Monday, June 30, 2008

We've come a long way, baby.

Growing up, I've pretty much lived my life without feeling discriminated against because of my sex. Hell, woman have had the vote here since 1893, we've got a woman PM, had a female Governor General, the Speaker of the House and the Chief Justice are all women. I grew up surrounded by boys ( next door neighbours were three boys, plus an older brother ) and, more often than not, I generally work with blokes.

But I still remember the first time I felt discriminated against because I was a female, as clear as day. I was eleven and our teacher was a bit creepy. He clearly favoured boys over girls - something, in hindsight, I believe was to do with his own sexuality. He would always ask a boys if their hand was up before he would ask a girl. That quietly irked me.

We used to catch the bus to school each day. Our bus stop was beside a dam so I became pretty good at throwing things, cause how else do you witter away the time while you are waiting for the school bus, if you're not throwing stones into the dam, competing with the boys? And if you throw stones into the dam on average about three days a week, about forty weeks a year for about seven years of your life, how can you not develop a good arm, unless you are a complete un-co? So, by the age of eleven I had developed a throw that was just as good as any of my male class colleagues. I didn't throw like a girl.

On this particular occasion I remember we were being picked for a game of inter-class softball. Mr Creepy had a boy pitching, another boy in at backstop, another short stop and had two boys on bases already. Everyone who wasn't picked was going to be scattered over the outfield. I was desperate to be on one of the bases because that was where all the action was, and besides I knew I was more qualified to be on one of the bases than one of the two who were already there.

My hand was firmly up, but would old Mr Creepy pick me, or any other of the girls with their hands up? Nuh-uh. He picked another boy for the last remaining base. Not one girl had been given an interesting position. And that just did it for me.

Now, I am not a tantrum thrower, have never been one. I can't even remember the last person I shouted at (possibly a recorded message?) It's just not the way I am made.

Except, it transpires, when I am not allowed to be on a base for softball.

I threw an eleven-year-old tantrum.

I remember it so clearly. I was wearing a red t-shirt with coloured butterflies on it and a denim skirt. I stamped my foot and bellowed, 'You didn't pick any girls!' I promptly got sent way into the outfield where I quietly fumed refused to participate in the stupid game of softball.

Mid-game I gathered my anger and skulked off to the classroom (which was quite large behaviour for someone who was generally a goody-good, within reason). Mr Creepy came into the classroom to give me a telling-off but I was having none of it, I started walking out of the classroom and he grabbed my t-shirt to stop me. He was demanding that I apologise and I pulled out of this grasp and said hotly, 'I am not saying sorry, you like the boys better than the girls and IT'S NOT FAIR!!'

He obviously knew there was some truth in what I said, because there was no further disciplining and next time there was a class softball game, the bases were flush with girls.

The other time I blatantly experienced it was when I was on a job in Malaysia. I had organised the entire trip, there were four of us - three blokes and me. We had been given an Indian minder, he was about fifty. Our first story was one at the National Day parade and it had been his job to get us press passes. He picked us up from the airport and said (first pointing at the boys), 'I have passes for you, you and you. But not you.' (Pointing at me). 'Now, what is every ones' jobs?'

When it transpired that the reason he didn't get a pass for me was because I was a female we were all stunned, and we all started sniggering as it dawned on us that this guy was a complete sexist pig. It was quite sensational, his sexism towards me. He refused to ask me any questions, preferring to ask the boys what was the schedule for the day, where they wanted to eat etc.

So we refused to play his game. Any question he would ask the boys, they would just say, 'Don't know, ask Kate.' I particularly enjoyed telling him his two jobs, on a long journey north, was to find us a place we could buy LOTS of beer. (I took all the money, walked out and merrily informed him I'd bought every last bottle in joint). And I also loved telling him that he had to find us a place that served beer, with Star Television so we could watch the Bledisloe Cup.

'We will stop at my friend's along the way.'

'No we won't, we will be drinking beer and yelling at the television, you do not want us in your friend's house.'

Sadly shaking his head, 'Oh you people drink too much. Oh and as for you.....' He stopped his sentence because I think he feared I may have clocked him one. (Which is actually a complete lie, he wouldn't have thought that at all, I am a shrimp. )

The point of these stories is that I my life has been lived pretty much scot-free of sexism. And last night I watched Mad Men.A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, it's been created by one of the writers for the Sopranos and it's won a swag Golden Globes. Wikipedia will tell you that, 'The series depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values.' And somebody else on the Internet says, 'Not only is it a fascinating insight into the history of advertising and how it has evolved but the show depicts the era's social norms which make for uncomfortable watching in today's society.'

Yeah it's a good show, but 'uncomfortable' doesn't even come close. Oh how it makes my skin crawl. The way woman are depicted, treated and the way they behave is truly frightening.

Getting told how to dress more saucily by a sleazy boss, and being openly discussed while in the room, 'Why do you get all the good looking secretaries? Can I have her? Or are you taking this one?'

Men actually said that stuff?

Without getting punched?

And women put up with that shit?

As I said in my previous post, if I lived in that era and under those circumstances, I would have either ended up in a place with padded walls, jail or chugging large quantities of Valium.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tupperware 'tard for hire.

I am pretty much rubbish at being female. I have spoken about this before, and generally I can glide through my life being blissfully unaware of this trait, but then there are those days when it is patently obvious just how much of a disgrace I am to my gender. I am eternally grateful to the fact that I wasn't about in the fifties, it would have been either the asylum, jail, or chugging large amounts of valium for me.

Cooking for example, my sister is a superb cook. She cooks all manner of things, sweet, savory and all to an exceptional level. I think her four and six year old are more clued up on the mechanics of baking than I am. I know that biscuit mixture tastes better than cake mixture, and fudge mixture tastes the best of all - but that's about the sum total of my sweet cooking repertoire.

My brother is also a great cook (okay, so maybe I am not such a disgrace to my gender, just the human race in general). I work with a guy who reckons you can categorise cooks into one of two types, the sweet cook - needs to be able to follow recipes, and the savoury cook who has more of a surfing approach to cooking. My brother Sunshine, while cooking both sweet and savoury, is very much a surfer mentality. He attempts to follow recipes but just can't help but make his own improvements. On the rare occasions that I do cook, I am on his team but it appears that when cooking genes were being handed out, I got the worn out hand-me-down. It's not that I can't cook. It's just that I can't be arsed cooking. (Please note, I generally break this rule when I have friends over for dinner or lunch).

Anyway, the other day a friend rang me and said, 'Do you fancy coming around for some nibbles and a glass of wine on Tuesday.....?' Naturally, she had me at 'nibbles and glass of wine' and I stopped listening after that.

Which was a little silly as the rest of the sentence could have been, 'because I've sold one of your kidneys and I'd like to whip it out' or, even worse, 'because I'm having a Tupperware party.'

Oh that's right, that's what she did say.

And that's exactly how I found myself at a Tupperware party.

Okay I am making a bit of a good story of it and to be fair to her she did say, 'But you don't have buy anything.' What she actually meant was, 'And I know you won't buy anything or have a clue what to do with most of the stuff that is for sale, but at least you'll get some food.' Anyway I figured, how bad could it be? I would be getting a glass of wine and she always does fantastic nibbly food, so that would be dinner sorted, all I needed to do was turn up and kick a few plastic containers around the room, surely?

Oh, I wrong I was. Nobody told me that I was going to have to listen, that it was going to be interactive or that I wouldn't be able to pretend I wasn't actually at a Tupperware party.

I began to get a sense of just how out of place I was when I walked in and a friend looked at me and said, 'What are you doing here? You don't cook!'

Anyway I won't bore you with detail here but let's just say in the space of about two minutes it became patently obvious to everyone else in the room as well as myself just how much I shouldn't have been at the Tupperware party. I was a fraud. The freeloader. The class clod. And I didn't set out to be an idiot, either. It happened quite by accident through kitchen utensil and baking ignorance.


Fortunately for everyone else I did have a pile of work I had to attend to that evening so there was an legitimate excuse for me to leave the party. Otherwise I am fairly confident that, at the very least I would have been sent to sit in the corner with my hands on my head or, failing that, sent home early.

Since the party I have heard conversations, 'Oh my god, I haven't told you about Kate at the Tupperware party!!!'

I am going to look at it with a positive frame of mind, for a bit of food and and wine I provided them with a little entertainment.

I think I am on to something, if anyone needs a retard to come to their Tupperware party, I have no shame, I am willing to be bought.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sometimes my brain really scares me.

I know other people's dreams are phenomenally dull, but not that that is going to stop me.

The other night I had a dream that a mate of mine had started going out with a Japanese dwarf with a really big head.

I'm sorry, but where does this shit come from?

It's even more strange when you understand that my friend is about six foot threeish (just think farking tall), funny and deeply cynical. When he left New Zealand to go and live in the States he said on national television (last day as a film critc and the presenter was wishing him the best for his careerin the US), 'If you see a homeless beggar trying to shag a parking meter, please come and give me money.' He said this at 5.30 p.m.

He now lives in the UK and I told him of my dream and he text back, 'As far as I can tell, you've either started free basing crack or are eating far too much cheese before bedtime.'

I don't know, but if this type of dreaming continues I will start to get deeply afraid of going to sleep and I would like to be not held responsible for my dreams. Unless of course they are made up of giant marshmellow flying unicorns, in that case they are mine, all mine .

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I want a blue one.

I was going to bang on about the Bioethics Council recommending that parents get the right to choose the sex of their unborn babies. And I sort of still will, but it will be the abbreviated version as I've got another morning talk up my sleeve.

I think choosing the sex of your unborn child is just creepy. The Bioethic's Council justify it by saying that sex selection would be for social reasons of 'family balancing.' Excuse me while I gak in the nearest pot plant, but how designery, perfect is that? Next it will be 'I want a curly brown haired, green eyed, musical, rocket scientist' despite the fact that the rest of the family are blond haired, blue eyed, as musical as banana cake and all possess IQs in single figures.

Or 'We were really going for the Spanish look, you know something a little more exotic?' I'm sorry, but if you want an exotic looking child, go shag a Spaniard.

And then it's only a small jump before the circus families are ordering four armed dwarfs because it would be good for business.

I was discussing this with my friend, the mother-of-four-boys-five-years-and-under. Now she would have dearly loved a girl somewhere along the way. She was particularly sure number three and four were going to be boys. But despite this, her view is that you end up with what you can cope with. And I reckon she is right. Out of all the people I know, her and her husband would be the people I would vote for having to raise four boys. They don't sweat the small stuff.

The other part of my morning talk I am quite excited about. When I bought my house last year it didn't take me long at all to get stuff on the wall. I hauled my-friend-the-antiques-dealer in and he kindly hung nearly all of my pictures for me (in between muttering things like, 'Why do you have to having fucking three of everything?')

He also pointed out that pretty much all of my wall space has been pretty well taken up. There's not a lot of real estate left for the picture market in my house these days. Except for the dunny. I had been unsure what to do with it. And until yesterday was stark white. I had thought of plastering it in maps of countries I have visited, and when I went into the map shop yesterday I discovered that the maps they had were so huge, that I would only manage to get three countries on the walls.

Then I came up with another idea, I would turn my loo into my travel scrap book. I have to confess I've slaughtered an atlas in the decoration of the dunny, but only the countries I've been to. Soon I'm going to stick up labels of which photos belong to which country.

Let me introduce you to my loo.

It's still work in progress, there's a whole lot of photos to go yet and it's possibly only interesting to me, but it was one hell of an entertaining way to spend a cold Saturday afternoon.

I suppose this post brings new meaning to 'toilet traffic.'

Monday, June 16, 2008

Does 'miracle' need demoting?

Last week New Zealand Woman's Weekly had a headline on the cover announcing that a former All Black and a former Silver Fern were celebrating the arrival of their 'miracle baby.'

Now let's stop for a moment and consider the word 'miracle'.

Wikipedia will tell you that a miracle is 'a fortuitous event believed to be caused by interposition of divine intervention by a supernatural being in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of Nature is suspended, or modified. '

And The Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary (revised edition) will tell you that a miracle is a supernatural event.

In my world (and I accept my world can be a rather delusional one) a miracle would be say, Stevie Wonder regaining his sight. Or if a baby had been discovered alive seventeen days after the Sichuan earthquake, that I would consider a miracle. Peace in the middle East - miracle. Myself becoming a respected opera singer - giant miracle (a stapler could hold a better tune than me).

So you can understand why, when I saw a shot of two apparently fit and healthy looking individuals accompanied by the words 'miracle baby' I was a little intrigued as to why this baby was a miracle? I know people claim birth to be a miracle and all that, but really isn't that like so beginning-of-time school of thought? Isn't birth more of a really bad physical equation? (Have to say, whoever invented the whole child birth caper was obviously rubbish at geometry.)

But back to this baby, why was it a miracle? Had its mother previously been a man? Did the baby's mother cough it up like a fur ball? Could it change water into wine? Did it whisper the final score of a yet-to-be-played game of the Lions versus the All Blacks into its parents' ears?

Surely, something had to be up with the little bundle of joy cause we're not talking a couple of drug addicted, chain smoking, heavy drinking fifty year olds having a baby. We are talking two relatively youthful national sporting heroes, after all?

Well, er, no actually - not that much was up at all.

This baby was heralded a miracle because it, apparently, was delivered by Cesarean section. Just like nearly thirteen thousand other babies did in New Zealand in 2003. (I accept that they're not exactly up-to-date stats, but they're the best I could do on my twelve second Google search.)

Since when did arriving into this world via the sunroof become a miracle ? Is it just me or is that a rather liberal stretching of the word? Perhaps it's time to downgrade the word 'miracle' ? A mediocracle maybe?

Omens of dread.

You kind of get the feeling when two large trucks roll up outside your office with the words 'CON CUT' on the side of them and start unloading weapons of mass destruction, that you're in for a noisy day, don't you?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ooky spooky weather...not that I'm complaining.

Yesterday I when I walked to work I was completely rugged up; long boots, jeans, coat, scarf,beret and leather gloves. It was so cold I didn't even contemplate pulling my ipod out of my pocket and changing tracks. And despite all this, when I got to work I was a body with two blocks of ice at the ends of my arms, topped off with a bright red nose. When I scooted into the office the first thing I did was turn on all the heaters and attempt to turn the place into a furnace in as short a time as was possible. I even wistfully looked at the rubbish bins, willing them to spontaneously combust.

Let's just say it was c-c-c-cold.

This morning, as I am waking up, the radio tells me it will be eighteen degrees (c).

What? Who does this city think it is, Ulan Bator ? (The capital city in the world that has the biggest temperature extremes.) But then, I don't think Ulan Bator goes from one extreme to another overnight.

Today I merrily skipped to work, no white breath, no hat, no gloves, no scarf, wearing a silly little dress and autumn coat. And as I sit here looking out the window I see a yoof walking by in shorts and a t-shirt.

It's either spring already, or there's a massive earthquake on it's way. Either way, I'm loving basking in these moderate climes, long may it last. (And if the temperature plummets during the day, I am fully screwed for my walk home.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The day of the white knuckle

On Sunday I had to catch a flight out of town for a job. We were upstairs in the lounge where I was embracing my inner student and enjoying the the free stuff. Oh, how I love free stuff (the fact that I pay for the all the free stuff in one hit, always seems to be strangely lost on me).

I was climbing into a glass of wine when I heard, 'would Kate Blah de Blah, X Blah de Blah and Y Blah de Blah please board your plane immediately. You are preventing your plane from departing.'

Excuse me ?

I'm sorry, but this is wrong on a number of accounts.

1. Those guys never say, 'You are preventing your plane from departing.' They say, 'Would Kate Blah de Blah, passenger to X, please board your plane immediately at gate X.' I know this as I have heard this sentence a number of times. It's not that I mean to be last to board my plane, it's just that I sometimes I get lost in the magazine or the paper I am reading and I accidentally forget to listen to crucial information that is meant for my ears.

Small digression but - I was once leaving the capital the same time as (unbeknownst to me) my aunt and uncle were flying in to it, from the deep south. They were heading to a wedding a few hours north, which my parents were also attending.

The next day I got a call from my father, 'I hear you nearly missed your plane.'

'How on earth do you know that?'

'Your aunt and uncle were just walking into the airport as you were being called to your flight.'

'Oh.' You can't really deny that one.

2. Sunday's announcement was also wrong because we would have been on our flight IF THEY HAD CALLED IT.

So we swiftly gulped, gathered our belongings and as we departed the lounge I said to the lady, 'You never called our flight!'

To which she responded, 'Oh didn't I ? I'm sorry.' But what I think she meant to continue saying was, '.. that I am the reason there is a plane full of passengers who are vaguely pissed off with you, now.'

An amount of time into the flight I was marinating in a glossy magazine when my colleague asked, 'Did you hear that?'


'The pilot.'


'He's said there's a huge westerly and it's marginal as to whether we land....'

'OOOOOoooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh faaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk', I said, conjuring up images of being flown to the closest airport which is the size of a rugby field and then being bused back to our destination, arriving sometime next week.

'....So we may have to turn around and head back home.'

'Oh phew, that's okay.....what are you looking for?'

'The exits.'


It was at this point I began to understand why he was looking for the exits because that was precisely when we flew into the wind.


It was the bumpiest flight I've been on in years. And one of these years I am talking about included flying in to and out of Wellington airport (windy city, short runway) on a weekly basis, and Sunday's flight left all of those for dead. In the category that is Terrifying Flights, this one would have been a nominee, (but I reckon the Oscar would have gone to Snakes on a Plane).

I suppose what that flight did was made me realise exactly what you're doing when you go flying - effectively you're hurtling around the planet in a giant tin can and you're at the mercy of the elements, and the odd rogue bird or passenger.

I still remain amazed that there are people bright enough to develop air travel, and I am eternally grateful to these people, if travel had been left up to me, the only way we'd be going anywhere quickly would be down hills on sacks, or on the backs of sheep or large dogs.

There would be no flying into cities in howling westerlies. Hell no.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

From the four year old files...

I just received this text from my sister.

'The four year old has just told me she has got a good cold. (She had a bad cold yesterday.)'

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A merry Barbeque to you too, Mr Claus

Okay, it's officially winter.

I thoroughly understood that we were trapped in winter when I saw someone, on my walk to work this morning, chiseling frost from their windscreen with a credit card.

We don't get brutal winters of Canada-esque proportions, but as far as I am concerned cold is cold is cold. It doesn't matter if it's six degrees or minus sixteen degrees, it's still far too farking cold for my liking. In fact - it would almost be better if it was colder, I reckon. But maybe I'm being a little delusional in making that assumption. While it may work in my head, the harsh reality of that statment may be just a little too much to bear.

I am pleased to report that since last year I have been coping with winter a lot better than I had been coping previously.

It's called an industrial strength coat.

(Didn't take me too long to work that one out, I'll be tackling nuclear physics next).

And my coat has been revolutionary in my coping of winter. It is made in the Netherlands, it weighs about the same as me and, oh my, it's toastie warm. I was considering how much I loved my coat as I walked to work this morning. I reckon I must look like a wind-up toy as I head to work. Little legs going as fast as they can carry me, back straight as a board and head down as I keep my nose zipped into my coat. One of these days I will walk into a lampost.

But I reckon my coat works so well because it is made in a country where they do cold. And they do cold well. Anyone ever bought a winter coat made in Thailand? I remember once trying to buy suntan lotion on an island off the Philippines, now that was a spectacularly pointless exercise.

I can't really complain about the winter (this doesn't mean I will stop complaining, and when I tell you I've set the furniture on fire, you will have to understand that I most probably haven't, it's just that I'm about to) as we have to suffer nothing compared to lots of other winters around the world. I remember friends in Montreal saying that they had two seasons, winter and construction. I'm also eternally grateful that I don't have to endure months of grey, melting, slushy snow.

As I was walking to work this morning, watching my breath, I was considering how cool it would be to have Christmas in winter. The winter lights and, somehow, rugging up to go winter Christmas shopping seems more romantic than shopping for presents in the summer. Not that I'm complaining about summer at all. But I reckon Christmas would be a great highlight to winter. Can we move it? And we could just call the period-previvously-known-as Christmas, Barbeque Time. 'What are you doing for your Barbeque holidays?' Instead of going to church and singing, communities could throw giant barbeques and cook.

Instead of god guys talking about peace and goodwill to all mankind, we could have cooks preaching the gospel of the barbeque.

I'm going to stop writing now. I've just read what I've written and I think now it's time for me to go and sit in a quiet dark wardrobe. I will be back when normal programming has resumed.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bag Lady

I admit, I love a good bag.

I am one of those people who has a bag and hangs on to it till it wears out and then I move on. I have friends who change their bag to suit their wardrobe, but I am far too lazy to be on that team.

If I am in another country and my current bag is coming to its use-by date, I love an excuse to buy a bag, especially when I know it's going to come with the added extra of memories of being in another place. To me, that's like free steak knives.

At the risk of sounding quite tossy, so far I have amassed bags from France, Spain, Tonga, England, Malaysia, Japan, China, Australia,Hong Kong,Thailand and Bali. (Actually, it doesn't sound that tossy, it's not a very large list).

But if I looked a little closer, I would probably discover that most of them were made in China. Except for the Tongan tapa bag, don't think cheap tapa reproductions are big in China, yet.

About seven or so years ago, I attempted to develop a different bag strategy, to which I am going to finally admit defeat.

I used to be of the big multi tasking bag variety. This started at university.

Pros: Good to transport text books,great to steal wine glasses at restaurants and also very good to smuggle wine into the restaurants which you were then going to steal their wine glasses from. (We were saving the kitchen people from too many dishes).
Cons: Tendency to get very heavy.

But as I grew out of my wine glass thieving days, my bags still remained large. It was pointed out
to me that, being the owner of a rubbish back it (blowing discs and fused vertebrae) maybe I should consider downsizing my bag as possibly carting less around with me, could be an, ummm, good thing?

I saw the sense in this sentiment and have been attempting to do this every since.

And colossally failing at it.

I have actually come to the conclusion that my bags don't gradually wear out due to wear and tear - I short circuit their lives by continually trying to attempt to jam far too much in.

I am a serial bag murderer.

Two bags ago I had a lovely red bag. It was little. It could fit in my sunnies (big box), my glasses (small snap oroton that used to belong to my grandmother), my wallet, my phone, my ipod, my leatherman, a measuring tape and the odd writing instrument. (I have had to bin my pocket world atlas due to downsizing). However, just holding on to all this, my bag was as full as a Labrador after it's sneaked into a buffet. But the zip managed to close.

Fast forward a year. The red is now a tired, faded pink due to continual stretching and the bag looks like it needs to go and spend its last days in a nice sunny paddock full of lush grass.

I spied red bag mark two in red bag mark one's twilight days. Same size, different make. In the shop I did the try on. Eagerly stuffed all the contents into it and yes, they fit so red bag mark two got to come home with me.

Fast forward a year. Red bag mark two can't, for the life of it, close. ( And the advantages of a closing bag cannot be underestimated. Hands up everyone who has lost a mobile phone as it bounced cheerfully out of an unclosed bag and down into a very permanent fitted grate on the side of the street? Some people win Lotto, I lose phones down grates at ten o'clock in the morning.)

Anyway red bag mark two was looking exhausted. ( I think it might have had something to do with the thirteen writing instruments that I discovered it was harbouring, but that's just pure speculation).I had seen its demise coming so, when in China earlier this year, I bought myself a new bag - but this time, I had the good sense to up-size. This was a black sleek bag, very cool and lots of hidden zips and compartments.

Compartments for everything, you could put your wallet there, lipsticks there, car keys there, sunnies there, that compartment could be a work compartment for tapes or discs. Oh look, and there's even room for your book if you're going on a plane.

Oh so practical, and I can safely zip everything away.

Except there's one problem.

Ring ring.


I know it's in there, filed somewhere safely it in the middle compartment? The side compartment? The front flap? The back compartment?WHERE'S MY FUCKING PHONE??

Sigh. On the upside I now can fit everything into my bag, but on the downside, I now suffer from compartment anxiety.

Is there a support group for that?