Where I explain how I have been busy…

I haven’t posted anything in forever.

I have been busy.

I have “gone back to school” thanks to Coursera.org -currently starting course 4/5 in a Photography Specialisation with the Michigan State University (for the 5th time because… see second half of the post), I have also finished a course in “Indigenous Canada” with the University of Alberta. Ways to learn a lot and keep the mind in shape!

I have been taking photos (as suggested in above the paragraph). A lot. I took part in the 24HourProject and loved it (should upload some photos here…).

I have been crazy getting everything ready for the Tongan delegation to the Pūtahi Pacific artist gathering in Tahiti, then attending the art workshop, meeting amazing people from across the Pacific, developing a better understanding of the diverse cultures of this beautiful “liquid continent” (to quote my linguistics Prof L-J. Calvet, when referring to the Mediterranean Sea), learning of the culture, society and local variety of French language spoken in Tahiti (nothing will top “servitude privée” ever. It translates to “private servitude” but it means “private back street”!). Then organising all the details for my friend’s exhibition in Auckland (want to know more?)

I have been busy organising this year’s Nuku’alofa Film Festival activities, including a screening of last year’s entries in Vava’u in August (didn’t attend because… -see next paragraph), kickstarting a FilmFreeWay page for submissions and a website to complement our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Then I have been crazy busy reviewing the submissions and finally announcing the international selection, only waiting for the local ones to come in before this year’s event on 19 and 20 October… I’ve also successfully submitted a paper to talk about it at the Pacific Arts Association conference in November, so I should be in Samoa for my birthday… And of course raising funds for all of this to happen is keeping me -and not just me- busy and crazy.

I have been busy with my semi-freelance job, and I have got a very unexpected new job, that I was supposed to start the day after I came back from Tahiti: teaching French in Tonga High School for one year, because [long story]. Fun fact: the job includes taking over (a diminished version of) the Alliance française and its classes. The very cultural centre I came to open 4.5 years ago, and left when my volunteer assignment ran out 2.5 years ago. But eh, this is Tonga so I still haven’t started 2.5 months later -fingers crossed, things seem to be moving this week though. [update: I am starting on Monday!]


But more than that, I have also been (way too) busy fighting depression. Trying to move on. Old crap I’m trying to work on, only to discover all the many ways it has affected me although I never thought certain annoying aspects of me had any specific cause. Fool me. The Tahiti adventure helped a bit, with the amazing human beings I met and worked with in a creative environment, but it’s still not easy to get out of bed and do anything at all some days. I’ve managed to put the darkest thoughts at bay, and I am handling the PTSD tidbits better, so that’s a big step. Also, I have a great team of friends around me, who don’t always realise they may double as analysts…

In case you were wondering: no, living on a small Polynesian island does not mean living in absolute happiness and being lazily nursing a cocktail on the beach. There is happiness and there is leisure time, but more than anything, there is life and where there is life, there is being busy and dealing with stuff and people. For the best, and for all the rest of the spectrum.

I like being busy though, especially with good and positive acts and thoughts. That’s why I’ve been rekindling with reading more, and books that make me happy (ASOIAF series, Discworld series and Daniel Pennac in particular). I’m already thinking of the steak tartare I’ll eat once in Paris for Christmas. And of the new babies I am to meet in France -it seems that while I am busy doing stuff here, quite a few of the people I love across the world are busy becoming mothers. Babies are cute, and cute is good for the soul! Or so I want to believe.

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Where it’s too hot to think today, but…

When you randomly happen to share your art projects on a hot Sunday, and feel like they’re getting more real by the minute. If any of my readers should be interested to know more, get involved (if in Tonga) or help fund raise (anywhere on earth), leave a comment and I’ll get back to you asap! Feel free to share if you like what you read 🙂

It’s also ok to comment about the weather, or just to say something nice about my lovely broken English with a French accent: It’s too hot to get it checked today!

Prologue

Today is Sunday. It was so hot when I woke up at 7.30 that I couldn’t bear to read in bed for long. Although I do love to read the news in bed, especially in these troubled days in politics (French alert: this weekend we’re voting in the first round of the left wing Primary for our upcoming presidential election). I eventually steered up to turn the fan on, and went back to reading in bed.

But it proved insufficient, and I did what I never do on Sunday: I got up before 8.30. Maybe because my very bad sunburns from the 2.5 hour bike ride yesterday made me so uncomfortable. Or maybe because I could feel this was going to be a productive day. Yes, a productive Sunday in Tonga, in spite of burns that make me want to stay in all week.

Incipit

Long story short, after an impromptu visit to the hospital and leaving it with my friend on a spontaneous Tongan Sunday lunch invitation by her husband when she was eventually sent home by the doctor, I  discovered that her new neighbour was the Australian volunteer I wanted to ask to model in a photo project I have.

After lunch, I spent a fair deal of time chatting with her. I was her spontaneous excuse for a break in the house chores, and despite the heat, the ants crawling on us and a baby centipede I had to kill on the veranda, we somehow had one of the most productive conversations I’ve ever had on such a spontaneous mode.

Body

We talked about how awesome the Seleka art group is, and their art, and how we’re trying to raise money so that 3 of us and another Tongan artist can attend an exciting Pacific artists gathering in Tahiti in June (I’m the interpret/ photo documentarian/ artist assistant/ secretary etc.)  (the flights are not cheap) and how that could contribute to the great work done at Seleka in the arts and with the kids (see previous article on this blog, about “family”), and Tonga’s promotion to the world.

We talked about my little documentary project about unsuspected historic bounds between France and Tonga, and about this other project I have to start a local photography initiative -I’m part of the Nuku’alofa Film Festival team, that aims at developing local film awareness and encouraging film production, so why not photo as well, with equally no equipment, no training available and no money, but a lot of potential in the people?

While talking about it, I introduced her to the wonderful 24 Hour Project that aims at documenting humanity across the world for 24 hours, with Instagrammers shooting and snapping in their home city on the same day. The date for this year has just been announced: 1st April. Not an April’s fool thing! She’s keen to be part of the adventure, so with me that makes two. I’d like to have a small group of enthusiasts so we can do something fun and really insightful together some time during the day, so it’s a good start!

We also talked about fitness, and how she plans to attend boot camp twice a week for the next two months, and how I’m back on wheels and should consider wearing more waterproof/ sweat proof sun screen. Yesterday also taught me I may actually benefit from a boot camp so I can ride my normal ride to the west in 1h45 and not feel half dead, so I guess I’ll be with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays…

Denouement

We also talked about how Tonga is such a wonderful place to be when you want to be active and don’t mind creating your own opportunities. A place where you get to meet amazing people that would be completely out of reach in a big city like Melbourne or Paris. And on that we couldn’t agree more. Although I have Canadian temptations, I know I have much and more left to do here with wonderful engaged Tongan friends.

When I picked up my bike from their house, my friend and her husband were fast asleep, catching up with the rest that had eluded them over the past two days. I got home and ate some ice cream, and sat to write.

Epilogue

It was all hospital visit and food and chat, but it felt like a tremendously productive day. Probably because it’s too hot to think.

Oh, I also dyed my hair and did some laundry before going to the hospital, but shoosh: it’s very naughty on a Sunday!

Oh and while I’m at it, maybe I should ask you if you want to join in or support any of these projects? The comments below are a great place to start a conversation 😉

The wine bottle garden at Seleka, overlooking Fanga’uta lagoon
In my backyard. No cloud, nowhere. 17.30 (5.30pm)