Tag Archives: America

“White, Other”

George, a busy guy who is patron saint of England & Romania, amongst many other places

George, a busy guy who is patron saint of England & Romania, amongst many other places

A warning in the form of a pretty fab quote:

“All hockey players are billingual. They know English and Profanity.” – Gordie Howe

Gordie played hockey with the Red Wings for many years. He is, as any Detroiter can tell you, the greatest of them all.

But it is not Gordie’s greatness that concerns me just now, but the reference to profanity. It is just possible that this blog is going to turn into a rant (1), and my wayward Yorkshire-American English into a pile of feckin’ swearing.

My temper has been short of late. I recently threw a cheese knife at our boiler. (2) This is not normal behaviour, even for me. So to fall out with some anti-UKIP-ers was not, perhaps, a surprise.

I still oppose UKIP. How could I not?

1) I am an immigrant

2) My grandparents were – shock! horror! probe! – Romanian

3) I am a woman

4) I am bipolar

5) I work in mental health

6) I have friends and relatives who are gay

Apparently, according to some small minded types on an anti-UKIP board, I must, must also tick:

7) I am a socialist, and wish to get rid of the Royal Family.

But I’m not a bloody socialist. Not, that is, unless you include the “Royalist, Green Liberal somewhat Socialist” kind.

This description, according to one s-mS (3), means I’m “confused”. Which I am, about many things (4).

Not this.

I know what I mean. If Random Internet Stranger doesn’t, so fucking what?

Facebook can be great, but it’s not a good place for extended intelligent debate. Well, sometimes, but this was obviously a horse that could not run. Not because they’re a Socialist. It was the “small-minded” bit which was tripping her up.

Or, to pound coin a turn of phrase, it was because I was dealing with someone with the imagination of a pencil. Cue photo:

Some seasonal pencils.

Some seasonal pencils.

I like pencils. Indeed, I may blog about my love of pencils sometime soon. (5) But they aren’t terribly gifted when it comes to imagination.

Whereas, I am bipolar – and a writer. Which means I have altogether too much frigging imagination at times.

The word “coalition” has left a sour taste in many British mouths. And yet, as my politically astute husband reminds me, it was a coalition government which lead the UK through the horrors of WWII to victory.

It isn’t coalitions in the governmental sense that are on my mind, however, but rather that of people with a common cause. Such as, for example, a desire to oppose the rise of the far right in their country: whether that be their country of origin, or of adoption.

Or, as is the case with myself, the country where I have now lived more than half my life, and of which I have been a citizen for more than four years.

2014-05-22 09.08.53

Where I am destined to tick the “White, Other” box for the rest of my days.

But hey, if some s-mS types want to piss off their allies because they like the look of their own nose-less faces, well, it’s their mugs that are getting ugly. Mine is ugly enough as it is.

Meanwhile, I’ll carry on opposing UKIP.  On my own, if necessary.

Have a great New Year, folks. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, or you’re going. Regardless of how right-on you are.

Or aren’t.

Happiness is ... books. writing. beasties.

Happiness is … Books. Writing. Beasties.

1) again.
2) It hasn’t been working properly for weeks, and I stupidly managed to put out the stupid pilot light.
3) small-minded Socialist
4) “Where are my specs?” “Where did I put my keys?” “Directions, from me? Are you joking?” Etc.
5) Betcha can’t wait for that one, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

Home for Christmas

Make yourselves comfy in the bipolar chair.

Make yourselves comfy in the bipolar chair.

Warning! This blog is rated PG. Your Parent(s) may need Guidance. Bad language, ranting, & potentially offensive mug shot. Of a mug.

Christmas’s Terrible Twin is New Year’s Eve and Day. I like the Eve bit (Jools Holland’s “Hootananny!” Bagpipes! Cups ‘o kindness!). As for New Year’s Day, bah. And also humbug. As a child, I had to sit through too many Rose Bowl parades, and American football games, on the telly.

Let’s face it, one Rose Bowl parade is one too many. Roses, on floats?

No.

I am home for Christmas … well, part of it. The most important part, which, as anyone who has read this blog will know, happens at 18:15 on BBC1 on Christmas Day.

The bipolar chair isn’t mine, by the way. It belongs to Time to Change Leeds, a lovely bunch of folks who are doing great work fighting ignorance, stigma, and the like around mental health problems.

The offensive mug is mine. It was a gift from an old friend, and is an excellent summary of what I’m like when I’m flying high with mania:

Aka "Sheila Queen of the World"

Aka “Sheila Queen of the World”

Space Hamsters card is courtesy another friend. I have interesting friends.

I’ve thought about giving up feckin’ swearing for the New Year, but, bollocks to that. I can swear, and keep functioning (1). Or I can stop swearing, and lose my CRB check. Or just lose it, full stop.

By “home for Christmas”, I mean my home in dear old Donny Town, England, UK. I am not, as previously stated, originally from these parts. However, like it or lump it, Britain (2), I’m here to stay. Polluting your fine Anglo-Saxon GreenandPleasantland with my innate and inimitable foreignness.

And, of course, a cup o’ crazy, too.

The sun is going down on Christmas Eve, and the house is only partly decorated. I have finally got the holly and ivy up, but no tree. This is partly because:

(1) I am not very organised.

(2) I work long shifts, and

(3) I cannot find the tree (see 1) above).

Which is fine. The term “eccentric” was recently bandied about in my presence (3). I always thought “eccentric” was code for “crazy people with money and/or influence”. No more: these days, us plebs can be eccentric, too.

I am largely resigned to this. I hope it doesn’t stamp me as claiming Special Snowflake Status, seasonal though that sounds. It is only by reconciling myself to my own brand of middle-aged crazy (4) that I can keep on, keeping on.

At home.

I once spent a bit of Christmas at home, but a lot more of it, plus a good slug of the new year, on a ward. The staff did their best. One of the best parts of that particular holiday season was when one nurse took pity on me, and drugged me to the twitching eyeballs.

Ah, memories …

There is no freedom like the ability to just go about your business, and not worry about when your “leave” runs out. So, whilst I have some of the maudlin feelings typical of people my age at this time of year, it could be so much worse.

The tree has just appeared. Enjoy your seasonal festivities, folks. And your freedom. I certainly plan to enjoy mine.

Take it away, Noddy, old son:

“Look to the future now
It’s only just begun … “

If you think this is my tree, I know a bridge you may be interested in ...

If you think this is my tree, I know a bridge you may be interested in …

(1) After a fashion.

(2)Yes, Nigel & co., I’m talking to you.

(3) Not aimed at me.

(4) Not the “I’m buying a red Corvette, dumping my husband, and getting a toy boy” variety.

 

 

 

 

Unemployed, Lost & kind of loving it…

You can not understand how many times I have been unemployed, lost, and feeling like do do…

But not this time. I quit my job because I wasn’t going to work for a manager that talks shit behind my back. I’m bipolar, she just didn’t know…

Also, I hated HATED going into that job everyday. It was torturous to get up and pretend. I’m not a good pretender so it made my life really hard. Sometimes you have to worry about things like jobs, money, advancement, but for me right now it couldn’t be farther from my mind.

Right now I’m focusing on me and what the hell I want to do. My bipolar limits me to work at a conventionally setting without wanting to kill my coworkers and myself for longer than 4 months, so I have to find so,etching that is going to go along with my mind….

And the ride.

In other words, I’m okay and I’ll be okay.

How are you?

P.s. Thanks for all the Greta comments you are leaving me. Since I have no job please watch out for some crazy post… Literally.


Filed under: Ranting

Spoonless Imperfection

When I was in school, I was one of those super-bright, top of the standardized tests awesome kids. I was straight As all the way through elementary school, a couple of Bs in junior high, and a slinking by C student in high school. Teachers often made over my standardized test scores, to include once incident in high school where a teacher was expressing her frustration that I should have been valedictorian based on those and why wasn’t I doing well in her class (a class I didn’t want to take and got dumped into… hrm).

Of course, high school is where my spoons completely vanished. The month before I started saw me getting strep throat so severe I couldn’t eat (and incidentally lost weight I couldn’t really afford to lose), and I should have taken it as an omen for the following four years. As it were, because I’m ‘hyper’, teachers blamed me for corrupting other students, got my on my case because I wasn’t top of the class like they felt I should be, and oh… nobody asked me how I was doing. Ever. Ever. It gave me a deep-seated loathing for organized education; why would I want to be in a system where instructors are denigrating and dismissing me rather than trying to see if maybe, just maybe, I needed help. No, I didn’t turn the entire band onto drugs. No, I was not a drug dealer. No, you shouldn’t tell my best friend to shun me because I’m ‘obviously’ a bad influence (hint: he was ‘bad’ on his own steam before me met me, bless his sweet butt).

Add in the fact that my mother was on my case non-stop for not doing well enough either. I strongly suspect she too has bipolar, but I can’t exactly convince her to go and seek help (even though I am confident if she did, her quality of life would be vastly improved, as mine has been). I also strongly feel that she was trying to live vicariously through me, so I got a lot of negative messages and a severe dearth of the positive reinforcement that I direly need to get by. That isn’t to say that I want people making sweet noises of falsehood at me, but if say, you found something I said to be clever or enlightening, it does my soul good to hear it. Or in those cases of old, that I wasn’t stupid — my personal armor chink is my intelligence. One of my younger sisters is reputed to have a 196 IQ, schools tried to put her into the same grade as me, and when I needed to be told that I was smart on my own steam, I was often told to go away. The combination was toxic, and it’s only been in the past year or two that I’ve had the strength and space to analyze and work this particular problem. It’s not gone away yet, but at least I can function without say, burning holes in my work because I couldn’t complete it and I was forced to turn it in (which happened a few times with math assignments; in my head, the assignment was not complete unless it was completed, ergo, turning it in incomplete was not an option). Ju

To be fair to my parents, I’m not sure anything could have been done to help me at that juncture. We had no spare money and nothing much resembling health care (USA! USA! *snorts*), and even if we had, I would have been less than cooperative due to being threatened with both military school and asylums (trufax) because I wouldn’t talk about my feelings. THAT skill wasn’t developed until my 20s, and it was hard won. But all in all, I’d pretty much given up on life at that point. I wasn’t suicidal, but just… I already felt that I was condemned to a life of drudgery and no point. The few times I braved up enough to try and talk about me and my feelings, I was brushed off universally. While I am a supporter of humour as a coping mechanism, it’s one thing when you’re doing it for yourself, another when everyone around you is cracking jokes to change the subject from you having feels.

Anyways, where was I going with this… I guess to say that first of all, kids and teens are actual people with feelings and they need to feel safe to express them. I never did, and felt that every single person in my life of all ages had expressly made it clear that my feelings were invalid (something I’m only managing to counteract oh… this year). Applying high standards externally is brutish and asinine; one should perhaps encourage others in their lives to develop their own high standards, but not force them to meet bars they might not have the spoons to ever reach. And, of course, from my late great grandfather – never assume anything, lest you make an ass out of ‘u’ and me. Just because someone in your life, whatever age, seems to have it together and be a ball of sunshine, it might not be true. I know myself that I have been a victim of my own self-control for all of my life, and have taken a lot of attacks from people who think that I’m a safe target who can take their ire. That all ties into the golden rule of ‘Be excellent to each other’, which yanno… it supposedly made the world a utopia in the Bill & Ted universe, so why not in ours too?

And as that is quite a long bit of babble, I will go ahead and leave on that not, and wish everyone a pleasant weekend, happy holidays, etc. I’ll surely be writing more in the next couple of days as the mood takes me, but yanno… doesn’t hurt to keep wishing the good feelings onwards.

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Waiting For…

As I’m sitting here reflecting on travel and family and the stress-inducing interaction of the two, I’m wondering what my mood is going to be like when we make our trek stateside. I’ve been bumping along pretty crappily for months now; will I be in such straits then? The chances of that are pretty good, seeing how Bipolar II is heavily coloured by all the depression in the world. I am, of course, hopeful that I’m burning through all the depression time now (ha ha ha) to be happier and functional then, but I’m not counting on it.

What I am hoping for at best is that the time change and the dealing with so many people won’t cause me to have a breakdown. I’ve always had a problem with ‘too much input’, and being around so many people excited to see me is going to be incredibly wearying for an introvert like myself. I don’t thrive on excitement — I internalize it and end up with a face full of fever blisters. And I end up feeling like the bad guy for trying to set firm boundaries to protect myself (though less so now that meds mean I’m less anxious, and less likely to bite someone’s face off). But the waiting, oh the waiting… it leaves a lot of time for the mind to try and sabotage itself.

But eh, it’ll probably be okay. I know what I’m up against, and have better tools to get along with. I do hope depression recedes enough for me to be able to make the most of my time, but I’ll make do as I always have done. :)

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Sports and Hobbits

We are watching some Olympic matches today; it feels like we’ve not watched enough considering the fantastic coverage the BBC is providing. It’s nice to enjoy some sport, and to watch as the UK moves to what looks like a firm third in the medals table. Mainly, I’ve been perversely pleased that the abysmal NBC coverage is making many people I know back in the States question why they’re getting such a raw deal; I feel this might aid in more Americans thinking to question and quest past their borders, and realize how the concept of American Exceptionalism is used to get Americans to at sub-par as ‘best in the world’.

Beyond that, I’m wandering about Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings Online. My main character is a Hobbit (though the subject line refers to a picture on Engrish.com), as I find it an agreeable species to wander about with. I like the freemium model because pay-to-play doesn’t get along with my addictive personality; it didn’t matter so much when I was rotting alone in San Antonio, but now that I have a life, I don’t want to squander it on trying to get my money’s worth out of something. And as I’m frugal, there’s a lot of squeezing there indeed.

So yeah, a whole lot of nothing much, but if it keeps me sane? I’m not gonna complain.

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Low Key

Living in the United Kingdom, I don’t do that much to celebrate American independence. I do love fireworks, but not enough to go find some to blow up on the day. No, instead I hang out with another ex-pat friend on the nearest weekend and BBQ; this tradition is only a couple of years old, but we’re both sincere about keeping it going. After all, what is more American than enjoying good food with friends? Very little, I maintain!

Still, I’m going to actually be amongst people tonight, so I figured I’d try my hand at making a most American dessert to take along. As it’s a crafting group, I immediately discarded pie as too messy (as much as I do love a good apple pie). Instead, I opted for something that says summer and July very strongly to me — the Coca-Cola cake. The ingredients look too weird to make anything good, but I hoped the memory of taste from 17 years or so ago held true. It turn out it did — the piece I let myself have last night was indulgently rich and light, and I think it’s a fine example of American ingenuity (and science). It makes me think of my father’s birthday parties, as that was when we would have the cake. My grandmother would make it, and we’d enjoy it outside by their pool, basking in the glorious Texas//July sunshine. It’s hard to not feel free under those circumstances, and grateful too to have such bounty.

But really, on a day like today, one doesn’t need a big external display; one can merely look inward and reflect on the good and bad about the US of A. It’s a scrappy nation full of optimism and opinion. That doesn’t mean that it’s all good opinion, but there is a lot to be said about the bootstraps mentality (and against it too, but yanno… two sides to all coins). I can appreciate the rugged individualism just as much as I admire the British sense of community and all-in-it-togetherness.

But today… I’ll mainly think about the cake.

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Not Rain, But Another Kind of Storm

Or, at least, very little and absolutely no thunderstorms here. I’d be grumpier, but it’s almost chilly today by comparison (and I get to go blow a load on yarn and other craft materials, so that always is happy-making!).

I’m also amused by the decision out  of the United States yesterday on the subject of healthcare — welcome to the rest of the industrialized world! I love seeing the right-wingers insisting they’re going to move to Canada in protest; it shows just oblivious many Americans are to the workings of the rest of the world. I admit that I need to do more reading about the minutae of the ruling and the actual bill itself — what is included and covered by the new insuragnce/tax? As I commented to a friend yesterday about life and care in the United Kingdom:

‘I pay a small national insurance tax here. In turn, I get healthcare, cheap prescriptions, and reasonably priced dentistry. Is it a good deal? Hells yeah. I know what’s ‘wrong’ with my brain and have treatment (couldn’t afford it stateside), I can breathe, and I gave birth to a healthy child without going broke (at home like I wanted, with two midwives in attendance). I can see my doctor pretty much as soon as I need to about anything. Gyno? Covered, no problems and with plenty of reminders to be timely about that shizz.’

I would love to hear from my friends back in the States with mental health issues on how this is going to specifically effect them. I would like to think more people are going to be able to get diagnosis and care so that they can have a better quality of life. Most of you reading here probably know what a difference medicines and therapies can make between getting by and living, so knowing that more people could be helped to live and do and not be demonized would be nice to hear.

I’m also bemusedly wondering if this wonderful step towards modernization of American society will somehow trigger a second Civil War. That was apparently bandied around t’Internets yesterday, and I admit — some of the right wing response is frightening. Going militia because society is actually chipping in to take care of each other? How very ‘Christian’, but then, most people I’ve seen who beat their chests and Bibles don’t know a thing about Christianity (other than thinking their loud professions will be enough to add stars to their crowns, and turning off those who might consider coming to the flock). That’s not a jab on Christians entirely — you see it with any sort of zealot irregardless of their flavour of ‘right’.  It just happens that a lot of American right-wingers profess to being Christian, else it would not even merit mentioning! And I won’t even blame them for their narrow-mindedness specifically — many were raised to listen and believe in things unquestioningly, so it is not a surprise that many soak up bigotry and hatred and greed when they are fed it as the correct and ‘patriotic’ way to be.

So I guess we shall see, and hope for the best. And in the meantime, if any of my friends Stateside can tell me more about how this will benefit themselves, I would love to hear about it. :)

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On Being British

Last summer, I obtained my British citizenship. While I was relieved to have it finally done and over with, I wasn’t terribly excited by it. I wasn’t getting to put it to use; there haven’t been any elections since then, for example. But this weekend? This weekend is my first chance to properly celebrate being a Brit, and I am quite pleased to.

You see, this is the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend. This weekend, we celebrate sixty years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Being an American by birth (a citizenship I still retain), I have been enamoured of the monarchy since I was a wee little child. I think most American children do – it’s sort of a romantic notion, being a part of a royal family. And while the role is mainly ceremonial to the running of the country, I still think that the Queen is good value for money. She’s just… the royal personage does a good job of demonstrating what noblesse oblige should be, of being a noble symbol for a proud country with a long history and worthy heritage. But as said, my opinions were formed in childhood (to include the bog standard demonization of Prince Charles as unworthy), and I’ve not felt the need to question them in adulthood. Me likey monarchy, bring on the coronation chicken, etc.

It will also be nice to finally be doing something that reminds me that I am legit British now. It was something I never imagined in my life, not even when I was enjoying the crap out of British comedy shows on public access. I thought that I might try for French citizenship upon my successful attainment of the language in high school (since fallen to nearly nothing via disuse), but that was before I realized the existence of the Eurozone for living and working, and really – I didn’t take that dream seriously. It seemed unlikely at best (knowing what hoops one has to jump through to attain citizenship in another country), and completely improbable at worst. The marriage route is definitely the fastest non-heritage route to citizenship, but I’m not one to exploit a system. I would have never thought to try to marry someone just to move to another place. Bad juju, yanno?

So then, what DOES it mean to me to be British? It means being part of a culture that is less afraid about questioning and mocking itself than the American culture. I know how different this gulf is based on ‘friends’ in America calling me a traitor or threatening to be the ever-loving shit out of me for applying the same approach towards improving America (which I always have done, but because I shut my mouth on my opinions during my military time, people thought I didn’t have opinions!). It means having a much better understanding of sarcasm, and being able to take a bit more on the chin. It means quizcoms and BBC Parliament and cackling along at the witty riposte that both contain. It means having health care that actually works; it’s not perfect, but my life is massively enhanced by the NHS. It’s a far from perfect place, mind – there’s a redonk number of security cameras, this country coined the phrase ‘nanny state’, and there is an unhealthy obsession with celebrity bordering on the insane. There’s casual racism (which is hit or miss; I think it’s generally less offensive than being overly PC), there’s a frightening amount of entitlement, and the government seems to love chasing the worst policies coming out of the United States. But that’s okay, insomuch that I can say that without getting threatened with death or assault for having an opinion (which, I suspect, is often meant as ‘sarcasm’ coming from Americans, but as they absolutely do.not.get sarcasm…).

So long and short – I am happy to be here. I am happy to be a citizen. This isn’t a knock on America, which has its awesome points as well (which will be taught to my child(ren) along with the good and bad of British as they grow up). All in all, I am glad to be of both, but will definitely enjoy celebrating the newest this weekend.

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Calm

Today, I am reflecting on the miracle that is calm stability. Of being able to look at confusing things without having a complete meltdown on the spot, of being able to push past boundaries that were once like brick walls. Today’s victory is over trying to understand tax code. One of my fellow ex-pat friends mentioned the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (wiki//IRS), and I’ve managed to look at tax stuff both late night and today without ending up a puddle of jelly. You see, as an American citizen, I’m supposed to file taxes every year. I have been lax because:

A.  I do not make enough money to owe the US, and
B.  I couldn’t figure out what category I needed to file as without bursting into tears

Now, I’m not a stupid girl, but American tax code is needlessly complicated as compared to UK tax code (where everybody files individually!). When Googling last night to find the right category, I found a lot of hits because nobody knew how to file correctly (for those of us living abroad married to non-American citizens, it’s ‘Married filing singly’, NRA). Add in the fact I’ve not seen a useful e-file for filing from abroad until this year, and is it any wonder my poor head was caving in? And to prove that I don’t make enough to owe two countries taxes (!!!) requires extra forms and… well. Yes, explosions in the mental sky. How dumb is it that one has to file taxes on non-American income to prove America that they don’t deserve a slice? Pretty dumb, but this is also a country that (per wiki) is willing to spend upwards of 10 billion to get 800 million in taxes. And people wonder why the government never seems to have money to take care of its citizenry…

So yeah, I’ve got some back tax stuff to figure out, because I do believe in doing my duty as an American (and y’know, wanting to hold on to both of my citizenships). But I can celebrate that I am stable enough, calm enough that this isn’t rendering me catatonic. Once again, I’m not stupid, but when my default state was fight or flight, it doesn’t really leave a lot of room for taking a deep breath. The fact I CAN take that deep breath and make myself slooowly read through things is such an amazing thing to me, and that’s why I take this moment to celebrate and revere that faculty while it is available. Oh sure, I won’t be able to hack through this without my amazing husband and calling the American Embassy for advice, but I wouldn’t be able to do either of these things if I weren’t feeling stable and calm. I won’t berate ‘normal’ people for taking this ability for granted, but I can hope that (if they read this), they can take a moment to reflect on the wonder of such a little thing, and how it makes their life that much better and happier. :)

Back to the grind!

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