Naturally embarrassing?

Last night, I listened to a talk at church on the subject of Mark 5 – specifically Jairus’ daughter (who was raised from the dead) and the healing of a sick woman. The sick woman in question, we’re told, had been subjected to bleeding for 12 years. The Bible doesn’t go into the medical symptoms in detail, but we’re led to believe it was of a gynaecological nature.

The person speaking (who is a great speaker/leader and I’m not criticising at all!) mentioned that it was basically as though “she’d been menstruating for 12 years” and then continued to use the term throughout the talk. Now, I’m all for correct medical terminology, but the audience was a load of students and it the number of times the word was stumbled over (it’s long and multi-syllabled, so fair enough) made me wonder if he couldn’t have just said “period” at some point and be done with it.

I appear to have a little bit of a bee in my bonnet on this subject, having mentioned it a few times before. Why do we still exist in a culture of embarrassment over something so natural and essential?

Here’s something of a personal example (don’t worry, I’m not about to go into medical detail…). I had a bad day on Monday. It all started out a big wrong; was compounded by multiple Jubilee Line issues; a long day and not enough sleep the night before. On top of those already irritating factors, I had terrible period pain. This meant that pilates wasn’t the haven of peace, tranquillity and stretching that it usually is – it’s hard work strengthening your core when the same part of your body is twisting itself in knots. But I don’t like to mention it because who would want to know – apart from the odd female friend who might sympathise?

Similarly, unlike days when I’m under the weather with a cold or similar, I’m unlikely to tweet for sympathy, or hash tag ‘periodpain’ the way certain friends throw around ‘manflu’. The closest I got to mentioning it was a coded “[Liz]would quite like her body to end its apparent vendetta against her”. So instead we suffer in silence and eat cream doughnuts. It’s funny that in a world that can be as crass as it likes about sex and apparently adores TV shows about ’embarrassing’ illnesses, this is still such a touchy subject.

One location which has had to confront the issue head on is New Zealand, where just last week a debate broke out over the banning of pregnant or menstruating women from a tour at Te Papa – the national museum in Wellington. The tour includes the Taonga Maori collection, which contains items used in battle and to kill people, and because the Maori regard women in these categories as sacred they should not come into contact with them. There has been an outcry – on both sides, as this editorial from the New Zealand Herald outlines. On the one hand, we shouldn’t discriminate based on something that only affects one gender and can’t be helped, but at the same time I quite like the idea of being regarded as sacred. It’s going to be a difficult policy to enforce, but I hope the Pakeha (Europeans) who visit actually take the time to respect another culture’s beliefs.

Hmmm, Bible references, cultural anthropology and a bit of a whinge about a rubbish start to the week – this blog post is almost educational. That’s worrying.

A slightly less pitiful tree than last year

Back in the day, our Christmas tree went up on the last day of term, marking the true beginning of the festive season.

It still feels slightly odd to put up my tree in the first week of December, but because I spend a lot of the actual Christmas period travelling around the country doing the family thing, if I want to appreciate my decorations, it has to go up early.

So, last Friday I put up the tree and spent a couple of hours decorating it with the accompaniment of 4Music’s top 50 Christmas songs. Nothing better than playing with sparkly things whilst listening to some classic cheese!

Last year, my tree was pathetic (tiny, cheap & fake) – this year was a marginal improvement. Much bigger, though a little sparse, but still fairly cheap and very fake. Still, the most important thing is that it can display all my lovely decorations. I went on (at length) last year about the stories behind the different ornaments, so I won’t repeat them. But…I have two new ones and it’s only fair that their stories are told too.

First, my Paua Shell Fairy/Angel.

Bought at Te Papa whilst I was in New Zealand earlier in the year, it represents my love of NZ and my Pacific connection. It’s the first time I’ve managed to get a decoration from the part of the world where I was born. I bought my Mum a Wise Man in the same set – I’d have loved all of them (3 angels & 3 wise men) but they were rather pricey.

Second, a sparkly gold star.

During the mammoth office clear out, this turned up in a bag of otherwise hideously tacky decorations. At one of our weekly coffee breaks the bag was offered to the staff and I ended up telling the story of our family tree decorations. Later that day the colleague who’d bought the star for our office tree last year brought it to my desk and suggested I have it so that I could remember her and the rest of the team on my tree. So, the beautiful star is for Angela and the rest of my World Church/Mission Education colleagues, especially the ones like Angela who’ve left.

The child in me was very pleased to hear yesterday that my Mum’s not planning on decorating their tree till the 22nd when my & my sister arrive. I’d like to think that it’s sentimental mother behaviour, but actually has more than a little to do with the fact that she’s planning on pinching the college’s tree when their term ends on the 19th!

A whanau of penguins

A notice on the door of a church in the East Cape of New Zealand reads:

“You are most welcome to enter this church. Please excuse the fishy smell. We have a whanau* of penguins nesting under the floorboards of the baptismal font and mother penguin is busy bringing fish to feed her little whanau. Please close the door on leaving because of possum damage.”
*Whanau is a Maori word meaning family

I found the story in today’s Sideswipe column in the NZ Herald, then googled it to try and find photos & corroborate the story. Of course, being NZ, it’s totally true!

Telling it like it is…on a t-shirt

I’m a big fan of the university t-shirt. Not because I’m an academic snob & like to advertise where I studied (which happened to be a pretty good place, as was the place I did my postgrad…ok, so now I’m boasting just a little…), but because I like them. I kind of collect them like other people collect Hard Rock Cafe shirts – to show where I’ve been.
Most of the, I’ve not been there at all, because usually, my Dad picks them up on his academic jaunts around the world (I’m also fussy over design, so reject ones I don’t like when I’m on location). Currently, he’s on a sabbatical in Texas, spending lots of time in the library at Southern Methodist University (SMU) soon to be home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
Knowing my penchant for the university tee, he asked me to check their bookstore’s website & pick out what I liked, so I’ve just been having a browse. Being an official “ex Methodist” (to quote one of my colleagues last week), I wasn’t keen on one that featured the ‘Methodist’ word, but there were many that didn’t.
Personal favourite (though not what I’m going to request):
“SMU We’re not snobs…we’re just better than you.”
I’m sure there’s someone I know who could do with that on their chest!
The title of this post also finally gives me chance to mention some t-shirts I found in NZ which I’d forgotten to use in my NZ posts. From a rather fabulous store called Globalculture, they truly reflect the wonders of the Kiwi vocabulary:

“Choice, eh!” [chois, aye!] Translation: “Pretty good don’t you think?”
“Sweet As” [sweet as] Translation: “I confirm that what you are proposing sounds is good by me”

Desperately wanted to buy one for my brother in law, but figured he might not get the joke.

Another reason why I love NZ:

“NZ man ‘used hedgehog as weapon'”

A man in New Zealand has been charged with using a hedgehog as a weapon, the New Zealand Herald has reported.