hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Andrew's trying to get the dog to stop barking.

"Calm grey ocean, Gary, calm grey ocean."

I was reading something, so it took a second for my brain to catch up with my ears.

"Calm grey ocean?" I was worried this was going to be part of his anti-sunshine, pro-overcast worldview, but no.

"Yeah, well, he's colorblind!" Andrew explained.

Of course. I should've known...

BVD LDV

Sep. 21st, 2016 06:32 pm
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
I've been asked if I want to write something for Lib Dem Voice for Bi Visibility Day.

Which is cool, because for one I always count it a win when someone not bi knows about Bi Visibility Day. But also, because I love it when people want me to write things!

Now I just need to think of what Liberals should know about bisexuality...
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
In the really interesting comments to a really interesting link, [personal profile] jesse_the_k asked me if starting to use a white cane has made crossing the street different. My answer included a story from Thursday that I've been meaning to blog about anyway, so I'll just copy the whole thing here.


Definitely. In tons of ways. Sometimes cars will stop and I'm pretty sure they are indicating for me to cross. But if I'm not really sure, I won't do it. I can't tell if they're waiting for me, another car, or just a light that's about to change and I'll always choose waiting, feeling awkward, and maybe annoying them over any chance of getting run over!

Lots of times other pedestrians waiting to cross too will tell me when they think it's safe/when they start to cross the road themselves, even though I'll almost always wait for the green man. At least one man (middle-aged, white, northern English) sort of bullied me across the road with him when I was waiting at an intersection where I knew the lights take a long time to cycle through. He wasn't accepting my polite refusals of crossing the road when he did, and I ended up having to do so just because I didn't want him to grab me and push me along with him like it looked he was about to, in the name of jocular helpfulness that can be so nice in some contexts and makes me happy to live in a northern English culture, but the downside is there's no effective way to refuse that "help" sometimes.

Another anecdote about "help": The other day I was waiting at an intersection in the middle of town, and saw someone next to me cross the road while I'd pushed the button for the green man but was still waiting by the red one, with my fingers on the spinny cone. Then she walked back across the road to me again. I thought she must be a very confused person. And, oh no, she was heading towards me. I braced myself to have to give directions or something (I was struggling across the city centre with a suitcase and had a lot on my mind, so didn't have a lot of physical or mental energy at this point).

But she just got right up in my face (blind people don't need personal space, right? we must not; she's hardly the first person to do this) and said "there's no beep." Now I was confused.

I forgot that sighted people seem to think blind people can only know when to cross roads if there's an audible beep to go along with the green man. Blind people know that this isn't going to happen where I was (about to cross a bus lane, with tram lines behind me and a busy road to my left) because it wouldn't be clear which crossing the beep was indicating it'd be safe to cross! And there needs to be a tactile indicator anyway, for people with both sight and hearing loss. And I never pay any attention to which crossings beep or not anyway, I couldn't keep track.

I said "I know!" before I could temper by surprise into something less rude, and then added "it's okay" because I didn't want any more "help." So she went back across the road, and I waited because the man was still red (and I know she'd safely crossed this road three times in the time I'd been waiting, but I was crossing a bus lane, and when I'm not hugely impatient I'm more than happy to wait for my green man!), probably thinking she'd done her good deed by helping a poor disabled lady, even though the disabled lady was also stupid or something because she didn't take advantage of the help.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Truly awful mental health day today, with no apparent cause. Most inconvenient, and no fun at all. I mean they're never fun, but the ones where you don't have to put on a bra all day or talk to anyone are slightly more bearable, you know?

Got to the point where I really wanted one of my anxiety-attack meds, which of course were back here because I don't carry them with me any more because I hardly ever have anxiety attacks any more.

I had a migraine last night, too. My brain chemistry's all kinds of screwed up right now.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
I read over something for a friend the other day, and after e-mailing it back to them I got a reply that made me smile:
Thanks! You are the comma fairy :) <,,,,,> I have no idea where the beastly little fuckers are supposed to go.
Best proofreading endorsement I've had in a long time!
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] barakta's suggestion, I did indeed write a version of the "bi people in biphobic relationships" blog entry for Biscuit.

You can read it here if you like!
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Okay, this was something I alluded to before but didn't get around to writing about because I didn't want to waste my energy or (poor enough as it is, lately) focus on this.

But what the hell, I'm feeling more chipper tonight. And his tweets (1, 2) got RTed into my timeline this evening and...I find myself just as annoyed as I was at first that he doesn't even get what he's done wrong, and is playing the martyr about persecution he hasn't really gotten.

Way too many words here. )
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Sunny train window, the Train Picnic triumvirate of sandwich, snack and drink, new podcast. I am happy.

I think the joy of the triumvirate goes back to school field trips, the pleasing deliberation of the lunch packed as neatly as possible and taken with you, somehow making you want to eat it on the way there just because you know what it'll be and how nice it'll be.

The podcast is The Matter of the North, bittersweet now because listening to this first episode reminds me of having caught it on first broadcast, a week or two ago, when Katie and I were still planning to go to exactly this part of the world for a much-needed little holiday in October: Lindisfarne and Durham seemed perfect for a history nerd like her and an Old English lover like me, the perfect confluence of these things at a near enough ‎location to be cheap. Or so we thought, but it ended up being prohibitively expensive so we've had to abandon this plan, though I'm sure we'll work something out at some point.

It's especially disappointing because listening to this gives me an unbearably strong desire to visit these places: Hadrian's Wall, old ruins, cathedrals and coastlines, everything. I'm confused by the geography that's being narrated to me and I want to understand it better.

Somehow stories about the rest of England don't give me the same wanderlust. They're interesting, but I'm happy to leave them be. Somehow these northern ones -- and the Celtic bits of Britain --‎ are different. Evocative, and oddly familiar considering I'm from so far away and don't know anything about them really. 

To be topical at the beginning of this episode, good ol' Melvyn mentioned that this "referendum year" is a good time to do this (as if he isn't obsessed with being from Cumbria all the time...) and I think he's more right than he's willing to say. Because the campaign and especially the result has been yet more fodder for the arguments many of my Scottish friends and acquaintances are making that pit them against us which I have some sympathy with, but the Tory England they describe seems as foreign to me as it does to them. It seems terribly important to me that Manchester and Leeds and other northern cities were heavily Remain; we'll be dragged out of the EU just as unwillingly as Scotland.‎

Of course, the next episode of this podcast‎ I listened to is about Vikings, and of course the huge influence they had on this part of the country. The continuing vocabulary, attitudes and so on might explain why such an unfamiliar landscape can feel so familiar to me. I worry that's a bit of a reach, though: my grandmother's mother forbid her and the other children from learning Norwegian, even as her father sang hymns and lullabies in Norwegian (as well as English; I heard a recording of him at his wife's funeral, many years after he was gone himself), read his Bible in Norwegian, and gave the children Norwegian nicknames. My grandma doesn't remember what they were, though, and doesn't know a word of Norwegian. (Unless "uff da" counts!)

Still, [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula told me when she met me that I sounded like her friend Kjersti from Norway‎, and indeed I grew up knowing Kjerstis, and Bjorns, and every class in my school was full of Andersons and Carlsons and Knutsons‎.‎ Our jokes and our explanations and our vocabulary are different, even from the nearby states or parts of our own (apparently only Minnesotans play "duck duck gray duck" instead of "duck duck goose"?)

I liked that one of the academics talking about the Viking places and times in England started out by saying there must have been Viking women as well as men, for the language to persist as long as it must have done to be such a big influence in names and places. (There's a wonderful meditation on this in an excerpt from a Norman Nicholson poem, which googling led me to here after it was mentioned in the program.) So often it is the women, in charge of small children, feeding us lullabies and nursery rhymes that influence our language and our thinking on a level nothing in later life seems to reach.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Talked to parents on Skype, about Sweet Martha's cookies and Jacob Wetterling.

The end-of-summer Mondays off are now passed, in both the U.S. and the UK. But the weather's still warm and muggy. If this year is anything like past ones, the first cold snap will bring with it my worst homesickness. It's enough to make me hate fall almost as much as I hate winter.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Today is an exciting day.

So you may remember I went to see Ghostbusters with Andrew at the AMC in Manchester and a projectionist told us they don't do audio description because no one ever asks for it. We complained and got a couple of free tickets and vague platitudes about how Andrew shouldn't have been told that and the manager would look into it -- which weren't as reassuring as they might have been since while I'm sure from her perspective the projectionist shouldn't have said that, this would be because it makes the cinema look bad rather than because it wasn't true. And a manager not knowing anything about audio description -- I'm not expecting technical mastery but I shouldn't know more about what to expect than a cinema manager does.

Anyway, we used one of the free tickets when Debi was here, to go see Finding Dory; Andrew had had a rough day and wanted a treat, something nice to do while our guest was here. It was a choice between that or Star Trek, both of which I'd already seen (with audio description, in Bradford Cineworld) so I figured the AD wouldn't work and I didn't care too much.

But of course, we were sure as hell going to try.

Our request for audio description headphones confused the person we first asked (behind the food counter, so understandably this is really not her area) to the point of seeming to terrify her. Much walkie-talkieing ensued. More than once we were asked which film we were seeing. Eventually three people and a clipboard came to tell us "it wasn't advertised with audio description in 2D. It was in 3D." Which made me laugh: surely I can't be the only person who can't watch 3D movies for the same reason I need the audio description: that I'm visually impaired! Andrew started ranting about it didn't have to be advertised with audio description, because it was a legal requirement etc. etc....but I dragged him away because it wasn't worth making a fuss and we'd hardly paid anything for this anyway and I'd already seen it and let's just go sit down. So we did.

But honestly, once we did, I surprised myself by how upset I was. The movie still hadn't started yet, and I started tweeting.


I found myself on the verge of tears again, which I hadn't expected. This wasn't a much-anticipated moviegoing experience like it'd been the previous time. I wasn't told "we don't bother because no one asks" this time. But it turns out that it was almost as bad to be talked to like it was my fault that I didn't know to buy tickets for the 3D movie -- as if I would have, anyway! -- rather than the cinema's fault for not providing audio description as a mater of course, which other chains and even independents like HOME manage perfectly fine (HOME have been great about this; I went to something when it first opened where the AD didn't work due to a technical fault and I felt like I ended up being sympathetic to them about it; the guy we spoke to was like "no, this is not acceptable and I'm really sorry"...so I know how much better this could be dealt with!).

So this time, when we got back home, Debi messaged AMC on Facebook about it, Andrew addressed them in tweets, on tumblr, and in a blog post.

Debi got a reply, which started
We are very sorry that we couldn’t accommodate you and your family during a recent visit to our cinema. At this present time we have audio description capability in four screens. Film titles and formats rotate around our screens on various days through the week. This is sometimes a combination of 3D and 2D product as this cinema only has the capability to play 3D in four of our available screens.
Which is interesting for several reasons, firstly of which is the amusement inherent in the kind of family Debi and Andrew and I would make. But also because it was more information than we were given either time this actually happened to us by the staff at the cinema. This message also offered to show us ("you and your family", aww) a 2D screening of Finding Dory with the audio description for free whenever we wanted. Debi didn't bother replying at first, which I agreed with as it still seemed a bit point-missing, still treating this like an isolated customer service problem rather than a systemic issue that visually impaired people (and people with other sensory processing issues who might benefit from audio description; I don't think it's just us!).

I think Andrew got a reply to his tweets too, asking him to take it to DMs, but he wasn't interested in anything that wasn't public. I got the same request, and decided what the hell, I'll play along. I'm glad I did.

The first message I got was this:
Thank you for following back. We are very sorry and would like to apologise about your recent visit and we assure you we are working hard improve our levels of service and accessibility. Firstly, we would like to offer a free screening for you, your friends and family. You can choose the film and we will put everything in place for you.

We can also confirm that we have employed a specialist contractor who will begin installing audio description equipment across all our screens from next week. As this process takes place we would like to invite you to test our systems for free and offer advice to our team here at the cinema in Manchester.
That...seems a bit of a result to me, if I'm honest! I really wasn't expecting much more than a polite telling off (about how they weren't doing anything illegal, I shouldn't expect better, etc) and maybe a couple more freebies that I'm not interested in being thrown our way. (We still have a free ticket from last time; the plan has always been that Andrew would go and use those on his own when he wants to see things I don't.)

Of course immediately "a film of your choice" caught our interest. Debi wanted to know if they had the 1979 Mad Max and we all laughed -- she'd gone to great lengths to watch it before she saw Mad Max 2 at a festival that weekend, and it hadn't worked out, so that would have been kind of hilarious. Of course I suggested what my friends always suggest when a cinema's looking for movie selections: Horror Express! Which [personal profile] miss_s_b was pretty excited about.

But in the realms of "movies they actually would have, and audio description" (other than Debi telling me when people should kiss, which she was happy to offer), there was an obvious choice.

We're gonna go see Ghostbusters. Some of us for the first time, some of us for the fourth at least. I'm so excited. It's gonna be awesome.

And it's gonna be tonight!

I wanted it to be when Debi was still up north, having spent last weekend with us she's in Brighouse this week (and handily willing to drive Team Brighouse over to Manchester for it). Since she's part of our family, and all! And since she, along with Andrew, both complained and helped encourage me to complain about this when I just did not have the energy or heart to do so myself, I wanted her to get the reward too.

And then I just messaged a bunch of my friends saying "who wants to see Ghostbusters for free on Friday" and of course they all do (poor Katie has to work, which is sad, but I don't think anyone else turned the offer down so there's gonna be like fifteen of us!). I'm so excited. Glad I can offer something cool and unusual for my friends, even as I'd gladly swap it for being able to go to the cinema without a fuss like most people can.

And on that subject, I'm at least as excited about the other part of AMC's offer -- first, that they're suddenly getting audio description kitted out in all of their screens (I asked Andrew if there's any chance this is a coincidence or if we've actually made them do this by complaining; I think both are pretty unlikely really but he reckons we've made them do i. Which is a pretty awesome kind of power to have just for complaining about something on the internet!) and that they want me to "test it and advise them."

Which means more free movies, which is fine with me, but also I'm genuinely excited about the "advise" part; more often than not when I'm out anywhere in public I end up with thoughts on how things could or should be better, and usually have no better outlet for them than grumbling to my friends about it. Being able to actually tell someone how something is working and if it could be better, and to have any hope of actually being listened to, is amazing. These days, if I could have a dream job, that'd be it. All I know about that for now is "once the equipment is up and running, [AMC social-media guy] will be in touch, with more information on how you can be involved with this." So I'll see what if anything that leads to.

But in the meantime, we're gonna get Holtzmanned.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
By which I mean "boring to people who aren't me," not "disagreed with"!

Lately:
  • the "Habitable Zone"
  • whether Curiosity (Mars rover) singing "happy birthday" to itself is sad
  • everything that's wrong with this, since it's a tab I still have open and it irks me more every time I remember it
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
As I alluded to a little while ago, my passport needs renewing before I next use it at Christmas. The process for this turns out to be sending my old passport, an application form and a payment form by courier to London.

I got a letter a few days later, a form letter they send to anyone with whose application there is some problem. Mine had the box ticked that said "your payment was declined".
 photo IMG_20160901_083731_edit_edit.jpg
I knew there was plenty of money but I dutifully called my bank. They said they couldn't even see that any attempt had been made to take the payment, and couldn't offer me any further help.

I didn't know if the problem was that I'd written a number down wrong -- I'd checked it carefully, but you never know -- or something else had gone wrong or been misunderstood. I'm so used to paying for things over the phone or online, where problems or mistakes are instantly flagged up and usually can be dealt with then and there. To have something so important as my passport hinging on something as fallible as a handwritten paper form drove me crazy.

I figured it was time to do as that form letter said and "contact this office" to tell them there shouldn't be any problem with the payment details I'd given them, and verify or correct them if need be.

But you know what? I can't find any way to "contact this office."

If you're doing a straightforward passport renewal, the U.S. Embassy in London give you no other way to interact with them than by courier. This made sense when they were taking my precious passport, and the only proof I have of my right to live in the UK, away and bringing it back along with a new passport I can actually use at Christmas. But I'm not paying another £15, and again facing the potential of waiting in all day (£15 only gets you the "between 8am and 6pm" delivery slot; for £30-some you can have "before noon" or for £50-some you can have "before 10am"; I know I complain about how arbitrarily expensive and inconvenient the UK government is to interact with but don't think that any other one is any better!), just for the same problem to potentially happen again because I have no idea what the problem was in the first place!

After a lot of messing around on the website, I finally found the switchboard number for the U.S. Embassy. I've just been through its automated list of choices twice, and haven't been able to find anything even vaguely relevant to me, or anything that gets me a human to talk to.

I've already had anxiety attacks about this and have put off dealing with it because of the damage it's causing to my health. But of course putting it off only makes it worse, and I've also made myself sick just by remembering at random, unhelpful times that this exists and needs to be dealt with.

I wrote as soon as my passport was taken away how essential it is to me, and that was when the system was working as it should! By rights I should have it back within a couple of weeks now, but the process won't have even started yet because I can't get the payment thing sorted out, no matter how desperately I want to, no matter how many tears of frustration and fear I have shed.

It's absolutely unacceptable to build such a fortress of uncontactability around citizens' own embassy for routine, necessary interactions with it. I am furious that I've been told to contact them, given no idea how to do that, and fumbling through menus and options both on their website and on the telephone switchboard has just made me more panicky without getting any closer to solving the problem.

They have the worst contact form I have ever seen. Even if you click on "Still have a question?" at the bottom, all you get is a message that apparently is supposed to shunt people to the right form based on where in the UK they live, but it looked to me on my first several readings like it was for people who were applying in person at London, Edinburgh or Belfast -- since the rest of the messaging makes much out of who is required to apply in person and who is required not to and must only deal with the private, outsourced we-can't-guarantee-anything courier and I'm emphatically in the second group, it was not clear in my heightened state of aggravation and misery that this wording did include me because my passport will be going to London even if I cannot.

So anyway I've used their contact form now and since I didn't think to copy what I'd said before I sent it I have no record of so doing now. They ask for your e-mail address but don't even send one of those "thanks for using our shitty online contact form!" e-mails to you so you have some record that you've done it and, if you're lucky, an idea of how long you have to wait for a response. But I'm writing this partly so I know when I did it.

And mostly just to whine and elicit sympathy: I fucking hate this, I hate the bureaucracy and the expense and time and energy and stress of it all. I hate how high the stakes are and how much more stress and anxiety that leads to. I hate how I never get to stop feeling unsettled. I hate all of it so much.


Edit: I did get an e-mail back about an hour ago, which along with some unhelpful stuff -- "The Embassy has not yet been able to complete processing of your passport application"; yeah no kidding! -- did also give me the fucking address to send it to and requested that it be sent Special Delivery. Which costs almost half as much as I paid for the fucking courier, but never mind; at least I could go to the post office at a time convenient to me rather than waiting in on some unspecified day until some unspecified time.

Fingers crossed nothing else goes wrong. I've been such a stresshead lately anyway, and even now that I've done what I can to get this sorted, I'm not feeling much better. I've got a sinus infection too, which probably isn't helping. Bah.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
I spent most of the day on the Biphoria stall, and found myself musing about how drastically the experience has improved: when I first started doing this, in maybe 2009 or something, you'd sit down just knowing that something unpleasant would happen. Maybe just a muttered comment and glares, maybe something the person didn't even know was biphobic (like the person who said "I run an LGBT group for older people but we never have any bisexuals" who then went on to spout enough biphobic stereotypes that we weren't surprised no one ever told her they were bi and/or didn't come back) to some of the outrageous examples of biphobia we still cite years later (although sadly one of those that I thought was historical, conflating bisexuality and bestiality, apparently happened three different times in various ways on Saturday!).

Some people did walk quickly past us once they'd read enough of the words on the banners around us to understand what we were representing. Some glared at us when we asked "would you like a sticker?" as if we were accusing them of something awful or trying to give them cooties. But for the most part, people were friendly and interested and if they didn't want a "bi & proud" sticker were likely to take one that said "I ♥ bis." I was cheered by the numbers of couples where one person would take a bi sticker and the other would take the bi-friendly sticker, or sometimes one would stick the other on their partner, either in a kind of "oh, this is you" or "you better ♥ bis, me at least!" kind of cute way that couples can sometimes be.

But then a man wandered over towards the stall and we said "would you like a sticker?" like we did to everyone who gave us a chance to. A woman with him pushed him along in a way she probably intended to seem playful. "Oh, no, you're not getting him," she said, or something to that effect. "He's been mine for twenty years!"

My fellow stall-volunteer and I exchanged a raised eyebrow and a few comments as they disappeared. Perhaps this is what led to her returning -- or maybe they'd been having their own conversation -- and telling us, "he says he's unsure now, so you might get him back!" I just sort of narrowed my eyes at her I think, and the woman I was sitting next to didn't say anything either. The woman laughed uproariously to indicate that she'd said something funny, but we still didn't react so she finally went away.

The two of us sort of marveled at this; I said I was married to a straight person but I'd never expect to be talked about that way and my friend said yeah, it's only when you see people acting like this that you sometimes remember this actually happens. I was angry at the woman at first -- did she think we were trying to recruit people? does she think bisexuality wears off after a while? (my friend said she's been married for 22 years and her bisexuality hasn't worn off yet, which made me laugh) -- but then I was just sad for that guy.

And I was sad for a woman I'd heard about from Saturday, when I wasn't at Pride. [livejournal.com profile] haggis, who was at the stall then, told me that she'd started to go for the "bi & proud" sticker but that her wife volunteered "she was bisexual until she married me" and she pulled away from the sticker and other resources for bis we had out on the table. (Funny how all these "oh they're not bi because they're with me!" things have been said to the married bisexuals among us!)

I know and talk a lot about how prevalent biphobia is in general, but seeing it so active in people's long-term relationships just made me sad for them.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Now I want a t-shirt that says

SOME WHITE CIS BOYS ARE GAY.
WE'RE OVER IT.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
I worked hard on it, because it's a tough subject and my brain hasn't been working lately (I have so many things to tell you about! but no words!). And it's important so I wanted to get it right. I'm pleased with how it ended up and glad I was able to do it.

Here it is. It's about Ray Fuller, a bisexual Jamaican denied asylum in the U.S. partly because the judge thought his relationships with women meant he couldn't be bisexual.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Someone told me on twitter that a parody site is a parody site, even though my problem with it wasn't that I didn't know that but that I hate the trope it was mocking.

And someone else, a new follower, just DMed me that it might be too late to change the name of my Kickstarter but "it should be dual not duel."*

SIGH. Am I especially stupid today? Have I just done something wrong so that I appear so, or something?

* Duel for Citizenship is the name of the Kickstarter project, the working title of the book, but I'm still open to better options if I can think of any! I might need another name if people aren't going to understand it!
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
"Hang on a second," I said, starting up the stairs just when Andrew was nearly ready to go out. "I need to get some different shoes."

Trying to catch possible comments before they might happen, I said "I know you only have one pair of shoes because you have one pair of feet, but I can't do that."

"I know you do!" he said, rightly a little defensive at my pre-emptive unfairness. "I don't get it but I don't get a lot of things."

"And do you know why I can't have only one pair of shoes like you do?" I called down from the bedroom where I was buckling pointless but cute little buckles on my sandals.

There was a long pause.

I'd taught Andrew that women have to choose between comfort/suitability and acceptable appearance a lot more in our clothing than men do. I've never had one of those jobs where they mandated high heels, but I've certainly had criticisms for insufficiently-"professional" footwear even at temo jobs (where I couldn't afford new shoes!). Andrew's black brogues from Clarks are the overlap in the circles of functionality and approbation but for women in almost all of society, these two circles of the Venn diagram don't meet.

The pause got almost long enough that I was going to give the answer when two words floated up the stairs: "The patriarchy?"

"Yep!" I said, slapping my knees for dramatic effect as I stood up, feet newly sandaled and ready to take on the world. He got it exactly right; I'm so proud.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
By 12:30 this afternoon, I had...
  • gotten out of bed very early (around eight), feeling relatively rested (though my "relative" baselne here is not good right now)
  • did laundry and hung it outside (hooray for sunshine!)
  • walked the dog
  • remembered to take my meds
  • took recycling out, took bins out, and put them back when they were empty
  • wrote a little version of my "migrant story" for this website
  • texted a friend to make plans to get together this week
  • ordered a massive, overdue online grocery shop, which will be here tomorrow afternoon
  • typed up my shitty longhand notes from the LGBT+ Lib Dems conference I was at recently and sent them off
  • went with Andrew to a GP appointment
  • ordered new prescriptions for Andrew and I before we've even run out of the existing ones (though it'll be close, for me!)
  • ate reasonably well/appropriately
And yet I feel like I've done nothing, everything is overwhelming and crushing me.

Passport

Aug. 16th, 2016 10:03 am
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
My passport got picked up by a courier yesterday to be taken away and replaced with my new passport in about a month. There's a little part of my brain that is constantly aware of this and not happy about it. I occasionally hear friends talk about not having seen theirs in years and I marvel at this: I could always tell you exactly where mine is. When people ask you what you'd run to get out of your house in case of a fire (note: I know this is different than there actually being a fire, when it's most likely you'll run outside without anything), I always say my passport. It's a surprising answer I think, so prosaic and boring.

Of course I know intellectually that my friends can lose or forget about their passports for years and it's at most an inconvenience the next time they think about a holiday or a work trip abroad. But I didn't get a passport until I came to visit Andrew, and ever since it's been necessary to my well-being. First as what I needed to be with the person I loved, and now as what I need to see anyone I'm related to, anyone who's known me loner than a dozen years.

Without my passport, I don't quite feel like me.

It's not just my standard form of ID, since I can't drive. It's also the only proof I was given of my Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. It's what I have to show to prove I can work here, to access benefits and public services. I have scans of what airports call "the picture page" of my passport for ID, but I also have scans of the ILR page for access: it's like a tiny little bit of a UK passport that entitles me to almost everything a UK citizen gets while they're in the UK.

Should I get as far as a job interview before my passport comes back, there will have to be explanation and faff; it'll make me worry that I seem more difficult to employ than someone for whom they don't have to worry about immigration status. If my parents suddenly get sick or someone in my family dies, I'd be desperate to fly back and terrifyingly unsure of how to (this is not the time to give me the details on this; I'm sure there's a procedure and I could figure something out if I had to, and yes I know it's unlikely, but when you've already got an anxiety disorder anyway this kind of thing is meat and drink to it, and mine's gorging on this right now).

There are good reasons I don't often think about how so much of my life depends on such slim threads as this passport.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
So remember my aunt with the severe burns and the broken ankle full of pins and plates?

I got an e-mail from my mom yesterday that just said she
has blood clots in her lungs. She is now at st. Mary's hospital. Depending how fast the clots dissolve as to when she gets to come home.
This is the whole e-mail. So it's left me with more questions than answers, starting of course with What?! Fucking WHAT?!

I mean, I guess if it's "when they dissolve she comes home" that means they will and she will. Mom doesn't seem worried at least. And...I guess it's a break for her and her sister who had been having to alternate spending a few days at a time with my grandma and this aunt, both of whom now need looking after; hopefully she'll get better care for the things already wrong with her if she's in a hospital (though if she's at St. Mary's (in Rochester) she's a long way from the specialist burn unit she had been visiting (in the Cities)!).

But...blood clots in your lungs sounds really bad? Why has this happened?! Are there any other complications from whatever's caused them, or likely to be?

And most of all Jesus when can my family and particularly my aunt catch a fucking break?!

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hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty

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