Sunday, August 08, 2010

What to think

It's a crazy old world when little old me just doesn't know what to think anymore. Thinking, and being certain are two things I excel at - go on, ask me anything! But this past week has been discombobulating and disconcerting. I've become one of those mental folk who pace up and down the footpath outside their houses staring wildly and gesticulating at the children going past on their way to school. Nothing makes sense:

After weeks of trying on clothes at Christchurch's loveliest shops I ventured into the black hole of the $2 recycled clothing warehouse in Ferrymead. It stinks, the clothes are musty and third hand. They are also $2. I tried on 9 items, they fit me, I look hot, I got $2 change from my twenty bucks. I don't think you can even park in town for less than $20. Saba, Helen Cherry and DKNY were just three of the high fashion brands I rescued from that cold dark dungeon. Please don't go there. I like to think it's my secret.

I was trying to email J in the States using his facebook site, and accidentally stumbled upon a chap with a similar name whose bio said: "Know I'm not a stud but don't consider myself to be too bad looking." Que? His photo was up for all 400 million facebook users to see and form their own judgements. While I'm no fan of Sharia law I felt like draping myself in an old black sheet for my next profile photo - when will this obsession with how we all look end?

The Pope (and this is hardly surprising) has declared that the ordination of women is as offensive to God and the Catholic Church as paedophilia. You need me to explain what I'm certain I think about this?

T & P are studying Tikanga Maori at school and had trips to the museum to learn about the history of settlement in New Zealand and the old tribal way of life. P reported that she now knows that "Maori are people" and T's trip was summarised by the following piece of news:

Museum teacher: The Maori at this time were very clever. They kept coming up with new and ingenious ways of killing each other. They were clever at other things too, but the ways they killed each other were amazing.

I was a parent helper on that trip and rued the missed opportunities. The boys in the car on the way in had no understanding of the timeline of history in terms of what else was happening in the world at the time New Zealand was settled and knew almost nothing about the land wars and the historical injustices that give rise to the tensions of today. I know that I shouldn't expect too much from such a short visit but when I asked the boys on the way home if they enjoyed the trip, one of them noted it was exactly the same trip, talk and museum teacher they'd had the year before. Now that's preparing our children for a constantly changing world. We talk about wanting our kids to appreciate cultural differences and the museum teacher takes them straight to a stereotype about killing and cannabilism. I'd like to have been able to share with my children a similar European history about Vikings and torture and slavery to provide some balance to the savage stories they were being spun as though exclusive to Maori. But my own knowledge of history is embarrassingly brief and the best I could come up with was some vague reference to Henry the 8th cutting off his wife's head because he thought she'd had sex with her brother...and well, you'll appreciate that 9 and 10 year olds don't need that sort of history either.

P wants to marry T and I've explained that she can't and will have to marry some other boy or girl. "Girls can't marry girls." Not in New Zealand, I explained, but they can be civilly unioned and have property rights just like everyone else except nuns and priests. "No they can't, X told me that boys kissing boys is gross." And so it's begun. The beginning of the prejudice and bigotry. My own voice of reason is drowned out by the loudest voice in her class of 5 year olds.

Coca-Cola has been taken to court in the United States for the blatantly false claims about its Vitamin-Water which can also be bought here in Christchurch. It's promoted as being a healthy drink. It actually has 33 gm of sugar in it and has about 1 cents worth of synthetic vitamins added. Coca-Cola's lawyers have argued that they are not breaching fair trading laws because no reasonable person would be misled by the advertising claims. No reasonable person, they stress, would actually believe that a drink called VitaminWater and advertised as being healthy was good for you! Everyone knows, they say, that advertisers make outrageous claims that aren't ever expected to be true. No VitaminWater drinker, says Coke, believes they are drinking water with vitamins even though the label insists they are. Consumers know that they are actually drinking sugar and food colouring.

If I sound tired and overwhelmed by the absurdity of it all, it's because I am. I want to escape to a tropical paradise, read books all day, swim with little coloured fish, and sip mock-alcoholic beverages with umbrellas poking out the top. Fortunately, that's what I'm going to do after 10 more sleeps. Imagine the updates when I get back:

1. It all makes sense! Coburn reveals a unified theory of everything.
2. Sell the lot! Coburn reveals a fresh approach to your summer wardrobe dilemmas.
3. Culture for children! Coburn unveils a new curriculum for teaching children about their place in the world. It involves cupboards and on the 'release' days, costumes. See my previous post about sack cloth fashion.
4. Religion for girls! Coburn shares a new approach to women's roles inside the church. It involves being outside. With placards.
5. What next! Coburn shares her plans for the next, most exciting 12 months of her life.

I'm certain I'll be thinking more clearly when I get back.


Anonymous said...

discombobulating?? What does that mean? It makes you sound very learned.

Sacha Coburn said...

Excellent. When used with disconcerting it's a tautology.

Anonymous said...


BeJolly said...

What's sad is that the school chose to take the children to a Musuem to find out more about Maori. Now you're on the school board perhaps you could suggest that biculturalism is about Pakeha and Maori living together today (and in the future), and that for the next visits they could head for a marae and meet and establish a relationship with Maori in a real and modern context