Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Racial blindness... a disability?

My Mother has a story that she loves to tell.
When I was 11 and started at a new school I was describing my friend Katherine to her. She couldn’t remember the kid in question, although she had met her when she picked me up previously.

I went through the stats again.
“My height, straight black hair, round face but skinny body, no freckles, great at art, wore her school uniform too big” (her mum knew she was still growing too).
Then Mum came to school camp and I introduced them, and Mum remembered her.
“SEEEEE Mum, You DO know her!”
Because she did.

Later in life when I was at Uni, mum was telling this story to a friend of mine and I assumed the punch line was Mums terrible memory.

No, it was my colour blindness.
They key visible feature of Katherine was that she looked Korean.
My first thought was; “But how do you describe that?”
“High cheek bones, no eyelid fold, awesome ability to tan, but no desire to do so?”

I was a bit saddened by the story.

Mostly because I have changed. Describing Katherine today it would be “My Korean friend from intermediate school”*.
I assume this change is because I have learnt to recognise different races, and it is the easiest way to identify a person to someone else.

Partly because Mum obviously did see people in terms of race as a primary distinguishing feature, and that’s a bit disappointing I guess.

I’m also confused. Presumably I didn’t naturally mark people out by race but have learnt to do so.
However, my own mother couldn’t recognise Katherine by the features I gave her without the racial information.
So where did I come from?

It took me a few years to stop being sad that I lost that part of me.
I have realised that to be totally blind to race and culture would be as bad as judging people solely on their race or culture.
Two ends of the spectrum, neither ideal.
As well as not identifying her by race I was probably assuming that Katherine loved vegemite, and playing at the beach and climbing trees. Because that was what I liked!
Katherine liked reading, drawing, had a close relationship with the catholic church and loved Kimchi (an acquired taste). Our friendship was all the more wonderful for the differences.

To see and respect the differences so you can learn from them, but not make the assumption of what they are by how they look is the challenge.

When we are watching a film my partner often says
“Where is that actor/actress from?”

I always hate the question because - how do you know?
How do you judge?
Why do you judge?
I could base it off an accent or colour, or clothing choice, but mostly it is guess work.

Where I am from, and my racial origins’ are such a small part of who I am.
I would love people to get to know ME, and the oddities that make up the culture of me, rather than make assumptions based on how I appear.

Where are you from, what is your culture, and why are you like that??

* I have more than one friend who is Korean, but only two friends total from intermediate school, so the oddity is the friend part of the sentence, not the Korean part!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sorry, your shit is not the shit on my agenda to give a shit about today...

I snapped at someone yesterday...

Before I knew it they had mentioned to several people that I’m a meany.*
This was in the real world.
In bloggy blog land, while in the same mood I tend to tolerate fools less and write sharper responses to dim-witted or off topic responses to discussion points.
Consequently I come across as a bit of a ‘meany’ there too.

Next time someone snaps at you, pause, breath, and consider the fact that it might not actually be about you.
Unless they came into your space and started bullying you deliberately, there is a really high chance that it isn’t. Take it on the chin, and remember you are only one segment of their life.
Try asking if they are ok...
Chances are they will have a big melt down and need a cup of tea and you can go about your business feeling smug instead of a victim of some Meany!

Someone very close to me criticised me a few weeks ago about not being “caring” enough over someone’s breakup. I had made all the right noises, and was genuinely sad about said break-up; however the person I was talking to wasn’t actually involved, and had winged about the tragedy for over 30 minutes.
I had listened and then eventually pointed out that if someone isn’t in love any more, you can’t MAKE them stay with someone.
They got quite cross with me, and said I was selfish and hung up.
At the time I’d had news about one friend’s cancer, and another who had been admitted to hospital for unexplained cardiac issues aged only in his early 30’s.
I myself am quite busy with a big (non-work, so on top of my working day) time commitment which I spend roughly 4-5 hours at 5-6 days per week.
So at the very minimum I’m just plain tired.
At the biggest, I’m thinking about mortality, frightened of loosing yet more friends.
For me stressors are like wind, and once you get a few big ones you can’t hear anything outside the tornado swirling around you.
So I’m sorry if I can’t pull the right faces in response to a breakup/stressful day/ hole in your costume.
I can’t hear you over the storm in my head.

In conclusion;
Selfishness is an accusation from the perspective of someone else, concerned that they are not the centre of your universe.
And who’s selfish?

*Meany may not have been the exact term used.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Date Rape - (It’s not what you think)

There are no triggers to follow.

I am fully anticipating receiving at least one angry message about making light of date rape, by misusing the term.
I wish to first explain I am striving in my life to prove that feminist is not a bad word or a derogatory term and I apply the label to myself with pride.
Part of that is appreciating the diversity that comes with any group of people, feminists included.
And I’m a feminist with a dark sense of humour. So like it, or leave.

My partner and I have gotten to that lovely stage in a relationship where we have to organise to be romantic; otherwise we tend to work on our own computers, occasionally discussing plans for the weekend and negotiating chores.
What usually happens is around Thursday we divvy up the things we have to do on the weekend (work, rehearsals, training), stuff we have to do that is fun (birthdays, dinners, shows etc), and the stuff we want to do without being told to!
A separate section of this process is the negotiation of “date nights”. These are special; we wash prior. We don’t read the paper, or books. We turn off our cell phones. We find something we both want to do, and try to play nicely.

Organisation has kind of gone down the tubes in our house, due to the Man working all hours, and me being at the theatre or training most nights of the week.
So we trudge through treacle all week and know that we will both be busy all day on the weekends.
And all of a sudden it’s Saturday night.

A few weeks back we had nothing planned by the time we got to Saturday night.
We had a shower, got some food, and saw a movie.
We were walking home hand in hand and I said
“What a lovely date.”
He looked stricken.
“This is a date?”
I thought about it...
“Well, we are both clean, and outside the house, there is no one else along, and we are being nice- so yeah, I think so.”

“But I haven’t put much effort in! I wasn’t trying! You ought to give me a warning before we go on a date so I can bring on the A game.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I hadn’t noticed.
“It’s ok, we had a nice night, it counts, go with it.”

He seemed genuinely concerned that I had tricked him into unwittingly having a lovely evening...


Turns out, he is smart enough to know that date night is important enough to me that if he didn’t play the game I would be upset.
And if he doesn’t know there are expectations for an evening he could miss them by accident.

Fair enough.

I took him on a date, he didn’t consent, he wasn’t trying, and he had no chance to consciously agree to dating me and having fun.

Is that date rape?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Not A Morning Person.

For quite some time there has been a war going on in our home.

It has creeps up on me throughout the week, and on the weekend the battle intensifies.

As a little background... I am NOT a morning person.
It’s not that I am unpleasant once I wake (I don’t think so anyway), or that I don’t like mornings.
It’s simply that I genuinely struggle to wake up, and stay awake.

Generally if I can stagger upright I’m good to go, but keeping my eyes open and remembering to breath deeper so I can stand is sometimes a bit of a problem.

This comes to the great amusement of my full-time bed buddy (I really must think of a proper name to call him on here).
He seems to find it great fun to try to wake me up, and is totally amazed by my capacity to have interactive conversations which I then have absolutely no recollection of once I actually wake up.

So far he has tried being bossy and trying to MAKE me get up, stealing the blankets, going on about how “lovely the day is”, leaving the curtains open, talking at me, cuddling, turning the radio on... Even made me breakfast in bed!
All to no avail.

The poor man loves to get up and go in the morning, and doesn’t have a whole lot of excess time to waste waiting around for me to get my ass into gear, so it must be frustrating.

This morning he learnt a new trick.

I was doing my usual hit snooze trick when he started chatting to me.
I obliged by pretending to listen and mumbled intermittently when he paused for a response.
He then left the room and went downstairs.

I heard his feet receding off into the distance and relaxed back into my pillow.

From downstairs I heard his voice loudly proclaim –

I went racing downstairs thinking there was hail outside, or something equally interesting to see.

He just finally figured my strongest motivator...

Not greed, or shame, or self will, or love for him;

Just sheer curiosity!!

Me 12, He 1
However I think the war was just won.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Depending on who is watching...

This is a public service apology.

I wore tights yesterday.... Don’t judge me.
I've changed my stance from wanting to ban lycra, (a rash judgement call made in revulsion of budgie smugglers one particularly droopy summer) to living in it!
I work from home when only doing office stuff, and go to the gym after work, so it seems silly to change pants when no one sees me during the day.
Aaaaany way.
Every now and again at the gym there is someone usually female, (the guys love themselves way too much to wear gym clothes from last season) wandering around in a pair of tights so worn that you can tell the underwear style through them.

What do you do in this scenario??
I've been torn between pretending I didn’t notice, wondering if it was a style choice, and wanting to offer them my jacket to wrap around their waist.

I’ve usually assumed that they don’t know and I pretend that neither do I.
It seemed fair to me! I don’t know her; why do I have to be the one to break the Endorphin induced confidence bubble?

Last night I trudged up the stairs in my gym clothes at the end of the evening.
Yes, yes, I know; Feral! I should have showered earlier bla bla bla.
And my boyfriend blithely called out from behind me

"Hey I can see your Ass."

Yeah, I know; tights dont leave much to the imagination from a down hill view."

"No really, I can see your butt, ALL of it... Its nice, you are wearing **insert description of underwear here**"


Oh no.

Oh no no no no no.

I have been going to the gym for long enough to see absolutely NO physical results, but my ass has apparently been working so hard it's trying to escape through my pants.


So to anyone walking behind me for FSM knows how long, I am SO sorry.
My butt should not be your view.

On the upside, in order to get rid of the cringy shame of people seeing more of it than they should, I have written a list of awesome things my ass does, to convince myself it was not a bad thing.
It was an HONOR for all those Lucky people yesterday!

It has travelled around the world and leaned against some pretty awesome monuments for photos.

I can spin really fast on it when wearing jeans and on a hard floor.

It is narrow enough to fit through doors, yet sturdy enough to use to shove open the jammed front door in winter.

It has brought joy to countless children on it for piggy-back rides.

It did a large majority of the work while climbing to 5,200 and hanging out at Mt Ama Dablam base camp.

It protected my pelvis and coccyx from certain doom in my car accident.

It did almost all the work keeping my head above water whilst white water kayaking.

It provides perfect padding each and every time I fall. Not once have I broken my hip.

It is the most marvellous cushion when on a picnic, or remote camping trip.

I can use it to provoke either lust or laughter in a few simple motions(depending on who is watching.)

It can be relied on to provide warmth to curl around for my bed partner.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Are you an optimist or a Pessimist?

An optimist is a person who sees only the lights in the picture, whereas a pessimist sees only the shadows. An idealist, however, is one who sees the light and the shadows, but in addition sees something else: the possibility of changing the picture, of making the lights prevail over the shadows.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Justice, Kiwi style.

I know that the Ministry of Justice exists to create a fairer and safer New Zealand, and vigilante justice is not recommended. However I had to have a very long laugh when I saw this latest news article.
I haven’t actually seen the video; it was not available when I tried.
A quick run-down on what happened...
In Whangarei two men were apprehended in a citizen’s arrest by some locals who then “kidnapped” them and forced them to dance until the police arrived.Thier dancing was filmed and uploaded to youtube.
Apparently when the police arrived one of the officers had to leave the room, they were laughing so hard.
For all I know was is a distressing and scarring experience for the poor captives.
Not as distressing and scarring as the young man who was stabbed to death by a man so enraged by the frequent and repeated tagging of his fence that he took a life.
I still cannot understand how that could have happened.
The people who held the taggers were apparently killing time until the police showed up, they weren’t trying to bypass the justice system, just get a little extra in on the side.
To be honest,in spite of my interest in human rights my initial and lasting response is good hearted amusement. Our letterbox was repeatedly smashed every weekend a few years back, and we tried to find ways to booby-trap it to surprise the people who were doing it. Ideas that were thrown around (but not used)were making the surrounding area slippery somehow, glass, nails, explosives, packets of anthrax...
We were getting pretty frustrated – letter boxes are not priced to be purchased weekly. A fence is significantly larger, and making the culprits do a dance seems pretty kind in comparison.
I LOVE living in a country without common firearm use, where people can still keep a sense of humour!
I will try and keep this incident in mind and I think we should start a list of possible punishments that can be done without wasting police time. All may be filmed, and distributed, as long as film proof of the crime can be provided.
Perhaps each film should be sent to the ministry of justice and the money that would have been spent organising the justice can go towards cleaning up after the incident.

Petty crime
Littering, spitting or urinating in public, first time shop lifting.
Punishment: Do the chicken dance, or sing the national anthem on film

Heavier duty
Repeated small item shop lifting, disturbing the peace, tagging/destroying minor property.
Punishment: to sing and dance the Macarena whilst wearing only underwear.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I have been following with great concern and interest the earthquake in Christchurch, getting news from family and friends down there, as well as the media.
Also interesting has been the emails and interest from people overseas, concerned that I may have been in harm’s way, I feel terrible I didn’t think to update that I was in Auckland and Ok, since I travel expensively for work. I feel grateful for all the love coming in, and I’m passing it on to those who need it.
It has taken me a few days to get my head around things in Christchurch, in order to write clearly about what has been lost, and gained in the week so far.
Just to clarify, I am not in Christchurch; my family have not lost property. No friends of mine have been harmed and my grandmother is not too scared to sleep.
So this is not a personal account of the earthquake, but an insight into the surrounding hubbub.

I heard a woman call into the radio this evening, I suspect she called more to talk, than to talk specifically about any one aspect. She had a recognisable tone of the shell shocked.
Her voice was completely lacking in affect, yet she was clearly very distressed.
Her words that really struck me were; “everyone is talking like the quake is over. The quake was easy. The aftershocks are hard. It is like the earth is taunting me. Every time I relax there is another one.”
My heart went out to her, she was obviously petrified, and who can blame her?
At 7.1 on the Richter scale this quake was the biggest NZ has ever experienced and they are still experiencing aftershocks. (up to 5.4 today)
She said she still hasn’t had a shower yet.
That gave me pause for thought.
I imagine that she has probably been fixing and tidying up a half a ton of dust even if there hasn’t been any major damage to her property. Most people shower at least daily, and this woman hasn’t felt like she could let down her guard for 5 minutes in order to shower yet.
That means that she hasn’t let her guard down in four days.
Four Days.
I tend to get cold symptoms if I don’t get a good night’s sleep for more than a week.
I cannot imagine how my body would feel after being on edge 24 hours a day for 4 days straight.

I realise that people in war zones and other disaster areas experience this, including our own Women and Men deployed in combat zones.

The shock comes not from the existence of the symptoms and the experience of the woman I heard, but that it was in Christchurch.
Christchurch, for those not in the know, is about as middle-class suburban as NZ gets.
It was not on a known fault line until Saturday, and stuff just doesn’t HAPPEN there.
They struggle to get bands to tour past Auckland and Wellington and get there!
It is a beautiful area with access to some of the most stunning places in NZ, but if our cities were siblings, Wellington would be the uptight over achiever, Auckland would be the complacent stoner, Hamilton the promiscuous trouble causer, and Christchurch would be “the reliable one”.
Rotorua, Hastings/Napier have known geothermal activity, Christchurch most certainly does not.

My heart goes out to all those involved, and I’m waiting to hear what is really needed, before I step up and send supplies down.
So far, I hear that they need pillows for those who are staying in shelters.

By the way, this seriously disproves the BS theories I hear from idiots that natural disasters are caused as punishment (e.g. Katrina due to people turning away from Jesus and toward voodoo).
And as for Boob-quake... it is too bloody cold to even know if people HAVE boobs at the moment!! (couldnt resist a little bit of humor)

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is this thing called Love?

“L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you can adore
Love is all that I can give to you
Love is more than just a game for two
Two in love can make it
Take my heart and please don't break it
Love was made for me and you.”

I’m not a particularly romantic woman; I will pass on the flowers and take practical help.
Skip the compliments and have someone who will stand by my side when the going gets rough.
Screw presents - I want that man who is the one person in any room that I want to spend the whole time with because we never tire of learning more about each other.
Don’t bother whispering sweet nothings... I would rather have a man who lets me speak my mind, and still stands up for their own beliefs and ideas.
I don’t want empty posturing in front of the lads, but someone strong enough to give me my freedom, and not abuse theirs.
I don’t need someone strong enough to carry me over the threshold, but someone strong enough to trust me to hold their heart in my hands and not crush it in my rush to live life ‘my way’.

The lyrics are “L-O-V-E” Originally Nat King Cole’s song; one of my favourite songs in the world when sung by Natalie Cole.

Please don’t misunderstand this posting; anyone who knows me knows I’m lucky enough to be dating a true romantic who is very sweet. My lack of romanticism should not reflect on him.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work

No doubt people have seen this. I hadnt and it is AWESOME.
Thanks to the feminist law professors for this one.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don't put drugs in people's drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON'T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don't pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don't communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don't forget: you can't have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone "on accident"you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.