Friday, 27 January 2017

Can't we all just get along?

Okay, so, it's been awhile since I was so enraged I felt the need to do a blog post (here and here and here) but there is the rhetoric doing the rounds at the moment- see Trump and here and here and here and here and here (I could go on), the alt-right, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, (I meant to put in links for each bullshit but the news was too depressing).

It is starting to seep into my skin. It is creating a burning rage and hopelessness and fear and sadness that I just cannot deal with anymore. I can't deal with all the hate being directed at refugees, at POC, at muslims, at women, at, at, at, at.... (again with the links, but god, have you been out there recently? The internet is a place currently filled with hateful vitriol and I can't.)

I just can't.

    Conversations about home (at a deportation centre)
                               Warsan Shire
And if I have to listen to one more argument about how allowing refugees into our country is as good as signing ourselves up for a terrorist attack, I think I may actually scream. I ended up in an argument on Facebook today (yes  I know!) with someone making that point and I finally, finally, finally figured out an analogy that explains why I get so frustrated by the argument of tarring everyone with the same brush. (Imma call it The Tarring Brush Argument. Inventive, I know.)

You've read this far so I can only assume you want to hear it.....

Men and violence against women.

Yep. That's it.

I mean for example,"between January 1996 and the end of June 2005, 109 women were murdered in Ireland, 72 of these in their own homes. In those cases which have been resolved (up to the end of June 2005), all were perpetrated by a man and almost half were perpetrated by the woman's partner or ex-partner." If we're using The Tarring Brush Argument logic, that ALL refugees are dangerous or should be punished because some are, women really should avoid men at all costs. You guys are apparently hella dangerous.

Another good example, "Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime. Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner."


And don't forget, "the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) Report (2002) found that one in four women had experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime and one in five had experienced sexual assault as adults." Women obviously need to stop allowing men into their lives because the facts prove that leads to disaster. Men are obviously all awful and terrible people and we should be very careful about letting them into our homes, workplaces, hearts.

And, like the refugee argument, it is definitely fair to tar them all with the same brush.

I don't even have anything else to say. You get it, right? You get how bullshit it is?

I'm just tired of all the hate. How about we try the other one for a while. You know the one I'm talking about. The not hate one. The breaking down walls one. The realising we're all just human beings floating on a piece of rock in a vast universe and we all just need to GROW THE FUCK UP. The one where we don't judge people on their colour of the skin or where they are from or who they love or their gender or any other thing but we try and have a conversation with them instead. I mean you can always decide they are an asshole after. Lots of people are assholes. Lots aren't. But how about trying to find that out before you decide it straight off.

Can we all please just try to be better? I mean, fucking Donald Trump is doing a bang up job spreading hate and misogyny and racism and nationalism and cruelty and xenophobia and prejudice and on and on and on? So, really, now is the time to decide whether or not we allow our fear to win, our prejudices to win, our unquestioned bias to win. How about we change how we treat people, remember they are just people, they eat chips and sleep and laugh and cry just like us, and decide to take one tiny step in making the world a better, warmer, kinder place? Be braver? Be louder?

Kindness never, ever, ever goes to waste.

Trust me on that.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The American President...

My mam always says if she could go back to being 25, she would move to Washington DC and work in The White House. She has followed American politics for as long as I remember. She worked in the Taoiseach's office. She still fights for people who cannot fight for themselves, writing letters to all members of the Dail and holding meeting with the opposition and the government. Politics have an important place in our house, Irish and foreign. The ideas we discuss over the breakfast table have changed how I view the world. My mother is a woman who truly believes that the power is in the people's hands. If I am angry or frustrated, she tells me to write a letter, to use my voice, to make something happen.

Politics has shaped me. Just like America has. I've watched so many TV shows, so many terrible movies. I've read their books, listened to their music, been influenced and helped along by American pop culture, by their ideals, by the very idea that they are always fighting to be better.

Image result for america land of the free
Unless you're an immigrant or an African-American or disabled or LGBT 
or a women or you know not, white, straight and christian. 

I am proud to be Irish. There is an implicit cool factor in it. I have travelled the world and have yet to meet a person who does not react with some form of joy when I tell them where I'm from. It is a massive part of my identity. I am also proud to have spent a year in New Zealand. I would go back in a heartbeat. It is beautiful. I have only spent two months travelling around America but have been influenced by it my whole life. Places you live, you have travelled, you learn from, they shape who you are. Sometimes in ways you don't even realise.

America made themselves the moral high ground of the world. They chose that path. They fought for it. They are The United States of America, with their Statue of Liberty and their "give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." They told us they embodied freedom and liberty and equality and solidarity and peace and humanity. They had so many people, so many nationalities, all who came to them through hard paths or easy, but all to live in their free land.

America is the reality TV star that welcomed us into every aspect of their life, that demanded access to ours, and then got annoyed when it turned out they had some pretty hideous skeletons in their closet and we wouldn't turn around. We wouldn't let them hide. I watched this election with anger and pain and hurt. I hated every moment of it. I never knew how much America meant to me until I watched it tear itself apart.
Image result for reince priebus
He can't actually believe the total
crap he is preaching, right?

I have a pain in my belly I am so angry. I just watched Reince Priebus explain away everything that has been expressed in this horror show of an election because of what Trump said in his victory speech "I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be a president to all Americans." I guess it's time to forget the sixteen months of angry rhetoric. No apology has been issued for all the damage and hurt he has created. We must forget Trump has legitimised hate and bigotry and sexism and racism and xenophobia. We must move on and not pay attention to the reports coming from across the United States of an increase in racism and sexism and hateful words and actual attacks and fear within disability rights advocacy groups and the spike in calls to suicide hotlines within the LGBT community because the Vice President-elect Mike Pence believes in conversion therapy among OTHER things and will be helping shape Trump's policies. We mustn't react to the fact he has put a white supremacist as his chief strategist or that people are throwing racial slurs at Michelle Obama. We mustn't remember that Trump has no political experience, and has had rape charges brought against him, among other court cases, and THAT video and the tweeting and all the rest of the Trump-ness. We mustn't focus on him trying to squash protests with a tweet and then having to backtrack twelve hours later because, hi, free country, remember?

Image result for trump protest tweetImage result for trump protest tweet
Why don't you like me?!?!? Gawd! Protests across fifteen cities doesn't seem small. 

Now that Trump is President-Elect, we're being told that we must forget he played demagogue for the past year and a half. Americans must now get behind him and come together and forget the KKK endorsed him and he is skeptical of climate change and also, hey, has the codes to nuclear weapons. Don't worry! He was only playing at being being a terrible person! He's actually a great guy!

When you legitimise hate, both in United Kingdom and now in America, when you belittle, dehumanise and preach it from a place of authority, you make the whole world a worse place. You teach children they are worth more or less because of the color of their skin, or the person they are attracted to, or their gender. You give bigots and racists and misogynists and hate filled little people the idea that they are right, that their ideas aren't archaic and wrong. You tell them they are better than others because they fit a mould that humanity has outgrown. We have outgrown you. We are better for it. Don't you forget it. This is your last hurrah. Your victory has dragged us from our complacency. We will not allow this to happen again.

People have been telling me I must allow these people to speak because that is what freedom of speech means. But. But. But. Here's the thing, freedom of speech comes with a hell of a lot of responsibility. Yes, you can say what you want. Of course. But you must realise that right comes with consequences. You can say what you want, but, you can't get away with it. The outcome to your actions, your words, your hate, include such things as; Unfriending. Arguments. Debates. Protests. Boycotts. Investigations. Prison.

free speech
  1. the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint

Hate speech

     Speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.


I'm not American. I have my own crappy politicians to deal with, but, when you hold yourself up as the shining light of civilisation, when you tell the world again and again and again how you are the beacon of free society, then you don't get to hide.
America, the world is watching and we are afraid.
America, the world is watching and we are angry.
America, the world is watching and we expected so much more.


                      

There are things we must do now. We must no longer be indifferent. We must make the people who run our countries accountable. We must fight for what we believe is right. We must have the tough conversations and protest when we need to get our voices heard. No more lazy retweeting. No more backseat activism. To create any change is difficult but now is the time to learn and to fight. This cynicism and sarcasm and wit and banter and craic we've all been living with, we need to put it away. Not forever. Not for all things. Maybe, though, it is time we got some notions. Maybe it is time we decided that Ireland will be a small beacon of hope in all the grey.

The Irish are loved worldwide. We are the best craic, the most welcoming, the friendliest, the cool kids at the party. Remember the Euros. We were voted the best fans. They turned the Eiffel Tower green, white and orange. We were voted the best fans during the Rugby World Cup in 2011 as well. That is just one small measure of the power we hold just by being kind, welcoming, respectful people.

Let us bring all that goodwill home. Let us be better to each other. Let us start there and see if we can take a step forward after all the hate of 2016. We have a reputation throughout the world. Why not use that influence for good? Why not try better? Why not take a stand?

I know I am going to try.
Because the cynicism is getting me nowhere.
It is getting none of us anywhere.

Friday, 2 September 2016

On the worst day of the year...

Today is the worst day of the year. Did you know that?

Saying that though, you might have your own worst day. Mine was created on September 2nd 2003 at 6.59pm (ish). Most people have their own date and their own time and their own person.

There is the before and the after.

The knowing what death is and the actual experience of it.

There is losing people and the knowledge a full stop can be applied to a person.

There is no meaning to it. No great lesson to be learned. It just is. I get through today, endure the sadness and pointlessness and bigness, and then, I go back to my after life. Even writing this, there is no reason. The words wanted out and so I let them out. Even though I rarely talk about it. Even though the thought of sharing this makes me feel sick.

Thirteen years. Am I working that out right? I used to keep track so precisely, and then, the time didn't seem as important as the loss. There are so many things she is missing. So many things we are missing. And like scar tissue that won't quite heal, like a phantom limb that won't stop itching, like a heart that won't fully go back together, she is always there. Always with us.

Not that I wouldn't want her to be. Not that I ever want her to fade. But shock passes. Pain eases. Horrible things become reality become life become the way things are. Sometimes I wish I could go back to being that much in pain, to really feel the loss, not as this dull ache, but as the crystalised cut ratcheting through my chest and family and life. Just to know it was real. I'm sorry there is no meaning here, no grand life lesson about appreciating what you have because in a phone call, a bad turn, a wasted second, it could all be destroyed (it can) but sometimes people aren't lessons.
Sometimes they are just missed.
And today I miss my sister.
And today I miss all the things she didn't get to do.
And today I miss all the things she never saw me do.
Today is a day for missing.
Tomorrow, well, who knows what tomorrow is going to give?

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Oh, The Places You'll Go...

"And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done." Dr Seuss

So, my last blog was a tiny bit cranky. It was not my usual ray of peppy sunshine but I am back with a (probably) happier post.

Actually, as I'm writing this, I'm sitting in Frankfurt Airport. I'm only doing it because I'm bored and have already flooded my other social media thingys. Despite the fact this airport looks like a fancy industrial warehouse that you expect rich car sales people to be working out of, and that it may be the longest airport ever, it's not the worst place to be sitting on a Tuesday morning.

I was stressed. Out of my mind, anxiety playing in my chest, not sleeping,  overeating, run away stressed.

So I did. I have run away.

Left all those nasty feelings at home. I'm on an adventure. The excitement is palpable. It is nibbling at my heart and pulling up the sides of my mouth. It's in my newly dyed pink hair and heavy stampy boots. I am, for ten days, free, free, free. My best friend is sitting beside me playing a robot unicorn game on her phone. She's got sparkly runners on and a red skater cap. My other friend is asleep opposite us. It is chill and relaxed and not Blanchardstown.

When I come home I'll figure out the next step, but before that, I have so many bands, so much music, so much air to breathe. I was suffocating at home. I was drowning.

All I need is a chance to clear my head. And there's no better place than surrounded by all your favourite bands.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Something more...


There is a possibility I'm slightly lost. A possibility I take the long way around in everything I do. A possibility I haven't a clue what I'm doing . Ever look at your friends and think hey, they've clearly got it all sorted? Ever look at your life and feel like it's burning to the ground? Okay, dramatic maybe, but I know we all feel that way sometimes. I know I do at the moment. No income. No job. No finished book. Still living at home. Still living in Dublin. Adventures feel few and far between. 

I'm a smiley, happy person. Positive and optimist and so sure I'm doing the right thing. Except I'm not sure any more. Searching for the answer, for the something more is, exhausting. But... Is this it? Is there not something more? Does this happen to others? This biting, hollowing need to be somewhere else? The need for something else? The fear you'll never get to where you want to be?

I live with the longing for the away-ness. I live with the want for something I may never have. 

It's the normal bits, see? The every days parts that I find challenging. I live for the highs, for the moments where you are so truly alive and so immersed in life that the rest of it fades away.
I'm a writer.
I collect stories and those are the best places for them.
I'm a dreamer.
I collect moments and use them to remind myself of how good life is.

Because it is so amazing, so awesome, so much better than they let you believe with their mortgages and permanent jobs and gaps in your C.V.  With early mornings and never enough sleep and no magic and broken hearts. With bills and rent and tax and crappy shoes.

It's the stories that last.
The moments.
The perfect ones and the painful ones. 

Right there, crystallising your life into one solid second. Their are ones that changed me radically and irrevocably. Took who I was and twisted it into something different. Sometimes with sharp edges that people cut themselves off. Other times I was softened into something warm, attracting people to me so they could bask in the safety, the calm. Life isn't down in the day to day stuff, the bits you forget. Life is the night that doesn't leave you, or that train stop that allowed you to breathe again, or the kiss that broke your heart. It is the friends that put it back together and the man of steel and the comic book lover and the festivals and the laughing. 

It is when you pause, take a breath and think, that was it.
That was something important. 
At least for me it is. 

These moments happen when you least expect them but you need to pay attention to them and collect them, add them to who you are and let them change you. Change, grow, hope, wish, live, be and do. Do something, do everything. Never stop trying and finding and learning. Because they are so easy to lose in the screech of alarms and the traffic jams and work and coffee and co-workers and arguments and TV and housework and bad nights sleep and repeat, repeat, repeat. 

Try not to lose them. Try to cherish it all. Because it's worth it when you get one. A perfect second of living.

Right now, I'm lost, unsure, that biting anxiety is sitting in my chest. I've no idea what I'm doing. I may be burnt out. I may just be having a bad week. I may just have to accept when you want something more, life is alway is a little bit harder. I may have to compromise. I may need to bend to the whole life thing. Give up. Make myself normal for a while. Accept the experiment failed. I am not more. I am just me. Little. Small. No one important. 

But then I think fuck it. Might as well keep fighting to find something that makes these tiny few seconds on the planet worth it. Because I'll be dead long enough and who wants to be normal anyway? 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Men, you need to ask...


“I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you? You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the humiliation of us?” Eve Ensler (stolen from Louise O'Neill's article in the irish examiner, link below) 


My blog on Tuesday night was in reaction to anger and exhaustion and frustration and pain. It was my experiences. And as I said to a friend on Wednesday morning, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. The stories I remember can be counted on two hands. I'm sure there are way more instances that I've chosen not to hold on to. But so many women have so many more that are so much worse. I've heard too many stories about street harassment, bar harassment, workplace harassment, general mind numbing, heart stopping, fear mongering harassment. Times where friends laughed off late night, drunk night, forgotten night experiences because they knew in their gut something was wrong and they didn't want to look too closely. Because examining it is scary. Especially when you know there will be no help, no support, just the look that says, well, it's kinda your fault, isn't it?

We've all recieved those looks. 

We need to dismantle this culture, this horrible fog hanging over our society. Because, you know what, when you live in a fog and you can't see the damage it's doing, why in hell's name would you leave? It's safe there. I've asked male friends if they have to think of their safety all the time; do they worry about walking home alone, do they use their keys as weapons, held between fingers just in case (of course, by the time someone gets that closed, it's already too late), is their music turned low so they can hear creeping footsteps (if they are willing to listen to music at all. Were you wearing earphones when you were attacked? What did you expect then?), do they worry about drinking too much and being taken advantage of (Well, it's your fault, you were drinking. Where is your sense of personal safety?), do they get that moment of panic when they wake and realise their friend didn't txt to say they got home safe?

Think about it for a second, oh male readers, do you?

Do you worry about your safety at least once a day?

Most of the answers I've recieved are no. Along with a looks of confusion and you're obviously joking/exaggerating/crazy/safety obsessed.... etc.... Because no one actually lives that way.

Except this, and much more, is the life that most of my female friends live.

Every damn day. 

Many articles have been written this week articulating this brilliantly. Here are some links I would love you to take the time and read. Some make me so angry, I feel like it's burning a hole through my stomach. The rest make me proud or scared or glad people are better at saying what I can't seem to: 

The Letter The Stanford Survivor Read Aloud To Her Attacker
‘20 minutes of action’: father defends Stanford student son convicted of sexual assault
Men See Themselves In Brock Turner—That’s Why They Don’t Condemn Him
Brock Turner's statement blames sexual assault on Stanford ‘party culture’
Ambient Fear, Feminism & Bruce Banner
Brock Turner case shows how men are not listening to women



Men, have a conversation with the women in your life.

We're already talking. We're swapping stories but they're tales we already know. We need you to know them. We need you to listen. And then, when you understand how we live, we need you to tell your male friends. Let's get a conversation going. Ask questions. Disagree with us. Question us. But stay open-minded. Accept we are telling the truth. We are not exaggerating. Trust us. I am surrounded by so many amazing, open minded, wonderful men. But even they were shocked. Even they didn't know.
                                             
Let's all talk.

Let's lift the fog and light the way. 

                                                     ***********

If you want to know what caused this, my original post is here