Today I’m writing from my mum’s house in Oratia. It’s a blustery day and the wind is wailing outside, in that way that used to drive me insane but now is almost comforting. I’ve missed this. The quiet, the green. This is, and always will be, my home.
Don’t get me wrong; the city is great. It’s great for convenience. It’s great for independence. It’s great for the minimal lifestyle that I’ve been trying to cultivate (with mixed results; damn you Recycle Boutique!). It is not, however, great for happiness. It’s loud, all the time. It’s busy. It’s claustrophobic. There’s nowhere I can be alone; at any given time our neighbours can walk out onto their balcony and see the entirety of our tiny studio apartment. For someone who needs quiet solitude to recharge my emotional batteries, it can be truly exhausting.
Last night, after a day of struggling to write anything of substance, feeling the walls closing in around me under the pressure of the city’s million or so scurrying occupants, I felt so homesick for my place in Oratia that I almost cried. Instead I made a haphazard version of my mum’s fish pie and ate it in bed, and almost cried again.
And today here I am. I’m a 40 minute train ride from the city centre, and yet it feels like a different world. The flax plants are waving their leaves like anemones in an ocean current; on a better day there would be Tui and Rosellas feasting among their flowers. Further away, the taller trees are as still and steady as they have ever been. I think many of them have been here longer than people have.
And here I am, writing from my heart in a way that I have not done for a long time. I am breathing in the good of this place, and breathing out the bad, all the stress and discomfit that has settled like poison in the bottom of my lungs. Reconnecting with everything that made me.
Here I am, Oratia. I’m home.
This is a PSA about not touching the zoo animals when a keeper (or a volunteer in uniform holding a very sharp rake) tells you not to. Usually, there’s a good reason for this. It could be because the animal is unpredictable, and as satisfying as it would be to see your sticky little fingers bitten off at the knuckle, the ensuing paperwork would be a real pain in the arse. It could be because it’s a reptile and thus potentially riddled with salmonella. It could be simply because the animal doesn’t like being touched by people with whom it isn’t familiar. Or it could be because we’ve judged you to be a c*nt and would rather stick pins in our eyes than let you anywhere near our animals.
If you see a keeper or volunteer holding or touching an animal, it is NOT an open invitation to get all up in its business. If you want to touch, ASK. And if you ask and we say no, don’t be a d*ck and do it anyway. Respect the personal bubble, guys; we really hate paperwork.
It’s easy to come into a new year with ambitious goals like GET FIT™ or CHANGE THE WORLD™. It’s also easy to fall short of those goals and into the PIT OF DISILLUSIONMENT® from whence there is no escape (until the next year, when the cry of “New Year, New Me!” gives you newfound buoyancy and raises you from perdition so you can start the whole dreadful business all over again). Continue reading “The Importance of Setting Small Goals”
Ah, the noble sloth. Leaf connoisseur, lethargic denizen of the trees, midwife of Cryptoses choloepi. There are many lessons to be learned from this majestic animal. A sloth lives most of its life in isolation, expending as little energy as possible, coming down from its tree only to poop, and, when they feel like getting a bit of action, a female sloth will scream incessantly until she attracts the attention of a male. Continue reading “Lessons from a Sloth”
I first learned about the slow loris during a late afternoon primatology lecture, back when I was working on an over-ambitious Bachelor of Science that would waste 3 years of my life, plunge me into student debt, and trigger the second worst depressive downswing I’ve ever had (though that’s a story for another time). Continue reading “Slow Lorises Don’t Make Good Pets”