Job Search Hell

That’s where I’m at right now.  One of Dante’s lesser-known circles.

Possibly the worst bit is that I actually already have a job- one that I love and don’t want to leave.  So why am I looking for something else, you ask?  Good question.  The answer of course, is money.

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Turns out that working seven hours a week as a library assistant, and about fifty hours a week as a ‘writer’ pays…well…pretty close to nothing actually.

I’m aware we’re not supposed to talk about money- that in doing so I’m breaking some weird universal taboo, but honestly- who is this secrecy helping?  We all need to eat and somewhere to live, and I’ve yet to find a landlord or supermarket that accepts poems in lieu of payment, (not that I’d do much better even if I did, since I can’t write poetry for shit).

So, with a heavy heart I find myself looking for other options.  I spend about half of my time feeling really MAD about the unfairness of the situation, and the other half telling myself to STFU and stop thinking I’m some special snowflake who isn’t subject to the same economic strain as almost every other working class person on earth right now.

In more dramatic moments I hear Jim Broadbent, as Harold Zidler in Moulin Rouge:

zidler

(just change love to live)

In less dramatic moments, I tell myself that I’m no different to anyone else and that I’m lucky to at least be (vaguely) employable.

One thing that is really pissing me off as I trawl through job search results, is the demand on applicants to not just be willing to do the job for the pay, but the requirement to declare it your life’s ambition.

Seriously, if you’re looking to employ someone as a neurosurgeon, or helicopter pilot perhaps, I can understand you wanting the role to be one of that individual’s defining characteristics, and for them to display a real passion and significant dedication to the field.  But when you’re looking for a cleaner?  Isn’t it enough that they’re capable of doing the work, and that they’ll show up and give a shit, at least within proscribed working hours?  If you want someone to display AMBITION, ENTHUSIASM, FLEXIBILITY AND PASSION about cleaning a toilet, you’re possibly going to need to offer more than £7 an hour, and appreciate that you’re appealing to a very niche audience.

Ehhh…I don’t know, this could just be me having a surly attitude and poor work ethic, but when I stumble across yet another minimum-wage job that not only wants me to spend forty hours a week away from my children, my partner, my home, and my writing but also wants me to demonstrate that I will treat it as my #1 priority and life’s work, I find myself getting a bit ‘Braveheart’, yelling at the screen.

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It’s times like this I wonder if leaving nursing was a terrible terrible mistake.  But, when I (briefly) went back to it last year THAT felt like a terrible mistake, so how can that be true?

Gah.

Regardless, I should probably get back to it.  Incidentally if anyone knows of any kick-ass jobs that would allow me to keep my Saturdays at the library, and pay me enough to feed my children who basically never stop eating, then HIT ME UP.  As you can see, I am totally AMBITIOUS, ENTHUSIASTIC, FLEXIBLE AND PASSIONATE etc etc etc 😉

A Bad Attitude is Really Really Not the Only Disability in Life.

Can we talk about this?

theonlydisabilityisabadattitude

Like, no.  Just, no. No no no.

If you’re short on time today then feel free to stop reading now and get on with your afternoon, because to be honest- that’s a pretty good summary of what I’m about to say.

I thought I’d blogged about this issue before, but a quick trawl through old posts didn’t turn anything up, so possibly I *thought* about blogging about this before, but then bit my tongue.  Hard.  The way I frequently do.

But I’m feeling a bit, umm…sensitive at the minute.  After a week in which the kids went back to school and I went back to my fitness regime (that had given way during December to evenings under duvets and increasing volumes of Baileys), my body is protesting, I guess you’d say.  Not quite dramatic enough for me to bust out the word ‘relapse’ but enough to mean that I am a quivering wreck- literally.  My hands have been shaking near constantly for about three days, which leads to anxiety, which leads to panic attacks, which leads to adrenaline- which REALLY helps*, obviously.

(*sarcasm klaxon)

And the thing is, throughout all this, I can’t get this fucking meme out of my mind.

It’s not the image.  Let me repeat, for the cheap seats in the back: IT’S NOT THE IMAGE! I don’t know why I’m even bothering to emphasize that, knowing full well there’ll still be someone out there who thinks I am bitterly opposed to such a powerful image of a disabled person displaying power and strength and all the things we’re told by society, a disabled person can’t have/be. It’s an incredible image.  My problem is not with the image.  My problem is with the slogan someone has helpfully superimposed onto it.

 

‘ The only disability is a bad attitude’

Really?

Really?

*raises eyebrow until it lifts off my forehead and floats off into fucking space*

Anybody who thinks that the only thing preventing people from accessing public spaces, education, work opportunities, social events and from taking care of their activities of daily living is their attitude, should refer to the diagram below:

wheretoputyouropinion

Most people reading this will know why this kind of able-ist bullshit bugs the crap out of me, but in case you’re one of those who doesn’t- here’s the deal:

Three years ago I went from being a busy young mum of two small boys, working part-time nights as a nurse on a neonatal unit, running (ok, jogging) 10ks and generally ‘leading a normal life’ to lying in a hospital bed, largely unable to move.

But the only disability in life is a bad attitude, right?! So I got my shit together and got me the fuck outta that bed and GOT ON WITH THINGS.  Because really, it was only my bad attitude holding me back, amirite?!

Umm…no.  You see what was actually holding me back, was my body.  Specifically my immune system, which had decided my nervous system was a foreign invader and begun stripping all my peripheral nerves of their myelin sheaths.  Don’t know what a myelin sheath is? Well, let me tell you- they’re important af.  Without them, your nerves can’t transmit signals .  So, to be clear- my brain was like: LET’S STAND UP

And my legs were like: …………..

*neurological tumbleweed*

 

This kind of message, this idea that anyone can overcome ANYTHING as long as they’re DETERMINED, sounds very aspirational and wonderful, but there’s one teeny tiny problem- it’s not true.  And it’s damaging.  It’s damaging because it makes people- vulnerable, scared people who’s lives might be falling apart, who might be in pain and terrified feel RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR PROBLEMS.

I know, because I literally sat on my toilet, stared at my legs and thought “Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough last time…come on legs, we can fucking do this.”

And guess what happened?

Nothing.

Of course.  Because pure longing doesn’t actually repair biological damage.

I also know because I told myself, in the brief time I spent at home deteriorating rapidly, that I CAN DO THIS.  I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS.

THIS being: EVERYTHING.  Driving (yes, I cringe now but I drove around Manchester unable to feel the soles of my feet, unable to change gear one-handed.  I could have fucking killed someone but hey, got to admire my can-do attitude right?  NO.)  Looking after my kids- even though I couldn’t lift my one year old. Dressing myself- even though my hands shook so badly I couldn’t fasten my bra. Walking down the stairs- even though I fell, multiple times.  Yes one fall down the stairs was not apparently enough to convince me that I could not actually ‘do this’.  And what’s even more terrifying is that I was pregnant.  Pregnant falling down the stairs.  We all know how this ends of course, i.e. not well.  It turned out, to my relief that those falls- particularly the one bad fall I had, hadn’t actually caused my miscarriage, and that the pregnancy was doomed from the start.  But I didn’t find that out until a month later.  A month is a long time to carry that burden of guilt.

Able-bodied people (because to be honest, I’m pretty sure that’s who images like this are for- to make able-bodied people feel GOOD and INSPIRED and MOTIVATED etc) suggesting that anything can be overcome with the right mentality are not only grossly mistaken but also contributing to the societal idea that disabled people come in two categories:

1.Wonderful celebrated specimens of humanity- patient, humble, kind, achieving above and beyond what seems possible even for able-bodied people.

2. Bitter, twisted people who ‘let their disability rule their lives’.

We all love “Doctors told me I would never walk again but I did!” stories.  Not so much “Doctors told me I would never walk again and actually they were right and I still can’t walk but hey guess what I’m still a valid fucking human being and actually not your motivational piece” stories.

Disabled people, sick people, chronically-ill people are told “you don’t look ill/disabled” and on the face of it- yes it’s a compliment.  Who the fuck wants to be told they look like they’re about to dodder off this mortal coil?! But on the other hand, it’s a bit of a backhander isn’t it? “You don’t look disabled” i.e. “Well done hiding your disability.  God it would be awful if us ‘regular’ folk were confronted by the notion that we’re all just one biological failure away from disability.  Thanks for keeping it tucked away there, sport.”

I love an inspirational picture/article as much as the next person.  I love stories where people overcome barriers- regardless of what those barriers may be- to achieve things that are important to them.  I don’t want people to stop pushing themselves, to stop shouting from the rooftops when they achieve things that they, or other people thought impossible- whether that’s pull-ups in a wheelchair or just wiping your own ass when you’ve previously had to rely on others to do it.

But let’s not kid ourselves that pushing ourselves- that Positive Mental Attitude is the only thing that’s required.  For disabled and chronically ill people to achieve their full potential- their personal, individual full potential- not the dreams and goals YOU set for them, but their own, a can-do attitude is only a very small part of what’s needed.  Societal acceptance, and wide-scale change is also pretty essential.  Psychological input, a strong support network, and acceptance that some things might not be possible.  Reassurance that even if it turns out you’re NOT capable of pulling yourself up in your wheelchair, or indeed wiping your own ass. that you’re still- shockingly- a valuable person, who deserves to live and is worthy of time, and space and respect.

Of course, my story falls into the “happy ending” category- so far at least because I did walk out of the hospital.  It took time, but I hobbled out on crutches and now my remaining crutch waits in the hall, for a day in the future when I might need it again.  Because the reality is- it isn’t a “happy ending” until The End.  And I’ll be living with CIDP for the rest of my days, and I’m really hoping I have a lot of those left.  There’s no guarantee I won’t deteriorate, that I will remain ‘inspirational.’ Will I be less worthy as a human if I can’t ‘perform’ physically, if I can’t contribute to society in the only way it knows how to measure- labour and profit?

So when I see able-bodied people sharing the above meme, complete with caption (note, not the stand alone image) you should know that I don’t think “how wonderful that you’re celebrating this man’s achievement” I think “Do you even know what the fuck you’re talking about?!”

And if that makes me over-sensitive, well it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of it.  And perhaps you’ll be better able to understand my ‘sensitivity’ when I tell you that I had a panic attack in my bathroom this morning because as I brushed my teeth I caught sight in the mirror of how badly my hand was shaking, and from there it was only a brief leap for my brain to the memory of when I first bought an electric toothbrush (summer 2013) because I no longer had the strength required to move a regular toothbrush around my mouth.  Yes, I was really that bad.  And it only got worse- the electric toothbrush was a temporary fix, but as my condition deteriorated it became too heavy- I had to use two hands to hold it, and then eventually the concept of brushing my teeth unaided became a pipe dream.  But throughout it all, of course, I maintained my positive mental attitude- which only served to make me an utter bitch to be honest, because I felt I should be able to do all the things I couldn’t and if I couldn’t….well I just wasn’t trying hard enough. That kind of pressure is destructive.  Just ask my boyfriend who bore the brunt of most of my outbursts

“I should be able to do this!”

“Why can’t I do this?!”

“I don’t want to be like this”

“This can’t be my life”

It’s hard enough to accept you’re not in control of your own body, life, future, without being expected to OVERCOME YOUR BARRIERS and FIGHT YOUR DEMONS and ALSO BE INSPIRATIONAL FOR ABLE BODIED FOLK TOO PLEASE.

So please, stop with the able-ist propaganda.  Yes some disabled and chronically ill people might put your complacent asses to shame, but others might be struggling to exist without help, and perpetuating the myth that ANYONE can overcome ANYTHING if they only want it badly enough, is not just insulting, it’s damaging.

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day and My Hairy Armpits

My name is Rebecca and I haven’t shaved under my arms for almost two weeks.

To give you some context for that, I would usually shave them maybe twice a week.

The first time I didn’t, I was just chilling in the bath with a book and I didn’t feel like it.

The second time I didn’t, I forgot to take my shaving foam in the shower and didn’t feel like leaning over the bath, risking hypothermia and a broken neck to reach it.

The third time, I took the shaving foam in the shower with me but it ran out after I’d shaved my legs.

And by yesterday?…I was just curious.

I’ve been shaving my armpits since I was 12 years old.  With the exception of the odd week here and there (Glastonbury, paralysed in hospital…you know, the usual glitches) I have been religiously scraping (usually rather blunt) blades of metal under my arms regularly with frighteningly little thought on the matter.  Suddenly it occurred to me, I had no idea what my body ‘normally’ looked like without this drastic intervention.

The first time I became aware that my body hair was not fit for public consumption I was 12 years old and in my first year at high school.  There was a high-jump contest being held in the school gymnasium and I was there with a group of friends to watch.  The gym was crowded and I got separated from them.  Straining to see the contestants over the shoulders of the older students, a deep voice boomed out from behind me “Oi! Move your hairy gorilla legs out of the way!”  I turned to see a group of lads much older- in hindsight probably in their final year of school, laughing their heads off and patting their catcalling mate on the back.

I moved out of their way.  And I went home and told my Mum I wanted to shave my legs.  She said I was too young, but that I could shave my underarms instead.  Which I’ve got to admit, felt like a consolation prize, since no one could see them under my regulation blue shirt anyway.  But I dutifully began the task of removing my armpit hair, and short time later, against my Mum’s wishes, my leg hair followed suit.

It never felt like a decision.  It felt like a requirement.  And I’ve been fulfilling society’s requirement of what a woman’s underarms should look like for almost 20 years now and I am ready for a fucking interlude.

The thing is, when I couldn’t be arsed to reach my shaving foam, or when I got curious and decided to see how long it would take to grow, I didn’t feel like I was making a political statement.  But then I performed a google image search for women’s armpit hair and immediately found an article listing celebrities who’d ‘dared’ to forego shaving their pits and suffered the wrath of the media, and I soon realised that in refusing to- even temporarily- remove my body hair and/or apologise for it, I was making what might be the most radical political act of my life so far.  Seriously.  People are SO opinionated on this subject.  They cannot believe that a woman might like having hair under her arms, or that she might in fact not give a shit.

“If Britney doesn’t have time to shave, maybe she should consider waxing” one article suggested, showing a happily waving Britney Spears, looking great with dark shadows of fine hair under each arm.

“Maybe you should fuck off” I whispered to no one in particular in response.

It was at that moment that I made the decision- a conscious decision, not a default position- to stop shaving under my arms.  Maybe not forever (I have already documented my trouble committing to a fake christmas tree for the next three years) but at least until I feel like I want to.  Until my armpit hair is bothering me, rather than until it’s bothering anyone else.  Because that’s the thing isn’t it?  It’s MY hair.  They’re MY armpits.  It’s MY body.

And maybe that’s why it’s so radical.  A woman not removing the hair that society tells her she should is basically saying “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” and as a massive Rage Against the Machine Fan, that’s a standpoint I can fully endorse.

WHY should I, or anyone else shave off the hair that grows naturally under our arms?  Because it looks gross?  Says who?  Because it’s sweaty?  In this age of running water and deodorant, I find that hard to believe.  Because it’s unfeminine?  Well if women aren’t supposed to have it then why the hell does it grow there?!  I refuse to believe that evolution just couldnae be arsed to differentiate between men and women’s body hair so thought “fuck it, they’ll invent razors eventually aye?”

Surely it has a purpose?  Or if not a purpose then at least it’s benign?!

After reaching this conclusion only yesterday (and informing Chris of my ongoing ‘experiment’) I then went on Facebook today to be greeted by none other than this

It’s a BBC article about people’s responses to a (beautiful) photograph of Oscar winner (yay!  Finally!) Leonardo Di Caprio and his parents.  Apparently, the most comment-worthy aspect of the picture, showing a very young Leonardo being held aloft by both his parents, is not the fact he looks so incredibly like his Mum, or how happy they all look, or how wonderful it is how much he has accomplished in his career…but instead, the fact that his Mum has hairy armpits. Yep, THAT’S what we all need to expend our energy on.  The judgement and vilification of other people’s decisions on what to do with their own bodies, or sorry…no…women’s decisions, women’s bodies.

Because aint nobody commenting on Leonardo Di Caprio’s Dad’s big bushy-ass beard.  No 12 year old lad I knew got mocked by a gaggle of 16 year old girls about his facial hair- or lack thereof, and went home and cried to his Mum and hated himself.  It just doesn’t work that way.

Women and men might have preferences about whether they like their male partners to have chest hair or back hair etc but that’s exactly how they’re seen- as a preference.  Not as a requirement across the board.  We didn’t all sit down as a society 50+ years ago and decide that stubbly chins were FUCKING UNACCEPTABLE so how is it that we seemingly collectively made that judgement call on women’s underarms?

So, it seems only fitting that on International Women’s Day 2016, at the wizened old age of -cough- 31, I finally take a stand against this insanity and declare myself an official hairy feminist…or, as I prefer to think of myself…just a normal human being, doing whatever the fuck I feel like with my own body at any given time so long as it’s not hurting anyone else 😉

Happy International Women’s Day to you all!

 

 

 

 

What Are You Asking?

I will preface this rant blog post by saying, I am the most open person I know.  I am more or less happy to tell anybody anything, if I know the person asking, and the question is appropriate…y’know, sometimes even when it’s not, I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt if it seems to be coming from a genuine place.

You want to know about my bizzaro autoimmune thing and the treatment for it?  Just ask! No problem.  You’re thinking of getting house rabbits and not sure how that will work with kids/a dog/a house full of electrical equipment…I’d be delighted to share what (little) wisdom I have to offer.  Birth?  Breastfeeding?  My opinions on local schools (since we looked round pretty much all of them- some twice).  How to go about applying to become a foster carer?  A little about the reality of life as a foster carer?

I will generally chat to anyone about whatever they want to know about.  Maybe, that in fact is my where I’ve gone wrong.  Maybe in being so open, and not drawing any boundaries, I’ve left myself open to people taking THE COMPLETE AND UTTER PISS.

Guess how many times since we were approved as foster carers in January I have been asked if I will adopt a baby…go on- GUESS.  I bet you won’t get anywhere near the actual figure.  In fact, go ahead and take whatever number you came up with and MULTIPLY IT BY INFINITY.  Now you’re getting warm.

Guess how many times I’ve been asked if I’ll be having any more children “of my own” and/or “why not?!”  Don’t be shy!  Take a WILD STAB IN THE DARK.  Is your number in the hundreds?  IT SHOULD BE.

Now for bonus points, can you tell me, WHY IN GOD’S HOLY NAME WOULD YOU ASK ANYBODY THAT?

image

Do y’all hear yourselves when you speak?  Do you realise what you’re actually asking?

Because when you ask someone about their plans (or not, as the case may be) to expand their family, this is what they’re likely to hear:

  • Questions about their fertility
  • Questions about their general health and ability to carry a pregnancy to term
  • Reminders of previous pregnancies, births and losses
  • Questions about their relationship
  • Questions about their sex life
  • Questions about their contraception
  • Questions about their parenting skills and current family life
  • Memories of their own childhoods and siblings (if they have them)
  • Questions about their age

And that’s just for starters.  If you’re a parent yourself, then think about the colossal multitude of shit you went through in your head the moment you decided to try for a baby, the things you agonised over, the things you wrangled about, the hoops you jumped through to get to that point.  Or if your pregnancy was unplanned consider all the things that whirled through your mind in the days after you found out.  Now imagine verbalising that to a stranger in the school playground as you’re kissing your five year old goodbye and wishing him a good day.

Last week I had another parent at school who I’ve never spoken to before approach me and strike up a conversation.  Now I like to think I’m pretty friendly (contrary to the vibe this post, and in fact my blog in general may give off!) so I answered her questions, asked my own in reply, and had a bit of a chat.  The parent in question put me on the spot twice, asking me why I wasn’t having anymore children of my own and why I “didn’t want” (her words, absolutely not mine!) to adopt our current foster baby and despite feeling uncomfortable, having not prepared myself emotionally or mentally for that line of questioning at 9am on a Monday morning, I answered as honestly as I could.  She offered some information in exchange and then went on her way.  It was slightly odd but I thought perhaps it could be the beginning of a school playground friendship and maybe now we’d broken the barrier and spoken to each other we’d end up chatting more often.

Well…she hasn’t spoken one word to me since.  Which wouldn’t mean anything I guess if it weren’t for the fact that WE SEE EACH OTHER TWICE A DAY EVERY DAY.

So basically, she saw me suddenly have a baby with me one day, her curiosity got the better of her and she mined me for information, at the expense of my time and emotional wellbeing.

This may shock you all to your very core, since I write some pretty personal stuff on this blog, but just because I don’t burst into tears every time I mention my three miscarriages and molar pregnancy and the fact I have a lifelong debilitating neurological condition doesn’t mean that talking about it doesn’t affect me at all.

When I sit down to write, I get to choose what I want to share (or not) and how I want to phrase it, and if it gets too hard then I can press delete or save it for another day when I’m more ready to delve into that topic.  When someone is bombarding me with question after question after question, like a motherfucking interview, at the school gates, one hour after I’ve woken up and with three small children in my care, it’s not the same thing AT ALL.

So today, at 3.15, as I attempted the epic challenge that is EXITING THE SCHOOL GROUNDS WITHOUT RESORTING TO MURDER OR BEING FATALLY INJURED, yet another parent I have never spoken to before in my life called out to me from behind “Excuse me- but is that your baby?!”

“Yes” I lied said

She looked sceptical

“Really?  When was it born?”

“March” I shrugged and then walked off because I will be damned if I am going to be privy to anybody else’s fucking nosiness disguised as friendliness.

And yes I felt pretty guilty for about 30 full minutes afterwards, because I’m the kind of person who will apologise when someone else steps on my toe, and who tries to see the best in everyone.

But- you want to know me?  Then GET TO KNOW ME.  If all you really want to know is the ins and outs of foster care and what kind of situation Squishlet’s birth parents are in and why I’m suddenly parading around with a baby despite not having been pregnant recently then I may as well be filling in a bloody questionnaire.  Because that aint friendly, there’s no give or take, there’s nothing behind that other than sheer nosiness.

Look I’m as nosy as the next person but I would never EVER, in all my merry fucking days ask anybody other than perhaps a handful of my absolute closest friends whose situations I was intimately acquainted with, if they were thinking of having a baby, or if they could see themselves adopting a child at some point in their life.  For the most part I don’t ask people anything, I find that if people have something they want to share then for the most part they will WITHOUT INTERROGATION.  I know, who would have thought it?!

So please, and I’m asking nicely, before you ask somebody a BIG QUESTION like that, stop and think for a second, what is it that you’re really asking?

Do you know how that question might make that person feel, both in that instant and for the rest of the day?  Are you yourself prepared for the answer?

If you jokingly ask someone if they’re pregnant with twins because they’re so ‘big’ are you prepared for the fact that maybe they were and they lost one?  Or maybe they’re not but there are problems with their pregnancy, like excess fluid that maybe they don’t want to discuss with a total stranger in tesco but might now feel like they have to.

If you’re curious why as a foster carer someone wouldn’t put themselves forward to adopt a child living with them, before you verbalise that maybe have a think if there’s anything you don’t know, that they might not be able to share with you about their situation or the child’s situation that might make it not an option.

Or if you can’t put the brakes on your mouth then at least brace yourself for what might be an emotional reaction, or for receiving information that you then can’t process yourself.

I’m not saying DON’T TALK TO PEOPLE.  I’m not saying don’t attempt pleasant chit-chat or attempt to make new friends, I’m just saying that interrogating people you don’t know very well (or at all) is NOT the way forward.

Ok. I’m done.

**prepares self for no one ever speaking to me ever again after reading this**

“Christmas Ruined”

Seasons Greetings my lovely blog readers!

I had been intending to write a Merry Christmas post at some point over the last week but life got in the way, as it usually does.  Then on Boxing Day on Twitter I spotted something that I just couldn’t not blog about, no matter how much deep breathing I tried.  So here it comes:

Over the festive period there has been a hashtag trending: #ChristmasRuined  Makes sense I guess.  And I for one am always glad when folk are willing to share their low points on social media as well as their highs.

Now I don’t know what I was expecting to see that might have ruined all these poor souls’ christmases but suffice to say, I wasn’t anticipating that the vast majority of them would be complaining that they hadn’t been able to play with their new Playstation yet…

No really.  Apparently that’s all it takes these days, to wreck an otherwise perfectly good christmas.  You can have a loving family, a comfortable home, a belly full of culinary delights and a brand new £300 console, but if you can’t play on it THIS INSTANT RIGHT NOW then what’s the point in any of it…yes?…Well, no, actually.

I’m going to be deliberately outrageous here, and suggest that the word “ruined” which conjures an image of something destroyed beyond repair is not the ideal choice for someone experiencing mild-to-moderate feelings of disappointment and annoyance.  And if you’re experiencing anything above mild-to-moderate feelings in relation to your inability to play with your new present AT THIS VERY MOMENT then perhaps your overall emotional IQ is the thing that is ruined, rather than christmas itself.

I wondered if perhaps I was being a bit harsh in my attitude so tried to think of some situations in which I would consider the use of a #ChristmasRuined hashtag more appropriate…

 

 

Maybe, if you’re celebrating your first christmas since losing a loved one and the festivities are overshadowed by your grief (2009, 2014)

Or if you’ve just miscarried twins the week before christmas (2010)

Maybe you just got out of hospital after receiving a life-changing diagnosis and will be spending christmas and new year on an extraordinarily high dose of medication that has terrible physical and mental side-effects (2013)

Has not one, but two members of your family just been diagnosed with cancer and are you spending a significant proportion of the festive season visiting a hospice? (also 2013)

Perhaps your partner is unemployed, and with no prospects on the horizon you find yourselves sinking further into debt (2008)

Maybe you’re a kid whose parents have just separated and you’re only going to be spending christmas with one of your parents this year for the first time (1994)

Or are you a teenager estranged from your family and technically homeless, about to enter the care system? (2000)

 

 

Incase you didn’t guess from the years in brackets, these are all christmases I have actually personally experienced.

Guess how many of them I would tag as #ChristmasRuined?

Zero.

Know why?  Because christmas is not flan, it is not something that can be ruined, or at least- it would take a lot, for me, to consider the entire concept of christmas entirely wrecked.  The kinds of things I would possibly concede as #ChristmasRuined are the kinds of things you don’t even want to think, let alone type, for fear of them being realised.  But to be clear, I’m talking some whole house burned down shit.

In the interests of transparency, I write this as an atheist, so don’t think my “YOU CAN’T RUIN THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS” thing comes from a religious or spiritual perspective.  It’s just that christmas, to me anyway, is not a THING, and therefore it’s pretty damn robust.  So the turkey isn’t defrosted in time?  But I bet you have a whole host of other shit in your house to eat…right?  Maybe that special present didn’t arrive in time?  But I bet the recipient will have other cards and gifts to open, or if not, that they’ll be excited to know something is on it’s way?

Even those christmases I listed above, were not RUINED.  They may have been different, difficult, emotional but on christmas day, just like any other day, I am a human-being capable of feeling the full range of human emotion, so sadness can be mixed in with gladness.  You can feel upset about the crappiness of your current situation and worry about your loved ones, whilst also feeling hope for the future and thankful for the present time you have with your family.

I mean, I’m not trying to be irritatingly chirpy here, but for the love of god people, how comfortable can your life be if the very worst thing imaginable for you is the Playstation Network being down?

People were actually tweeting that they wanted compensation.  Compensation!  The gift isn’t actually broken, there isn’t anything wrong with it!  But something failed to meet their (ridiculously fucking high, entirely egocentric) expectations on one singular occasion, so SOMEONE SHOULD PAY.

Another person posted on Facebook that “Christmas was ruined” because a Play Doh toy they bought for their child is slightly phallic.

I say slightly phallic, because if you squint, and apply your adult brain and a coat of flesh coloured paint to it, it would sort-of, almost looks like a penis.  Kinda.

the dildo that wrecked christmas

Again, just to be entirely clear here, their ENTIRE CHRISTMAS WAS RUINED BY THIS PLASTIC TOY PART THAT LOOKS A BIT LIKE A DICK.

How, and I mean how is that even possible?!  On any level?!  Like how delicate a balance does your life hang in, on a day-to-day basis, if YOUR ENTIRE GODDAM CHRISTMAS can be wrecked by that?!

I’m thinking these people not only have the lowest boiling point for OUTRAGE I have ever known, but are also wayyyyy coddled, that this is the worst shit the universe has ever thrown at them during the month of December.

Look I hate to do this to you, my poor mistreated friends of the world, but right now there are really terrible things happening…and I mean, even worse than unwrapping a toy that looks like a tiny dildo.  I mean, people are sick, and injured, and yes even dying.  People are homeless, families are falling apart, children are starving, animals are being abused and this all continues to happen on christmas day.  Even as you unwrap your PS4 and beat your fists against the wall in floods of tears because the PSN is down, as you declare your christmas “ruined”, someone is taking their last breath on this earth, or giving birth to a baby who will never take a first breath, or learning that this christmas may be their last, or finding a way to tell their children that there won’t be any presents because there isn’t any money for food.  So please, and I say this from the bottom of my heart, take your ChristmasRuined hashtag and shove it up your actual arse…along with that bloody Play Doh accessory.

 

Road Rage

I can’t believe I haven’t done a post with that title before, it seems impossible. Maybe I have, but I’m sorry- this stuff is like poison- you’ve got to squeeze it out of the wound as soon as possible.

Basically, having spent over 4.5 hours driving around Greater Manchester today, I can quite honestly say that there is not one of you crazy bastards on the roads, that I would trust my life with.

It’s like you all got behind the wheel today, saw the torrential rain and thought “hmm, what can I do to make these hazardous driving conditions even more treacherous?…”

A bit of middle-lane driving perhaps?

A spot of undertaking on the waterlogged motorway?

Maybe I should just ignore these lane closure signs- yes, all ten of them, as difficult as that may be, and then pull in right in front of you at the very last minute nearly taking out your front passenger side?

I’ve got it! Perhaps I could sit completely stationary on this beautiful yellow grid someone has painted in the middle of this junction. Yay- yellow is my favouritest colour, la la la, I wonder why everyone is braying their horn at me?

I swear, one guy pulled up so close behind me at the traffic lights this evening, that I wasn’t sure if he had spatial awareness issues or was making a move on me. It was that intimate.

Guys. All of you, do me a favour: Go home. Park up your BMW/Landrover/Nissan/Audi (yes, even audi drivers are getting in on the action these days. It’s catching!)

Then very carefully, and very deliberately flush your keys down the toilet BEFORE YOU KILL US ALL.