my great grandmother was from Naples). They had quarrelled because, in January 1890, my great grandmother had wanted to "exhume and scrape her mother's bones". The problem being her mother had been deceased for 12 months and "the legal period was 18 months".

    I have had no idea for years why she wanted to exhume the bones (being used to the buried generally staying where they were). I found an article today that mentioned burial sites could be rented in Italy. In Naples, after 18 months, the soil had mummified the bodies enough so they could be exhumed, wrapped, and placed in family crypts in catacombs, therefore relieving descendants of paying the rental, and allow someone else to be buried. It was a way to cope with overcrowding and ongoing rental fees. It happened elsewhere with differing times depending on the times it took the soils to mummify.

    <Edit>
    Gio, is this still so? The article I read was from 1994 and the practice seemed to be current then...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 122 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    Going back ...

    The first line of the latter was advertising National Poetry Day on a Whangarei Shop window. Cool, eh?


    THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,
    For, put them side by side,
    The one the other will include
    With ease, and you beside.

    The brain is deeper than the sea,
    For, hold them, blue to blue,
    The one the other will absorb,
    As sponges, buckets do.

    The brain is just the weight of God,
    For, lift them, pound for pound,
    And they will differ, if they do,
    As syllable from sound.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    A thought went up my mind today that ED's short poem, however wide and deep and bold in its final assertion, is lacking the third dimension. So a suggested update for insertion as third stanza before the final one -

    The brain is further than the moon,
    For journey there to probe,
    The one was reached now long ago,
    Not yet the frontal lobe.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Oh, very nice indeed!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    Thank you! But now I have to bow to IanD's vastly awesomer one on the other thread. Who'd have thought you would find such a gem on yet more on Party Fscking Central! I wouldn't have thought of my jingle let alone put it out there if I'd seen his first.

    Also - I doubt there will never be a worthy poet by the name of Bert Kilogram to raise thoughts of anachronistic references in the poetry of today.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Cecelia, I love that Brain poem! inspirational stuff...
    and Chris your soaring 3rd stanza should be
    in all future iterations of it...
    I'm gonna push Phantom to see if they
    can get the rights to reproduce the poem
    (maybe as a mash up with Chris' addition
    and permission) to be put up around NZ and other places
    (pix - and blog - of kiwi & US poets on poles in Pennsylvania and other global spotshere )
    and ta to Chris and Jolisa for kind comments re my humble attempts over on the "PC head hurt" thread

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    More on mummies and related museum creepiness: Face of 2500-year-old woman revealed

    Clearly the dig site was smack in the middle of the Uncanny Valley.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    with Chris' addition
    and permission) to be put up around NZ and other places
    (pix - and blog - of kiwi & US poets on poles …

    Thanks Ian - personally I’m not keen on pole sitting myself, but otherwise by all means and best wishes.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    More on mummies and related museum creepiness: Face of 2500-year-old woman revealed

    I think these reconstructions serve a very useful purpose in reminding us that these people were, basically, us. It's very easy to talk about past peoples as though they were aliens, rather than ancestors. (But that is not the best photo. I suspect a closeup would look rather better.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    Totally in awe of the mad poetry skillz, Chris and Ian! :-)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Re-reading this yesterday it made me look around to see what other luminary poets produced in quantity over their writing lives. 1775 poems is by all accounts astronomical.

    I've tried to find a similar list for T.S. Eliot, but it varies from one person saying he published 19 works, and another list with 26 on it. I'm sure it was more, but it wasn't 1775.

    And yet, on my part I could much more readily recall 'a patient etherised upon a table', and women coming and going talking of Michaelangelo than anything Dickinson wrote. Mind you, Eliot also produced some 600 essays and critical works, so he was a busy fellow nonetheless.

    It seems Plath published around 230. These numbers are all pretty unreliable, so if anyone has better sources, please correct me.

    My point? Well there is perhaps hope for poets who spend 40 years writing 40 poems, provided they are as significant as Prufrock. I can admire Dickinson for her contribution, but they just don't 'resonate' in the same way for me. However, if someone could point to some of her poems that could challenge this view, I'm open to suggestion. The Brain poem is good, and the better for ChrisW's contribution, but still don't see myself quoting it ages hence.*

    * Frost seems to have published around 142. Although a recent copy of the Robert Frost Review from the RF Society indicated a few more are out there.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Dickinson's poems are generally very short, intense, of the moment - I like that, and I really enjoy the way she twists and expands English.

    I also like haiku: while constrained by form, their very short, intense, of-the-moment nature appeals greatly to me (I dont write haiku, just love reading them.) And many of the great haiku poets wrote hundreds -and some, thousands- of these works...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Plus maybe 1775 poems is a lot for a modern poet, but not for earlier ones. In the Divine Comedy alone (which is not Dante's only poetic work) there are just under 15,000 lines of poetry, for instance.

    I blame the romantics for instilling into us this idea that you can produce few memorable poems and still be considered a giant. Also, what's with all the dying at a young age? Lack of commitment, that's what it is.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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