writing in Samoa

The Impossibly Hot (Imaginary) Man

The problem with creating fictional people and then writing a novel about them – is that you start to believe in them. You have chats with them in your head. You feel what they’re feeling and spend an inordinate amount of time musing upon what choices they’re going to make that day. In your novel. Which is starting to take over your REAL life. And an even bigger problem is when youre writing a YA romance. And the main love interest is an incredibly delicious concoction of man-ness. Called Daniel.

Why? Because you take all the very best bits of all the boyfriends you ever had. (And bits from all those you pined after and they never even knew you existed.) You add in a sprinkling of all the yummiest characteristics of every actor/celebrity/comicbook hero that ever sent chills down your spine. And then you mix it all up and ice him with everything you love/adore/lust for in your Significant Other. (In my case, my long-suffering husband of 17 years.) Then you let it all bake in a heated haze of creative fantasy. The man you end up with, then hops out of the oven and takes off running through your imagination. “Run, run as fast as you can, you cant catch me Im the gingerbread man!”

And he isnt always content to just hang out in your novel. No. He likes to spring out at you when you’ve had a long tiring day cleaning up the mess left behind by your family as they all dashed off to exciting lives at school/work. You contemplate your son’s filthy pit of a bedroom and you mutter darkly, “I bet Daniel never had a disgusting messy room like this.” And the Impossibly Hot ( and clean) Imaginary Man leans against the doorjamb and nods his head knowingly.

He lurks in the background when your husband is waaaaaay too tired from work to even have a conversation with you. Let alone take you to a movie. Or go dancing with you. And you think nasty thoughts – “Im sure if I was married to Daniel, he would bring me roses every day. And whisk me to Paris on the weekends. No reason, just because…” And the Impossibly Hot ( and never tired, never on a budget) Imaginary Man shrugs and gives me compassionate (steamy) looks.

The Impossibly Hot Man is never mean. Grumpy. Impatient. He’s wild and dangerous – without being unfaithful or insensitive. He’s rugged and rough around the edges – but knows how to dance the tango, iron his own shirts and make me fluffy pancakes for breakfast.He’s incredibly sexy but only ever wants to have sex at the exact same time i do. (wow, how in-synch is THAT!) And he thinks holding hands is as thrilling as watching ‘Kill Bill’. He’s loaded with money – but never has to go to work – so we can have exciting adventures together all day, everyday. Riding motorbikes, fighting off terrorists in Spain together, getting shot at while skiing together in Aspen, kissing at the top of the Eiffel Tower before we have to parachute down with a hankerchief to escape crazed assasins…Big sigh.

But probably the best part of the Impossibly Hot Man is that when Im with him ( in my novel…in my imagination) I am Impossibly Beautiful, Skinny, Funny, Clever, Witty, Exciting, Alluring, Powerful and Fascinating. Oh, and I always look like an entire crew of thousands did my makeup, hair, nails and wardrobe. Yes, together me and the Impossibly Hot Man are an Impossibly happy and beautiful couple. Run, run as fast as you can, you cant catch me…

Indeed, if I let him, the Impossibly Wonderful Imaginary Man would have me getting a divorce by the end of the day. Telling my children to put an ad in the “New Mother aka Slave Wanted” section of the newspaper. Packing my bags. And running off into the sunset. To live an impossibly happy life. Forever ever after. Where nothing bad happens. Where people never have to do dishes or laundry or worry about bills or raising naughty teenagers or look after sick preschoolers or yell at 7 yr old hyperactive little boys.

Which is why its a VERY good thing that this darn novel is five pages away from being finished. So i can stop chasing the Gingerbread Man and get back to reality. Because fiction is FICTION. And we should only ever escape in it once in awhile. Not let it run wild through our house, family or marriage.

(You hear that all you crazed Twilight addicts?! Edward is NOT REAL. I repeat…Edward is a gingerbread man!)


Get Naked… Or not.

There’s one thing I really admire about people who are not brown. (ie. white people. ie. People who didnt grow up in the same country I did.) Their ability to wear swimsuits. Regardless of their age, size, shape or bountifulness.

MOST people who grew up in the same country I did, wouldnt be caught dead in a swimsuit. When they go to the beach or the pool, they will wear any combination of any (or all) of the following:knee length shorts, a voluminous t-shirt, a tanktop, a lavalava, a mu’umu’u floorlength dress, and sometimes underneath all of it they will ALSO be wearing..( wait for it) …a swimsuit. Now of course there are those brown people – usually in the younger generation, who will wear skimpy swimming outfits. But NEVER when their elders are about. And only if they are skinny and fabuloso. And when they do, the rest of those on the beach ( who are all struggling to stay afloat as their denim shorts and big t-shirts drag them down into the ocean depths) – will then sit there and loudly talk about what skanky ho’s those skinny swimsuit girls are. Because, its just not ‘Samoan’ to display one’s body for all and sundry to gape at. ( Never mind that we ran around topless before the missionaries came along and ruined it for us.) Needless to say, I have never gone swimming wearing ONLY a swimsuit. Even before the fabulous Five came along and destroyed my Sports Illustrated shape. ( everybody laugh together and say, yeah right!)

But now I live in NZ. And I go to the swimming pool to do my water jogging ( a fantastic way to exercise I must add – no sweating, no dogs trying to bite you, no killers hiding in the bushes waiting to kill you, and complete weightlessness!) And at the pools I am surrounded by…really old women, really young women, really large women, really skinny women, really bountiful women and really bountiless women. And all of them are quite happily wearing nothing but swimsuits! Bikinis! Thongs! Maillots! And quite uncaring of all the fludgy bits that blob out where bits shouldnt. Its wonderful. And I am awed by their fiery confidence and complete disregard for whatever anyone else may be thinking

.Nobody sits in a cluster and calls out, ‘Eh suga! makua lapoa kele lou vae!…Eh vaai le la loomakua ma ana ofu valea!…Auoi! kai makaga le la fafine!’ Nope. Nobody tells you you’re too fat, too old, too ugly, too wrinkly, too flat chested to wear anything but a sack. Nope. Nobody cares. Everybody just wears their thing and gets on with doing their thing. Swimming. Diving. Walking. Jogging. Wow. I take my knee length shorts and voluminous shirt off and salute you all! (theoretically and figuratively speaking of course…) All of us brown people who still believe in wearing double layers in the pool or at the beach – could sure learn a few things from these women.

However. In my humble opinion…there is such a thing as taking a good thing…waaaay too far. In the changing rooms, it is rather horrifying. Because lots of these same women, are so cool about their bodies…that they take all their clothes off and shower/dry off/get changed and dont give a hoot who’s around. And for a girl who grew up in the country where you still need to put a lavalava on OVER pants during ceremonial ocasions…it is truly disturbing to walk into the changing room and be confronted by all these naked people. Ugh. And not only that, they are having chats and casual conversations with each other. And not even making any effort to cover up. Or hide behind a flowery lavalava. Or a curtain. And I cringe and shudder and make a hasty dash for it. And scream silently – for goodness sake, put some clothes on!  Yes you can say Im riddled with ‘hangups’ and accuse me of being ‘prudish’ or crippled by weak body image issues or whatever. But its probably more of a cultural thing because honestly, I have yet to see a brown woman get butt naked in the ladies public changing room.

But I could be wrong. Because after all, Im running so fast to get the heck outta there and trying frantically to get my eyes to look everywhere EXCEPT at all the naked people. So its totally possible that I could have missed the brown woman strutting her stuff at the opposite end of the room. (thank goodness) Now I have no problems with people wearing revealing clothing. Heck, the days when I would wriggle into a tiny mini-skirt and dance on tables are not THAT long ago. (cue another group, ‘Yeah right!’) If people wanna go skimpy, then hey, go for it! But in my perfect world, the swimming pool changing rooms would have a sign on the door. In neon lights. Pleeeease dont get naked unless everybody in the room wants you to!

So yes I am very admiring of women who love their bodies enough to wear swimsuits. And I might even take my big t-shirt off next time I go to the pool. Ta-Da!

But until Im living in my ‘perfect world’ – I’ll keep doing my mad dash through the change rooms, averting my eyes and pretending that everyone has their clothes on.

P.S – And impt end note. Speedos. Tiny little swim underwear on men? Disgusting. Please dont EVER make the mistake of thinking they’re a good idea. Even if you’re built like Sonny Bill Williams? Still, DONT DO IT. Speedos are bad on any man. Every man. Are a crime against humanity and should be feared as such.

My Father’s Heart

Tomorrow my father’s chest will be sliced open. His chest bone will be sawed apart with a very loud drilling machine. He will be hooked up to a heart and lung machine that will live for him for the three to five hours that it takes for the surgeons to sew four ‘new’ veins to the right side of his constricted, cholestorol-laden heart.Bypassing his clogged, falling apart heart supply.

My father is 72 years old. I am afraid for him.

My father doesnt drink or smoke. He has maintained a healthy weight for all the time that Ive been his daughter. He has better exercise habits than I do. He is not diabetic. He does not have high blood pressure. This should not be happening to my father. I am angry. Bitter. Afraid. Horribly, breathlessly sad. But I am also grateful. Because it is a minor miracle that my father is even having this operation at all.

You see, he is a very strong, very stubborn man. The blood supply to over two thirds of his heart is severely restricted. He could have had a major, no-second-chances heart attack at any moment. But he has very determinedly, very carefully, gone to great lengths to conceal his worsening condition from everyone. For over three years he has taken medication, hopeful that would cure him. He has carried with him everywhere, a bottle of nitro glycerin stuff to take when his heart seized up. Which he would take very discreetly to jump start his heart again. If he had chest pains, he would keep it to himself. If he got dizzy and faint, he sat down and kept it to himself. If he passed out and collapsed, he told us it was because he was ‘very tired’….Yeah right. And now, finally, he can hide it no longer.From us. From the doctors, From himself.

My father’s heart may be letting him down, finally and ferociously. But it has never let me down.

He has always been the listener. The father you could go to. With crazy harebrained schemes and ideas – and he would nod encouragingly, give advice, tell you to go for it. The father you could go to with every complaint under the sun. And he would listen. Concerned and captivated. There has never been any doubt of his love for me. For all of his children. He believes great things of all of us. He hopes for great things for all of us. He is my father, and I have always known of my place in his heart.

If the operation works, the surgeon tells us that my father will be ‘twenty years younger’. He will have buckets of energy and optimism that he hasnt had for many tired, slow, hard-to-breathe, years. My father tells his grandson that he will race him in the 200m when hes fully recovered. He wants to mow the lawn. And trim the trees in my sister’s overgrown backyard. He wants to paint the house and redo the roof. Oh yes, and he wants to translate my tsunami book into Samoan. He confides that his dream is to get a camper van and travel around NZ. Picking fruit. Working odd farm jobs. Seeing the sights. Living the slow fascinating life of the endless traveller. ( Ha…good luck getting my mum to buy into that one dad!) My father has many fleeting hopes that yesterdays impossibles, can be possible. After tomorrow. After his open heart quadruple bypass surgery. After his months of painful and tiring recovery.

Yet, although his voice speaks of tomorrows, in my father’s eyes I glimpse fear. Mirrored in my own.

Bringing us to this moment. As night falls on the last day my father will have on this earth – with a very tired, very choked up heart.

As our family draws closer (still with the sibling squabbling and scuffling that adorns EVERY family gathering!) – we will pray. We will fast. We will laugh and joke and tease. We will entrust tomorrows hopes in a very skilled cardio -thoracic surgeon and his team.

And in the strength of my father’s heart.

Hungry for Men.

(Okay – now that blog post title was TOTALLY ripped off from a Sean Kingston song and TOTALLY designed to pique your scandalous interest…did it work?!)

I am currently working on a book. Its a thriller/romance set in Samoa with overtones of supernatural weirdness. Writing a book is VERY hard work – especially when you’re trying to put the male lead into words. One finds one’s self searching for inspiration everywhere…considering the finer merits of various specimens – like

This one.

And a bit of this one.

Maybe some of this one.

But then theres always some of this example.

And of course there’s always a sprinkle of this.

But i gotta say, the BEST inspiration for romantic male leads has got to be this guy…the one I wake up with every morning…when i can catch him, that is – as he runs past…

And runs past again…

Yep, even with his eyes shut, the man is TOTAL romantic male lead material.

              Which is probably why I married him seventeen years ago.

Now thats enough cotton candy procrastinating. I’ve got to get back to work. Or else this romance thriller novel will forever remain a figment of my imagination.