Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – the first trimester symptom olympics.

So, we were going into week “anywhere between 6 and 10 but definitely not past 12”, without any actual answers or chances for medical advice, and we simply had to make our peace with the fact that we would be tackling my yet not officially confirmed and yet “oh so obvious by all the shitty-symptoms” pregnancy, by ourselves for the time being.

We heeded the advice of conventional wisdom, and the books of course, and adjusted my diet as one does… The Doctor at the first visit had “helpfully” given me a print out of an NHS website that I had already bookmarked in my phone almost 3 weeks prior, on the day I got a positive pregnancy test result at home, but sure, since I am polite, I would thank her for it all the same. *eyeroll*

What’s the list?

  • No alcohol. ✓
  • Don’t undercook your meat… I’m a pescatarian, so ✓.
  • Don’t eat Sushi (this is completely redundant within the European Union, due to the European raw Fish for human consumption processing laws, which kill all the harmful bacteria, but it’s not worth the fight with petty bitches) so… ✓
  • Do not consume non pasteurised Dairy products (who does that, eww) … ✓
  • Do not consume blue cheese (again with the eww) ✓
  • Do not eat cheeses with white rinds (brie, camembert etc) unless fully cooked & bubbling (I guess) … ✓
  • Do not eat raw eggs. Shame I like my Tamago kake gohanbut it can wait … ✓
  • Do not exceed the recommended dose of 200mg of caffeine per day … wait WHAT??? But…  normal Americano has 100mg …. only 2 cups of coffee per day? *Death glare at my husband* fine…  ✓

I can handle that, that seems “simple” enough. 🙂

Besides, the physical symptoms don’t come until later, right? LOL WRONG! Let’s get a big drumroll, for the early pregnancy symptom Olympics.

Opening with a classic – the “morning sickness” routine steps up to the plate first, keeping you on your toes by not actually coming exclusively in the morning but rather at any random time of day it wants. The only known counter moves are crackers and fennel tea, and even those don’t always work. Great show, 8 points for ingenuity and cruel timing.

Who’s next? Oh! Team achy boobs reporting for showtime, and they brought their back up dancers, swollen blue alien-looking veins and deadly sensitive nipples. Wonderful; a proud 9 point hit for these tender ladies.

Following right behind the queasy stomach and boobs of aching fury routines, comes the bladder with it’s very own rendition of “the Riverdance that you thought was reserved for the third trimester”. Magic. Incredible. 10 points and a golden stream… I mean medal. Standing ovations all around, but not too long, because that might trigger an encore of sickness.

The ribbon that ties it all together, is their uniform representation; they’re all swaddled up in the flag of fatigue; never ending tiredness that just doesn’t leave and usually brings its very own soundtrack of sore muscles and headaches along with it. Three cheers for the first trimester symptoms olympic squad on a truly impressive performance.

Surely, that’s enough for any one person to be getting on with, right? Right… please say I am right… Oh wait… Flipping cavity fuelled nightmares of a tooth fairy… I forgot to account for the unsolicited advice from, well anyone who has a mouth.

“How much coffee have you had today?” “Do you know there’s caffeine in chocolate?” “Are you drinking enough water?” “Let me see what you brought for lunch.” “Are you sleeping enough?” “My gandma always said … ” “So this time my neighbour was pregnant… ” “Let me tell you about what happened to my cousin 20 years ago… ” AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

Are you a Doctor? Are you a Nurse? Are you a Midwife? Are you any other type of paediatrically or ante-nataly specialised medical professional? Are you the other parent of this child? Are you the woman who brought me into this world, i.e. my mother? No? You’re none of those things? Well then, unless I specifically ask for your advice, kindly take the advice of famous comic Billy Connolly and FUCK OFF!

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Click here for his glorious (and short) explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJMqdTr7IQM

Yep, now I am going to need some fennel tea… ooh and maybe a soak in the hot tub. Oh right… I’m not allowed that either… The Sofa and Star Trek it is then… *sigh* xx

 

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Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – the first weeks of Healthcare.

NHSSo, before I begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am an avid supporter and great fan of the NHS as an idea and as an institution. I think it’s a great feat of social and universal medical care, and I have greatly appreciated being able to see a Doctor, get medicine and not be afraid of calling an ambulance if it were ever needed, since my arrival in the UK nearly 4 years ago. I feel that the majority of people who work in the NHS are incredible and very hard working people, who have been stretched to their limits by a government that takes from their plates at every turn, to feed the baying dogs of private industry below the table even though everyone is looking! I have nothing but respect for the people of the NHS, and for the institution as a whole. That being said, because the NHS is being bled dry by bad policies, the services they are capable of providing are becoming more and more limited. Part of my pregnancy experience thus far, has obviously been around my heath care within the NHS and regrettably, due to a combination of bad financial policies, antiquated notions of health around weight and the very odd bedside manner of a few individuals, it has left me with feelings ranging from slightly confused to totally baffled, and I got there via the stations of incredibly frustrated and utterly insulted.

But, this is not a “hate piece” on the NHS, so if that’s what you’re here for jog on love. It is a commentary of my personal, and regrettably so far upsetting experience of the antenatal care therein thus far, and I just want to make it clear that I genuinely believe that the problems are a result of the cut throat reduction of funding the NHS suffers under. Good? Good.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.52.51Now, moving on to my actual piece… Healthcare. It’s an essential part of antenatal care, and anyone who has sat through High School Biology, or has a meddling older neighbour or family member, has already been well schooled on “the basics”. Personally, I took a slightly more vested interest in the medical aspects of pregnancy, fuelled (not in small part) by my personal aversion to the very idea of it (as discussed here). I wanted to be as prepared as I possibly could be, for a process as notoriously unpredictable as this.

I had the timeline of the scans at hand, knew which symptoms to expect at what point, and which tests to expect as the weeks passed, and yet none of my reading prepared me for my experience with my very own “medical team”.

When I first discovered my pregnancy (with a private at home, Clear Blue pee on a stick test) it was April 19th. I called my (new) local GP’s office right away, and they summoned me for a registration appointment, which I needed since I hadn’t registered with them yet, because we had only just moved into the neighbourhood a few weeks prior. Said appointment was scheduled very quickly, for Monday the 24th of April. I went, filling out tons of forms and got to meet a very kind young nurse, who took my blood pressure (and complimented me on it), measured my height and took my weight. She entered some numbers into a chart and told me to make a new appointment to come and see the actual Doctor.

I was a little deflated, since I was hoping to get an official confirmation of the pregnancy at that point, especially since I didn’t have any sort of indication of how far along I might be. You see, I don’t have regular periods, and my last one had been in January of this year, so I had no way of knowing how far along I was, other than that the digital Clear Blue Test said it was more than 3 weeks. Alas, there was nothing she could do, so I went to make a new appointment. The first possible date? May the 5th, almost 2 weeks later! This baffled me, since everything I had read said it was crucial to know how far along one was, but oh well; I had no choice and they were doing their best.

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It also struck me as odd that I wasn’t instructed to take the oh so important folic acid, but I just took it upon myself to go buy some at Boots and made sure to take the average recommended daily dose of 400 micrograms. (As discussed with the Pharmacist.)

 

At home, I did a bit of crude math, based on a combination of the “3+ weeks” diagnosis the digital stick gave me and our *cough* recent intimate liaisons *cough*, and arrived at a rough estimate of 6 weeks pregnant. I downloaded the NHS approved app for my phone, and fervidly threw myself into even more reading.

My husband, very excitedly, took the morning of May 5th off, so that he could attend that very first Doctors appointment with me. The Doctor measured my height, my weight, took my blood pressure (which she too complimented me on – I thought this odd) and then asked me exactly the same questions as the nurse had two weeks prior. No sooner had the appointment started, she then wanted to dismiss me from the office, with a referral to the local hospital’s maternity unit.

Excuse me? But she hadn’t done any tests yet! No pee test. No blood test. Nothing to actually confirm the pregnancy. I asked about this, and she said that the “at home tests were as good as anything they could do”, and when I protested some more, especially about not knowing how far along I was, she laid me on a table and to poke my abdomen. She poked my abdomen – with her hands – and then proclaimed “anywhere between 6-10 weeks, but not past 12”. I was completely dumbfounded. That wasn’t a diagnosis. That wasn’t medical evidence. Where was I? When was I? The 1800’s?

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.56.53In a desperate attempt to get any semblance of a medical answer, I also mentioned that my Rhys factor is negative, and asked if she would test for that please, since I know they need the confirmation, but even that was refused, saying he hospital would do it – whenever I got there. Which she didn’t know when that would be. Anytime within the next 2-3 weeks. I was to expect a letter (a physical, paper, snail mail letter) in the post, confirming my “booking appointment”. I walked out of that appointment with a prescription for an over the counter supplement called “Pregnacare”, which I was to take instead of what I had been taking so far, and in near inconsolable tears.

What if I was having a hysterical pregnancy? What if it was an ectopic pregnancy? What if, because I am quite heavy and thus a baby bump wouldn’t show on me like on other women, I was already passed the 12 week mark, which was the window for the dating scan? What if my hormones were just out of whack, given that my monthly cycle never recovered after the Nexplanon was removed? I had so many questions, and not a single answer. Not even a proper confirmation that I was actually pregnant.

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Not the start I was hoping for to my pregnancy care, and it had me very concerned for the rest of the journey, which I was already so concerned about. x

Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – an introduction.

So, about a year ago now, my husband and I decided we would try for a family. It is at this early point in my tale, that I must admit that this decision came from a place of deep love and mutual respect between us and helping each other fulfil our life dreams as best as we can – he dreams of having at least one child of his own; I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I always thought I would be a mum, but as I grew up and saw just how awful pregnancy seemed to be, and how many children there already are in the world who need a good home, the less interested I was in becoming a human incubator for, well, more humans who need incubating … but alas, I love my husband more than life itself and while he wholeheartedly supports my wish to adopt, he shared with me honestly how much it would mean to him to have at least one child of his own. I greatly appreciated that honesty, because I want there to be nothing “festering” between us in the long run, and I just could not deny him at least a chance at that wish.

(NOTE: Before any feminists jump into the ring here, to defend “my choices” let me be clear: I was not coerced, guilted or forced in any way shape or form. We were having an honest exchange among spouses, with ongoing conversations that lasted well over a year and he wanted me know that while he would support me no matter what my decisions were [my body, my rules after all] he just wanted me to know, that he still really wanted to be a biological Dad. I chose that I wanted to give this a try, since I want him to have happiness in his life in what ever form that may take. So please, let’s just not even go there, ok? Okay, thanks.)

Moving on… The idea of pregnancy has freaked me out for years. As a child I was fascinated with it, as most kids are, but as I grew older and watched my first friends go through it, I took up a thorough interest in the subject of human procreation (and even developed a relatively deep understanding of the material, for a non medical student)  in my post-high school Biology class. However, the more I learned, the more weary I grew of the process. The physical changes alone (and that’s completely ignoring the gruesome birth part) seem awful; organs out of place, skin stretched beyond repair, feet that can’t be seen, leaking nipples, uncontrollable food cravings, gargantuan mood swings and needing to pee every 5 minutes being just the tip of that particular ice berg! Add to that the borderline sociopathic way in which our society treats pregnant women, and I realised very early into my 20’s that I wanted nothing to do with that circus.

(What do I mean by “how we treat pregnant women” you ask? Well, very long list super short – the way they are treated as stupid, incompetent and uneducated invalids, that’s what. Telling them what to eat, what not to eat, what to wear and what not to wear, that they’re too feeble to carry near anything at any given time, or just do their normal jobs and worst of all, treat them as though their mental faculties and personhood has gone out the window!!!  “Don’t tell Sarah her favourite Sushi place has a new menu – you’ll hurt her! She loves Sushi and we shouldn’t talk about it in front of her while she’s pregnant!” –> that BTW was an actual thing someone said to me once, [except I changed the name] when I wanted to tell a pregnant colleague about the cool new dish I tried at her favourite Sushi joint, so that she could look forward to it for later. But apparently being pregnant means you can’t process new information like a rational human being, so I was “put in my place” by other people.)

Despite all this, for the reasons stated at the start, my husband and I decided we would give this grand adventure a go. And everyone around us was thrilled. Unsolicited advice on how to best get knocked up started flying in as soon as anyone knew we’d quit the birth control… unnaturally personal questions, from people whom I would usually not even go to coffee with like “Have you tried doggy style?” “You should be tracking your cycle.” “Try shoving XYZ magic product up your vagina.” and “Have you had your period this month? wink wink nudge nudge” … FUCKING EXCUSE ME?

Of course everyone (with exception of a select few best friends who know me intimately well) assured me that, once I was actually pregnant, my feelings on the matter would change instantaneously. I was supposed to be mythically aglow, floating on a cloud of happiness as I cared for a budding blossom of life that was “miraculously” going to be growing inside me. I would love the bump instantly. Feel defensive and protective, naming it even, as the “mystical, magical, motherly bond that defies even time and space” would take a hold of me. That sounds like a gold coin shitting Leprechaun astride a silver unicorn, but sure, I would be waiting for that.

Ironically enough 9 months since we first decided to start trying we discover that –  *overdramatic drumroll please* – I am in fact pregnant. I did not want to publish anything online until I was past the notorious 12 week mark (don’t worry, I have a whole set of controversial opinions there too – they’re coming in another post) but now that we are, and we’ve seen the Dr. and everything is fine, I am happy to start sharing my experience.

Preg 2

And guess what? It’s exactly as fucking awful as I expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to having a little “mini-us” at the end of all this, and seeing the glee on my husbands face every time he looks at my belly now and the way in which he skips through the shops picking out baby pyjamas just makes my heart skip a beat, but I have only (consciously) been at this for a few short weeks now, and already I want to punch anyone who is not my Dr. or my Husband who talks to me about this damned pregnancy square on the sniffer.  That’s what this mini series is going to be about. A dreadfully honest, blow by blow account of this pregnancy.

If something does turn out to be lovely, or magical in any way, I will of course be objective about it and let you all know, but so far? Yikes.

I wasn’t able to find much comfort in books or online, everything just blabbers on about the magic… so to soothe my own mind and maybe even reach out to some other expectant human incubators who are not enjoying the ride, I hope this might be helpful. xx

5 Board Games to jump right into!

We always say that we would love to do more with our families, do something that doesn’t involve screens and electronics. We say we should sit and chat, or maybe even play board games. Oh yeah! It’s been AGES since any of us played a board game, let’s set that up for this weekend. Great. But what game?

And right at that point the age old argument ensues, usually ending the ill-fated evening before it even begun. Common suggestions will include “Game of Life”, “Scrabble” and “Monopoly”. Some ambitious soul might even recommend “Risk” or some never before heard of German game with 20,000 pieces and a handbook thicker than the last Harry Potter!!!

However, while being drastically different (yet classic) games (with the exception of that obscure German title), the one thing all those games seem to have in common is that while everyone knows “of” them, no one seems to have really mastered any of them (except your geezer of a brother, who wins at Monopoly every single god damned time and would have been better named Ebenezer…), and thus one of two things happens: either, no one can agree on a game to play in the first place or the choice leaves experienced board game players bored and newbies lost, which is never a good way to spend a family evening.

My husband and I had exactly such a lofty thought about a year ago. Wouldn’t it be nice, to play some more board games? As avid gamers (usually of the electronic variety) we both wanted to spend some real quality time together, being present with one another as well as family and friends without screens and plug ins, so we started our very own quest in search of the most awesome board games to share.

On our adventure, we came across some real duds (as was to be expected), but also some genuine gems and we now have a collection that caters to all levels; from weathered-by-adventure board game experts to green-eared-never-rolled-a-dice-newbies.

The trick, is to find games to start everyone off with; games that will allow new players to pick up on the rules easily and play confidently, while being challenging and/or entertaining enough so that gaming veterans don’t get bored.

We think we’ve found at least 5 of these and I would like to introduce you to them now. They are pretty straight forward, and mostly “pick up and play”. If you’re looking for something that your geezer of a brother won’t instantly beat you at, but is also easy enough to introduce to that reclusive, eclectic family member, I hope this will be the list for you.

Just to be clear, I am not recommending blindly; I have played each and every one of these multiple times myself, with a variety of friends and family members. Very importantly there are no endorsements at play here, this is my personal list of recommended “beginner friendly” titles. Clear? Good. 🙂

Let’s get tucked in!

1) Labyrinth

An easy to set up and even easier to follow game, first released in 1986. The simple objective is to be the first player to find all their treasures in a treasure hunt; each player gets a deck of cards, where each card depicts a treasure which has a corresponding tile in the maze. To obtain the treasure, players have to manoeuvre their character pieces through the moving labyrinth.

Players locate their treasure on the board (without letting the others know what they’re looking for) and then plot the path their character piece must take to get to it. There are no dice and no maximum spaces one is allowed to move, however, players will most certainly find their path blocked by walls!

Why? Because the board moves! At the beginning of each player’s turn, they must “move the labyrinth”. In doing this, they will start freeing up the path to their own treasure while inadvertently (or maybe deliberately) blocking the paths of other players. 😉 To claim the treasure, players must simply reveal their treasure card once their token stands upon the corresponding tile.

The first to reach all their treasures wins!

Labyrinth

Statistics:

2-4 players  Ages: 7+  Average Time: 20-40 minutes

2) Greedy Greedy Goblins

Another “pick up and play” game, the 2016 title Greedy Greedy Goblins pitches players against each other as members of their own Goblin mining guilds. Each guild has a preferred gem for bonuses, but what’s most important (and exciting) about this game is that there are no turns!

Cards depicting the Mines (and the guild hall) are laid out in a circle on the table, and in the middle are all the face down “mining tiles”. On the count of three, each player rushes to pick up and inspect one tile at a time. As soon as they have seen what the tile contains (a gem, a minion, a torch, a monster or a stick of dynamite) they must place the tile (face down) on any one of the mines. At any point players may then place their own coloured tokens on a mine to “claim it as their own” and once that has happened, no one else may place any more tiles on that mine.

Once all  the mines have been claimed, players take informal turns revealing what their mines include. This is the risky part, since while players will know what they placed in the mine themselves, they have no idea what other players may have placed there!!! Gems give points, minions are helpers who get even more points (or mitigate damage), monsters rob you of your points and while single/double sticks of dynamite double your yield, too many (more than three) collapse the whole thing and that player pays a penalty.

It’s fast paced, laugh out loud adventure, where players have to choose whether to risk it all with an over-tiled mine or play it safe, with a mine that only contains 2 gems that they placed there themselves.

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Statistics:

2-4 players, Ages: 14+ (that’s what the box says but I don’t see any reason why anyone 10+ couldn’t play this on their own, and I would even go as far as saying that 4+ could have an amazing time playing this with their family, as long as everyone plays with the understanding that the little kids are in teams with adults and the game is slowed down to allow them to make choices too!) Average time: 25-35 minutes

3) Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan, which was first released in 1995, is more in the vein of “classic board games” than the previous two, but it’s beautifully designed, easy to pick up and a lovely challenge!

As the name suggests, players play settlers in the fictional country of Catan. Each player starts with a pre-determined number of natural and refined resources, and as the game progresses they need to acquire and trade for even more resources, as these are needed to literally settle their areas. They need to grow wheat in fields, get lumber from forests and hay from grasslands, for example, to build cities and roads and eventually even connect to water based trade routes. Each settlement, road and structure is worth a certain number of points, and the first player to reach (typically) 10 points, wins.

This game is about strategic placements, trades and moves, while also making moral choices. You could send the robber to plunder other player’s settlements to get you ahead temporarily, but is it worth the possible retribution?

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Statistics:

3-4 players (standard) (2,5 or 6 players with expansion packs), ages 8+ Average time: 1 – 4 hours. (Personally, we have averaged out at 1.5 hours per session).

There are also some fun variations and expansions on the classic game, such as Catan Junior, Catan: Cities & Knights, Catan: Traders & Barbarians.

4) Scotland Yard or NY Chase

The 1983 title Scotland Yard, pitches a team of up to 5 players (the detectives) against a single common enemy: Mr. X, played by a single player. The detectives of the London Metropolitan Police work together to track down Mr. X as he escapes across London.

The catch? Mr. X only appears on the board every couple of rounds and the player playing him has to write down his progress on a secret board for verification later. Mr. X and the police must use tickets for the Taxi, Bus and Underground routes to get around London and the detectives work cooperatively to do this with as much strategy as they can. Their only clue? What tickets Mr. X has been using. Taxis only move from one point to the next, bus stops might be several “spaces” apart, whereas the Underground can take him the furthest, along the predetermined routes.

Mr. X gets to also use a limited number of “secret tickets” which allows him to use any mode of transport he wants, or even take a boat along the river Thames. If the detectives manage to catch Mr. X before the turns run out, they win the game, but if he makes it through all of his turns without getting caught, he “gets away” and he wins.

NY Chase, is a variation on this game, which I am personally very fond of. It moved the chase to New York City, where the FBI are trying to catch Mr. X. The difference other than the location? The police get (limited but helpful) use of a helicopter and they have road blocks as well! I love this version, because I love playing Mr. X, and it makes it more challenging to escape!

NY Chase

Statistics: 

3-6 players (but I’ve also played it with 2 players, where one person was playing all the detectives at once!), Ages: 10+ , Average Time: 1 hour

5) Cranium

Last, but definitely not least, is the brain teaser Cranium. Designed to “challenge your whole brain” and including a variety of activities, this family fun favourite pitches teams of at least 2 against one another in a combination of challenges revolving around “creative activities”, “knowledge of data and facts”, “performing arts” and “spelling/word recognition”.

It’s an all around crowd pleaser, combining aspects of classic party games such as Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Charades, Name that Tune and more. It’s the perfect activity for a group of people who can’t decide what to play, since there’s a little something for everyone!

Cranium

Statistis:

4+ players, Age: 8+, Average time: >35 minutes.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my little list, and really hope you’ve found something that caught your eye. Maybe one of these will liven up your next dinner evening. 😉

Have you played any of these? Or are you planning to? I would love to know what you think! Please let me know, in the comments below.

Bye bye for now! x

I’m sorry that you stole my bike – #ThoughtfulThursday

This evening I met with a constable from the Belfast Harbour Police; he took my statement regarding an incident in late April when 3 young teenagers made off with the Belfast Bike that I had returned to a station in Titanic Quarter.

I had returned the bike according to protocol, reported the incident immediately to the company and the police, and because of that I was not going to be held liable for the lost bike. Yay.

A few days later, the bike was found, badly battered and beaten (missing the light, handle covers and bell, with cut wires, slashed tires, and dents) but the case seemed closed; now they just wanted my official statement for the record.

However, those boys were never caught and that’s what makes me feel awful.

No, I don’t want to see them “punished”, I want to take this chance to apologize to them.

Children and youth are not inherently bad. I was just one myself, less than a decade ago, and I know that they’re (mostly) actually quite alright; but they struggle with impulse control – they see a tall ledge and feel the need to jump. They see a loose sign and just have to hit or kick it. Someone offers them a swig of a drink they shouldn’t have? Sure, why not.

Most teenagers don’t go looking for trouble, trouble finds them and I inadvertently presented their ids with a challenge to juicy to pass up – a chance at a cheeky joy ride.

As I said, it wasn’t my fault that the bike didn’t lock properly, but they watched me struggle to get it to lock properly in the first place, and as soon as I stepped away they tried to yank it back out.

I am sorry that you were tempted to do this and I am even more sorry that you got away with it. Because you got away with it, you will not have learned how much stress this caused me, or just how much it would have cost me (a total stranger to you) to replace the bike if they had held me liable (£250 btw) and you didn’t learn what  the consequence for stealing is to you personally… You had a jolly joy ride, feeling like the macho men society pressures you to be, like Rebels and cool dudes.

But what scares me the most is that, just like any “gateway”, if you’re unlucky, this might lead you to worse crimes – because that is what that was – a crime.

Next time, you might try to knick something off of someone way more dangerous than me and get hurt by them, or worse, it might be someone weaker than me and you hurt them in the process!

Will it stop at a bicycle? Or will it be a moped? Maybe a motorbike? What about a car?

That’s what keeps me up at night. Worrying about where you are and whether my not stopping you quick enough, my hesitation to chase you and scare you out of what you were doing, might have allowed you to slip onto this very dangerous path.

I really hope I’m wrong. I really hope I’m over exaggerating and I really hope that you were just excited because it was a warm spring day, that you got your fill from it and that you’ll never do it again.

But if my worst fears are true, and this this leads to worse things (that I will probably never know about) – I am truly and deeply sorry that you weren’t caught that day, and that we, as a society, may have missed our chance to teach you all a lesson, and maybe help you become better people.

#ThoughtfulThursday

Discrimination is always discrimination.

Discrimination, by definition, “is the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favour of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing is perceived to belong to rather than on individual merit.”

Discrimination can be made on anything from race and gender to more subtle things such as whether someone has piercings or tattoos, what their hair colour is, or what brand of technology they prefer.

Some of the most visible/talked about and systemic types of discrimination are:

And there are many more…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination

However, I have come to notice something quite disturbing and I wanted to take a moment to ponder this.

As a caucasian, mid 20’s, employed, (seemingly) cis-gendered/sexual individual, it seems that if and when any of these are applied to myself, people tell me that it’s not “really” discrimination at all and that I am to “check my privilege” and shut up. Trust me when I say my brothers, as males, can fare even worse.)

(Yes, I am aware of the fact that in comparison to many many other people on the planet, I have lead a very privileged life, and I know that I am lucky. No, I have not ever been denied a job, an education  or even a table at a restaurant based upon the colour of my skin, a perceived religion or sexual orientation and, while I am capable of great empathy, I would never claim to even begin to truly understand what people who have faced and are facing this sort of struggle, have truly been though.)

However, I have experienced (personally and through friends) clear cases of discrimination that I thought were unfair and yet, we have been told that it’s “not really discrimination at all” for one reason or another. (6 examples below.)

  1. A friend got publicly called a “dirty racist” because he couldn’t offer service in a language he didn’t speak and when he tried to defend himself, he also got the sexist card, because he’s a man. He’s a caucasian, anglophone and was told to “suck it up” once it was over. (This is linguistic discrimination, often considered a subset of racism, paired with misandry/sexism.) 
  2. Someone very close to me got called names like “halfie” and “twinky” by the ethnic student body with whom they identified, in their high school, because they are “only” half of that culture but also have the “privilege” of being half white. They were expected to take it on the chin, and to not be “so uptight” about it. (This is racism.) 
  3. I married my husband at age 23. Permanently we get asked “Aren’t you too young to be married?” and “What if you made a mistake?”. When we have, in such cases, refused to be forced into defending our life choices, we have been told to respect the knowledge of our elders and accept that we’re wrong (even when these are complete strangers!). (This is ageism.)
  4. Another person who is very close to me, passed all the required exams, physical tests and qualifications for their dream job, but were turned away because the company had taken “their quota” of their religion for that year. It was considered “normal” due to the divide among varying Christian factions at the time and since this person is white, and Christian and thus “privileged”, they were expected to just wait another year. (This is religious discrimination.) 
  5. I am half Irish, half German; this makes me very pale. When I go to the beach, it seems to be unavoidable for both people I know, and complete strangers to exclaim thing like “Oh my god, you’re so white, you’d get lost in a sandbank!”. This is then usually followed up with unsolicited advice on how to best protect my skin and that I “best go back inside”. When I protest to this type of conversation, I am told that “I don’t really know what racism is”, and that I need to learn to “take a joke”. (Like it or not, this is racism.) 
  6. When I went to my new doctor for a routine check up, I was told that I may have diabetes, fatty liver or even heart disease. The diagnostic tool? A BMI calculator and looking at me, because according to her “in 99% of cases, any problem a ‘fat’ person has, comes from being fat and lazy, and nothing else.” The blood tests that she ordered, all came back clean, other than being heavy I am perfectly healthy and yet, she was not expected to apologize and my malpractice complaint was thrown out even by my circle of peers before it ever made it to an official office. “She was just doing her job”. (This is “body-shaming”, a very prominent sub set of ableism.)

I am very very tired of all these double standards.

  • Discriminating on skin colour? No matter the colour, it’s racism.
  • Discrimination on gender/sex/sexual orientation? No matter the identification, it’s sexism.
  • Discriminating on age/experience? No matter whether old or young, it’s ageism.
  • Discriminating on body type, shape or ability? No matter the body, it’s ableism.

Just because an individual does not come from a systemically oppressed or marginalized group, does not mean that it is impossible to discriminate against them individually.

Thanks for reading.

#ThoughtfulThursday

 

 

 

 

 

To blog or not to blog…

It’s interesting looking back over the posts I’ve written, especially considering that I still don’t fancy myself as much of a “blogger”.

There are recipes and reviews, angry rants and thoughtful reflections but most importantly, I have noticed that there are many “unfinished” projects.

I was off to an incredibly good start on “Around the world in 26 breakfasts” and thought I had a real crowd pleaser when I started “Disney Lessons”.

What strikes me though, is that when I think about those projects, rather than being excited and joyful about the fun things they would allow me to do (namely cooking some amazing international breakfasts and having an excuse to re-watch and totally over analyze my favourite Disney movies) they have become a source of stress.

I berate myself for not having “posted” in so long, fearful that any of the few regular readers that I have might lose interest in waiting and might stop following my blog all together.

There is so much I’d like to write about, such as our recent trip to London, my wonderful (and unfavourable) experiences with AerLingus, the kindness and understanding of Viking River Cruises, not to mention all of the great foods we’ve been cooking and so much more. But I’ve found that the pressure of writing things that other people will enjoy, and in a way that won’t get me judged, has scared me away from my computer all together. I ask myself “to blog or not to blog?” And more often than not I end up simply answering that question with a defeated “no”.

I’ve opened this page innumerable times, have started and deleted countless drafts… And then I look at those projects and feel guilty that I haven’t done anything with them, and put off writing anything new until I’ve continued those.

To you wonderful readers – I want to say:  thank you. Thank you so much for joining me on this blogging journey for these past 18-ish months, despite all the breaks and I promise, I will finish those series eventually. 😉

I hope you’ll forgive me, if unlike my more organized or even professional online peers, I admit that I don’t enjoy the stresses of scheduled posting and that I am choosing to not be doing this on a schedule.

I am enjoying life so much right now; cooking and traveling, work is going well, I’m making pretty great choices for my health and on the weekends we’re just relaxing.

I look forward to what 2016 has to bring and am open to any article suggestions you may have.,

Thanks again to everyone who checks back here every once in a while, I really appreciate it.

xoxo