Thursday, 29 September 2011

patience my dear

I'm an impatient person. I don't like to wait. It's the way I was brought up. Really, it's about knowledge. I will not wait in the dark to find out about something. Part of this is about personal insecurities and part of it is about the high-functioning character of my brain. If you keep something from me it either won't be for long or it will be forever. Right now my mother is keeping what my husband's 30th brithday present is from me and I hate it. I know fine well the reason for this is that it will be something exciting for me too, but I hate to be kept out of the loop. Tell me the day and time something is happening and I'll be patient and plan it but tell me there is something you can't tell me and all hell will break loose. I can't wait, it's as simple as that. Of course this characteristic didn't seem out of place when I was growing up, surrounded by people who imprinted their personalities onto me. It did become apparent though when I met Stuart and started to interact with him and his family's way of doing things. For Findlays, everything good should be a surprise, a way of making something exciting even more special. A nice notion I think you'll agree? I think most people would. Except me. Don't get me wrong, I like the sentiment and I would even like to be able to savour surprises like my lovely family-in-law. But I can't. Stuart tells me, he and those like him are natural queue-ers. Waiting is their game, and they do it so well. If Stuart is anticipating the fun of the rides at the back of the two hour queue at Disneyland, I'm definitely the girl making a point of not lining up at the departure gate in the airport. I'm making the effort for Stuart's birthday, I'm planning some things and I'm not telling him, but I've already gone to great lengths to tell him not to make surprises for me on mine. Maybe it's weird but I can't seem to help it. I have tried to be more spontaneous, and I've tried to enjoy anticipation but I can't shift the feeling of being irritable at my lack of knowledge, and, ultimately, my lack of control.

Sometimes though, things are completely out of your control. Sometimes things just happen or don't happen and you find yourself grasping onto straws in the vague hope that you've elicited some actual meaning and sense. You find yourself torn between searching for logic and reason and proof, and painting meaning in where prior there was just a void. Waiting is an incredibly hard task and I fail at it every time. I'm considering the notion of things being 'worth the wait' and I find that invariably they are. Invariably they will always be.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Other Side

Something that always surprises me about myself as I am now is the stark contrast to my younger self. The main difference that strikes me currently is that when I was younger and I was feeling in anyway down, lacklustre or anxious I would write. I look back over journals kept then and I am surprised that there is actually minimal amounts of teenage angst therein, and reality lying for all to see. Words epitomise the true feelings as they then existed and the proof of that lies in the flush of heat in my chest when these memories are awoken with such vivacity that it overwhelms me. Contrast this to the me of now and you will notice gaping holes in my writing and you are now to be informed that these chasms represent emotional difficulties and times of unease. Times when the immensity of incomprehension and discomfort render one unable to articulate things that seem at that moment to be the most profoundly unwanted conditions imaginable. This makes it incredibly hard to write about the times when things are most hard, and consequently the times at which writing would be most welcome for. The most vivid and truthful writing emerges as a result of negative experiences, they enlighten and teach, and I am useful at relaying them. My writing in these times is stuttering, and simple and straight to the point. The words seem childlike. They are the words in bold in the thesaurus lonely, stark and obvious and I can't bring myself to write them. Writing of painful truth is hard enough to do poetically, but I am too complex as an adult to let such things emerge in the way they ought to. I suppose I am worried that the reality of how you feel in dark moments will shock those who read them, or that admitting their existence to yourself will cause circles of revelation that are dangerous to one's sanity. There is a process we go through in times of trouble, and for me this involves a difficult mixture of denial and panic. Creating discourse is not in the order of play.

Thus, my writing this passage currently will signify that the worst may yet be passed and the actuality of better times to come acknowledged. I am very rarely completely open about how I am coping with life on a day to day basis, even with people who are close to me. Brave faces come easily and I don't even publish this blog on other interfaces where people I know will see it any more. But I will be truthful. This summer has been hard. And as is always the case with the most troubling emotional intricacies, there is little reason for it. At best I could classify it as change, inconsistency and continual fluctuation's effect on a person over a prolonged period. At worst, I would say that I am never at ease in summer. Now it is full autumn as far as I am concerned and I'm easing back into normality. It is selfish to say as I know there is a lot worse - indeed, I have known it myself - but I feel happy again. Today I visited Summerlee Industrial Museum with Stuart and we took photographs and wandered around the canal in silence and fresh air that bit like winter. At the tram lines in the utopian created street I crouched over the cobbles to take a picture. The sun was hitting the roofs of the houses and tram and I felt a swell of happiness that seemed quite remote, quite unknown, like a far removed acquaintance. I felt myself going 'Oh' in recognition and I smiled. I told Stuart. Suddenly things that felt like the end of the earth a few days ago felt manageable, even mistaken. Coping is dripping back in slowly. It's been a long slog through times when things were not great, but equally not bad. I honestly don't know if short, sharp periods of dire circumstances are favourable to long dragging days of banality that wear you down with time, or not. All I know is that now I am on the other side and I can write again because I feel once more like there is a point to it, and that I will look back and be glad to have these words. I'm going to make big decisions, now that I finally feel able to surmount the daunting once more.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

On Feminism

Picture this scene: I am at a go-karting track in Tenerife. I am with my husband. We are shown to the go-karts which sit in a line in the middle of the pit lane. There are two girls, myself, my husband, and five other men. I sit in the kart I come to first, it is the last one in the row. The two girls are in their late teens and thus go into the smaller karts which sit at the side of the pits. They go off first. We await the start.

This is the point at which a face appears in front of me. He asks, “have you done this before?”. I reply “no”, indeed, I have never raced a go-kart here before. He looks at me very directly and points to the pedal underneath my right foot. “This…is to go”. I look up at him, frowning and smiling. “This…” He continues, pointing to the pedal under my left foot, “is to stop”. I nod very slowly, smiling in irritation. “Not at the same time” He mouths each word obviously and waves his hands across each other to fully convey the message. “Ohh-kayyy” I reply, rolling my eyes. At this point I expect him to move to the kart in front of me, containing Stuart, to repeat the ridiculous exhibit of just how dense people can be. I imagine us laughing about it together on the relay bus back to our hotel. Laughing and smiling. Suffice to say, he does not move on and tell Stuart.

When I realise this I am angered. My first thought is, “why me?”. My Second thought is “well, duh”. As I fester with tingling waves of irritation they start the kart at the top of the row and off he drives. The second kart is now started, and the third, until they are starting Stuart’s in front of me. As the man who starts the karts comes to mine he looks at me and asks, “have you done this before?”. I give him a quizzical look, “Yes, I have driven a go-kart at home.” He points to my right foot and I stare at him in the same way I stare at approaching charity muggers back home, but unlike them this one does not take the hint. “This foot… is go” He nods emphatically, I feel like a child. “This foot” my left “is stop”. I feel like I have the intelligence of a marble. “Not at the same time” he stresses, speaking to me the way idiots speak to foreigners on situation comedies. I look at him incredulously, “I know how to drive a car” I implore. “Go slow your first lap” He says. “Yes, I KNOW” I say through clenched teeth. Whilst saying this my kart has been started and the first one to explain to me about how to flex muscles in my feet is behind me saying “go… go…gooooo…” in the same tone that children use to taunt each other. I put my right foot down and fly out of the pits in a haze of fury and humiliation. I don’t know if it is just that I am good at driving or if the red mist came down but somehow I managed it. It doesn’t matter but for what it’s worth I was fourth fastest, beating four of those unassailable entities who can do no wrong, also known as men.

I am no feminist. I care not for stereotypes of bra burning and rejected chivalry. A girl at university once told me she was an “anti-feminist” and I was impressed by her… balls. I think of it now and then I remember the rigours of go-karting and I feel as though that god-damned piece of wire and fabric is choking the life out of me. Despite this, I still can’t get around the fact that I like men. What’s more, I admire men. All my idols are men. All items in my life that do not have a very obviously pre-assigned sex (i.e. if they are pink or have long eyelashes) are men. I would not do very well with languages where nouns are gendered. Blame me, blame my upbringing, I am the antithesis of a pink princess. I want to do everything men do and unlike many who would call themselves feminists, I don’t want to flaunt my femininity whilst in the middle of a rugby scrum. I don’t know that you can really want gender equality when all you want is for gender to not be noticed at all. I find it very hard to place myself when I know that I am unable to be a woman in the perceived way that I would be able to convey this. For me, being a woman is having inconvenient periods and a lower level of physical ability than men and that is it. All the rest is society and that is it. I’m fed up of feeling inferior because everyone wants to champion the woman who uses her feminine charms to work her way to the top. To me, that, and all the rest of it, is sexist.

For some there are key criteria for discerning when being discriminated against based on sex is over. For example, when women and men are paid equally. For me, the issue won’t be over until nobody thinks of it again. If a woman is paid equally to a man it won’t matter that she has the same amount of money, she’ll still be treated based on sex, not on competency. Until people stop thinking in terms of sex, only then will it not be an issue. This is so complicated I can only imagine the sheer number of problems that there are for people of mixed gender.

Here’s the thing for me. You may think to tell me that those go-kart people were obtuse sexist morons who should be reprimanded. You may tell me that even if they were there are a whole host of them out there and that I personally can’t fight them all. You may tell me that I should use my sexuality to the best of my ability and embrace exactly who I am. I am woman, hear me roar.

This is who I am. I am a person. I am not someone who deserves to be judged based on their sex. I like to wear clothing that doesn’t sexualise me. I can’t do the whole girls at their sleepover talking solidarity sister bit. I like “male” activities but there is no way in earth I will participate in them if I feel like people notice me because of my sex. For them to notice me because of me; that is all I want.

I suppose to cut to the chase I am a feminist inasmuch as I find discrimination against women, and sexism unacceptable. I hate being patronised because of how I look. Imagine in that go-kart a black individual is singled out and patronised due to their being different to the other people participating, I cannot begin to imagine the amount of shit that would hit the fan if that went down. Yet, oh dear me, here I am, a stupid woman who can’t drive a go-kart, let alone a car, let’s make her feel like she has the worth of a peanut and send her on her way. I hate that this happens and I don’t know what you can call it but there is no way it can be sexism if I am just swapping being singled out in a negative way to being singled out in a positive way. I’m fed up of playing the game. I’m out. I’m no feminist, I am nothing; and I hope you’ll treat me that way.