Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Plus-size fat-sion designers… pay attention

Posted in Uncategorized on 27/03/2017 by molliemoogle

Dear Plus-size Designers.

We need to have a chat.

A looooong chat. About my inability to find plain shirts. Specifically, plain, button-down, long-sleeved shirts.

Fuck, just corporate wear in general that isn’t a fucking tunic, an off-the-shoulder, a low-cut, a crop-top, bell-sleeved, sleeveless, or horrifically patterned.

Really. Just a plain, white (or blue, grey, or black) button-down shirt. Hell, if you had a white shirt, I could probably deal with a thin-striped shirt, as long as it was a fucking button-down, long-sleeved shirt. Preferably cotton, or linen.

Tunics, I hate. Patterns, I hate. What I want: A. Plain. Button. Down. Shirt. In. Nine. Different. Colours. If I find a shirt that I like, that fits well, and is in more than one colour, I’ll buy five. I don’t care if you have a marled raspberry surprise colour… as long as you also have the basics: white, grey, blue, black, and red.

Is there something wrong with you? Do you not realise that this is a fucking staple of a corporate wardrobe, or any wardrobe for that matter?

burberry-brit-basic-button-down-blouse-white-b

All I want for Christmas is a white button down shirt. Srsly.

Do a Google Image search for “white button down shirt” and you get a metric shit-tonne of hits- designer shirts through to cheap Walmart shirts.

Guess what? They’re all for skinny women. I have nothing against skinny women. One day, I will be one too and I will have all the white button down shirts I can fit in my closet. But until that day comes, I will have to put up with shit like this (and if you didn’t click on the link, it’s an image search for “women white button down shirt plus size”.. the results are disappointingly, er, skinny).

I think, maybe, I should chuck in my job and find a way to learn to draw, because I could open a plus-sized corporate wear store that includes wardrobe staples: a plain white button down shirt for starters.

Because you’re not fucking doing it, are you?

Yeah, I’m pissed off. Some of us want to go a little higher on the corporate ladder than others and we don’t want to do it in a shitty-patterned, sleeveless, and SHAPELESS tunic.

And guess what? Plus-size women have body shapes, too.

What, you think I’d let you off the hook for the REALLY shitty way you design clothes? I don’t have a box for a body; I have a fucking body that (believe it or not) is almost hourglass shaped. I’ve got a few more bumps there than the average hourglass, but I have wide shoulders, a more-tucked in waist, and I have hips. Just like other, skinnier women. Kudos to Torrid for giving us young and young-at-heart plus-sized girls a bit of variety with trendy stuff that’s somewhat fitted, but they’re not going nearly far enough. In fact, they’re a bit *too* fitted in some styles.

And the rest of you designer assholes need to shape up– I’m not old. You’re asking me, a thirty-something woman who wants to dress for corporate success to dress like a 70-year-old nanna with some of these clothes.

Yeah, fuck you.

So, let’s recap a few wardrobe basics:

  • a white button down shirt. Fitted or not. I like a little bit of fit, but not too much.
  • a little black dress that *isn’t* sleeveless. No, not a t-shirt dress, and not one that is asymmetrical. Fuck you.
  • a blazer- navy blue or black. I’d also like some colour options here: grey, maybe a pretty chocolate brown.
  • some basic t-shirts, long and short-sleeved, crew and V-neck in plain colours. Again, patterns are alright, if you also give us the option of having some plain colours in there. Not all of us like patterned shit.
  • a few nice pencil skirts, and some pants in various cuts (wide-leg, skinny, straight, etc) in plain colours– and preferably plain colours.

Most other wardrobe staples are one-sized: handbags, sunnies, shoes, make-up, so don’t waste your time there.

But give us plus-sized girls the basics. Don’t funk it up. Don’t ruffle it up. Don’t make it shapeless. You’re doing us a disservice.

Now, get to work on my shirt.

 

Signed

A pissed-off fat woman.

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The Villains Among Us

Posted in Uncategorized on 22/07/2016 by molliemoogle

I love anything to do with Phantom of the Opera: the original book by Gaston LeRoux, Susan Kay’s Phantom, the multiple (really good) fanfictions, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical, and the number of movies made. There was something special there about the Opera Ghost: he was a villain, but he was relatable. He was a genius, a madman, an architect, a builder, a composer, a magician, an illusionist, a ventriloquist, and passionate about music.

Rawr. Intellect is sexy.

One of my favourite memories as a kid was watching a made-for-TV movie based on The Phantom of the Opera, with Terri Polo and Charles Dance.

charles dance

Charles Dance was and still is an absolute, balls-to-the-wall, badass honey. Don’t care he’s older than my dad; I’d totally get with that.

I always cheered for the Phantom to get together with Christine. She was made for him. I mean, they were real soulmates. Instead, she ran off with Raoul, the most useless fop in the history of literature, in a fit of puppy love. You win some, you lose some. I’d like to add that Charles Dance and Gerard Butler make all my fangirl fantasies come to life.

*lets her mind wander for a moment* Oh yeah… bow chicka wow wow!

The Phantom is the quintessential, perfect villain. He’s the hero in his own world. An intelligent, disfigured man we can sympathise with and until we meet Raoul, we want him to get the girl. He’s been working with Christine on her voice, he’s brought her fame, and he loves her. He wants her. And, to a point, she loves him. As the story goes on, we realise that he’s not all he’s cracked up to be: he’s assassinated people, murdered others, drove some to insanity, tortured, and kidnapped people. But, when you look at what he’s been through and what he’s done, the sympathy is there. We pity him. We feel sorry for him, and at the end, when he lets Christine and Raoul go, he’s redeemed. What I loved about the 2003 movie is the end, where an elderly Raoul sees the ring and the rose on Christine’s grave. It gets me every time.

Villains are the negative feelings in each of us, just more stylised, more over the top. Thematic questions in literature often address questions and conflicts which are open-ended, resist a simple or single answer, or are controversial and/or thought-provoking: chaos, civilisation, identity, creation, freedom, adversity, illusion, reality, language, love, nature, the world, time, happiness, relationships, truths, beliefs… I could go on. Villains reflect the negative side of these themes and we as humans also have the negative side of these themes sitting in us all the time.

Which brings me to what I wanted to put up here: imagining a villain. Who is my villain in my stories? With Simon and Sarah, there are two antagonistic forces: Brice (Sarah’s psycho ex-boyfriend), and Rosaire (Simon’s prickly mother). In some cases, Brice crosses over to be Simon’s antagonist. Likewise, Simon’s mother crosses over to be Sarah’s.

I wanted to share a little about the antagonist in a previous story I began and then abandoned. I mentioned it briefly in my last post. The whole concept and premise behind this story was that I wanted to go away from the typical romance genre (the couple getting together and the action plot comes second to the romance) into something darker and grittier with romantic elements coming second to the action.

As a summary, a young assassin has agreed to take on a debt from a feared warlord during a time of severe gangland tensions. The warlord sees an opportunity to use the young assassin in more ways than one. The question is who’s going to come out on top after the dust settles?

I wrote an origin flash (small snippets from someone’s backstory) to define how they came to be the way they are. The character is Olin Misutani, the corrupt governor who wants the underworld for himself.

Olin Misutani (origin): Age 12.
Olin: Papa?
Papa: *is dead*
Olin: Papa!

Age 15:
Random Kid #1: Your dad’s dead. He deserved it.
O: Shut up.
RK #2: My dad says your dad should have died a long time ago.
O: Shut up!
RK #1 & #2: Your dad is dead! Your dad is dead!

Age 24:
Announcer: Misutani Olin is one of several new councillors for the city of Tokyo. He holds a master’s degree in political science. Aside from running on a platform of housing and benefit reform, as well as strengthening the penal system, Misutani is mostly seen as a voice of moderation in a city plagued by deep governance scandals.

Age 29:
Announcer: The final results are in: Misutani- 4 votes. Ranjit: 7 votes. Amanpour: 2 votes. Congratulations to Sandeep Ranjit.

Age 41:
Ranjit: It is with deep regret today that I must resign my post as governor of Japan and councillor to the Four Nations’ Council. My health, as of late, has been very poor and I find that I cannot perform the duties and requirements of my office any longer. A vote among the councillors has been passed and it is my great honour to announce that Misutani Olin has been chosen by the Four Nations’ Council as the next governor of Japan.

Age 43:
O: I don’t like liars.
Lau Huan: Yes, Sir.
O: The man lied to me. He said he wasn’t working for Saito. Take him, his wife, and his son out back. Shoot them.
LH: Yes, Sir.
O: Make sure you dump them at Saito’s club in plain view of the patrons. And when you’re done, tell him “kubi o aratte matteiru”.
LH: Wash his neck?
O: He’ll understand.

So, what do you think? Do you write your villain as the hero in his own story, or do you let his villainy take him wherever he wants to go?

I Think My Writing Sucks

Posted in Uncategorized on 15/07/2016 by molliemoogle

If you’re a writer, the thought goes through your head more times than you’d care to count. It’s a tough passion to have. It’s compelling. It’s terrifying. You love it. You hate it. You write screeds of words. You write two words and throw fifty away. It’s perfect. It’s crap.

Some days, it’s harder to get words down on the screen/paper than you want to admit. It’s a creative block, where nothing you want to write comes out. And those words are on the tip of your tongue too. But, you stare at the screen/paper and… it’s just not there, and you think “I cannot word today; I has the dumbz”.

The Write Practice is one of my favourite blogs to follow, because they give you deliberate practice. Practice to help get you out of that rut you’re in, or practice to look at things differently, or practice to move you to the next level.

The post today was on problems with the writing process, and the practice today was to read a piece of writing you’ve struggled with and left unfinished. then, write the experience of leaving this piece. How are you going to change what you’ve done?

My piece was my 2014 NaNoWriMo piece: Tale from the Tokyo Underworld, about a singer in a band and his deal with the yakuza to pay back a debt. There were so many different versions of this story that were all abandoned: the singer (Drystan) was not just a singer, but also a hitman. In another version, he was a vigilante and lived on the streets. In yet another, he was just a go-fer in his aunt’s accounting firm. At various points, he could manipulate souls, create life, shapeshift, was genetically modified, and was trained in black-ops.

I liked my yakuza boss, Saito. Modelled on Asami Ryuuichi from the Viewfinder manga series and Kabu from the Bi no Isu manga, he was suave, sexy, and very dangerous. I really liked my  lead singer, Drystan. He wasn’t modelled on anyone in particular; he’s more of an amalgamation of characters, both in manga and in movies.

But the problem wasn’t with the characters. The problem was the plot. To be frank, there wasn’t one. No concept. No premise. Nothing that would make me as a reader want to pick up the story and read it.

So, this is my deliberate practice today, my love letter to Tale from the Tokyo Underworld:

It hurt to leave you. Really hurt. But it just wasn’t working. It seriously wasn’t you; it was me. It was all me. I didn’t tell you what I wanted or needed from you, and that is my fault. You were one of the first I really fell in love with. I tried so many different ways to imagine you in different situations: in danger, in love, in more danger, laughing, crying, hurting, angry, but I just didn’t understand what I needed or wanted.

You had no premise, no concept, or even high concept- just a bunch of attempted starts and stops, edits, changes, and scraps. I even wrote an ending, but it didn’t work. None of it worked. I had an idea. That’s all I had, an idea.

And I still think it’s a good one, even if it is done to death: a boy with superpowers, a chosen one, the boy messiah that will come and save them all. But from what? From who? A bad guy who wants to start a war? This is beginning to sound familiar.

But you’re NOT Harry Potter. Not even close. You’re you. You’re more than Harry Potter; you’re an erotic dystopian urban fantasy: super powers, a country on the brink of a second civil war, a mafia-backed contract, and an unlikely pairing of two lonely souls. Right now, you’re a mere idea floating in a sea of other ideas that get partially written then forgotten because there is no map. No structure, no story, no theory to help prop you up and give you a second life. Once I figure out the concept and premise, I can return to you. I can come back. I want to make you better, strong, clearer, more thoughtful, and packed with more action and romance. Because I still believe in you. I still believe that this is a good idea. I still believe that I can save you from drowning in a sea of good ideas, but no concept or premise.

Give me time, my darling. Give me time to get those premises and concepts in my head and I promise, one day, I will return to you, ready to sit down, figure out who you are, and finally tell your story.

So, what’s this concept and premise thing I’m talking about? KM Weiland wrote not one but two articles on what concept and premise are.

Concept is simply the barebones of a story. The idea.

Two people fall in love. A woman fights aliens. That’s it.

There’s high concept, which delves a little further, asking what makes your concept unique and interesting to your readers.

  • Two people fall in love? A woman claming to be one man’s fiancee falls in love with his brother (While You Were Sleeping)
  • A woman fights aliens? A genetic clone teams up with mercenaries to survive an alien she gave birth to (Alien: Resurrection)

A premise though, is the flesh of the concept. It’s the specifics. The 6 questions: who (protagonist), what (opponent and his goal), when (the current situation the protagonist is in), where (the protagonist’s reactions to the disaster leads them into conflict), why (does the protagonist want this objective), and how (the disaster destroys the protagonists world).

In paragraph form: The protagonist is in his current situation wanting his objective. But, the opponent flips him into a disaster, which puts the protagonist into a conflict with the opponent.

To stay with the two examples above:

While You Were Sleeping: Orphaned Lucy (protagonist) collects tickets at the train station (situation) and the highlight of her day is seeing the handsome Peter (objective). After claiming to be Peter’s fiancee after he’s hospitalised (disaster), and his brother Jack (opponent) becomes suspicious of Lucy’s lies, Lucy does what she can to hide the real truth (conflict).

Alien Resurrection: Genetic clone (situation) Ellen Ripley (protagonist) has been resurrected by the Company to harvest an alien embryo (objective). But when the alien (opponent) in the ship frees itself (disaster), it’s up to Ripley and a team of mercenaries to stop them before they crashland on Earth and destroy humankind (conflict).

So, there you have it. The difference between a concept and a premise. Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, it helps to know what direction you want to go in. You want to go from A to B with some progressive complications and conflict along the way. I think for pantsers, this may be as detailed as you want to get. For plotters, this gives you the bones plus the meat for a more detailed outline.

By the way, the Alien franchise is amazing. I can’t really pick any one of the Alien pentology as the best, because I honestly liked them all. Alien 3 had Charles Dance (and who wouldn’t want to snuggle up next to him in that role?). Aliens has Ripley using a powerloader and it’s badass. Prometheus had an awesome scene with the medical surgery pod. Alien:Resurrection had fun, flirty, dangerous Ripley. And nothing really can compare to the original Alien (save the cat; always save the cat). Alien vs Predator… that’s a different ball of wax.

Ripley_and_Jonesy

The look of a cat who is eternally grateful for the badassery of Ellen Ripley

The Reservist’s Wife and Deeper Questions

Posted in Uncategorized on 15/04/2016 by molliemoogle

PlusOne is in the reserves, which means that occasionally, he goes away for a week or two or three at a time and does reserves stuff. I think it has something to do with carving off a piece of meat from an animal they killed with their bare hands, skewering the meat on a stick, cooking it over the camp fire, and showing off their manly beards are and hairy chests.

Pardon me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard. Because beards. Manly beards. Big fuck-off beards.

beard-facts

RESPECT THE BEARD!!

 

While he’s been away this week doing manly things, I’ve been doing things of my own, like staving off loneliness (bar a night out for a literary trivia quiz).

He knows that I get lonely and I’m pretty sure he gets lonely, but he’s a guy and emotions aren’t really his forte, just like every other Kiwi bloke. Not that I mind; I’ve had enough emotional outbursts and meltdowns for the two of us.

We’ve talked about it and while it sounds like I’m complaining, I am and I’m not. His reservist training gives him meaning and purpose. I can see the changes this secret masculine training imparts. I can see the confidence increase. I can see the pride in his eye, my eyes, and in the eyes of all those who know him. It gives me a certain satisfaction to see him learning things about the wider world through this training.

Who the hell am I to tell him he can’t go? These bouts of loneliness are expected. I can only relate what it’s like on my side. I don’t have kids, but I have pets; I have nothing to keep me busy, other than my martial arts classes and my writing.

He was on shift when we were first married and the nights were a bit lonely. Okay, really lonely. I was a young woman on her own with no family (except her in-laws) and no friends in a foreign country. I wasn’t coping well. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten over that, but really, no.

Loneliness is an emotion and state of being that leaves my head dry and my body hollow; it’s like being in that time between autumn and winter: the leaves are dying, the branches break, and the Southerly wind chills to the bone. It’s like being autumn.

Loneliness has dulled my senses. The pizza I had for dinner, despite having about an inch of cheese on it, had no flavour. The chicken I had the night before smelled amazing when I got home from Auckland, but I don’t remember the taste. However, the hot and spicy ribs PlusOne and I shared the other week left my mouth tingling a little while later. I haven’t been able to get warm at night (despite the autumn chill in the air), nor do I feel like there’s something or someone protecting me, keeping me safe. I’m a feminist, but deep down I need PlusOne’s presence. I can absolutely protect myself, but it’s just that other presence that’s soothing.

And I’ll tell you, that presence feels like the finest silk on my soul.

The evenings this week have stretched out like black holes: time and space seem to stretch and stop, never fully reaching that event horizon and yet, they still cross it. Night comes, sleep not so much, and then the alarm goes off quietly. Another day. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

The dog (a Mama’s boy, apparently—I’m not sure what I did to deserve that) has been sitting near Dad’s desk, his nose on the floor, his front feet spread out, and his ears perking up at every noise. The cats just go on their daily lives, as long as they get fed and have a bowl of water, then no dramas.

I have wondered what it would be like if I was widowed. The grief would always be there, but how long would the loneliness last? Until I found someone? Does that hole ever go away? And how connected and inter-connected are grief and loneliness? Humans are social creatures and, despite the differences between introverts and extroverts, we all want and need contact. Which makes me wonder—what happens when we crave the interaction and not receive it? How much do we revert to primal instinct to just survive? Or do we push past it and into insanity, or into some other state of being?

But I’m only on my own for a few days this week. PlusOne will be home later today. I’m looking forward to feeling warm and whole, like summer, and snuggling into his presence like a warm blanket.

What do you love most about writing?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 04/04/2016 by molliemoogle
Whoops; it’s been a while. I got busy.
One of the writing blogs I follow (Positive Writer– among manymany others) asked “what do you love most about writing”. As I’m at work and have a few spare minutes, I thought I might answer this question.
What do I love most about writing?
I love that I can be myself: a truer, deeper, more articulate version of myself.
There are no rough drafts in real life. What I say cannot be taken back and reworded, sent through to beta readers and critique partners, then changed around to give the most impact via symbolism, imagery, or theme. It’s real and wonderful and hurtful all at the same time. When I write, I can rearrange words to give more weight to some and not to others. I can choose what’s focused on. I can give meaning, both superficial and deep to one object or person. My experiences become clearer.
I love that I have the freedom to write what I want without seeking approval.
Too many times we do things because it will please others, but brings us no joy or happiness. For a long time, I denied who I was because I thought that my parents, my coworkers, my colleagues, and my friends wouldn’t approve. Writing has given me the freedom to give the proverbial finger to the never-ending, pervasive voice saying, “What would your mother/father/bestie/manager say if they saw this? What would they think of you?”.
I love that I can be human.
It’s not quite like the above, where I can be myself. I mean that I can be human, with human emotions and experiences which have shaped my fears, passions, and my imagination. My emotions and experiences have shaped my identity and my essence. I know where I was and where I want to go, and what I want to be.
I love that I can create a universe with just a few strokes on the keyboard.
I don’t have human children, but I have pets and a husband. I also have my characters. They grow in their world, with their experiences and emotions that enrich, tear down, and trap them. I love to see them soar and grow as ‘people’ and, as un-parent-like as it sounds, I love to see them fall and fail. My characters are a microcosm of the universe they’re in, just as we are a microcosm of our universe: an ant is just as complex as the brightest supernova. Humans are just as complex as an entire galaxy.
I love that I can break the rules of the universe.
I don’t have to keep my feet literally on the ground if I don’t want to; I can break the rules and levitate. Dragons, mythical beings, gods, the supernatural– they are all real while I write and read and edit. I’m not bound by the rules of the universe I live in; I’m bound by the rules of the universes I create and if they don’t work, I can recreate them.
What about you? What do you love most about writing, or anything else you do? Why do you do it?

An Educational Day

Posted in Uncategorized on 21/02/2016 by molliemoogle

RSA

Life has a funny way of teaching you things. Most of the time, it’s through formalised education and training, and others, it’s through observation, discussion, or interaction. Saturday was an informal day of the latter and one that I won’t forget for a while.

Yesterday, the Te Puke RSA (Returned Services’ Association) closed its doors for trading to amalgamate with the Te Puke Citizen’s Club.

For those of you not familiar with chartered clubs and the Returned Services’ Association, here’s a bit of history:

The NZ RSA was formed after WWI by returning ANZACs to provide comfort and support to service men, women, and their families, and honour the memories of those who did not return.  It’s an advocate for vets and provides its own welfare service.  During the formative years of the RSA, the public supported building club rooms for the returned at the same time as war memorials for the dead.

The local RSAs are independent of each other, and governed by an executive committee, but are dedicated to the objects and resolutions of the National Council.

Chartered clubs started life as workingmen’s clubs, an import from England. A workingman’s club is social club that provided working class men (and later, their families) recreation and education. It’s primarily a place for a drink, snooker, pool, billiards, sports/betting, and socialising, though they hold fundraising activities, have music/bands, and occasionally, entertainers. The education aspect of the club has fallen by the wayside, though there are some clubs out there that have reading rooms.

Similar to the RSA, each club is independent of each other, governed by an executive committee, and dedicated to the objects and resolutions of their National Office.

It’s quite sad to see an RSA close down and as PlusOne drunkenly pointed out to me, it was an important day. The changing social environment meant that fewer and fewer people were heading into the RSA for socialising.  There are usually a core group who socialise there regularly; the rest of the members come in occasionally- mostly for a club draw (a lucky membership number each week is drawn and X-dollars in cash is given out), a worth-listening-to local band, a fundraising event (like Trivial Pursuit), or an entertainer (comedian, strip-show).

NZ also changed the existing drink-driving laws to lower the limit from 400mcg to 250mcg per litre of breath/50mg of alcohol per 100ml blood for those over 20 and zeromcg/0mg for those under 20.

I’ll say this now: lowering of the drink-drive limit is definitely a good thing. The numbers are arbitrary, given everyone’s different reaction to alcohol- my limit is about 1/2 a standard drink before I’m driving impaired. PlusOne’s limit is two. Since I don’t drink anyway, PlusOne can have all the booze he wants.

Getting back to it…

PlusOne and I attended the closure since the Navy Reserve wanted a presence there and PlusOne volunteered, since it was his day off. We get there (with some difficulty- a tree fell and blocked our route, so we had to go the long way around), and we socialise a little bit before the ceremony. The old boys (the vets) are happy to see a young’un in his whites and I think they were happy that the Navy sent a current serviceman there; judging from the amount of attention he got from the olds, his presence was very much appreciated (and extremely appreciated by a number of old ladies- rubbing a sailor’s collar apparently brings good luck. For more luck, rub longer). A number of them regaled him with their time in the services (army, navy, air force) or to just thank him for being there.

Especially the navy boys.

Get a bunch of navy boys together, and they all talk about the navy. I did learn a few interesting things about the navy: gunners drink the dregs, stokers worked in the boiler room, communicators are in a special class all their own, how some of them feel about their service time vs the modern service (they’re all sitting in air-conditioned rooms now), was serenaded by a few of them singing The Lobster Song (hi-diddly-oh, rip shit or bust, never let your bollocks dangle in the dust), and was (I think) made an honourary member of a naval frigate.

And then, there’s the rum. It’s all true what they say about the navy and rum. The Royal NZ Navy was the last navy that issued a rum ration; they abolished it in 1990. The extremely abridged history goes that when the Caribbean was colonised and sugarcane became a luxury item, the planters needed to defend their plantations from foreign navies and pirates. In order to compensate a sailor and keep his mind off the shit conditions of the vessel, the navy gave them a ration of beer (about a gallon a day). As beer was apt to spoil, they later changed to rum. A sailor would now get a pint, which dropped over time to about 70ml (or a tot) of rum, between 11am and noon, since rum was less likely to spoil. In the 1970s, the British navy decided that alcohol wasn’t the best thing for mental concentration and discontinued the daily ration. NZ didn’t catch up for another 20 years.

I lost count at 5 rums and 6 pints of beer. In fact, most of it came up later, once we got home.

There’s another lesson I learned: if it’s an important day to them and for them, just let them enjoy it.

Observations from Waitangi Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 08/02/2016 by molliemoogle

That time of year has rolled around again: Waitangi Day (well, it was actually 2 days ago).  The national holiday of New Zealand when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed giving the British sovereignty over New Zealand.  There’s been a lot of debate over the treaty in recent years, mainly over who owns what, and the meanings of several words, as they mean totally different things in Maori and in English.

In the simplest terms (in my opinion anyway), it’s like calling a lion a “cat”; kind of, but not really.  There’s a huge difference between a cat and a lion.  “Property” in English is sort of like “taonga” in Maori, but there’s still a big difference in what actually encompasses “property” vs “taonga”.

I’d like to think that Queen Victoria was a bit progressive and, living in the age that she did (one of strict codes of conduct), wanted to do right by the Maori.  Unfortunately, the language barriers and literacy barriers (Maori is an oral language, not a written one) came together to produce a perfect storm of miscommunication (to put it mildly).

How do I feel about the holiday?  I’m in two minds.  Let me explain.

I’m an American by birth, so our national holiday, July 4, is filled to the brim with what can only be described as rabid patriotism.  Large red, white, and blue explosions happen all over the country; patriotic songs about America being the land of the free, the home of the brave, and the cradle of opportunity and dreams.  It’s the bestest ever place in the whole wide world.  Fireworks light up the skies.  Veterans and active service members are practically mobbed in the streets and treated like rock stars.  If the Earth is an oyster, America and her opportunities are the pearl.  BBQs, picnics, free concerts, people shouting “God Bless America!” at every opportunity.  It’s freaky in a good and a weird sense.

America also screwed over a number of Indigenous American tribes before, during, and after the divine mandate of Manifest Destiny.  Trail of Tears and the Indian Removal Act.  Diseases from Europe.  Policies of discrimination.  Removal of culture and land.  The Phips Proclamation in 1775.  American committed cultural genocide.

It’s kind of the same here, except without the rabid patriotism.  Let me say this: it’s awesome being a Kiwi.  We have amazing sports teams (the All Blacks for starters), we’re nuclear-free, there’s a beach within 120km of anywhere, Pineapple Lumps, Jelly-Tips, no crocs or poisonous anything, beautiful scenery, and a can-do No 8 wire mentality.  The Treaty established a British colony in New Zealand which allowed the Kiwi lifestyle to flourish, but at the same time, misinterpretation and miscommunication has caused a number of protests over the years saying that the British/the Crown has screwed over the Maori.

Here’s why I’m in two minds about celebrating any kind of national holiday:

1- I’m proud of my heritage as a Kiwi (I don’t self-identify as an American).

2- But, I can’t forget who and what that heritage is built on.