Dick-otomy day


Today it’s stay-off-Twitter-to-protest-against-rapey-bastards day. There may be a shorter catchier name for it, but you get the drift. It all started when a lady got rape threats for saying that a woman should be on banknote.

Controversial stuff, right?

Yeah, right.

So I figured that maybe I could help contribute to world peace on the interwebs with a few thoughts on how to not be a total douche on and offline.

  1. Don’t ever make rape threats, or any other threat of violence against anyone. Even if they say something that you, like, really don’t agree with.
  2. Seriously. Just don’t.
  3. Defending an opinion is never a reason for acting like a dick.
  4. Defending a cause isn’t either.
  5. No, really, any cause. Not even that one.
  6. A dick defending a cause only hurts that cause and everyone else who supports it.
  7. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if you’re fighting against sexism, racism, LGBT-phobia, religion, politics, or defending your right to be curvy, a vegetarian, in an open relationship, or any of a million other things. Nothing gives you the right to insult anyone that you perceive to be “on the other side”. Supporting your cause does not mean that all men, white people, straight people, religious people, skinny people, omnivores, people in monogamous relationships or any other group is less worthy of respect than you. Some of those things are life choices, others are just how they were born. None of them are wrong. None of them are a cause for insult.
  8. Insulting online strangers you will never meet doesn’t make it any less of an insult.
  9. Insulting anyone says more about you than the person you’re insulting.
  10. Try working on being able to respectfully disagree with other people.
  11. Learn to listen. You know, those words produced by other people? They might help you to understand what they actually mean. Just saying.
  12. You’ve been/are going through stuff. We get it. Thing is, so have/are other people. Just because someone puts on a socially acceptable face in public doesn’t mean they don’t know what it’s like. Lashing out because you’re hurting is forgivable, but it’s still pretty damn dickish.
  13. Keeping an open mind doesn’t mean only ever defending one side of every debate. It means respecting all sides and trying to understand them.
  14. If you don’t agree with any of these thoughts, feel free to move on and get over it.

You’re welcome.

P.S. Russia, seriously, we still love you, but you’ve gotta stop being such a dick. It’s starting to show.

Sorry Mulder…


I want to believe that people are not dicks.

I want to believe that a promise is worth something.

I want to believe that everyone else cares about doing things right as much as I do.

I want to believe in human decency.

I want to believe that the people I care about also care about me.

I want to believe that respect and trust are always mutual.

I want to believe that when I speak, people will actually listen to me.

I want to believe that doctors know what they’re doing.

I want to believe that hard work and effort will eventually lead to the desired result.

I want to believe that if I have your back, you’ll have mine.

I want to believe in Karma, that doing good will do you good.

Turns out I’m a bloody idiot.

Penny for my thoughts


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This is my godmother Penny, and she passed away a few days ago. This picture was taken back in 1985, so I would have been about 7 years old.

I have so many memories of playing with her younger sons Chris and Will, running around the house, playing games indoors or swinging from ropes in the garden if the weather was up to it. I remember silly things like how bouncy the dark green carpet was on the stairs, or finding hidden pebbles wrapped in aluminium foil in the bushes during a treasure hunt. I remember her and my mum sitting in the kitchen, drinking tea and talking about boring grown-up stuff. I remember how the doors were never shut in that house, there was always someone popping in to buy eggs or chat about one of the many village and church activities she was involved in.

A few years later, she had a terrible car accident and suffered severe brain damage. For days if not weeks she was in the intensive care unit and we were told that she may not survive. At that time my family no longer lived in the village but we travelled back from nearby Swindon to attend the evening prayer meetings organised for her in the church.

I remember that it wasn’t a structured event, it was just people gathering together in a difficult time. People would stand up when they felt like it and speak about their hopes, their prayers, their feelings, their wishes for the family… There were so many of them, I remember the church being so full of people.

Up until then, in my little 10 year-old brain, she had been my godmother Penny, and obviously mum and wife to her family, and one of my mum’s closest friends. She belonged to us. But sitting there in the church, feeling a little lost and confused at what exactly was happening, I realised just how many people’s lives she had touched, how many people loved her. She was their Penny too.

The mathematics of love are simple. One person’s love cannot be divided or subtracted from, it can only be multiplied and added to.

Just as a parent finds more love for each of their children, and for their partner, and for each member of their family, the same is true for every person we reach out and give our love to, be it a friend, a colleague, a stranger, whether we know them for a lifetime or for a few minutes. When love is given, it does not leave the giver, it is a link, an extension of ourselves to another person (and yes, animals count as persons too).

Penny at our wedding in 2003
Penny at our wedding in 2003

Penny survived her accident, although severely brain damaged and physically handicapped. Her family, and especially her amazing husband Raymond, cared for her every day, through some incredibly difficult times. Eventually she became able to speak a little and perform some actions like eating and drinking with a little help. I can’t even put into words how much I admire the way they never let go, kept going even though her progress was achingly slow and they had no guarantees of what she would or wouldn’t be able to do.

Raymond took her on holiday with him, despite the heavy and cumbersome wheelchairs and the constant need for attention. For over 20 years she remained a part of her family’s everyday life. She got to meet her grandchildren, be at birthday parties, see her kids grow and get married.

Ten years ago now – and I can hardly believe it was that long ago – Raymond and Penny came to my wedding. Raymond plays the organ for his local church and kindly accepted to play the music during the ceremony. Having them both there on that special day was so incredibly important to me. I’m not even sure I ever told them how happy it made me.

Weddings are curious things. They are one of the few occasions in life to have all the people you love in one place, and yet, when you are the ones getting married, you have virtually no time at all to spend with each one of them. That was the last time I saw Penny, and I barely spent a handful of minutes with her and Raymond.

The mathematics of time are simple. Your time cannot be added to or multiplied. It can only be divided, and it can also be subtracted from.

Use yours wisely.

Rant: pass the parcel


Due to unforeseen circumstances I have been handling customer service on top of my own full-time job for the last 18 months. (Seriously, who could possibly have predicted that opening an English-language e-commerce site would lead to a need for an English-speaking customer service???)

This means dealing with a lot of irate customers for a fair chunk of my day, every day.

 

The worst part of it* is that in most of the cases (aside from the odd client from hell), I completely agree with them! We deliver to customers worldwide, and most of the queries are about parcel delivery. Some people are just a little impatient, or don’t realise that the parcel is coming from overseas and therefore takes a little longer, and that’s ok. But in most cases, there is actually something wrong with the delivery or the parcel.

 

Dear parcel companies (Dear as in expensive, I don’t mean that I like you),

I get that you want to reduce costs, and that therefore you are giving twice or three times the amount of work to the same number of delivery people to be done in the same time. I get that that means that they no longer have time to handle the parcels like they actually matter. That they drop them at a random nearby drop point without leaving a slip for the customer, and that that place could be the post office, or a shop down the road, or under that tree down a muddy lane just past the third rock, the one that looks like Elvis. It’s so much more fun for the customer to guess anyway.

I get that in the rare cases they actually reach the customer’s home, they have to shoehorn the parcel into the post box rather than knock on the door, even when it’s 3 times the size, and that sometimes, to soften the parcel enough to do that, they need to drop it in a puddle and stamp on it a bit.

I don’t blame the delivery people, the guys on the front line. I really don’t. Hell, if I was being ridiculously overworked and underpaid, there would come a point when I’d get angry and stop caring too.

But here’s the thing, parcel companies, you’re damaging our business. When people get a parcel in this state, or don’t get it at all, they don’t blame you, they blame us. In their mind, they order from us, and our company is one person. Therefore, that one person takes the order, puts the stuff in a box, travels to their door and drops it there. That’s how we all think. I work in a mail-order company and even I get annoyed when I order something and it’s late or the parcel is damaged, and I know how it works, so imagine how Average Josephine feels!

So the thing is, they will end up going back to the shops and off the Interwebs. And that means less business for you. And for us.

Stop being dicks and hire enough people to do the job properly. You’ll get more customers and fewer complaints. It’s just basic business sense.

Even a complete moron would understand that.

Rant over.

 

*The worst part, apart from my total lack of training, having none of the basic tools required to actually do anything about their queries and the fact that something I hate doing is taking up about half the time I have to do a job I like and am qualified for. Apart from that, totally the worst part.

In love with Blighty


At last, I have the answer to the eternal question “why is it always rainy and grey in England?”

Forget gulf streams and atmospheric pressure fronts, the real reason is that if it was sunny in England more often, it would be so totally awesomely wonderful that the rest of the world wouldn’t be able to bear it and the planet would explode from awesomeness. It’s what happened to Alderaan you know.

Okay, maybe I’m seeing things with the fuchsia-tinted glasses of 23 years of homesick nostalgia, but on our recent trip back to England, I have to admit I fell in love with my home country all over again.

I blame the cream teas. Who could resist warm scones, thick clotted cream and rich fruity jam?

Seriously, wave this at any invading force and they'll calm right down...
Seriously, wave this at any invading force and they’ll calm right down…

On a bright and sunny Monday, we stopped off for lunch in Canterbury. I can’t remember if I have ever visited the city before, and I was certain Husband hadn’t, so we went off on a little detour on our way from the Tunnel to London. Have I mentioned before that I love that tunnel? I wish I could go everywhere by Channel Tunnel. It is the best.

Canterbury was a concentrated dose of lovely, with buskers on the streets, half-timbered houses and cobbled streets. A proper picture postcard of a place. And that’s just the thing: when the sun comes out, the postcards come to life!

Once we arrived in London the sun was still beaming down and we had several days of fair weather, allowing us to wander and muse through the streets of the big smoke, instead of the usual umbrella-dodging hurried head-down walk. On one occasion, I think we may have even sauntered.

So England is wonderful and beautiful and charming and lovely. You all knew that already, right? For sure. But what I love the most are Londoners. Well, Brits in general I guess. The banter is mighty. From market stall holders to Tube station attendants, Museum staff to bus drivers, everyone has a little something to say, a joke to share. The French don’t have a word for banter. It’s not a thing. I miss banter more than I miss sausages, and that’s saying something.

Ok, random lovey rant over. Keep calm, carry on and all that.

Smoothie operation


Can someone please tell me why smoothie salesplaces insist on selling their smoothies with those stupid spoonstraws?

You can’t scoop anything up with them, and the spoon end stops you from sucking up the last dregs of your smoothie.

Seriously, just stop it!

banstraws

Pigtails for humanity


It’s Friday. It may not be by the time you read this, but right now, it’s Friday. It’s been a long week, my back is killing me, I’m knackered, there’s a lot to do at work and less time to do it in. This is a job for Piggytails.

I can’t quite remember when I first invoked the sacred spirit of Piggytails, but I can remember the first time I noticed the effect it has on people. The day my lovely colleague Despina came up to my desk and started playing with my pigtails, singing a little ditty as she swung them up and down. Da-da da-da da-da…

That was the first time I wore pigtails to work, and for some reason, everyone I met that day had a smile on their face. A nice smile, not a “let’s vote Carrie for prom queen” smile.  Even more surprisingly, it worked multiple times, and in several different companies. Right now, I think my colleagues need it even more than I do.

If you have long enough hair (even if you’re a boy) and you think the people around you need a bit of a lift, give it a try, see if being surrounded by smiling people will brighten your day. It’s for the greater good.

Go go Piggytails!

This is not an actual picture of me.

Old new year’s resolutions


Okay, so it’s March, a tad late for talking about new year stuff, and of course, you only have my word that I’ve actually been doing this since January. But hey, you also only have my word that I’m not a 6 foot trucker named Bob.

I guess it’s taken me a while to work out a way to formulate the resolution properly. It boils down to “use what you’ve got”.

Maybe it’s just me, but over the years I seem to have accumulated an amazing amount of crap. Clothes, cosmetics, kitchenware, recipe books, exotic foodstuffs… All sorts of things that were bought with full intentions of using them, but that just sit there gathering dust. So I figured sod this, I’m gonna use them or chuck them (or donate them if appropriate).

Clothes is the easiest part, it’s just a question of sorting – mercilessly- until I only have things that I know I’m going to wear within a year and donate the rest to charity. A small caveat goes for things that have sentimental value (wedding dress) and things that I don’t KNOW I’ll need but that would cost me more to buy again and/or would be hard to find (evening gown, suitable dress for a funeral, etc.).

There are quite a few people who read this blog who will be rather surprised to hear that I even own an evening gown. I’m quite surprised that there are quite a few people who read this blog, so now we’re equal.

Cosmetics is a funny one. Obviously, there are best before dates, that’s a good first test of whether to chuck it out or not. I seem to have acquired quite a lot of makeup and other toiletries considering that I must put on makeup about twice a year at most (aside from a basic foundation). Now, of course, there is only so much that you can use up at a time without being sectioned (see below) so it’s a question of using it a little at a time, but things like moisturising creams, foot scrubs, facial scrubs, perfumes and so-on can be added to the daily routine and used up as you go. So many of them have just been sitting there uselessly for ages and are actually rather good.

I’m just using up my stash of makeup, what’s the problem ?

Now for food. This is a bit easier, since it’s something that tends to be renewed on a more regular basis and there are (thankfully) far fewer dodgy best before dates than with cosmetics. But still we have tins of peas and soups and coconut milk and all sorts of odds and ends that just never get used up.

The other thing we have tons of is recipe books. So many of them were bought on a whim or given to us and have been left aside and forgotten about. So we combined the two, started keeping a whiteboard of ideas for the week’s dishes, dipping into the recipe books and the cupboards and working out what we wanted to make and what we need to make it that we don’t already have. It makes shopping a little less tempting and wasteful and we use up all the extras a bit at a time. It’s working pretty well so far. We are trying to avoid massive omelettes containing everything in the cupbord though, that’s just cheating. And gross.

So there it is. Use what you’ve got.

I’m also trying to apply it to myself, use what talent you have, use the time that you have, do stuff, don’t put it off to next year, or Maybe Someday. Just do it. Then donate 50c to Nike for use of that slogan.

Do they even use that any more or am I just showing my age?

Anyhoo. That’s kinda working, I’m making progress on a few projects and trying to put myself out there and dare to believe that I can actually  accomplish something. Using up soup is considerably easier. I may just stick to that in the end. We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

The unfairness of invisible ailments


Long story short, yesterday, I had to go for my DTP vaccine renewal. It was only about 15 years overdue… I remember when I had it as a kid, they chose my right shoulder and it swelled up to a huge lump and I couldn’t carry my school bag on my shoulder for weeks. Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to it. The doctor was a very nice lady, even though I didn’t get a lollipop she did put a sticky plaster on my arm (except when she turned away to get the plaster she lost track of where the jab was so she just shrugged and stuck it randomly on my arm).

Damn that jab burned like hell, and since then, my arm has been painful and achey and feels like I’ve been in an left-handed arm-wrestling match with [insert name of insanely strong left-handed person here].

And even looking closely at it, I can’t even see the jab hole.

My arm should be huge and red and swollen. It should be pulsating and spitting blood and pus.

It looks perfectly normal.

I am sorely tempted to wear it in a sling until it feels normal again. And possibly walk with a limp.

Back ache, headaches, belly aches, they’re all unfairly invisible and yet cripplingly painful at times. In my case, the same goes for buises. The number of times I thought I’d have a massive lump or bruise or black eye after some epic act of clumsiness, and no, not even the tiniest of blemishes. The bumps and lumps hurt like hell but are always perfectly invisible.

THAT IS SO NOT FAIR!

Some doctors say that laughter is a healer. I say that when you’re ill (not badly terminally ill, just the regular daily woes) what you want more than laughter, more than ice cream and jelly, more than daytime TV and a hot water bottle, is pity. “Oh you poor thing”, “Oh that must really hurt”, “Please, take my seat on the bus, sit down, put your feet up and here, have my donut, no, I insist”. That’s what you want to hear. You don’t WANT to have to explain at length to everyone you meet just how painful this invisible thing is, because then you just come across as whiney. Instant pity on sight, that’s what you need.

.

Have I mentioned that my arm REALLY hurts?

Get your life coaching from a jpg


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