Monday, 20 October 2014

Can a lack of employment lead to a loss of "life"?

Those of you who have known me for a while now, know that my life has never followed a "normal" or "traditional" path.

For the most part, the oddities of my life's paths have left me bemused, amused, even shrugging as it's something I have accepted and often embraced. (My personal theme song is Back in Black by ACDC, for example.) I can normally rise above anything.

(For example, there was a time in my past when I was alone, in a foreign country, no friends or family. I was living in a shelter with a small child, unemployed... fighting with British Immigration for the right to remain in the UK to be near my child... not entitled to public funds... literally living off of charity and when an acquaintance, who was studying for her Doctorate in Psychology, asked me how I managed to remain so upbeat and my immediate and completely honest answer was "I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel; because I keep the tunnel too well lit!")

I don't see the point in wallowing. I don't enjoy letting the world get the better of me. I won't lie down and allow life to pass me by.

(Please note: I am not, by any means, comparing any of this to clinical/chemical depression. They are very different things.)

Now, though I still feel the same way about how I have come to be in this situation as I have with all of the others... though I adore what my life is for the most part... though I understand that the employment environment is tough for everyone, not just me... though I appreciate that it's easier to get work if you're already employed...

It's starting to get me down. It's becoming quite difficult not to take it personally.

This may be due to the fact that I had (only) two interviews in the past month and I got neither of them. That's never happened to me before. I have always been offered every job for which I interviewed.

How do I not take the fact that I have now been turned down twice for roles, after I have interviewed, personally?

I try. I've attempted to treat job-hunting like a full-time job and, for the most part, I manage to do just that. I trawl job boards and recruitment websites and, of course, as time drags on; my requirements for positions become less and less rigid.

There are times, I admit, when I'm at home and I'm *not* looking for work, updating profiles, contacting recruiters, but by and large, it's "after hours", it's because I have Life Admin things to do, I'm completing a task/favour that Mr Wookie has asked of me.

I'm no slacker. I'm no shirker. Any former employer could attest to that. So, this endeavour is no different. I give it as much devotion as I ever have a job role.

But it's not working. I'm impatient. I want to be real. I want to live.

At the moment, I have a decent amount of credit card debt. Something I have for the first time in my entire life. And it scares the carp out of me.

With no income, I can't justify any outgoings. Yet, they're expected.

I make the minimum payment on my credit card, of course.

But there's Christmas, and Birthdays, and events, and... There's a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to be a certain kind of person and that involves being a Giver. That involves finding that perfect gift for someone, something they didn't even know they wanted or needed until they've unwrapped the gift.

How can I suddenly stop that? How can I suddenly say 'no'?

On top of this, I don't write lately. I had been writing for two hours a day.

A routine, a promise to myself, a reward, a respect.

For the past two weeks, however, I feel too guilty.

How can I justify taking two hours of job-hunting time to write when it brings nothing tangible?

I don't write.
I don't socialise.
I feel guilty all the time.
I stress.
I worry.

Is this a "life"?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Helpful list of YA reads? (must add to this later)

This time two years ago, I fell in love with a little boy named Harry Potter. I (finally) read every single book, in order and in about a fortnight.

Last year at this time, we were busy building our home, so I was suitably distracted.

This year, however, I am desperate to re-capture the magic I felt as I got to know Harry and his world.

Do any of you have any suggestions for a book series that might come close?

  • terry goodkinds sword of truth series is great
  • Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. I still love those. And have done since I was little.
  • Eragon
  • Philip Pullman, Northern Lights /subtle Knife/Amber Spyglass
  • Susan Cooper The Dark is Rising
  • Different read but the best character development of any series is the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordon....
  • If you want to relive the Potter Magic, listen to the audiobooks. Jim Dale narrates and does such a fantastic job. He won tony awards for the job he did. He does the character voices so well.
  • I actually like the Percy Jackson books quite a bit (they're for 4th graders roughly )
  • Dark Materials is closest.
  • I also recommend the Dresden Files but that is a very different series!
  • Andrew, have you read the Iron Druid series? (Kevin Hearne.) If you like Dresden, you'll very possibly feel similarly to Iron Druid. I feel like they could both exist in the same world and would squeal with glee if Butcher and Hearne collaborated!
  • The discovery of witches series is wonderful!!
  • I did read the first two in the Witching Savannah series, those are pretty neat.
  • Wildwood series. There are three, they are pretty neat.
  • Game of Thrones?
  • Temeraire series - starts with His Majesty' Dragon By Naomi Novik
  • Alex Verus, Rivers of London, and Laundry Files. And I've just started Felix Castor.
  • I'm being a girl and reading the Outlander series now.
  • Necroscope series by Brian Lumley but not if you scare easily!
  • Percy Jackson is pretty goodLook into "the secrets of the immortal Nicholas flamel" by Michael Scott 
  • Mortal Instrument and Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.
  • Percy jackson is probably closest to harry, but wheel of time would keep you busy for a while (13 big books). Let us know what you pick
  • And if you want more adult, but still magical and other-worldly you can try Kim Harrison's "the Hallows" series
Maybe Acer: 
All Creatures Great and Small (Herriot)
Hatchet (Gary Paulsen)
Encyclopedia Brown series
How to Eat Fried Worms (Thomas Rockwell)
Misty of Chincoteague (Marguerite Henry)
The Indian in the Cupboard (Banks)
The Castle in the Attic (Elizabeth Winthrop)
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Blume)
The Egypt Game (Snyder)

Maybe West:
Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (Mildred Taylor)
The Westing Game (or did he already read this?)
The White Stag (Seredy)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Berry Smith)
A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Boyne)
The Neverending Story (Ende)

  • hhorn Have you read the Spirit animals books yet?
    By Shannon Hale
    3 mins · Edited · Like
  • Kathy White We just read Peter and the Shadowtheives, a really fun book by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. It's the 2nd in a series that is a Peter Pan prequel. They are fun to read at night, lots of adventure, good writing, excellent pacing. We also really liked reading Kate DiCamillo's books - Tale of Despereaux, Flora and Ulysses, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I think of these books as new classics. Wonderful stories. Atticus also liked reading Pipi Longstocking. He thought it was really funny. Kid humor. 

    He's also read a bunch of chapter books series, some better than others. They aren't as fun to read together at night, but are good for them to read on their own - Secrets of Droon, Beast Quest, Magic Treehouse, Encyclopedia Brown, A to Z Mysteries.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Frustration and sadness re sexism, assault, harassment...

Updated (at 16:27 2014.10.04): There were several miscommunications in "the resulting discussions" which led me to make presumptions I now know are incorrect. I am sorry for any and all hurt or misunderstandings caused by my presumptions. I and all parties involved are committed to continually improving our communication. 

These are (please pardon the word choice) touchy *cringe* subjects for me.

These are topics that are important to me and topics that regularly see me becoming annoyed and biting my tongue.

For example, we recently had visitors around and while I don't even remember how the subject came up, I remember our guests stating, essentially, that some women get what they deserve/they shouldn't be surprised at what they get because of how they have spoken/acted/dressed.

(Even writing this, I can feel my blood pressure creeping up.)

The resulting conversations I have had regarding the subject of feminism, sexism, harassment, assault... (a whole gambit of issues relating to gender and sexuality) have been tense, at best.

I find it very difficult to convey my ideas and emotions clearly when speaking of these issues, largely due to my incredulity at the beliefs of those around me, and I've even been accused of overreacting.

When discussing the idea that a person (normally the hypothetical person is a woman in these discussions) shouldn't be surprised if they are assaulted or raped if they have dressed a certain way or spoken or acted in a certain manner as to have led the offending party on, I have been simply astonished by the amount of people that I know and love who believe this to be true.

They believe that if a person is in a nightclub and they dress in a manner to provoke, if they dance with or kiss or get into some "heavy petting" with someone and then decide they don't want to have sex, that they want what's happening to stop... they shouldn't be surprised when it doesn't. They're supposed to accept their fate for being a "tease". 

I've tried explaining that for *anyone* to not stop when being asked to, told to, begged to in such a situation is just plain *wrong* and it doesn't then matter how the victim was dressed, what they said or how they acted up until that point. 

At the point that one party indicates or states that they do not want to proceed, that they want things to stop... they. should. stop.

I was then countered with the argument that men/testosterone-filled boys in a nightclub who have been drinking and/or taking drugs, who have been looking at scantily-clad bodies, who have been kissed, who have maybe been involved in some "heavy petting" aren't necessarily responsible for their actions in those circumstances.

Excuse me?!

If a person *chooses* to harass (or molest... or rape... or in any other way violate) another person and blames that *choice* on alcohol- or drug-impaired judgement, a state in which they *chose* to put themselves... their responsibility is negated/excused/not required?? 

That's like saying drunk drivers shouldn't be held responsible if people die as a result of them driving drunk because they were *drunk* when they *drove*!

How can that make sense?!

It doesn't. Not to me. And while I haven't explained it *quite* like this to a couple of people who mean the world to me, I have become increasingly more frustrated and angry that they hold these beliefs. 

Because of the intensity of my astonishment and my refusal to think that these behaviours should be excused in any way, I have been asked if there has been anything that's happened to me in my past that could evoke such a reaction.

I don't yell. I don't even raise my voice. I don't become violent (though, I do gesticulate a bit more, who doesn't when they're worked up?), but it's obvious that this is a subject about which I feel strongly. And because I feel strongly and it's obvious in discussing these matters with me, people have presumed I *must* have been hurt in some way to lead me to these reactions.

I'm a bit hurt, to be honest, that people so close to me have come to ask those kinds of questions... That people I love are so convinced that these behaviours should be accepted they presume *I* am the one who is overreacting, that *I* must be the one with issues.

Is it not OK to be upset about the injustice of it all?? Is it not OK to become even more upset when I can see the people I adore hold those kinds of mindsets, the kinds of mindsets that foster a victim-blaming/shaming culture??

Even though these issues are all over the news and the internet these days (with stories about Sam Pepper, for example) I have had to bite my tongue in my own home.

I don't feel comfortable enough to say "Oh my god! Have you heard what's going on over in YouTubeLand?!" 

I fear that even discussing current events relating to these issues would lead loved ones to either pat me on the head, thinking "There, there... calm down, it's nothing to get upset over" or immediately be convinced something *must* have happened to me to make me keep bringing things up relating to these issues, as though I'm seeking them out.*

Either way, it's pretty sad.

Either way, there's nothing to seek. These issues are valid. All the time. Everywhere. There's no seeking involved. The issues are ubiquitous.

And I feel I can't talk about them. And I'm hurt and frustrated that people I know, people I *love*, who are intelligent, savvy, aware of themselves and the world around them... feel that sometimes, people who have been assaulted or raped were just getting "what they deserved" - that "they asked for it".

Do you have any ideas or know of any sources that can help me with this dilemma, that could help me explain myself properly?

Or am I fighting a lost cause?

*In fact, while writing this post, I was asked why/when this issue raised its head again. An implication, in my mind, that it's an annoyance and why am I rehashing it?

I genuinely don't know what to say at this point.