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 I try to define where is home but get side-tracked by identity and Charlie

{Sometimes things just need to be vented out. I thought I was doing something but then these things just caught up with me. And I had to push till the end of it, through the tears that were burning my eyes and in spite of the final roughness of this piece of writing. Emotions took over me, emotions that I thought I now had in control. I’m on my way back from a long travel that took me to France and to other places I’ve called home at some point of (my) history. A trip that I thought would help me solve some of the “home equation” and that allowed face to face discussions of the painful memories with my friends who had been in my thoughts and my Facebook messenger the previous year and a half (more than ever before), which is what I probably anticipated the most for my healing process. But considering the amount of crying I went through during the writing of the second part of this, I still have a lot of healing left to do.}
{there is a lot going on in the links. Things that I didn’t want to spell out for concision, or because it hurt too much}
Is home the same thing as where one comes from?

In the many years and places I have lived outside of my birthplace, I have often heard questions such as “when are you going back home?” or “don’t you miss home too much?” and it has always seemed unexpected of me to call the place where my actual home is, “home”. I mean, yes I come from France. But does that prevent the house where I live in another country from being where I feel at home? If I’m correct about the original English meaning of the word, that’s really what it means: the place where I sleep and eat and shower and relax and have friends over, and cook and do my washing and so much more, is home. Where else in the world could home be, I ask you?

I have lived in Tonga for 3.5 years, most of that time in the same house with the same landlords and neighbours and the same Chinese falekoloa (local grocer) around the corner. I had no obligation to stay in that house at all or even in the country after the initial 2 years I had come for, and if I didn’t feel like this was home, I would not have stayed. As I have done all my adult life. But I chose to remain in Tonga because I feel at home in Tonga. Now, would I like the falekoloa to be stocked with cheese is an entire other question.

Not exactly my hood, but close enough

Do all French people miss cheese when they are not in France? I don’t think so. Some don’t even like it. I personally don’t smoke, don’t like wine and don’t drink black coffee and it doesn’t make me any less French – a whole lot less stereotypical to foreigners, yes. I don’t really miss cheese either. Not that I’m not going to gorge on it as soon as an occasion arises, but I don’t miss it daily. Not having cheese in your fridge comes with the choice of living overseas. Would I love it if brie was readily available in Tonga and at a decent price? YES! Would I feel offended if it were a small, tasteless, pasteurized, chewy dairy product from Australia/ New Zealand and presented to me as a French product? Yes!

Can cheese be part of one’s identity?

Continue reading Where I try to define where is home but get side-tracked by identity and Charlie