Sunday, 30 August 2015


Dear Rachel,

Arlo is a great kid and the story about him watching others be superheroes is amusing and heartwarming.  Coupled with a cheese toastie, it sounds like he could hardly have had a more contented day. I do like the way you use the word adventurous, also. Occasionally and reluctantly a tepid three cheese panini ends up on the same tray as my large chai latte when I refresh myself at Costa. This happened yesterday when I met a couple of our new staff. People who say 'yes' to my "wanna drink?" texts are much appreciated although they may not realise just how much.

Yes, those lammingtons and cream buns did form the backdrop to a textbook catch up as did the way we raved about our families, parading them through the conversation like elephants at a wedding. I think I said it to you already but one of the biggest surprises in my life is how much I love being a dad. Looking a wee guy in the eye, not knowing how to express my delight and wondering what they are thinking when they look at me are sensations out of this world. They are irreplicable and fierce. 

Thank you for listening to Sirens. It makes me shivver. Yes, one would hope a man who could write so tenderly would also do his fair share of dusting and leaving down of the seat. 

Happiness has become very important to me. I missed it for so long. In fact, I forgot about it. Without wanting to sound like a Hallmark card we only have today to be happy. Actually, we only have this very moment to be happy. It's irrelevant that we might have been happy long ago or have plans to be happy when.... if we're not happy right now, we're not happy. Now, I'm not silly enough to think we can always be happy, every moment. Our hearts wouldn't allow that. But, I like to make a lot of choices to do things which make me happy. Luckily, I live in a ridiculously sunny neighbourhood so I leave my apartment as much as I can to be outside, breathing clean air. More than once I have been accused of not working hard because I " not stressed". To which I give a wry smile and usually a shrug. How do you have a conversation with that as the opener? Gah!!

Here are some things which bring me happiness: my sons, travel, cafes and beers, seeing animals, exercise, jelly sweets, my bed, hot showers, a handful of cashew nuts, courses for breakfast, kissing. 

What do you think about happiness? What is it tied up with in your life?

Last year, I took any opportunity I could to get away from my computer and go and sit at one of the tables we have outside. There was a lovely spot which suffered very little traffic and was sheltered by a tree. People thought it was weird that I worked there which bugged me to the point of being miffed. Why would it be weird to sit in the sun, breath clean air, listen to birds sing and crack on with work whereas sitting in an office under artificial light looking at a screen pushing little pieces of plastic with one's fingertips is considered normal/fine/ordinary? It's the same with drinks. Milk is delicious in my mind. So from time to time I buy 500ml and drink it in the same way people drink cola or other gutrot. Yet, I get funny looks and quips for drinking a natural product riddled with goodness yet it's okay to load up on drain cleaner? Humph!

This week I've managed to enjoy some grumpiness with my happiness as my car has been stuck in the garage meaning I missed a day out to my favourite town as well as sharing a coffee with a hot girl. Let's hope the opportunity for both of these activities arise again or my car and I will no longer be on speaking terms.

Enjoy your day.


Friday, 28 August 2015


Hello dear Michael,

This morning the alarm went off and I leapt into awakeness with the knowledge that the first post might be waiting for me here at He Said She Said. It was well worth waking up for. You write like it's poetry week and while reading I have to think about things and consider and spend a little bit of time wishing I had such a way with words.

I have bountiful and numerous things to say about your letter. I will try to not miss anything out, but there's always time to come back to topics isn't there? 'Save some things for the rest of your life' Ben once told me.

It's lunchtime here. Arlo and I have had toasted sandwiches and now he's busy watching children pretending to be Superheroes on YouTube. Someone has had the decency to put some action music to their acting and Arlo is thoroughly enjoying it. He opted for old school cheese and ham in his sandwich. I was adventurous and had chicken, cream cheese and pesto in mine. Our sandwich press gets a workout when I'm on duty.

Last weekend Joe had a holiday away in the Wairarapa with his friend Eric. Eric's Dad lives on a life style block over there. It was a weekend of sleeping in tree houses and riding tractors, cycling along bike trails, and baking muffins. There were air rifles and quad bikes. Joe was so invigorated by the experience that he forgot to come home tired. He enjoyed recounting his adventures to us and also worth a mention was the lunch they had when they arrived on Saturday. He told us: "Eric's Dad made us toasted sandwiches with spaghetti and cheese in them and they were stuck together all round the edges. Eric and his Dad called them toastie pies." Ben and I shared a nostalgic look. Did you guys have a toastie pie maker at Mt Pleasant Road? It's all about the paninis now. Bring back the toastie pie machine I say.

That time you came to my house for Lamingtons and Cream Buns was really good wasn't it? The sweet treats were just as nostalgic as toastie pies and as nostalgic as being back in your company after 22 years. I liked showing you the trees and the water and the fluffy hair. The calm must have been what you brought through the door with you and somehow transferred to those boys that live here with me. 
You never know what you're going to get when you (re)connect with people; and you're right, it can be an absolute pleasure, but it can also be something of a disappointment. I have been known to hope for so much more than I end up getting in conversations. I'm looking for sparks and ideas bouncing and a reluctance to stop the talk. I'm looking for laughter and pauses for contemplation and good good stories. You gave me all that. But. Conversations with you are very worth the time of day and that BUT was a feeling of slight panic that you only had a week left in the country and I couldn't access much more of that conversation. This blog may be my saving grace.

It's an interesting thought isn't it, what our teenage selves would think of us now. I can hardly remember teenage me, but twenty year old me would like forty year old me I think. She'd be impressed by the quality of the people that are going to be in her life in twenty years time and at the same time, sad about the ones she particularly liked who had slipped away somehow in the previous 20 years. She'd be glad she was going to be an important part of the lives of some great people in her future.  She'd be impressed at how good at baking she was going to become and she'd be relieved that she finally was going to learn to finish projects she started. She'd be a bit baffled by the decision to live with her mother and she'd be devastated to find that Bill was gone and her father wasn't that far behind.  In fairness she might consider my life all a bit suburban, but I know she'd think Ben was pretty lovely (just what she'd been looking for!). And she'd think the boys were adorable ('Look at that curly hair! Where did it come from?' she'd wonder). She would think I am far too hard on them and should lighten up and not be so grumpy, after all, they're only little. She'd be right. But she also wouldn't know what she was talking about. It was all ideological for her then. She had dreams of meeting the one and falling in love and making a connection that would last the test of time. Having babies and a dog and playing on the beach. But she had no idea the work that goes into life. Somewhere between her and me those dreams she had came true but now it's me who keeps doing the hard work day in and day out to keep them alive. I'm happy with the hard work; I'm just saying that 20 year old us's don't have a clue about the elbow grease that's needed to keep dreams afloat.

I'll tell you what MB: I was wowed by you 22 years ago, but when I met up with you again this year I was more wowed than then. The years have made you more interesting. Interesting in the face of realism is more interesting than interesting with an overfill of idealism. Or that's how I see it. 18 year old you should be proud and pleased.

I followed your instructions and listened to Sirens while reading the lyrics. Do you know what I thought? I thought, imagine if someone loved you enough to write that for you. That might be just about the best compliment ever. And then I got taken away  watching Black on YouTube and remembering 1992 Eddie Vedder. You're right about him: he sure can write about love. I wonder if his wife just wishes he'd put his pen and his guitar down sometimes and help with the dishes. By which I mean that sometimes it's easy to take for granted what somebody gives you and wish for something else.

I am applying to become a telephone support worker at Parentline. I have to fill in an application form and on the form is the question "What do you do for yourself?". Feminist Rachel says: Think. I think for myself. But what else? I bake and write and read and play with clothes and like you, I listen to so much music. 

Love has always been on my bucket list and it still is.  I will write on music and love at length as time passes, I'm sure. Maybe even in my next letter. And I will keep you firmly in my thoughts.

With love, Rachel

Thursday, 27 August 2015


Dear Rachel, 

It has often been said that it is one of life’s tender pleasures to reconnect with friends from earlier stages in our lives. Catching up with you in July was remarkable. Not simply because you’re a friend from a very happy time in my life, but because it has been most satisfying seeing the awesome things you have surrounded yourself with. Trees, water, fluffy hair, chocolate, handsomeness, calm. 

I told someone recently that I wasn’t forty, I was Michael. My younger self would push current me down and fart in my face given half a chance as my values and worldview has scuttled all over the place in the past score years. I was prudish, na├»ve and prone to giving a toss what people’s opinion of me was. It took a lot of slog and emasculation to realise that nice guys don’t usually make the podium. More can be said about this and will probably slip out over the following weeks. There have been a few things which have remained in me. My adoration of music. My love of being outside. My respect for good people. The thrill I still get from riding my skateboard. The way I can’t sit still – I need to touch things and people all the time. Is that neurological? Pages could be written about the concerts I’ve been to. The famous voices I have heard and the feelings which were unexpectedly aroused. 

A few years ago I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Perth for a show. Pearl Jam, Ben Harper and Relentless Seven and Liam Finn shared the stage for five damn hours of some of the most beautiful music I have ever known. It was a tough time in my life as I had just started what would become the worst job imaginable. Ben Harper thumped out a tune, Shimmer and Shine, which was my son’s favourite. To hear it live chopped me up and left me in a puddle. Listening to music as much as possible is fiercely embedded into my chemistry. I wonder what music means to you? How’s Billy Bragg these days? Which shows would you fly to Australia for? Another thing which has been on my mind a lot the past few years in love

I don’t get it, to be honest. It’s not on my bucket list although people seem to bang on about it like it’s blueberries or something else we must all have galore. A songwriter who builds the most deeply moving and sweet, loving music I know is Eddie Vedder.

 I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life 

 I know you’ll be a star 

 In somebody else’s sky 

Why, oh why can’t it be mine? – Black 1991 

Today, allot some time to listen to Pearl Jam’s Sirens with the words in front of you. Be ready to feel feelings which may leave you spent. At eighteen I was a great guy, but I knew zip. Now, I am a bit of dick but a smarter one. I am more self-protective and less caring. My reasons are sound and I’ll argue with Zeus at the curly gates if needs be.

 Hold those dear boys/men of yours close and tight.