To be honest, I had it prettyyy easy in terms of how the lockdown went; I won’t speak for anyone else’s lockdown experience, obviously. Within an already existing broken system, that got exasperated during these times, I was fully aware of my privilege
Time is a concept, but what is the exact time you were born so I can look up your natal chart?
When lockdown hit Te Whanganui-a-Tara I was personally dancing down a well-trodden path of burnout with a smile on my face and a tiny tear in my eye. I am very aware that I was able to have the novelty of a small lockdown, enough time to reflect, re-examine, and then get back to it.
Saying “I’ve changed”, but slowly coming to realise that I can slip back into old habits as much as the next consumer. I don’t stress over the ‘little things’ as much as I used to. Everyone does appreciate the times we have together more.
Such a brief lockdown period, in a way, made it a bit more heart-breaking that my nana fell over in the middle of those seven weeks. She suffered a brain bleed and was in hospital for three days completely conscious, before passing on. Our whānau could not come together or say goodbye; it felt anti-instinctual not to just get in the waka and drive up the country to wash dishes and get drunk. It all felt unreal.
Other than that my lockdown was filled with new love lost and old hobbies found again, getting stoned and taking extremely long walks into parts of the bush around my whare, places I had never been walking and have never returned to since. There were a lot of movies,masturbation, meditation, cooking recipes I had never tried before and have never tried since; making lots of weird music; and getting to know every side story of my darling wharemates. I felt so thankful that I was able to do all those things. Other than Nana dying, I had a bit of a dreamy time tbh.
Rituals are important.
No one thinks I’m old, but hey, time’s a concept, right.
Suddenly, it all happened with Nana, but even a long death happens quickly in the end. Admittedly, I was having a harder time processing it than I realised. I thought I had done enough grieving, no-tears-left kind of vibes. I would go for my much-needed walk around the streets and just feel utterly raw. It felt like I was naked almost, that maybe people could see I was all fucked up. Some days I felt like I was going to just fall over, which was so strange to experience, because of that un-researched emotion, grief. I would be at home and think “Yes! Great, right, I feel like I want to go for that walk now, it’s been too long my friend, me, I’m actually feeling quite happy, and yeah I think I’m good now.” I would have the armoury of headphones and sunglasses to shield me from the general public, I would be off. Then it would happen, like one of those dreams where you’re back in high school with no pants on. It got to be a bit annoying.
So, I decided to do a ritual. I kind of thought I had, but realised, I had only really talked to my dead nana while alone having a cigarette. And though it was heartfelt while chatting, I could almost feel her interrupting me to curse the ciggie in my hand.
I had bought one single tulip bulb while I was in Mitre 10. It was a few hours before the store closed and Aotearoa was about to go into Level 4 (total lockdown). I had convinced myself I was not panic buying at all, even though I was just throwing random ass things into a trolley. Tulip bulbs!? Wtf, whenever have I? Nana loved tulips, so it seemed suspiciously witchy I had purchased it for the unknown ritual.
Sad but true but weird but funny.
Everyone’s busy and sad.
I planted it in a pot, then read out a love note to Nana, then burnt it, and thought “Rituals are important”. Felt a weight lift. Could now walk around the streets fully clothed.
This meant that, even though it was so sad when my friend threw out the tulip bulb (as an awesome gift they weeded our garden after lockdown, and threw away, what was to them, an unmarked pot of dirt, but was really my nana’s tulip) I was still able to think, “Lols, well at least I had done the ritual”.
Months later, after lockdown, 2 of my friends died, and I was running out of the whare (and maybe into that old familiar path of burnout that I vowed never to step foot on again). I looked up and noticed that the most gorgeous tulip was growing on the top of a heap of rubbish and weeds!!! The goodbye ritual turned into nana saying, “Helloooo” (:
If you have read this right to the end, congratulations! The first 8 people to email me with your choice of either:
-1 Strange Stains long-sleeved top of your preferred size (music slash online shopping)
-Or, a home-cooked meal delivered to your door (recipes never revisited). (Only if you live in the Te Whanganui-a-Tara region).
-Or, a tulip bulb (Helllooo).
Email: email@example.com xx
Kia ora mai,
Ngā mihi nui,
Strange Stains xo
Video footage of me playing live in China by Laura Duffy
(The reason I’ve chosen to give prizes to the first 8 people emailing is because it was the one-year anniversary of a tour I did in China while we were in lockdown &8 is a lucky number in China.)
Images by Ted Black
Relaxation Video: Edited by Aimee Cooki M.
Relaxation Song: Written and produced by Aimee Cooki M (Strange Stains)
Remixed beautifully by Zacharias Szumer (Zacharias is the picture of the white guy in the video)
Artist Bio Text
Strange Stains is one of the many projects of Aimee Cooki M; producer, singer, visual artist, and designer. Cooki grew up in Rotorua and now resides in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Her singular approach, and excitable energy, brings mesmerising and luscious performances of industrial-pop soundscapes that encourage footloose abandon. DIY ableton beats, her faithful synth, and a strapped on microphone are just some of the tools used in crafting fresh aural stains that amplify the poetry of this bogan Madonna.
Strange Stains has recently been part of two compilations; '1.1' under the label ACOLDPLACE, and also on 'Artists in Residence' that was curated by Ludus; the latter was in collaboration with Andrea Mnrd, in a project called sleepy slut.
Strange Stains did the soundtrack for Laura Duffy's most recent project;!ERROR!, and was part of a podcast series 'Better Off Read' that Pip Adams put together.
Strange Stains has played shows in Indonesia, Australia, Japan and China. As well as around Aotearoa.
Right now (2020) she is part of the way through recording a new LP and filming accompanying videos.