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Oh, Fuck You!

Oh, Fuck You!

So I’ve been sharing a series of fucked up things on Facebook with the comment ‘Oh Fuck You’.

And I thought a compilation would be interesting.

So here I go:

Oh, Fuck you, 28th April 2019. San Diego Synagogue shooting

Oh, fuck you, you fucking terrorists, 19th April 2019. Lyra McKee Murder

Oh, fuck you, 13th April 2019. Texas lawmakers consider the death penalty for abortion

Oh, fuck you, 5th April 2019. UK Minister Mark Field calls the Sultan of Brunei a great friend.

Oh, fuck you, 4th April 2019. Special Education funding drops to 

Oh, fuck you, 28th March 2019

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I Was Going to Write a Piece of Fluff About My New Car

When a person in a Facebook group I belong to mentioned how tired she was of people forgiving Joe Biden for his sexual harassment.

And I realised how tired I was. Of supposedly good men’s bad behaviour. Of “it’s no big deal” and/or “it was a different time.”

It is a big deal and who gives a fuck when it was? It should never have been okay to touch women without their permission, to harass women, to rape women, to hold them back because they were/are women.

Adam likes history. It’s inevitable with a grandfather whose PhD is in History and who was a lecturer/head of department at Ulster University before he retired. He still lectures on history, actually. In any case, with a grandfather like that an a father with a BA in history, it would be weird if Adam didn’t like history.

So we read Horrible Histories together. We both really like them. And all through them, from prehistoric man to the Romans, Greeks, Spartans, Victorians, Edwardians etc etc etc from the beginning of time until right now women have been hassled, held down, held below. Made something less.

And we are tired.

We have fought and screamed and been ignored and we won’t be ignored any more.

But I’m also tired of other things.

I’m tired of Trump and his stupid fucking wall and his racism, sexism and bigotry.

I’m tired of Brexit and Theresa May standing in front of Parliament lying about what her government has done to children, the elderly, and the disabled. Pushing back, with lies, against the truth Jeremy Corbyn was saying about the number of children, elderly, and disabled people are now living below the poverty line. You read that right. Below.

I’m tired of the so called “ruling classes” who have no idea what the rest of do to survive. Who have no idea what it’s like to wonder if you can pay the rent or the heating or the electric. Who have never wondered how they are going to buy their children milk.

I’m tired of all of them. I want to send all of them into the sun. I want to pass a law that no one can run for office until they are made to live on what a single working mother with two kids in this country makes on her zero hours contract and the benefits that haven’t been cut. Yet.

I have no idea how the Tories won in 2005 and stayed in office all of this time.

I have no idea how Trump won. And I have very little faith he’ll be gone in two years.

I don’t have the answer.

But I’ll keep shouting.

And being tired.

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My Tribes, My Squads, My Crews

I realise this is late as International Women’s Day was earlier this week, but it’s been floating around my head and, really, we should celebrate women, international and otherwise, all year long, shouldn’t we?

So I’ve been thinking about the women in my life. My friends, my family, my tribes and squads and crews. And there are several distinct groups, some of which overlap, some of which don’t, and I’ve been reflecting on how they help me and how I help them.

My family is full of kick ass women. My mom, who was one of the first computer programmers in the 60s. I wrote about how kickass she was here, on Jump!Mag. Who was divorced and single mom long before most people. My dad was around, but mom did the day to day school/doctors/ill child/sort childcare/take to birthday parties part of my childhood.

My sisters and sisters in law and cousins who are business women, world travelling ecology experts, clergy, stay at home moms and teachers. Who sort their children and their partners and their homes and their jobs still find time to join marches, wear pussyhats and raise my equally kick ass nieces and second cousins. The boys are kick ass too, but I’m talking about women here!

My local friends, who are the ones who I call when I need emergency Adam care, a ride to Ikea or a cup of coffee and a belly laugh. Who are also kick ass women coping with their children, their partners, their jobs, and the total insanity that can be Belfast.

My hussies, whom I’ve written about before. This amazing group of women who found themselves othered on a popular message board for daring to speak against the message board’s main ethos. Who banded together in a chat room and carried that bond forward to Facebook and elsewhere. I’ve only ever met one of them in person, but they are the ones I look to when I need some mojo. Hussy mojo is unstoppable and incredible and has done everything from help people land their dream jobs to have babies. It may be virtual, but sometimes knowing that a group of people are out there, thinking about you, helps you find that inner je ne sais quoi you need to get things done.

And what I think of as my Core Four (three plus me). Four women who come from different backgrounds and countries and life experiences who have managed to find each other through the internet and are my closest friends. I have never met any of them in person and we now live in four different countries (England, Northern Ireland, Germany and Cyprus) but they are the ones I run to first with my most joyous news and most disastrous downfalls. And we never tear each other down and we always lift each other up and they are the ones I wish were nearby. We have a dream of retiring to a beach in adjoining cabins, but first, we need to figure out which country!

Oh, there are others too. Some on Facebook. Some on other message boards. Groups and groups of amazing women. An MP, a life coach, a writer or two. Some artists and musicians and crafties. And we talk. And we laugh. And we cry.

And we are, slowly, being heard. Being loud. We get knocked down, but we get up again. We shout for justice. For equality. For everything we deserve as members of the human race.

We may, in stature, be small. But we are mighty.

And we may be told to stop. Sit down and shut up.

And yet…

We persist.

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Good Bye 2016!

Well, that was a year, yeah? Good, bad, and ugly, all together.

Personally, it was a good year. I met my two main goals (more on that in a minute), Adam is thriving and only 10 inches shorter than me (eep!), Simon is working hard and enjoying it and I just keep keeping on.

My two goals were buying a house and earning my Driver’s License. Check and check.

The license took longer than expected, but I did it! In my case 6th (I think it was 6th) time was the charm. And passed with flying colours at that point. I had something like 4 minor faults. So yeah. I know how to drive!

The house also took longer than expected that but that was because all solicitors are evil. Weeeel, all solicitors working for other people are evil. Our solicitor was great. The vendor’s solicitor was a dick and a half. But we got there, in the end, moving in on 24th October. And two months later I still get a fission of ‘Oh yeah! This is *our* house!’ at the most random moments.

The other really good thing that happened was the letter from my former California employer informing me that I had a pension I could cash out. A pension I barely remember having. A pension that was now worth a fuckton of money. So I cashed it out. And the cheque cleared a few days before Christmas. And we now have the money to redo our bathroom (which is livable but needs work to be perfect), buy some new appliances for the kitchen and do some other bits and bobs we thought we’d have to wait to do.

And I think most people agree about the bad. A never ending list of celebrities left us this year. Some were just old, 80+. Others were taken way before their time. And the younger ones hit hard. Really hard in some cases.

The personally hard ones were George Michael and Carrie Fisher. No, I didn’t know them. But I admired them. And both of them were with me through my childhood and/or teenage years.  And their deaths were so unexpected. And the last 2 seconds of Rogue One didn’t help me deal with Carrie Fisher’s death. At all.

And of course, the ugly. Brexit. President-Elect DT (I will never use his name. He deserves to be nameless. He gets no respect.).

So 2017 has a lot of stuff coming up. I imagine it will also be a hard year. Maybe not quite so many major celebrities dying. But a total world change with the UK pulling out of the EU, or at least starting to, and President-Elect DT living up to his campaign promises, even though he’s already gone back on several.

A line from the voice-over from Torchwood keeps going through my mind. “The 21st Century is when it all changes.” And maybe we’re already a decade and a half into it, but it is still true. I just wish that what voiceover meant (aliens) was what we were actually dealing with.

Instead, there are shades of The Nazi Party and WWII. Borders slamming shut to the those who need help. The definite ‘smell’ of WWIII in the air, if not actually in progress.

So what are my goals for 2017?

  • Write more
  • Knit more
  • Exercise more
  • Get our house to the state we want it to be
  • Crochet more
  • Sell more
  • Survive

So nothing exactly quantifiable. Or with a completion date.

But definitely achievable.

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I Am Angry

I am not blaming the people who are tired of same old same old and voted directly for Trump. I get it. I do. I don’t agree. But I can understand where you’re coming from.

I am blaming all of the people who said ‘HRC is worse than DT’ and split the vote.

You have allowed a racist, bigoted, misogynistic, asshole of the highest order become the President of the United States. You handed him the election.

::slow clap::

Well done. Assholes.

And fuck you all to hell.

(Feature image via Women Against UKIP )

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Living The Road Not Taken

I was currently on holiday in Northern California. My brother has lived there for over 20 years and my sister in law, Simon’s sister, moved there late last year.

I also lived there for about 10 years and was living there when I met Simon and moved to Belfast.

When I emigrated, the hard part wasn’t leaving my country, it was leaving my family. My oldest niece was three, her sister just a baby, and I had been a part of their lives since they were born. I more or less saw them everyday. In fact, it was the elder who named me Tee!

And then I was 5,000 miles away.

And now the three year old is 15 and taller than me and the baby is 12 and my height.

And every two years or so I get to experience the road not taken as I come to visit with my family and my mom hires us a house (with her and my step dad) and for a week or two I’m a local.

This year the house is right around the corner from theirs and so there has been a lot of tooing and froing and friends of nieces’ to be fed and engaged with.

And things like this text conversation between the eldest, her mom, her dad and me, as she was coming to our house for dinner after Ballet:

 

conversation

 

Do I have regrets? A few.

I would love to be part of more text messages like that. Having my nieces, either, both, I don’t care, over for dinner because Mom and Dad are out. Have them over after school because they don’t feel like going home and have a key. Have them babysit Adam occasionally, pick him up from school, maybe, on their way to mine.

Have monthly or so R and Tee days and S and Tee days rather than every two years.

And have, as my brother said, our kids know each other rather than know of each other.

As I was hugging her good-bye, our typical so long, don’t want to let go hug, my niece said ‘Are you sure you don’t want to move back?’

She knows the answer, really. It’s not a want. It’s a fact. We can’t afford the Bay Area. And our lives are here in Belfast.

For the first time I was missing my Belfast friends almost as much as I miss my family when I was there. Adam’s mates mum’s were putting all sorts of things up on Facebook and I was sad he missed A’s birthday and the Superhero day at the park and all that.

Even though I ache to see more of this:

Sara and AdamI made my choice 12 years ago.

And I’m usually  okay with it.

 

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Creating Community

As I’ve pulled myself out of my winter of illness (and discontent) (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) I’ve taken a deep breathe and looked around at my life.

And discovered that I suddenly have several groups of really good women friends.

Some of them are actually local to me, such as Adam’s friend’s mums. As was remarked upon at Sports Day last week, it really is awesome the way we all clicked at the pre-school gate. We’ve been hanging, helping, drinking, coffeeing and cheering each other and our kids on ever since.

Then there are two of my ‘left-over from Mumsnet’ local friends. One is also a client and great at giving me advice about what to wear, since she’s a fashion blogger. The other is my craft enabler who took me to buy my sewing machine a few weeks ago.

Then I have my online communities.

There is, forever and always, the hussies. We don’t talk as often as we used to, but we are still connected in various ways. And we all know if we vaugebook something? The rest will coming running to find out if we’re okay.

Then there’s a newer group, also acquired through Mumsnet, who are on a Facebook group now. We don’t talk all the time, but we are there for each other.

There’s the new group, as part of Jump! Parents. We are creating a lovely Facebook community of parents there as well. And I’m writing for the site, just as I’ve written for Jump! Mag. We have good discussions about parenting. And Ikea. And sometimes other stuff.

Finally there’s my best online friends, of which there is a group of four of us. We met on Mumsnet, carried on over at Twitter and Facebook. They are really the ones I wish lived down the street. That would be hard, as one of them lives in Greece, but we are talking about creating a commune at some point. 😀

Borrowed from http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-beach-homes-blue-sky-background-image614913
Our future homes. Really.

And altogether, they make my community. Maybe I can’t ring most of them for a cup of sugar or a quick coffee meet or child pick up. But I know I can rely on them to be an ear and a cheer on the other end of the ‘net.

And sometimes? That’s really all I need.

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There’s A Difference Between Being Bossy and Being Boss

I keep hearing, over and over, various places, that it is no longer okay to tell someone, girl or boy, that they are being bossy. Especially girls.

“Let them be bossy then they can be leaders!”

Yeah. No.

I have never ever in a working life that spans close to 30 years at this point had a good boss who was bossy.

Bossy is bad. And it’s not being a boss.

Bossy is telling people what to do, with no compromise or room for their interpretation. Bossy it pushing someone to do something they may not want to do because you want them to do it, even if it’s not the best thing for them or your company or what have you.

Being boss is not that. Being a leader is not that. Being a good boss, or leader, is guiding and listening and compromising and surrounding yourself with good people who disagree with you in a way that makes you think and change your mind and make you a better boss.

Oh sure, bosses have to be bossy sometimes. No one wants to be told to do something that they really don’t want to do and sometimes employees have to be told that something has to be done for the good of the company or what have you whether they want to do it or not. But being bossy does not make you a boss.

So, yes. Call that little girl or boy who is dictating like, well, a dictator, that they are being bossy.

And then teach them how to be a boss instead.

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Germaine Greer Turns 75.

And The Female Eunuch is 44.

So it’s nearly as old as I am.

And yet…

And yet the right wing in the US and the UK continue their war on women.

And yet women are not getting equal pay for equal work pretty much anywhere.

And yet there are countries that still treat women like property and give them less than second class citizen status.

So…really…

What was the point, 44 years ago?

 

 

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Is privilege the same as advantage?

I was recently having a conversation with a good friend, who I’ll call Beth,* about the use of the word privilege and why we use it rather than the word advantage.

Beth maintains that if we used the word ‘advantage’ rather than ‘privilege’ when speaking about things like white/male privilege people wouldn’t get quite so het up about it.

Beth meant the people who have this privilege, by the way. Beth thinks the word privilege is loaded with insult and presumption due to its implication of wealth and power.

Is Beth right?

Would it matter if we said male/white advantage instead?

I do think the word privilege is more loaded because so often privilege = wealth. The privileged can have things the rest of us can’t have. And it’s very very hard to join the privileged, even if you make millions you may not be included in the ‘privileged classes’ because it’s not just wealth that creates privilege. Privilege is automatically gained through birth, skin colour, gender and other, less tangible things, that can’t be changed easily, if at all.

Advantage, though, that can be gained. Through study, through patronage, through your own gumption you can gain an advantage.

So I will never be male and attain male privilege. But I can do many many things to give me an advantage over a male. Not easily, for sure, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

However, the one advantage I will, mostly likely, never gain, is to become a man. I have no gender identity issues, I am a woman and I am happy being a woman. And so will remain a woman.

So male privilege is not something I can ever gain.

So should we change the word?

No.

I like the fact that those with privilege get upset when I call them on their privilege.

Now, I am aware that we change language all the time to things that won’t offend people. But there is a huge difference between changing disabelist or racist language and changing this.

Because changing this? Would just be another privilege.

*Beth told me he/she had no problem with my writing this post, but she/he did not want to be identified. I’m not even saying Beth is actually a woman, it’s just the first name that popped into my head when I started writing.