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I've been quiet (...too quiet) lately, but it'd be remiss of me to let a day when Paul Ryan said "Obamacare is the law of the land.… We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future" go by without comment.

I was terrified of the vote. Sick with it. When the friend I was visiting on Wednesday excused himself for a phone call, I typed this out on my phone and sent it to my representatives in an e-mail the ACLU mailing list had suggested I sent to my congresspeople:
I'm disabled. My parents are aging seniors, my mom particularly with longstanding health problems. My friends are poor, disabled themselves, or people of color -- sometimes all at once because that's how these things
work.

So if the ACA is repealed, I'm certain that someone I know and love will die who would not die if we keep it. If the ACA is repealed, I know that everybody I know will live in fear, suffering and misery that they won't have if we keep it.

People are kept alive by the ACA, they're kept in their homes, they're kept from that needless worry, fear and misery.

Ive lived in the UK for several years. I've enjoyed the services of a single-payer health care system there for me when I've needed it. I know this is possible. I know there's no reason for the US to be moving further away from that. It's cheaper, better care and my friends here boggle at the country I'm from being so far from having it ourselves. Please don'ttake us further still from that eminently reachable goal. Please don't make people suffer so unnecessarily.
They're all Democrats, and I was pretty confident they'd do the right thing anyway (Franken's been heart-warmingly awesome again in hearings for another awful appointee this week, which always makes me proud I get to vote for him) but I couldn't let it go uncommented-upon.

Today when I saw the vote had been pulled at the last minute, once I'd convinced myself it was for real (too scared to google in case it wasn't, I made Andrew confirm it for me) and that it wouldn't come back immediately (Trump saying he expects Democrats to seek a deal with him in a year when the ACA has "exploded" is what finally convinced me) I started crying.

I hate crying, but this was different. I've heard of crying happy tears before, and maybe this was that, but it felt more like an enormous version of the feeling I'd had on Saturday night when I thought I'd lost the keys to our B&B room so I couldn't go out because I wouldn't be able to get back in again and that this was going to be a costly and disappointing mistake to admit to our lovely hosts but then Andrew found the keys had fallen behind a table -- this on a much bigger scale, of course, but the same kind of relief. The same kind of "now I'm not being held together entirely by stress, my body must perforce collapse."

I thought of all the people being relieved and crying and screaming and hugging their loved ones and celebrating and getting drunk and remembering the people Obamacare didn't get here in time for, or the people still outside its help.

I was so fragile; Andrew had to put a frozen pizza in the oven for my dinner and my evening ended up being much less ambitious than I hoped for (I basically curled up on the couch with the dog, retweeting things until my phone's battery was just about dead and now I've come to bed but I'm writing this). My body seemed to react, after the tears, exactly like it did on Saturday and after other anxiety attacks: I couldn't get warm, my muscles were almost too weak to support me, I was having all kinds of emotions at once and had the attention span of a mayfly on speed.

Of the many, many RTs, from schadenfreude at Ryan and the other writers of this hideous bill, to the insistence that this is the best time in American history for the Democrats to push for single-payer healthcare (at least, that's what it's been called there; it looks like "Medicare for all" might be the epithet that persuades people), to the acknowledgements that we know the battle isn't over but we deserve this celebration to other badass political shit going on at the same time like a Democrat winning a state legislature seat where she had to be written in to the ballots and just more women wanting to run for office generally...I'd say it's been a good night.

It hasn't been one-dimensional celebration. It hasn't glossed over the limitations of the ACA and the people who live precarious lives even with it. It hasn't made us take for granted the sterling performances of congresspeople speaking on our side before the planned vote. It hasn't made us forget about the need to investigate the horrific numbers of black teenage girls who've disappeared recently in Washington D.C. who never get the care and attention of missing white girls. It hasn't stopped cleverly-named bills cracking down on Trump's corruption as it endangers us all. It hasn't made people stop talking about Trump/Russia or the need to impeach him.

But of all the tweets I've (html willing!) shared with you here, the one I think is most important is this:

Scoff if you must, but this is why I'm involved in politics. This is why I say that I'm proud of my Lib Dem friends, who when something angers or upsets us have a kind of instinctive reaction: let's write a policy motion about this. This is why I've been so much more active in politics (partisan or not) the last few months: it's just to cope with the increasing number of things that make me fearful, anxious and sad.

I stuck with the Lib Dems when they were adding to the things that made me angry and frustrated during points in the coalition because I knew I'd feel just as angry and frustrated but with no political outlet otherwise as I don't feel there's any other UK party that sufficiently aligns with my values for me to want to support it.* But even in things like the WI, which is scrupulously non-partisan (and, being a geographically-based way of organizing people, I'm not surprised mine is full of lefties), I feel like I'm doing the same kind of work: making the world less scary, anxiety-inducing, and saddening.

And if this kind of political event, or whatever you have in the countries you live in and love people from, makes you sad, anxious or fearful, I'd really suggest getting involved in something like this. It's heady stuff: be warned, it's easy to get addicted. Most of my Lib Dem friends have stories about joining where they didn't think much of it and ended up on federal committees, standing for parliament, or whatever. I swear Tim Farron has taken some of my lines when he talks about immigration. I have friends who've helped write policies that have ended up being the law for this country. It's pretty awesome.


* It seems to have been worth sticking around for: my pessimistic husband came away from last weekend's federal conference feeling reassured that our party's membership having doubled in the last few years hasn't made it what he feared it'd be: "There was a real, real, danger that we’d have got a lot of people who thought they were joining the Coalition And Liking Europe Party" he says, but as you can read there it's clear that the Lib Dems are still existing to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

Garydays

Mar. 16th, 2017 10:41 pm
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Gary's already gone on his holiday, staying with Andrew's dad because we'll be away this weekend.

I opened the front door after many hours of clerical by-election work without being met by barking, a wagging tail, or short legs padding excitedly to the door.

I ate my dinner with no rush to take the plate out to the kitchen, because there were no feet jumping up to bop me on the leg to indicate an interest in examining the plate for any tasty food. (He always gives up this hope once the empty dishes have been taken to the sink; such a helpful inducement to tidiness.)

And now I have to go to bed with no chance of snuggles.

We've only had the dog about eighteen months. How did we manage so long without one?!
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There's a by-election where I live. Sadly it's been triggered by the death of our MP, but he was in his 80s and had been an MP for 47 years so if ever the phrase "good innings" applied...

A week ago my local Lib Dems selected our candidate, so Jackie who I'm used to talking with in the pub about science fiction and theatre is now the face and signature on hundreds of letters I stuffed into envelopes for six or seven hours this afternoon. I did see her today but we never seemed to finish a conversation without her being dragged away in the middle of it to do something more important. She's not used to having this high a profile, but the party's throwing a lot of resources at this election, which makes it exciting for everyone and hopefully not too overwhelming for her. Still she did help a lot with this unglamorous clerical work here (though she's not in this picture).

Having helped out on a by-election in confusing distant Oxfordshire, I only have to walk two minutes down the road this time, but in other ways they feel remarkably similar. I do hope to see as many friends, and make as many new friendly acquaintances, here as I did I'm Witney.

I'm terrible at the canonical Lib Dem activity of putting leaflets through doors because I can't read street signs or house numbers, but I like doing clerical work other people find hideously tedious, because you get to talk to people. And you're never far from the tea and snacks!

Plus today there was a dog. Candidog. He's called Ozzy.
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Ozzy is veteran of other by-elections too, most recently Stoke, and was a very good boy, mooching around and making me smile by nudging up against my leg when I was least expecting it, letting me pet him with fingers smudged with ink and sticky from envelope glue. Definite morale boost.
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Went to see Tas this afternoon -- she was suitably sympathetic about the national anthem and "Jerusalem" on Wednesday, and supportive of me asking them not to say "wheelchair bound" any more. We chatted a lot, started with tea but ended up on fruit cider for her and proper beer (Adnams' Ghost Ship, a favorite!) for me. And we got talking about poems, she said when she gets very drunk she recites "When I am old I shall wear purple..." but then did it anyway only halfway into her first pint. She looked it up and read it out with a few lines she missed, but couldn't have improved on her enthusiasm of the first time.

Then she read "Television" by Roald Dahl, and asked me "you did Robert Frost at school, no?" and I had so I read her the poem that stuck with me most strongly from then: "Birches", which, gods, how could I have even liked it then, when I knew nothing about how "life is too much like a pathless wood" or "I'd like to get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over." I thought it was a poem about children's play leaving a mark on the world that others could recognize. And it's that too, and how vivid are the images of trees in an ice storm now that I'm so much farther from the ones I remember.

And I read more, "Woman Work" by Maya Angelou and Shel Silverstein because the Roald Dahl poem reminded me of him (though he's not po-faced of course) and Tas asked me to read "If" which set up her reading of the spectacular "A Far Cry from Africa" which clearly resonates with her as another product of Commonwealth colonialism whose first language is English.

At some point her husband came home from work and was his quiet self, gently chuckling at his wife's familiar exuberance, perhaps aided by the alcohol but always present without it, too. He agreed he was not as good an audience for poetry; Tas was delighted to realize that I wasn't just humoring her but really enjoyed it myself too.

We ate dinner and managed to talk about other things during it but upon finding out that I hadn't read much of John Donne, she could hardly spare time for a mouthful of cake between explaining to me about his life and love poetry and religious poetry and one of the last poems of the night for us was "The Sun Rising": "All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy."

It was a great night.
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I've seen this on my social media a few times in the last day or so, and it reminded me of an entry I wrote but never posted a few weeks ago, on the day I discovered these signs on those toilets. Here it is:
New pinnacle of helpiness today -- helpiness being where it's more important to someone that they feel they're being helpful to a disabled person than that the disabled person is actually helped.

Not just disabled people, I'm sure, but that's how I'm most used to encountering it.

Today's episode came when I was in the Arndale and headed for the toilets.

These ones are down a hallway where first you have doors to babychange rooms, then a smaller hallway heading off to the ladies', then doors to two accessible toilets, then gents' at the end of the corridor.

Sometimes I feel like a total fraud having a key for disabled toilets, but the Arndale toilets are the kind that made me want it in the first place. They're so badly designed: it always seems to be chaos in the ladies', with people crowding each other going to and from the cubicles, a trough with faucets placed at intervals along it rather than proper sinks, and the most invisible hand dryers I've ever seen: smooth white boxes on the background of a white wall, with only a tiny light that's red until it's in use when it turns green (or maybe the other way around, or some other color, but you get the point).

Regular toilets in modern buildings often suffer, as the buildings themselves to, from Design. If it's won an award, you know it'll be a nightmare for accessibility. Because people think accessibility begins and ends with a ramp for the wheelchairs, and while step-free access is important there's a lot more to consider: I've got no mobility impairments but that ladies' room would only be properly accessible to me if it were empty of humans (or, as one of my blindie steering group members calls them, "obstacles").

All this is to say that I was heading for the accessible loo. (Which, I noticed, had on its sign "not all disabilities are visible", Yay.) And as I was walking towards it, going just past the turnoff to the ladies', a man who was standing there said "here, here!" and made some kind of gesture I didn't catch. I thought he was talking to someone he was with. All I knew was that he was in my way, so I had to shuffle around him as I was fishing out my key for the door.

And it was only as I did that that I realized he'd been trying to direct me to the ladies' loos. He was standing in my way trying to direct me to where he thought I should be going.
Of course the problem I have here is sort of the opposite of the problem invisibly-disabled people have: when I'm carrying my cane, as I was then, people know I'm disabled. They just don't think of it as a disability that's relevant to an accessible toilet, I guess. But for me, having a bit of calm and knowing where everything is -- the sinks and hand-drying equipment here are not Designed. The light is often dimmer (since regular public bathrooms can be really harshly lit) but that also means it glares less.

Plus, the other blind people I know mostly seem to have keys, so it's an understood thing among us even if this knowledge hasn't trickled out to the rest of the world yet.
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Got my jammies on, trying to warm up under the duvet. I know even little kids don't go to bed this early but I don't care.

Today I went to the gym for the first time in like two weeks (one off due to mental health, one due to physical health) and it sucked no more than it usually does.

Home, showered, then out again to submit my biometric data to the UK government, which I really wish I didn't have to do and which was made far more grim by ableism I'm too tired to explain.

Then I got thoroughly lost trying to get someplace I hadn't been before (but in the process a workman stopped a huge truck coming out of a building site so that I could cross in front of it, and when I did the reflexive "sorry!" for the perceived inconvenience I have Ben taught to believe I am causing, the man said "you're worth waiting for!" which surprised me with and helped dispel the effects of the ableism just previous).

Spent four hours putting stuff in envelopes. I suspect there will be lots more of this in my near future, with a by-election on my doorstep, but this is just routine stuff.

While I was doing that, [personal profile] mother_bones called and asked if I could come over to do some gardening for her. I was glad to. So I did some pulling of weeds and smelling the soil underneath, it was quite therapeutic really. Although as always with gardening I was surprised at how physical it was. A snack and tea revived me a little, but I still soon reached the point where I had to go home before I was too tired (and too unwilling to go out in the cold!). I only narrowly avoided having to live in their house forever.

I got home, just about managed to heat up leftover pizza and eat it, and when Andrew suggested I go to bed, pointing out I'd been out and busy for almost twelve hours, the only reason I could think of not to was that I'd hardly seen him all day. Or the dog, but I've taken the dog to bed with me to keep him from distracting Andrew while he works.
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Having one of those "I'm not doing anything" days because I slept or lazed around all morning.

But since then I've
  • gone to WI craft group where I learned a whole new kind of craft (book folding)
  • a bit of Lib Demmery, including inviting a new Lib Dem to local #libdempint, passing on important e-mails to the people who can do things about them, and agreeing to go to a meeting in a few days
  • e-mailed Metrolink & Northern to try to set up a meeting about how inaccessible Manchester Victoria is (as leader of the VI Steering Group)
  • e-mailed the council guy and the RNIB about the taser thing
  • printed off stuff I need for my book
  • did an update (accidentally two updates) for my Kickstarter backers. The previous update hadn't worked (not surprising when these two nearly didn't either) so the poor fuckers hadn't heard from me since June!
  • ordered new printer ink when I didn't have enough to print off what I needed
I think I still have to convince myself it is okay not to go to yoga tonight. I keep forgetting I have a yoga mat of my own now so I might do a bit here but I think I am still too sinus-infected to go to the class I usually do.
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I've said before the thing I love about Levenshulme is that it seems to be half people complaining about how expensive the beer is in the posh places is so expensive (more than four quid!) and half people complaining about flytipping.

Yesterday morning seemed typical of that, when I saw on a local facebook group
  • Someone asking if anyone else had seen the man tasered on the steps of the train station yesterday evening
  • A picture of a burnt-out car
  • The news that a gourmet grilled-cheese and burger joint that also does mocktails is going to open
Of course the taser thing was more concerning than just justifying my impression of where I live. But it got worse.

Later in the day, after I'd utterly forgotten about all of these things, Andrew was trying to sort out his travel to and from London for a gig he's going to. I was listening even though I was idly scrolling through twitter when I came upon a tweet with a link and "I bet blind man was a PoC - I hope he is OK & remains anonymous if he wants to." I noticed the link was to the Manchester Evening News, so I clicked on it and...

...interrupted Andrew in the middle of saying "National Express" with "HOLY SHIT!" So of course he was worried, asked me what was wrong, and it took me a while to get the sentence out in the right order.

The man who was tasered at Levenshulme station is blind.

And of course he only got tasered because he was blind. He wasn't dangerous, threatening, hadn't done anything. Two people called the cops saying they thought he had a gun. All he had was his folded-up white cane.

This is my train station. It's like two minutes' walk from here. I'm in and around the area all the time. And I often have my white cane folded up.

Now, I think my friend whose tweet I originally saw had a good point about the likelihood of the man being a person of color. (Andrew said "yeah, he'll be Asian" matter-of-factly when we were talking about this. We don't know, of course, as is only right.) As a white person and a woman, I know I am not in the same danger of having the cops called on me first of all and them overreacting if they are.

But I was pretty shaken up at first, all the same.

And then I started thinking what can I do?

I just had a meeting of the Visually Impaired Steering Group on Wednesday. Had an e-mail from the manager of the council's sensory team who's helping facilitate it for us, so I'm going to ask him. And I'll try to get in touch with the RNIB and see if they're aware of what sort of training the police get on stuff like this -- it's probably them that do it, if anyone does -- and of course there are mad-keen Levenshulme community groups to try to get involved too, maybe do some kind of education event locally. I'm happy to field questions people are usually too embarrassed to ask blind people, let them see my cane, dispense information or resources or whatever.

One of my friends asked if I'd like people to walk with me to/around the station, which I was really touched but and think it's a nice idea, some kind of little march.

The ongoing conversations in my facebook and twitter feeds after I posted this link have been really thought-provoking. As has a BBC article about it which I read this morning, saying that the man doesn't intend to make a complaint and that he "acknowledged that his behaviour could have led to people being concerned."

What really disturbs me is the guy agreed his behavior might've concerned people. Let me be clear: I 100% support whatever reaction he has in the apparent immediate aftermath of being tasered and still surrounded by police. I am not blaming him here at all, I am raging at the systemic ableism in society that made this possible or necessary for him to say.

I know my behavior seems agitated/weird if people don't know I'm blind. I also get anxious a lot (especially when I'm doing something like waiting for a train! I was at a different train station around this same time, waiting for a train that ended up being delayed by 45 minutes, and in freezing awful weather it was so miserable I probably would've looked weird to anyone scrutinizing me too carefully). I do things and I get around in weird ways, and so do a lot of people with a wide range of disabilities: it affects our posture, movements, expressions, body language, all sorts of things.

And it's weird only because people have such a narrow, and an ableist, idea of what "normal" behavior is. It's weird because they're not used to us, because it's not easy for us to get out or because it's expected that we wouldn't do so on our own. That shouldn't get anyone tasered.

I don't blame the guy for saying he could understand why his behavior would be concerning (if he did as the BBC have reported, I think we're just getting the cops' side of the story here) because I can imagine just wanting to get out of this situation.

I can also understand apologizing for the stuff your disability makes you "bad" at, because I do that all the time in a social-lubrication kind of way. I will say sorry for not seeing things and sometimes even as I'm doing it I know it's something I'd object to but it's so ingrained.

That's why it disturbs me. I could see myself doing the same. Even though that is the last thing I want. But the cops have a lot of power over you, especially when they've just tasered you, and when you were just going about your day.

Things I've learned:
  1. SpecSavers' advertising has worked really well because I'm already sick of the jokes about it.Not only are variations on "maybe it's the policeman who's the real blind one!" not actually funny, but they're ableist. Remember how I'm always banging on about the uses of "blindness" to indicate ignorance of something? This is that. If you're equating stupidity or ineffectualness with blindness, you're also implying blind people are stupid and unable to do things. This is something that hurts blind people every day, and unlike getting the police to stop tasering people, it's really easy to fix so please do consider it or mention it to your friends.
  2. The police-defenders on the local fb group are really concerning me. They don't seem to understand that once someone tells the police you have a gun, it's almost impossible to prove to them you don't without getting yourself hurt in the process. (I know this is something my friends of color know very well and I'm sorry I'm only realizing it recently.) It's enraging.
  3. And sometimes even the people on the "right" side are so fucking ableist. There's been lots of "this man had to be so courageous for using public transport by himself!" that edges into cripspiration which just makes my brain itch.

Morning

Feb. 24th, 2017 10:31 am
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Sinus infection.

The amount of standing around in the cold waiting for inadequate public transport last night probably couldn't have helped, though the scratchy throat was there before I left, when the last bus of the night left me stranded.

The visit was useful anyway, getting help from a friend for a job interview I've gotten sorta by accident which I felt totally out of my depth for. I'm feeling out of my depth in other ways now, but better aware of the things I should do and worry about if I'm going to this interview.

Someone's calling me in an hour who's doing research on LGBT migration and looking for people to talk to I guess. Other than that, so far me and the dog are staying in bed today. I've started reading "The Story of Your Life," which Arrival is based on. I loved the movie, and apparently the book is even better.
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Sometimes the word "friend" feels really inadequate when you're poly.

Sometimes something happens to someone close to you and there are people you can't tell, or at least you can't tell them how excited or devastated you are at whatever kind of a thing it is (they've won an award, they have a serious illness, whatever) because you're not out, or they're not out. Or maybe because you wouldn't use a word like partner for them...but friend isn't enough, either.

We don't have the vocabulary.

And when it's a happy thing you're affected by, this might seem less of a problem because at least you're happy. When it's a sad thing, it seems extra sad that you can't even explain why you're so sad.
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Another e-mail I've had from Citizens UK that it will do me no good to send to my own MP, some of you might find it worthwhile though:
Tomorrow MPs will debate the Dubs Scheme in Parliament. This is the Government’s chance to do the right thing.

Email your MP and ask them to attend the debate.

For two weeks our voices have been loud and clear - from Rowan Williams to Keira Knightly to Birmingham City Council, from Aberdeen to Hammersmith - we have sent a clear message: Britain is better than this.

And we know the Government can hear us - just this weekend Theresa May agreed to review the claims of 400 refugee children. Already we have made a huge difference. But we can win bigger than this.

We need to get every single MP we can in the chamber tomorrow.


Together, if we urge our representatives to show up, we can create more pressure than ever before.
Email your MP now to ask them to go to the debate and tell the Government to keep the Dubs Scheme open.
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Chased down photo & references today, so citizenship application is DONE!

Need to sort out payment form and collect all the passports and marriage certificate and proof of passing the Life in the UK Test in a big envelope with all this. Then on Monday I can take it to the post office.

Having (extra) cake and (another) glass of wine to celebrate/destress. I didn't realize how miserable working on this today had made me until it was done.
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The other day, Citizens UK e-mailed encouraging people to get in touch with their local councillors to try to get individual cities to do what the government won't do as a whole and continue the Dubs scheme for refugee children. You can write to yours with WriteToThem. I've just written to mine, based partly on their template.
I am deeply concerned at the news that the Government plans to close the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees by the end of the financial year, and am writing to ask for your leadership.

Last year the British government accepted Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration Act, which established a safe route to sanctuary in the UK for unaccompanied children. At the time, many councils supported the call and pledged to work with Government to establish the scheme.

Manchester really should be one of those. I see "Refugees Welcome" signs all around Levenshulme, from Inspire to spray-painted on the path near the train station, and yet Manchester has shamefully not done its bit in fulfilling that promise.

Please help us change that by helping keep the Dubs program going here in Levenshulme and in Manchester.

Thank you.
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So Gung-Ho!, the 5k obstacle course I signed up for sent me an e-mail this morning called "Gung-Ho! helping your relationship...or lack of it".
Did you know...

Fitness can help to build relationships!

A 5K race, yoga class or a workout at the gym may not seem like a romantic outing, but a growing group of experts agree that couples who exercise together can not only stave off the extra pounds that are often linked to marriage, but they can strengthen their relationship and possibly live happily ever after.

So get in and book now, as it seems the couple who exercises together stays together...and if you're single you never know who you might meet giving you a helping hand over our giant inflatable wall 😉
It just seems a really terrible way to encourage more people to sign up. If the couple who exercises together stays together I'm fucking doomed because I've never done that!

This is the first I've heard about the "extra pounds that come with marriage" that I should be "staving off," too. I'm so dismayed that everything about exercise also has to be about losing weight because that has a terrible effect on my mental health. So it doesn't really work to tell me it's not about conforming to beauty standards because it's about health.

And the idea that helping somebody with a ridiculous bouncy-castle kind of obstacle should be a romantic or sexual encounter...no. Just seems like a license for men to be creepy at women, assuming they'll need help and then "oops my hand slipped, didn't mean to touch you there!..."

I'm probably overreacting, but I find this kind of talk so off-putting on so many levels. I don't need to lose weight I don't need my partner(s) to like doing everything I do, and I don't need anyone with more than fellow-feeling towards humanity to help me with anything, thankyouverymuch.

Its the first e-mail I've had from Gung-Ho! since I signed up, too, which doesn't leave a very good impression. I've unsubscribed now so I hope I don't miss anything important or useful.

Scope

Feb. 16th, 2017 07:15 pm
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Almost as soon as I'd posted that tweet, I remembered that the nice man from Scope, the disability charity, had asked for a landscape picture to go with the blog post he was doing about me.

Unsurprisingly, I've done everything back-to-front because I was on TV first, and signed up to tell my story and be a media volunteer (someone they could call if someone asks for registered blind people or people in Manchester or whatever other category I might fall into) only afterwards.

So after Christmas the guy I've been chatting to from Scope, a friendly dude called Phil, called me up and asked me a bunch of questions and then was left with the unenviable tasks of typing that all up and writing it into a linear narrative. We went all through me emigrating here, the Shoe-Tying Occy Health Cowbag story that the BBC people had liked so much, trying to claim benefits, the intersection of disability and immigration status, all kinds of things.

Last night I saw they'd posted this...with the picture I'd just taken, and a couple more I'd sent (the bottom one is me showing off the NASA t-shirt JT got me for Christmas, so it's no fair them cropping it as viciously as they did!).

It's pretty good -- a few quibbles with the narrativd but they're most likely down to me not being as clear as I'd like to. And I'm kind of annoyed that all my terrible speech mannerisms have survived intact -- I appreciate that most people will find it easier to tell than write their stories, but I'd much prefer to write.

But when I said this on Facebook, a friend said "I was just thinking how like you it sounds -- in a good way. I like your way of framing things. It's a good article, pointing out what you weren't sure of, and how awkward it is to challenge fail when it is you in a vulnerable position employment and power wise." And this coming from someone whose disability activism I admire and which had among other things personally helped me very much, this is especially nice to hear.

The day before the Scope people asked if I'd talk on LBC (a radio version of tabloids, though of course that isn't how they described it to me!). I only had a minute, literally, so it wasn't that interesting except that the presenter told me they'd also asked people to call in with positive stories about employment while disabled and not. one. person. did. Afterward the nice Scope lady called me back, said I'd been brilliant, and finished with "national radio! that's pretty good!" and I was nice and didn't say "dear, I was on Woman's Hour once, that's better than talking to Iain Dale."
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I took this picture on Tuesday night, for the #loveknowsnoborders campaign, started by [twitter.com profile] ZoeJardiniere, which you can read about. It's close to my heart because while obviously I was able to move to the UK to be with my spouse, his income only barely exceeded the requirement at that time, £15,000. The current income requirement to bring a foreign (non-EU...for now, anyway) spouse to the UK is £18,600, which might not sound like much but that would've kept me out of the country for all but a few years of our marriage so far.

It's especially unfair if the British partner is a woman, a person of color, young (in your 20s, ages at which many people including us get married), or otherwise on the wrong side of a pay gap, which makes it even harder to reach that arbitrary income. (Part of the reason we ended up here rather than in the U.S. is that Andrew is more able to earn a good income than I am, which is basically just down to the patriarchy.) It's the same threshold all over the country, too, so it'd be much harder for people living outside London to clear that income threshold.

It's also infuriatingly inconsistent, not that we can expect better of our governments of course. This income is supposed to guarantee that neither the foreigner nor their British spouse need to resort to state funds -- which they're not allowed to do. But years later when I couldn't work and was allowed to apply for benefits, I found that I wasn't entitled to any income-related benefits because my partner worked more than 24 hours a week. It could be 24 minimum-wage hours a week and yet this was expected to be enough for us to live on? Even though it'd be a damn sight less than £18,600 a year. (A tweet I saw yesterday said that working full time on £7.20 an hour isn't enough.)

#loveknowsnoborders made for interesting reading yesterday, for all those who were able to celebrate thoroughly multinational backgrounds, raltionships, addresses and children, there were also people saying "my valentine hasn't been able to bring me to live with her in the UK for four years" or whatever, which my brain just rebels from being able to even imagine.

Clearly the hashtag is an aspiration and not a reality so far, but reading it gave me all kinds of feelings and I wanted to be a part of it. I didn't have the brains or energy to of a video, even if Andrew would've tolerated it which I don't think likely. So I just took a picture, where you can't hear the low in-your-throat growl he's doing, like a dog who isn't barking yet but is warning you, and tweeted it.
My husband hates having his photo taken but he hates systemic xenophobia towards me more! That's how bad it is, folks.
A decision is expected next week on what's known as the MM case, a judgment that will affect thousands of families affected by the Family Migration Rules. There's a good explanation of that case here, from last year.
hollymath: (Default)
Yesterday I was on local radio with a couple of my fellow WI members talking about what we're up to (especially an event we're proud to have gotten funding to do as part of Transport for Greater Manchester's Women on Wheels initiative in March.

Then I caught up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while, who's also on the WI committee so that's one of the things we chatted about.

Then it was our WI committee meeting that evening. And then I stayed on after with a few of the others to have another drink and talk about all sorts of lovely things and stay out until other people's spouses texted them to ask what on earth had happened to them or to say that they'd gone to bed.

So I suppose it's no surprise after a day like that I ended up dreaming about the WI!
hollymath: (Default)
5k obstacle course with bouncy-castle-esque inflatable obstacles. Look at the video! I tried to enbed that but of course it won't work.

All signed up and everything. It's [twitter.com profile] survivorkatie's fault, but at least she's doing it too.

I've always been one of those "won't even run for a bus" people but I've tried 5k at the gym the last few weeks to see exactly how much I suck at it. I'm okay for a rank amateur, but I think my yoga and weightlifting will come in as handy for all the obstacles. Might need a better strength training plan than "whatever I feel like," but I already thought that!

I also need new shoes and sports bra and clothes and everything. Sigh. I like exercise but shopping too? Now that's cruel.
hollymath: (Default)
"I've served you before," the woman at the ticket counter in Piccadilly said when I said yes thanks I was fine changing at Huddersfield, I'm used to it. "Because not many people want to go to Brighouse, she explained, as if to offer a reason (maybe one that wasn't "oh yeah, you're the blind one"). "Yeah, boyfriend, Brighouse, you're an old hand at this aren't you," she said and we both smiled.

She handed me my tickets and said "poor thing, can't you get him to move closer?" My smile changed to that of someone who'd just remembered she is presumed monogamous.

But even without that, why say I should make I'm move here, why couldn't I move there? I'd love Brighouse as a place to live if it didn't mean being so far away from the rest of my friends.

Even if it weren't for the fact that we've both got established households where we are, I don't really mind traveling to visit. Yes it'd be nice sometimes to just be able to see somebody for an hour or whatever or without having to plan it, but I like the train journey (in the daytime at least) and I think the change of scenery does me a lot of good.So much that at first I was wary of how much I liked James, recognizing the possibility that part of what I liked was an afternoon's vacation from my normal life every week.

Turns out I do like that but James is even better than I thought he was at first.
hollymath: (Default)
Andrew's telling me about his dream. His sister told him she was trans so we couldn't go on our planned trip to the Moon because the insurance was all messed up since the documents were in her old name.

"We were all ready to go, at Disneyland where the trips to the Moon leave from..." he started. And actually, it seems very plausible to me that commercial Moon trips will go from Disneyland!

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