Patting myself on the back

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My younger brother recently married his girlfriend of 9 years, and Bug was their ring bearer. Since the wedding I’ve had to feild any number of questions from Bug on weddings and marriage, most of which I’m unequipped to answer.

This weekend Bug asked me if he could marry a girl in his class (they’re 8 & 7). I told him no, because they bring out the worst in each other. He then asked me if he could marry his best friend, a boy in the next class room. I told him that if they wanted to get married when they are old enough, then that is fine with me because they bring out the best in each other. 

I’m inordinately pleased that I didn’t have to tell him that it’s okay to love any gender, that he felt he could ask me that without fear of what would happen. Like all parents I doubt my abilities, and live in fear of screwing him up. It’s nice to know that in this and the manners department, I’ve done it right.

Political Feminism and Me

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If I’m frank, I must admit that I stay as far away from politics and discussions of feminism as possible. However, in recent months, I have found my stance on such conversations changing – at least in part. While I still don’t really follow the politics of governance (etc.) I do follow the politics of living. Don’t stress yet if my division of political types has you confused, I’ll explain.

There are politics involved in poverty, and there are degrees of poverty. New Zealand is a first world country, which has the dubious honour of having some of the most unaffordable housing in the world. It is important to know that this doesn’t compare house prices with those in other countries directly, it compares them to income. The reality is that a minimum wage job will not pay ALL the bills if there is more than one person being supported by it (and by this I refer to the small type of human, more commonly known as children). As a single mother this is a fact that I must keep in mind as I search for employment. And if, by some miracle, it does pay all the bills you had best hope that your child doesn’t run through shoes, and that you don’t get sick enough to need a doctor – or that should you get sick that you do it well enough to be hospitalised.

A brief note on feminism and me. I consider myself a feminist. I’m neither a man-hater, nor a lesbian – common misconceptions until recently where I live. I believe that if you can do the same job just as well as a man (regardless of what that job might be) that you should be paid equally. I don’t believe that women should be taxed more, or otherwise penalised for a cyclic bodily function that they will have to live with for 30 years, or more, of their lives. And I don’t care whether or not you agree with me.

Just this evening I read an article debating the efficacy of free tampons in schools, but also whether by supplying them would encourage the parents, who couldn’t afford to purchase the sanitary supplies, to remain in poverty. But at the same time ‘they’ want the girls at school, where they will get their education. How to encourage one without endorsing the other? It may be that I have misread the situation, such a thing has happened before. This is another example of degrees of poverty, and the politics therein. I googled this topic with the intent to read more and have a better understanding of the situation, I stopped scrolling at the end of page three. In those three pages of results on the topic only 3 hits were ads for tampons or puberty education. Personally, I can tell you that I’m horrified by the cost of sanitary items. I couldn’t afford the monthly layout of approximately $40/month for my cycle. So I changed tactics. Because of the cost of sanitary supplies (among other reasons) I spent years on Depo Provera so that I wouldn’t have a cycle at all. That plan cost me $20- $30 per year. Thanks to my interest in historical fiction (and fact checking anything that was either interesting or suspect) I learned how many very poor women managed before ‘standardised’ sanitary supplies; they used rags – probably where the popular slur came from. I did further research into modern ReUsable Menstrual Products [RUMPs], and found a wealth of information; and suppliers. Long term, this is the cheapest option, but it also has the most expensive outlay. I bought a few here and a few there, transitioning slowly out of disposables as I went, I even upcycled a few myself. This is the house of the mad crafter after all. I compare RUMPs to cloth nappying versus disposable nappying, after the outlay they pay for themselves and the only on going cost is laundering. And there are other types of RUMPs as well.

I make no apologies for being excited about my alternative/hippy side. In order to feed and clothe a growing child I cut financial corners where I can. I make my own laundry detergent, all purpose spray cleaner, and most of my beauty products (excluding make up…); I even mend my clothes where possible, and where not I either turn them into cleaning rags, or upcycle them into something else – currently I’m, slowly, turning my hand to quilting. I make my own journals and notebooks because for $6 a piece it’s cheaper than anything I can buy. I’ve even converted a number of my friends, mostly through being excited – and the fact that it works.

My personal opinion on how to solve the sanitary supply issue is teach whole classes (boys and girls alike) to make their own, with upcycled material, and have them use those to build up what is known as a stash. It may not last them a lifetime, but it will last them a long time. In this instance the internet and YouTube are your friends.

There is feminist power in being able to make what you need. Whether that means clothing, cleaning supplies, RUMPs, or simply growing your vege.

Easter Egg

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I found an Easter egg earlier today. Not the scrumptious chocolate kind, I fear it’s a bit early in the year for that. I found a little nugget of ghold that I had somehow missed in a book that I have read at least once a year since I was 17. To be clear, the sentence itself was familiar to me, in fact it’s one of my favourites. But the fact is that it’s playing on a moment that happened 2 books earlier, and is also foreshadowing events to come… and then the sudden realisation that the foreshadowing began in book 1.

It has taken me nearly 13 years to notice this tiny nugget in 2,700 pages (all up); and I’m not concerned by it. There are layers and subtleties to truly good stories, and what you take away from any of them at any time is governed by your mood, your environment, what you’ve learned, what you are capable of understanding, and why you are reading (or rereading it).

Who knows what I’ll take away from this series next year.

Read on.

Are You Body Positive?

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I try to be body positive, but in a world where I am passed over for employment in customer service due to my size it’s hard. And when most ‘plus size’ actors and actresses are portrayed negatively, especially next to the conventionally skinny, it is doubly hard. It is hard because these things are telling us that by not being conventionally skinny there is something wrong with us.

Today a blog notification appeared in my inbox, a post from Miss Victory Violet. You can read it for yourself, but the essentials of it was that Miss VV was raving over the documentary Embrace, all about body positivity, why we don’t have it, why we need it, and how to find it.

What’s amazing to me is that we have body positivity coming at us from all directions, and yet the negativity is easier to hold onto. If you don’t believe me, there’s the Body Positive Movement, there’s music (One Direction and Christina Aguilera). Our friends, and the people who love us.

Frankly, it’s time that we start listening to them. More than that it’s time that we stopped comparing ourselves to others – even and especially to our family.
I have three brothers, but I’m only genetically related to one, the younger one. And all four of us are incredibly different. My younger brother (the one I share DNA with) is tall and thin, and he just is that way. He doesn’t try to be thin, he just is. I’m on the lower end of the average height scale, and rather rotund. My older brother, the middle one, is my height, and was fleshy most of his life, now he’s losing his hair in his mid thirties. My eldest brother was tall, thin, and ginger before he died from a heart attack at 26. The rest of us are blonde. I look more like my older brother, who I’m not actually related to, than I do my younger brother. In my teens I was conventionally skinny, it was the effect of an active and busy lifestyle. I was an athlete, no where near national class, but my sport was my life; until my knees couldn’t take it anymore. I was so skinny that I looked wrong, I had plenty of muscles, and you couldn’t see my ribs any more than you can any other athlete’s, but my frame, my skeleton, my build (however you like to look at it) was made for a larger person. In my late teens and early twenties, right up until I was pregnant, I was at roughly my ideal body shape, based on my frame. These days I’m a size 18, and I’m loved for who I am.

While my size may influence potential employers, it doesn’t seem to bother men. And let me tell you, it doesn’t hold me back.
It’s not easy to be body positive in a world where everyone feels inferior to someone else for whatever reason. Somedays I have to say it like a mantra: “I am beautiful.”  so that I can believe it. And other days I’ll hear it, and I’ll smile a little and say, “I know.”

You should know that where ever you are reading this, whoever you may be. You Are Beautiful.

Be Body Positive!

And so it begins…

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Happy New Year!

I’m a little late, but what can we do.

I certainly hope that 2017 brings good things for you all; though despite my best wishes for this, there is no guarantee.

Yet again I have taken up Tilly’s novel, and we are currently pursuing it from her dear husband’s point of view. Though, at the time for rewrites, I will eventually stagger both points of view throughout the novel.

2017 is (in my mind at least) to be the year of the job. As much as I love writing, and crafting, I am going steadily more crazy the longer I am without employment. I have a patchwork in the process of cutting, it’s slow going, because the cutting hurts my hand after a time – even with the use of a rotary cutter, though it’s going a great deal faster now that I have dug up the rotary cutter.

Despite all of this, I would like to have a novel ready for publication at some point this year. That is my other goal, you know other than paid employment.

The Trouble with Tribbles… um Fictional Characters…

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I have neglected my story for far too long. I know this because it is supposed to be a full length novel, and frankly it’s hanging out somewhere in the realm of a short story.

I don’t know about what happens to your stories when you neglect them; but when I neglect mine, my characters get a bit uppity.  They start deviating from the script, and/or shouting at me until I pay attention to them. In this case they have deviated so far from the script that my story is nearly at its end and I’m not even as far as 10,000 words.

Just in case it isn’t clear, I don’t do short stories – they require me to be more eloquent with less words. I am perfectly able – in fact it’s a problem during essay writing, that I don’t use enough words.

Right now my characters are in the midst of a domestic dispute over whether he’s going to arrest her, or she’s going to murder him. They have a newly complicated relationship.

In the meantime I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas season. I’ll see you all again soon.

The Sleep of Champions!

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NaNoWriMo is very officially over. We’ve had our Thank Goodness It’s Over Lunch, at a great buffet in town. And now everyone is off resting before the big push to really finish up their novels. Those who made it to 50,000 but didn’t finish the story have more writing to do. Those who made it to 50,000 and completed their novels have further drafts to write, and editing to do. And those of us who didn’t make it to 50,000 have much work to do.

But, for right now, it’s coming into the holiday season. First I need to rest, and try to shake the persistent plagues – I’ve spent all day in bed with yet another plague. It would also be nice to catch up on some sleep; I’ve not been doing much of the sleeping over November. I have much work to do for Christmas, after I have helped my younger brother celebrate his birthday. I never decorate for Christmas before his birthday with them being in the same month. Sey’s Birthday is this weekend; next weekend is my Orphan’s Christmas dinner, and the weekend after is Christmas. I still have a handful of presents to organise. The most important of these is Bug’s. Most people are getting items that I have been sitting on all year, or some kind of food.

Feeding people is what I do. How to tell that you are important to me, is if I have fed you. Even and especially if I can’t really afford to, I’m fairly good at stretching a meal to feed however many I need it to. I have 10 people (at this stage) coming for my Orphan’s Christmas dinner, and the original menu will feed 4-6. In my fridge though I found some yams (the small, knotty British variety) that I will cook in honey; plus a few extra handfuls of rice. Meat might be a little thin on the ground, but no one will go hungry, and the food will all be up to my usual demanding standards.

In the meantime I mean to sleep as much as possible. The sleep of Champions as it were. I need to find a normal sleep pattern again. The other night I slept, for 6 hours straight – you wouldn’t believe how excited I was about that. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go and see if I can rack up a solid 8 hours.

Feeling My Age

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These last few days I have been feeling my age more than a bit. I’m by no means old, but I have finally reached the age where I’m no longer as young as I used to be.
In fairness to myself, I have a school-aged child, and in addition to playing ML for my region, I have no other housemates to help with domestic tasks. We are reliant on public transport to go where we need to go. Running on five hours (or less) of sleep per night is taking a pretty serious toll on my body.

Right now it’s 10pm, I’ve just finished sprinting for the day, and I can barely keep my eyes open. Goodnight, and happy writing.

NaNoWriMo Week 2

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So it’s nearly the end of week 2 of NaNoWriMo 2016 and I have discovered that as a Sprint Leader on the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter account, I have the best sprinters!

It could be because I run Firefly themed sprints with the hashtags: Brown Coats Unite and Firefly. I really do have the best prompts, nearly all of which are direct quotes from the Firefly tv show and subsequent movie. So my sprinters get to use wonderful quotes such as: “I swear by my pretty, floral bonnet I will end you!”, “My food is problematic.”, “Shiny.”, “Let’s be bad guys.”, and “He looks better in red.”. As well as many others.

In my dedication to providing the very best Firefly sprints I sat down and watched all 13 hours of the cult hit (including the movie and all without ads…), and I wrote down everything that could potentially be a prompt. I have spent the past two weeks presenting them to my sprinters one prompt per page at a time.

During NaNo it is so important to keep positive! If you start getting down on yourself, well the numbers just keep going down. That’s why I use the ‘threat’ of Reaver attacks to keep them being positive. They don’t usually forget their positivity more than once.

It’s so much fun, because they play with me. Which would sound so much worse if I wasn’t talking about Tweets. But a great many of my sprinters Tweet back to me with appropriate Firefly responses. This is why NaNo is fun, and why I come back year after year, even when I haven’t got anything to procrastinate by writing.