Sunday, 30 September 2012

Snippet from my latest short story...Candy

So for all of you who enjoyed reading my first story here is a snippet of my latest short story.  Let me know what you think, suggestions, constructive criticisms are all welcome.

If you missed my first short story you can find it at:

By Morwenna Petaia

My name is Candice Palemia, but people call me Candy.  You would think that Candy is a shortened version of my name Candice, but it’s not.  My Uncle Iosua came to visit from Hawaii when I was just learning to speak.  Being Samoan he brought over an oso, which is a cultural tradition of bringing a gift to those you are visiting.  Uncle Iosua brought over a whole bunch of Hersheys chocolate kisses and nuggets.  Living in Australia we call them chocolates, but being American Uncle Iosua called them candy.  When I indicated for some he wouldn’t give me any until I called them candy.  Even after I cried and cried and rolled on the floor stopping only to bang my forehead on the ground he would not budge.  I tried and tried first it was tandy, then it was gandy then two weeks later it happened, I stood in front of Uncle Iosua with my outstretched hand barely reaching his knee and said “candy?”  I was so happy to get my candy that anytime I saw someone I put my hand out and said “candy?”  Even after the bags of candy were finished I would still ask people for candy.  This went on until I was around three.  Ever since then I have always been called Candy.

In Samoa names usually have some sort of significance.  For example my dad’s name is Fata, he is named after his father Fata who was named after his father, Fata.  Fata has been the name of the eldest son in my dad’s family for the last five generations.  Then there was a girl I went to school with at Leifiifi College; she was named Anzac Day because she was born on Anzac day.  I also have a cousin who was named after two of her grandmothers because both had passed away shortly before she was born.  Names are really important in the Samoan culture, particularly your last name because it is through your family name that you represent your aiga, your family, siblings, parents and grandparents.

The Palemia family has attended Samoa College for years and years.  Ever since I started school my dad had always told me that I need to study hard and get good grades so that I can be like him and his siblings and parents and great grandparents and great great grandparents who all attended Samoa College, the college where all the smart people go.  As hard as I studied and listened in all of my classes I just didn’t get the grades that would give me a place or an award in any of my year levels.  Even with my less than great grades, my dad still had the expectation that I would follow in his footsteps and attend Samoa College.  When my results came in telling me what school I got into I was not at all surprised that I didn’t get into Samoa College, heck I didn’t even get into Avele College that was how bad my grades were.  Needless to say I heard the whole spiel from my dad, “you are a disappointment to our family.  You are the first person in our family since the beginning of time who will not be attending Samoa College.  Do you realize the shame that you have brought to our family?  How could you do this to us?”  The burden of being a Palemia felt heavy on my shoulders, especially being an only child, as I tried to live with the fact that I had failed my family and killed my father’s dream of having a child follow in his educational path.  Who could have imagined the weight one would feel from trying to live up to a family name.

All my life we moved back and forth between Samoa and Australia.  Mum’s a palagi from Australia and would always get homesick so we’d move between our house in Holsworthy in Sydney and my dad’s family house in Vaivase Uta.  We moved to Sydney again half way through year 10 in high school.  I went to All Saints Catholic School.   You would not believe the teasing the kids were capable of, especially over a name.  Our science teacher’s name was Mr Cox.  As you can imagine the minds of sex crazed teenagers, who had nothing else on their minds but that three lettered word, made vulgar remarks about our teacher’s name.  One day in science class while Mr Cox was at the whiteboard one boy yelled ‘Dick’ from the back of the room.  Mr Cox turned around and asked who said it, no one confessed so Mr Cox said the whole class would be on detention.  He turned around to write on the board and a different boy yelled out ‘Willy’, this time Mr Cox ignored the yelling.  That is when it got worse, students all around the room started yelling out different words for the male reproductive organ.  By this time Mr Cox had turned around but as hard as he tried he couldn’t regain control of the class.  The yelling went on for what seemed like half an hour, with loud laughter mixed in.  On the outside Mr Cox looked like a strong man.  At close to six feet tall he towered over all of us, he purposely wore tight t-shirts to show off the muscles that lay hidden beneath cotton.  Yet even with the stature of a warrior the name calling of ego driven teenagers brought him to tears and pushed him to flee for serenity into the class storeroom.

This was a complete culture shock to my days at Leifiifi College where speaking out of turn was considered disrespectful and not tolerated by any teachers let alone the students.  I sat like a stunned mullet in my chair still trying to process what had just happened.  How could they do that?  Do they not know the shame that it will bring to their families when they find out about what they had done?

It was my third week at school and I was finding it a little hard fitting in.  I found that I didn’t do things the way the other kids did, I didn’t think the same way they did.  I looked like I would fit in with my green eyes and straight golden brown hair flowing down past my olive skinned shoulders, I could have been palagi or Greek or Italian.  The only thing that gave me away was my last name and slight Samoan accent.  So when I was befriended by Kayla I was a little apprehensive as to why the hot popular girl was trying to be my friend.  Kayla and her friends invited me to hang with them at “the spot” a concrete area behind the toilet block and across from the canteen for easy access to food.  It was so much fun we shared food and talked about teachers and the other kids.  Some of them would then go to the lower oval and smoke; too scared to try I just tagged along for fun while wondering what was so good about smoking.  I mean seriously it stunk and made you smell like a chimney no matter how much deodorant you spray on your clothes to cover it up and it doesn’t look very attractive pursing your lips to a little stick thing then looking like a dragon who couldn’t breathe fire exhaling.

I was becoming a little lonely and homesick, noticing how much I missed my friends from Leifiifi and how we would joke and share thoughts on everything together.  What I missed most was speaking in Samoan.  I may not look Samoan, but it is my first language and the one that I am most comfortable with.  Kayla was such a cool person, which helped me a little.  She was more than just pretty and popular; she was actually smart and cared about her education and her future, which was good for me because my grades were pretty atrocious.    We became pretty close, I was comfortable enough with her that I was able to confide in her some of my feelings that I didn’t think I would be able to say to anyone here, like the fact that I thought David liked me because he keeps texting me, but I never gave him my number or that I think Pooja has ukus cause she is always scratching her head and I actually saw something crawling around her hairline near her right ear.  Kayla was great about it too affirming my fears that a boy actually liked me and that she too had seen the same creepy crawlies in Pooja’s hair.

It became almost a ritual where every Friday night for the last two months I would finish school, walk to my house and get my stuff then I would go to Kayla’s place to sleep over.  This Friday was just like the others but what happened that night changed everything.  

Monday, 24 September 2012

What a Cop Out!

Ok I love my Samoan people so please do not take this the wrong way.  Why is it that many times (notice I didn’t use the word all) when a palagi is in our country to help and make the country a better place and they do things in a manner that is different to what we are accustomed to that we often label them patronizing?  Ok yes I understand that they are not Samoan, they don’t understand us because they are not us.  But they are trying to help so that we are able to learn and be able to do the things that we are currently unable to do by ourselves.  How can this be patronizing?

I am a Samoan, I live in Samoa, I eat Samoan food, I am speaking more Samoan everyday but when I speak up a little too much or do things differently to others I am quickly shut down with a she’s not a real Samoan.  So how can you say that it is just palagis who are patronizing when clearly it is not just the palagis but all people who see the world and do things differently who are patronizing, even a Samoan.

What I find patronizing is people who are not able to suck up their pride and open up their eyes to see the world from a different point of view.  Maybe if you did things differently you too would see that things are not the best as they are right now and they need to be changed.

So I am sorry but if you don’t agree with something because it is different to what you are used to don’t cop out and label it patronizing or some other word for annoying take a cement pill and toughen up!  Make the changes necessary so that we won’t have to take hand outs from other countries.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

If You’ve Got it Flaunt it

Many of my close friends know that I am very much a defender of women’s rights and a staunch supporter of encouraging women to be independent and to live their lives to the fullest.  While I would like to think that I am an Independent woman who does not depend on others for her well being, no one person can achieve this goal.

I am dependent on the government for ensuring there are schools for my son to go to, I am dependent on my family to help with childcare while I am at work, I am dependent on my place of employment to ensure that I have income to support myself and my son and the list just keeps on going.

I used to think, okay I am not going to lie I still think very little of women who use their beauty and overall feminine wiles to get things that they wanted rather than working hard to get an education and earning what they needed.   I know very judgmental of me but I really don’t understand how a woman can justify purposely taking advantage of men because they are smitten by your beauty.  Obviously this can be used in the opposite direction too but I am concentrating on women and will hate on men another day when one of them ticks me off again ha ha ha.

While I still don’t agree with women who think that this is the only way to live I recently came to the realization that in certain times of my life I have relied on these same qualities to get my own way.  Be it smiling and giggling at the Policeman to avoid a fine or being more than friendly with the butcher to get a better piece of meat, or speaking a little softer and in a higher pitched voice to the man next to me to help me carry my shopping to my car, again not forgetting to smile and bat my eyelashes.

While we all know that looks fade the fact still remains that women are not going to be equal to men in my lifetime.  So while I hope and wish that all women will be educated and have the ability to live their lives as they wish to in the future I know it is not going to happen today or tomorrow or even this century so why not take advantage of the gifts that we have been blessed with?

If smiling at a man is going to get me out of a fine because I forgot to pay my car registration or will get me an extra piece of chicken in my lunch then why wouldn’t I?  Seriously who is it hurting?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Okay so I am far from being a saint and although my mother may disapprove of other people knowing this little fact but I have been drunk before.  I know you would never have guessed it by looking at me, but I am not perfect!  In fact I have had quite a few nights where you could say I was completely off my face and would probably have been better off staying at home.  Due to some of these nights where thankfully many of my misbehaviors were blacked out of my memory I decided it would be best to try what sober is like again.

So my friends and I went to a club which has been the venue for many of my rather be forgotten moments, only this time I was sober.  While it was not my first time at a club sober, this was my first time in a while to see what the night life is like without the bottle goggles on.  It was different to say the least.  I could feel the stickiness of the dance floor from all the spilled drinks, something I never noticed before while I was doing my Michael Jackson moves.  I could see people in relationships dancing like a stripper on a pole with someone other than their partner and having that guilty feeling of should I be saying something to stop this whereas before I probably wouldn’t have noticed.  Women in tight skimpy outfits with their hooker heels on stacking it on the ground and me having a good laugh” ia ua la that’s what you get for leaving the house wearing that outfit.”

While I love dancing and I used to make the excuse that I was going out to dance and not to drink, the club is not as much fun for me when you can see how drunken people behave.  Yes, you can have a good laugh at other people’s misfortunes but I found that I was also really critical and judgmental.

Guys who when sober are almost Prince Charming like with the looks, the brain, the smile, and the jokes for me turned into dribbling buffoons who can barely get a word out or just ramble on about nonsense.  Yet it was these same buffoons who had only months earlier been knights in shining armor when I was the drunken sailor, with literally the sailor mouth, acts of violence and all.  Who was I to make such judgments when I am not perfect and I have been in their exact same shoes!?

So the moral of my story is that you don’t always realize exactly what you are like when you are drunk, and that being sober does not give me the right to be overly judgmental or critical of others, even if they act like drunken fools drooling on a table and are unable to control where their hands go.  If I don’t like it then I shouldn’t be there in the first place and I am sober enough to drive myself home, unless I am the designated sober driver and my mates need a ride home then be prepared for my in mind critiques of what you are wearing, who you are dancing with, how you are dancing, what you are saying, where your hands are, and who has a complete conversation with you while staring at your cleavage. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday nights in front of the TV

My favorite Sunday evening TV show is Biggest Loser, I don’t know what season it is because I live in Samoa and I am just grateful that they show any season of the show at all.  I love it!  It encourages me as I am trying to achieve my goal of losing weight.  How could I not feel like I can lose weight when I see how people twice the size of me can learn to eat properly and exercise so hard that they are losing more weight than I can even dream of in one week! 
This week’s episode was more than about losing weight though.  The competition had split the teams into two rather than the five or so pairs.  The team who won the challenge got a prize of a video from home.   As soon as they won, Rebecca offered to give up her video for Dina on the opposing team who had been having a hard week.  Firstly that was really selfless of Rebecca.  But what I loved to see was the strength of Dina.  She had been fighting hard to win the challenge because she really wanted to see her family.  But Dina rejected the video because she knew that she did not work out hard enough for the prize.  She wanted to feel like she achieved the right to see her family, not just have it given to her.  I loved that she could see that she needed to earn her weight loss, not just have it given to her.
The second part that I admired was when coach Mo was sitting in his team’s room discussing who they would be eliminating.  Tracey had been a bit of a pain in the butt throughout the week splitting up teams who didn’t want to be separated.  So she was the first person to go on the chopping block.  Coach Mo was the team member who had the least amount of weight lost, so all he had to do was sit quietly and let Tracey dig herself in further with her fake tears and whining (yes I don’t really like her).  But he didn’t, he knew that playing the game that way would go against every inch of his being and it was not who he was as a person.  So he spoke up and said he was the one who had the least amount of weight that he was more or less the weakest link and that they should be sending him home.  While he did end up getting sent home, I admire Coach’s ability to stay true to himself as a person and know who he is.  I am having problems with this so I love that he was able to go on international television and show people that you can achieve your goals without risking your integrity.
So while I think that too much TV is not the best thing and that there are more productive things one could do with their time I am grateful that there are still quality shows that can help you learn and progress as a person while also being entertaining.