After an Election

Voting by Cle0patra
“Voting” by Cle0patra (Flickr)

Saturday was our General Election in New Zealand, and I personally found it quite exciting that so many people got out to vote — a record number of us voted early! — and that the results are quite close.

Under an MMP system (Mixed-Member Proportional for those of you not in the know) in New Zealand, several parties are elected, ranging in number from 1 member to the maximum of 120 members, and this election delivered a doozy.

Our two major parties — National (conservative) and Labour (liberal) — ended up with no clear majority. In Labour’s case, they would have to do a deal with the Greens (also liberal) to be close to National’s numbers at this point in time.

Neither group — National by itself, or a Labour-Greens coalition — can probably govern alone because they have too few seats to have a majority. In our Parliament, a party usually needs 61 out of the 120 seats to have a majority to govern.

So there are options, interestingly enough, and one party — New Zealand First, led by Winston Peters — holds the king- or queen-maker position. They can go with National, or they can go with Labour-Greens, to form our next Government.

I personally find that really exciting because there are options out there.
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Voting

The New Zealand 2017 General Election officially falls on Saturday, 23 September 2017, but early voting is already taking place. Noel and I decided to vote early this election cycle as the polling station in Northwood is no longer around — it was really nice to be able to walk down and vote — and it was one less thing to do on a precious Saturday.

When I was a senior in high school, there was a big movement to register younger voters and encourage them to vote. MTV even had “Rock the Vote” going during that time. I vividly remember Jamie Royal coming to my classroom (Sociology, I think), and she registered me to vote in the hallway across from my locker. I was so nervous and scared and excited at the same time.
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“Hello Darkness, My Old Friend”

It’s pretty amazing, the song “The Sound of Silence”. I’ve always really liked it for various reasons, especially the visuals the lyrics provide. Even the “alternate lyrics” versions we came up with in Mixed Company at Prospect High School (I’m looking at you, Anne.).

I’m not going to lie and tell you that the last few days for me have been easy, because they haven’t. They haven’t exactly been the worst days of my life, though, either. At work, my colleague Paula is away on vacation — and we had agreed to this when we hired her, so there are no surprises there — and it has thrown me back into doing both her job and my job. It’s only a week, yes, but sometimes taking it all on feels so very overwhelming for me, especially since there seems to be no end in sight to training up someone while trying to do my own job.
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“Look for the Helpers…”

Being 11 September here in New Zealand — even though the infamous 9/11 happened on 12 September 2001 here — some of my news feeds are showing images and sharing articles about the anniversary of 9/11.

Every year, I feel something different. Having been through our own set of natural disasters — the initial quake occurring a week before the 9th anniversary of 9/11 — something struck me quite strongly today as I saw this image:
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25 Years Ago(-ish), I Started College

Around 25 years ago, in late August 1992, I started college (erm, university for you British English speakers out there). It’s a right-of-passage many Americans go through every year when they’re 18, and I’m sure there are many stories about how that first year went for a great many people. Maybe my experience was unique, but I’m pretty sure it’s not.

What I can tell you is I remember my Mom crying when I started college at Northern Illinois University. My excitement due to my freedom was tempered by how upset she was. Being the very anxious person I was and continue to be, I wondered if I’d made the right choice. As an aside: my counselor keeps telling me I do things to please other people instead of myself, and I’m not living my life authentically if I keep doing this. On the other side of this argument, I stayed at college because it was what I wanted, even though it did hurt my mother initially (and maybe it was more of a, “Oh my God, my oldest son is 18 and leaving home and I can’t protect him any more”, which I understand but I’ve never been through so I can’t compare that experience to my own experiences).

Sorry. I digress. You should be used to that by now if you read any of my blogs.

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Living In The Here and Now

I originally wrote this blog in May 2016 but never published it. I’m not sure why I didn’t, but here it is, updated slightly.

Over the past few years I’ve written about emerging from a period of suffering from the dissociative disorder known as depersonalisation, the result of a lifetime full of anxiety and a short, rather deep bout of depression. (You can read the latest entries: “Recovering from Depersonalisation” and “Reducing Anxiety through ‘Staying Present’“, or any entry on depersonalisation through looking up the tag #depersonalisation on my blog.)

But I want to take you a step back to the 1990s as a kind of example of why living in the here and now is important.

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Remembering Oma 30 Years After Her Passing

The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
30 years ago today (26 February), my Oma passed away from intestinal cancer, 1 month shy of her 66th birthday and about 1 month after the diagnosis. I was nearly 13 when she passed away, just shy of that age where you start appreciating the stories and history your parents and grandparents share with you, if you’re interested in family history and that sort of thing.

A few months ago, one of my cousins asked me what Oma was like, and one thing that struck me recently was that out of all my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family, probably only my brother Brian and I remember or knew Oma the best.
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