Sunday, 27 May 2012

If only

Today was like my perfect day, think if my life was like this I would be truly happy. Took buses and a train to the waterfront and filmed the beautiful skyscraper skyline. Then dallied around in the souvenir shops at the museum and planetarium (my favorite pastime) then walked into the city and filmed here and there. It's quite beautiful. Took more buses and a train home.

Was surrounded by different cultures all day, and filming was wonderful - an interesting and new city, with no stress involved, and riding the train was like being detached from anything that ever bothers me in normal life.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

U.S. Memorial Day poppy

Cultural expedition - the supermarket

Yesterday I went to stock up on food, took a taxi to a large supermarket called Jewel-Osco. All the shops in this area are huge, they have so much space I guess. Excited cos they had soy yoghurt so tried to find soy cheese as well (accommodating my dairy allergy). Was told it was in what I heard as the "proto's" section. No idea what that was (maybe the "protein" section?). Kept asking round, and eventually was directed to the "pro - DOOS" section. As in fruit and vege 'produce'.

Also had to apologise at one point for driving my trolley on the "wrong" side. When I came out there was a guy taking donations for poppies like for ANZAC. Today is Memorial Day, but they also have Veteran's Day and Flag Day and another one I can't remember. He and this other guy were going on about how they always have their US flag up in the window, and how they knock on people's doors when they see one that is faded or needs replacing. Proud to be American.

Saw some Jewish boys too at the supermarket, with their little round caps pinned on by a hair clip, or wearing black hats and coats and white shirts with tassels. Looked stunning, tho they looked pretty pasty-faced and geeky. I wonder how cool it is to be a Jewish boy in America.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Chicago: Day 1

Managed to film one of the new refugee Assyrian families the nite before I left NZ, left 4 hrs to pack up the house and my bag. Ada had to help me pack and we arrived at airport 5 mins before check in closed. She is to be praised for her calm. Flights were ok, long queues in LA and I lost a tripod in transit but it's turned up ok. So tired when I got here I slept in my clothes with the lights on. Hotel is nice, but not good for transport so I might move. My contact in Chicago is Peter who runs an Assyrian news website that has been tracking the violence towards Assyrians in Iraq. But he also teaches dance, is a software developer and classically trained musician, so multi talented, incredibly bright and I have to nearly run to catch up with him when we walk anywhere. He reminds me of the Assyrian activist I met in Beirut: kind, ascerbic, intense. I wonder if it's cultural. We talked and talked and talked about Assyrian stuff. I left my net book in NZ which is a bit crippling, so he kindly took me to an Apple store where I bought this iPad. Not sure what's happening tomorrow. He just said "We'll talk".

Monday, 21 May 2012

My stuff is on its way

Courier came today and picked up my stuff for Iraq. Woohoo! Finally. Was packing the last box when he came.

One day left to pack up the house.

Been having a really nice time seeing people before I go: Ada, Esther, my cousin Deb, Craig and El. Thanks guys, for supporting me. But not just for that, for being great people, I'm so happy you are my friends.

(Thanks also to Rowena, who has been helping me out with some last minute filming. Hope you are around when I get back!)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Even further there ..

The house is looking heaps better, painters nearly finished (we had a "discussion" which in part was about how way past schedule they are). Boxed up my gear for Iraq and weighed it - 153 kg, which sounds alot, but its my IMAC, books, clothes, gifts and lots of small things that will be a mission for me to get in Iraq. I'd rather be editing or filming than looking for a shampoo thats good for coloured hair.

Property manager came over yesterday with prospective tenants and they said it was one of the best they had seen and they had been looking all over Wellington. Also some 'relocation' ladies who made pleasant murmurings and said I would have no problem finding a tenant, so ALL GOOD!

Only 4 days till I go and I just might get everything done.

I had been trying to curry favour with Refugee Services to get one of the recent Assyrian refugee families just arrived to agree to be filmed - this would be an ace as I can then follow them when I get back - their progress in NZ. I didn't hold high hopes - its so hard to get people to agree to be filmed sometimes, especially people that don't know you. But they rang today to say they have a family!

Lists, and then there's the visa.

I have been waking up at around 3 or 5 am lately, thinking of things I need to do before I go, so I go and get a pad and write them down, and then go back to sleep. Also taken up meditating again, which helps to clear my mind.

But this morning I woke up thinking, and panicked, what if they don't give me a visa to live in Kurdistan?? Ha, yes. I was thinking I will have trekked all my gear (14 boxes at this point) costing about 2 grand, over there. I've decided to get the airfreight company to hold my gear in NZ till I have my visa, then send it. And I'll just have to come back. I guess I could try and get one for a lesser time, a few weeks. At least I would have all the footage from the US, that's all good.

Getting a visa in Kurdistan is this really full-on procedure: you go to this building where they take your cellphone (in case you blow up an IED or a bomb) and then you go inside to this warren of rooms and corridors and its chock full of bored and moody-looking young males from Turkey and Iran - displaced Kurds coming back to the New Iraq to get work. They are all waiting outside rooms, bodies against bodies. You go to one room, and they give you a paper, and you go to another room, and you wait while they look at it, then send you to another room, and you wait again, and so on and so on for about two or three hours. Thankfully I had the driver of Mr. Kako, the Assyrian MP I was staying with to tag along after while he did the biz. It would have totally floored me otherwise.

There is this online travelling guy, Wandering Earl, who gives a great description of it:

But it was intense, and I really loved it. I have a "spy camera" now, so I am going to try to get some footage when I go there this time cos it would be good for the film, showing the influx of migrants, and of course its going to be difficult for Assyrians to get jobs, competing against Kurds who speak the language.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Nearly there..

One week till I go, am surrounded by a thousands boxes and bags of stuff that need to be decimated somehow. Heat pump installers here - the fan out the front looks really ugly, and the house still hasn't finished being painted, it's raining and the property manager needs to take photos so they can list it properly. TRYING not to freak. What is it that I keep saying? - it just has to be possible, not perfect.

Friday, 4 May 2012

A great day today

Today I went to see Jeremy Macey. Who is Jeremy Macey? - you may ask.

Jeremy was with me in a comedy play at Bats ages ago. Back in uni days. He contacted me after he saw the Capital Times article to say he could help. Its been his job at Creative NZ deciding on which film scripts get funding, I think. Something pretty special like that..

I have no idea about scripts, really, I just have a rough shape of the doco in my head. It's only been a year that I felt like I could contact him, and um.. er.. get up the courage? Feeling like at least I do have a concrete idea.

It was great. What can I say? I felt like I've been carrying this secret around in me - the doco - and I was able to show something of it and get it validated. Like its a serious thing - its a likely thing - not just a fairy idea.. No, maybe me validated.

Afterwards I had this feeling like I'd been washed clean a bit (from worry I suppose, going round in circles). He talked about the fact I felt like I couldn't think here, that was why I wanted to go to Iraq, so I could focus. He thought that was what writers do.

Then I came home and felt disorientated, a feeling that seems to be growing stronger, like the ground beneath me is moving and I will be cast off it, in two weeks time. It makes me feel a bit ill, but then I remember Esther saying its just normal.

I feel better when I remember that.