Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear Nan

Dear Nan,

When I was little you sneaked me sweets when Mum told you not to.
At school you put my scribbled pictures on the fridge.
You framed my terrible school photos and put them in pride of place, even when I complained that they were Uuuuuuuuuuugly.
When we came for holidays you were always out at the driveway by the time we got out of the car. Always so excited to see us again, no playing cool for you!
You used to hold me on your lap and whisper that I was your favourite, and I know you did it for all us grandkids. We love you for it.
When I became a stroppy teen you loved me anyway.
You made cocktail shaker jokes when you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and taught me bravery.
You came and saw my shows, good and bad, and always clapped the loudest and cheered the longest.
You listened to me bitching about my Mother, and told me although Mum didn’t ‘get me’ I still needed to respect her.
When your health went downhill, you told me you would be fine. And you were.
Whenever I succeeded at anything I called you first to tell you the news, and you were so excited.
When I didn’t, you were just as proud and boasted about my less obvious talents.
When I was at uni and I failed a paper, I spent a long time hiding it from you, so as not to disappoint. When you finally found out your response was “well that is ridiculous – they must have made it far too difficult.”
When my grandad died, we grieved together and you explained how it would be cruel to keep him with us longer.
When I met a man, you respectfully let them into the family, and when I broke up with them you whispered that you knew he wasn’t good enough for me.
When I met this man, you whispered that he might be.
When you got sick again, you tried to see the positives, and enjoy the good times, and showed me that just because life is dramatic, you don’t have to make it a drama
At all times you have been on my side, by my side.

It seems greedy after a lifetime of love to ask for more.
But can you just stick around a little longer?

I want you to be here when I get back from overseas next week.

I want you at my wedding, to help me get dressed, and nag me about putting on weight like usual.
I want you to tell me my first baby is beautiful – even if they have hair like mine.
I want you to see my brother and sister find their loves.

I want you to be here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Character building isn’t just a cliché.

Kids aren’t resistant. They don’t miss stuff; they don’t always bounce back from loss and grief. Don’t be naive. Their experiences in childhood will shape them.
But negative experience building character isn’t just a cliché.

I’ve re-written the first bit of this paragraph about four times.
I don’t want to undermine the importance of the people who are a part of the loss I experienced in my youth. I also don’t want to use their stories in order to strengthen my own point of view. Their lives and deaths were their own, and should stay that way.
Let’s just say that before I was a teen we lost a lot of friends and family to accidents, cancer, and illness.
Not all of them were older. Some were younger than I was.
There was a hangover from this and it is not until I became an adult I realised my ideas of life, death and assumptions about what life will bring are not necessarily the norm.

Stuff that I do that some other people don’t.

Assume the worst if the land line rings after 9pm. – My family never calls each other at night because they know the palpitations it gives us.

Know the process when someone calls and says they are on the way to the hospital:
Call next of kin and tell them you will pick them up if applicable. (No-one freaked out should be driving)
Pack toiletries, pyjamas, bottled water, juice, muesli bars, and any meds that the person needs into a bag.
Grab coins and cash for parking
Stop at the petrol station and pick up some phone cards for recharging the patient/ family member’s cell.
Take a book, bottle of water and some sort of food for yourself.

Assume if someone gets sick enough to go to hospital that there is a risk of it being a really bad sign of things to come.

I know that if a doc says you have a 20% chance that is what it means. It doesn’t mean you are in the “miracle” category and the 20% thing doesn’t count for you.

That if a doctor says “hmm we need to take more tests”, it’s not a good thing.

That just because someone is young and cute doesn’t mean they are guaranteed passage through to adulthood without illness or injury.

That people don’t have to attend a funeral /tangi, and may not want to, and that is ALWAYS ok.

Needless to say, I assume that everyone else has had a wealth of experience with grief by the time they get to 30.

Someone was trying to tell me the other night what he thought “the appropriate” grieving period and process was for a particular situation. I had to explain to him that grief doesn’t come at your convenience, and there are no rules and regulations for what is “normal.”
A mother may never stop memorialising their lost child’s birthday. Or she may choose never to acknowledge it. It’s up to her. She is the only person in her position, just as the father of that child will also have his own process.
This difference in process is therein the issue.

I get really sick of people telling me I look surprisingly good or sound surprisingly calm when I call in on bereavement leave, or tell them about bad news. I get even sicker of people expecting me to hit a “get over it” time line by a certain point – always allocated by them.
It is worse when it is someone you love. I sincerely hope that when I am next bereaved my partner will let me grieve on my time, my way, with their support, and without being judged.
My ex didn’t even attend my much beloved grandfather’s funeral with me.
My grandfather didn’t notice.
I did, and that is what is important - those left behind.

I was going to leave it at that, but I’m going to get into some stuff to help cope while you are getting through the roughest patches if you are here from a Google search on grief, and don’t want to just hear me whinge.

Don’t ignore or bury your feelings. Screw what else is going on, do what YOU need to do.
If you feel like going kayaking for 6 solid hours, or beating the shit out of your friends in a sports game go for it (true story, and it was AWESOME).
If you feel like smiling and hugging and talking at the funeral, do it. There are no rules, as long as you also respect how other people feel.
Feeling alone and often angry or sullen is to be expected, just give clear boundaries, and find a way to get the space you need, without attacking or hurting those who may want to cling.
Communicate your feelings. Sometimes just saying “I’m angry ” will make you feel a bit better, even if it is a “bad” feeling. And chances are someone else will feel the same way.
Learn and understand the stages so you can recognise what you may be going through, and allow yourself to transition through the process.

With all of this stuff the biggest thing is, don’t try and do it alone.
If you are afraid of burdening friends, use 7 and call a different one each day.
If you are living with a partner, allocate a time to be negative but have a clear stop point and go for a walk or something nice after you have gotten out of that head space.
There is nothing wrong with paying a therapist so you can talk through things, without feeling like a burden. (nb feeling like a burden and being one are different, friends like to support!)

Grief is not a timeline from horrible to A-Ok. It is a rollercoaster.
My personal rollercoaster goes a bit like this... get plenty of good stuff done in the first two days, melt down, perk up, melt down, start having normal weeks where I don’t think about things then all of a sudden a smell, or something random (one time a Lego boat) sets me off back to an evening of sobbing uncontrollably unable to breath, feeling like my heart is breaking again.
Slowly but surely I start putting the missing person, or part of my life (in the case of my injuries) into a category of something like a treasure. Where I can control how I view them. I wait until I have the time to pull them out of the safe place I store them and hold them gently in my hands and admire them. I look at them from all angles, and take the time to acknowledge that I miss them, but I’m ok without them.
And you have to congratulate yourself when you reach that point, because you are awesome for getting there, no matter how short, or long a time it takes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

letters from a Fan Girl.

Sometimes the comments section just doesnt cover what needs to be written...
I received a couple of comments on my horribly shallow, flippant, and terribly thought out post about a stupid twitter feed called "thingswomendontdoanymore."
here is my replies as a blog post, just because it looked messy with all the links in the comment section.

Gen said...
Feminism is completely outdated and unneeded anymore. I am strong enough to laugh at the comments about women making sandwiches. I have more education then my husband, but I am the homemaker BY CHOICE. If these comments hurt your little feelings then it is your problem not the person who wrote them. Have a nice life always getting your feelings hurt.
January 20, 2011 1:04 PM

Scuba Nurse said...
Thanks for your comment Gen, I hope you appreciate the CHOICE you so pointedly mentioned. You have it because of feminism, and just Because YOU have freedom and choice doesn't mean everyone does. Push off the boat ladies, Gen's aboard!!
I find it interesting that you are so keen to judge my frustration on some really horrific comments because you are a stay at home mum. Where in that did I slag of those who are happy to do work at home?
Thanks for judging me though, and I will take you point on board not to get annoyed by the ignorant.
Oops, too late.
January 21, 2011 10:03 AM

Gen said...
I said that feminism is no longer needed, not that it was never needed. We did need the feminists to help us get equal pay and equal rights. I am very grateful for the hard and difficult work women did to give me what I have today.
I feel that in today's world feminism has turn to whining about insults and no longer helps women. If women want to be equal with men we have to put up with the same shit that they deal out to each other. It is pure arrogance to expect someone to "respect my feelings" just because I don't have tackle swinging between my legs. Let them make jokes about women, we have just as many about them. You don't hear the men whining about how unfair it is when we make references to them being dumb and unrefined. People will always make jokes about someone different, it is human nature, some people just need to develop their sense of humor.
How can you be horrified about some ass making a joke about women in the kitchen. If you need to be horrified about something it should be the female circumcision the some poor 5 year old is going through right this second. Maybe you should write a blog about that.
January 22, 2011 4:17 AM

Just to clarify your point that wining and insults no longer help women... Whining and insults never helped women, or indeed anyone.
Discussion and action on the issues makes a difference. I work helping people both in my ‘real’ job and my volunteer role. So I sincerely hope that my actions back up my ‘whining’.
Can you please explain exactly where in this blog post I get upset about people in the kitchen... where is this constant comment coming from?
Nowhere in there is there ANY comment from me about being in the kitchen.
There IS a comment from someone else; I just thought it was rather funny.
Sorry if you didn’t.
Someone recently told me to ‘be strong enough to laugh’, if that advice helps.

With response to your suggestion on what to write about, thanks, it is a good idea.
I try to only write about what I know, from breast cancer, to miscarriage and stillbirth, to sexual assault prevention.
If that strikes you as offensivly kiwi-focused please take a look at my blog about my support of the campaign to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from death by stoning and execution

I have got a half written piece on female circumcision however I wrote it because of a woman I worked with, rather than my own experience, so has remained on the back burner for fear of being judgemental of a culture I’ve never been a part of.
So easy to do online.

Friday, January 14, 2011

why do editors print these empty faff letters?

Oh good grief.
I was sitting in an airport with no inclination to continue working (since I left home at 6am today), feeling a little bored when I stumbled across this gem.
This has made my DAY!

Check this out, have a good laugh, grab a cup of tea, and come back and read this.

Firstly, this whole thing seems to be a big dirty mark on the name of Professor Christopher Saunders (not actually given his dues in this particular letter.)
He wrote the paper "Introduction in Research in English Literary History," and set down the three tests to be used on historical writing in 1952.
A professor of military history and what seems to be a highly methodical writer with a strong attention to detail, I sincerely hope he is devoutly Christian, and kind enough to ignore these idiots using the basics of his concepts and twisting them to suit their beliefs.

I just want to quickly clarify his process and how badly Ms. Michele Silvernail has missed the point.

The Internal test: In reality the internal test for a manuscript is not as simple as having a nice family tree at the front, or characters clearly defined and linked – if that were the case most of the fantasy genre books with their convoluted Elven royal families would also be “real”.
The external test: Shouldn’t there be a good solid chain of proper evidence to support events in the bible? I appreciate that there are plenty of relics scattered across this earth, but the number of double ups, would suggest that their origins may be questionable. If we take the word of those in the church (e.g. his stated archaeologist Nelson Gluck is Jewish...) then we may as well take the word of those who have been “beamed up” that aliens are real.
The bibliographic test: Is a joke. In actuality we need to trace the manuscript back to the original in an unbroken chain. We find out how many copies of the manuscript there are, and establish how closely the copies agree. Finally - do we have any of the manuscript in the handwriting of the purported author?
Well, there is no author properly identified, we don’t even know who wrote the gospels (it’s only according to Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke.), and to top it off we have a THREE HUNDRED year gap between the first entire gospel and the time at which it was supposed to have been written – even shit like twilight didn’t take that long to get a reprint!

Urgh, It’s not even worth arguing it is so silly.
But I felt like killing time at the airport... and meaningless phrases like her quoted Ephesians 2:8
“it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” Really piss me off.
I much prefer Einstein’s quote
"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

People who make my day.

On the right hand side of this blog you will notice a list called "Groovyness that I follow", it is of other blogs.
If you haven’t already, please go and take a look at each of these.
For differing reasons they are the people who make my day when there is a new posting up on their site.
Most of them make me laugh, all of them make me think, and each and every time they write I feel a little stronger in my hope that humanity will be ok after all.
Thanks for being an awesome support network people. You rocked my 2010 and I can’t wait to have you shine your light through my crappy winter times in 2011.

If you aren’t on the list, and I come write silly comments on your blog all the time, or we tweet back and forth, or you just think I would love what you do please leave a link in the comments section below.

And thanks again to the team!

Fuck; Im Not a tomboy?

I’m sitting here with bright red nails, in a house that has a sewing machine, craft cupboard, and inordinate amount of women’s hats.
I’m quite a ‘feminine’ woman most of the time.
I also have hiking boots, a white water helmet and a bunch of rad-ass science nerd bits and pieces.
As an aside, I also have a kick ass bone collection, but that’s just seen as a bit odd, rather than traditionally gendered one way or the other.

Most of my childhood was spent thinking I was a tomboy.
I must have been; I never wore pink. I didn’t wear dresses.
I didn’t play with dolls, I liked to build things and climb trees.
So I must have been a tomboy.

When I was about 11 I said to a friend “well, you know; I’m such a Tom-boy.”
“No you aren’t! You like girl stuff.”
The thing was, at her place I painted my nails, and tried lipstick, and played dress –ups in actual dresses. I LOVED her Barbie collection and stayed pretty clean, because they didn’t have a yard.

Was I pretending to be a girly-girl to fit in?

As a confident kid, I wasn’t the type to pretend to be something I wasn’t.
The simple fact was that there were no pink, or dresses, or dolls, or girly crap at my house.
The option simply wasn’t there.
My wonderful mother decided when her baby was a little girl that I would decide who I was, and how gendered I was, in whatever direction I would choose, when I was ready. However she didn’t really provide balance, since I guess she figured the world provided it for her.

Mums third child was another girl, and by then she had relaxed the rules a bit.
While I had a pirate party and a lords and ladies party, and loved them both I would have KILLED for a fairy party.
On the eve of my little sister’s 4th birthday mum sat up until the wee hours sewing a gorgeous little fairy costume for her fairy party.
In the morning there was much excitement over the cute tutu based dress with a glitter heart on the front.
My sister took one look at the dress and burst into tears.
Hell NO - she was not going to wear that thing!!!
Once Mum realised that my sister wasn’t going to wear the dress, I think she was close to joining her on the floor in floods.
All that work for nothing!
The party went without a hitch with the birthday girl dressed in her usual shorts and t shirt. I was a bit too old for a fairy party but sucked up as much pink, and glitter, and fairy-ness as my 10 year old self could do.
After the party I snuck into my sister’s room and tried desperately to squeeze into the dress.
At 6 years age difference there was not a chance, but I think we figured out who the tom-boy is!!!

So I spent a large portion of my developmental life identifying as something I wasn’t simply because my mother set me up that way...

Do Mothers realise how much power they have?
I assumed that Mum didn’t, but at Christmas this year she told a story...

Apparently when she was a child she and her brother were told that they didn’t like cake.
Not that they weren’t allowed it – of course if they wanted it they could have it – but they didn’t like it.
So there would be some sandwiches and cakes at church tea and Mum would be told what the sandwiches were, and reminded (so she didn’t have to suffer) that the other option was cake – But she didn’t like cake. It took until she was about 11 until she realised that she did in-fact like cake, as did her brother.
What the fuck?

How many quality years of gorging on cake did she miss out on? I should report the woman to cyfs.

So in conclusion, Mum knew damn well what she was doing. All you other Mums out there - enjoy pulling the wool over your kids eyes for now, because around about age 11 they are going to start realising what they really do and don’t like, and choosing for themselves.

Also... a BIG round of applause to my lovely mother who allowed all three of us kids to decide who we were in our own time. We tried all sorts and eventually settled into our own skins.
Thanks to her we are all supremely comfortable with who we are since it was a self controlled process.
Our lives were ours to build and she was ‘just’ there to support the process.
Thanks Mum.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The article I wish could have been in cleo/cosmo/dolly etc when I was 17.

“Be the best he’s ever had”
“Ten tricks to make him want you forever”
“20 things men wish you knew about sex”
“Give him the sex he craves”
“Just do this on date one”
“Be cocksure” (I couldn’t make this up if I tried! - Nov 04 edition of Cosmo.)

Good grief ladies! What the hell must you be thinking?
Whereas in the real world we get asked to pull our heads out of our own asses in order to realise what is going on around us, it seems that in the “women’s interest” media we need to pull our head out of our partner’s ass in order to realise what is going on.

Come on out, it’s ok. Come on... You aren’t going to find anything useful up there; you may as well come out and learn something.

There is one simple fact of importance here, and that is that no one’s life should revolve around pleasing someone else 24/7, and after 124 years of publications (albeit not all of those were as focused on sex) Cosmo *still* seems to have missed the point.

If you want to please someone else, make yourself happy first.

So let’s try a new title line
“If you want to impress them in bed – start by impressing yourself.”

As an unhappy, unfulfilled person walking through this life, any good you do others will stink of martyrdom if you overlook your own fulfilment and joy.
No one wants a hospice nurse who looks like they wish they were dead, no one wants a home care helper who can’t crack a smile, and no one wants a childcare worker who doesn’t enjoy children’s company.

And no one wants a martyr in bed!

It doesn’t matter how many mags we read with info on how to please someone else. It doesn’t matter how perfect our technique is. No matter how experienced or inexperienced, or how firm or wobbly we are, no one wants sex to be just about them.
If it is only going to be about one person you may as well just masturbate. You get exactly what you want when you want it. You save on the effort of dating and don’t have to deal with messy things like feelings and personalities.

But sex isn’t like that. It’s about testing boundaries, as well as enjoying the same old stuff.
It’s about feeling someone else enjoy your body, and knowing they love seeing you having fun.
It’s NOT 60 positions in 60 minutes, and impressing other people whether you like it or not.

So for goodness sakes slow down.

Wait to have your first time with someone else, until you have had your first time with yourself.
Guys are perfectly open about masturbation and they seem to be quite comfortable with letting people know what they need, want, and like, in bed.
Women don’t really talk about it, and can sometimes remain a mystery and that in itself is an enigma. It doesn’t help us, and it sure doesn’t help our partners.
The only time keeping what you want and need a secret is going to work out well is if you are in a lesbian relationship with someone with the EXACT same tastes and needs as you.
Good luck finding that!

So figure out what you like, how you like it, and what works for you, without even involving another person.
That way when you do get around to letting someone else into your sphere of sexual experience, they don’t have to play guessing games that are set up for them to lose.

Have fun, and remember; if you are enjoying yourself... chances are your partner is too.