The Joys of Boating

Hello my dears, how are you?

It’s been quiet here I know, but with good reason. I’ve been living on a narrow boat for the last two weeks, give or take a few days here and there, taking part in the Tall Ships Regatta in London. I’ve sort of managed to get uni work back on track at last but I have a lot to do, as always.

The boat’s been lovely and I’m just about coping with the spiders and the daddy long legs. We took her out yesterday, up to the marina and back, so that I could deal with the really fun job of pumping out the toilet. *shudder*. But otherwise, it was a fun day, the weather was ok and the food and company were excellent. Also, lighting fires in the morning is fun! Fire, tea and breakfast, followed by 15-20 mins of free writing and planning the day ahead, is a good way to start. I also found the best coffee shop with the most amazing homemade cakes on sale. The chocolate brownie was the best I’ve had in ages. Yummmm! The only downside of being on the boat is that I am reliant on my phone* for internet. This is not conducive to blogging as I only have 1GB of data a month. I have lots of photos I need to sort out, from the boat and the Tall Ships Regatta, but that will have to wait a bit longer, I’m afraid. I’m at home for a few days however, so hopefully there might be photos by the weekend.

Finally, I wanted to say thanks to Kasey over at Valprehension for my Leibster award nomination. From what I can tell it is a nice, friendly way to say Hi and introduce your blog and those of others who have quite small readerships. I will get round to writing a proper post for it soon I hope. My main problem is that most of the smaller, more personal blogs I’ve been reading are very quiet of late. I’ll trawl through my feedly at some point and figure out who’s still going.

Much love to you all, hope you’re keeping well.

 

*which is also now broken. Both the power button and the headphones jack are knackered. Here’s hoping Carphone warehouse can get it fixed and back to me in the next three days!

#Rotherham #ZoeQuinn #TropesvsWomen

Content Note: This is a heavy-going post, dealing with child sexual abuse and exploitation amongst other things.

I found myself rather triggered last night a couple of nights ago. There’s a lot of horrible, horrible stuff going on in the internet at the moment, and if you follow women geeks in gaming even slightly, you’ll have heard about it. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of nasty, entitled, invulnerable-feeling, angry men in the world who don’t like it when women rightly critise their toys and ways of operating. And instead of listening and taking it on board, they feel like that segment of the population is out to get them and ruining their fun. Therefore these guys are running a co-ordinated, vicious, harassment crusade in order to get those pesky wimminz to shut the hell up. To the extent of driving them and their families out of home because their home isn’t *safe* any more. It’s awful and I can only imagine what it must feel like. So my heart goes out to those affected but I cannot read any more aboout it.

However, that’s not the only thing that’s been getting to me. I was reading a book about child slavery in Haiti, and yes it’s awful , not light reading, but there was one scene that was a graphic scene of sexual assault/rape of an 11 year old girl by her female owner and a group of women, as seen through the eyes of a 12 year old boy. Ugh. It was only half a paragraph but still. *shudder* The other thing I read that was deeply traumatic was the official Report on the Rotherham child sexual exploitation epidemic. Bascially, there’s been over twenty years of child sexual exploitation going on in impoverished, mostly ethnic minorities’ communities in and around the area that Child Services and the Police were aware of but didn’t take seriously. There were massive failures of process and government at many levels, reports weren’t followed up on etc., and kids and teenagers were allowed to “slip through the net” essentially because people with power and responsibility didn’t want to exercise either of those things, preferring to maintain the status quo. Some poor person had to sit and read through case files and police reports for maybe twenty to thirty cases from the last 10-15 years, up to the present day, detailing the horrific assaults, rapes and grooming that preceded it, and summarised them in the official Report. If you really want to be depressed/encouraged, go read It’s Mothers Work.

Preadolescent and teenage girls were groomed by men showering them with gifts and attention in circumstances where the child had already experienced neglect and poverty in the hands of their families. The girls said things like “I’m special to him, I know he loves me, even if he does have all those other girlfriends too”. The men groomed them then assaulted and raped them, and lent them to other groups of men so they could do the same. If the girls tried to escape their clutches they were threatened and beaten, and their younger sisters were threatened and their families harassed. One lass had petrol/gasoline poured on her and they threatened to *light it* if she didn’t co-operate. I mean, fucking hell. Can you imagine? That girl was maybe fourteen. I can’t even begin to describe the horror of that.

Nevermind the awfulness of the child sexual exploitation, the consequences were equally bad, including homelessness, school absention, and drug abuse. Others were put into “care”, secure children’s homes and fostering etc, often away from the area in which they lived. Sometimes this helped, sometimes it left them even more vulnerable to exploitation, and the gang involved would use them as a means to get to other, even younger, kids within the “care” system.

Fucking hell.

Victim blaming, police negligence and a macho office culture also had a massive role to play. Kids under the age of 16 were accused of leading the men on and asking for it by being “provocative”, nevermind that they had been “groomed” (and I am only just beginning to understand the real meaning of that word), and had often suffered neglect, poverty and racism (because a lot of the girls were of Pakistani heritage), and child abuse. Everything you’ve ever read about systemic oppression, sexism, racism and others combined in that thing called “intersectionality” to make everything so much worse. These girls were told by the combined actions of many that they were worth nothing, and even if to their families they mattered, if their families were also threatened, they couldn’t expect the police to help. A couple of fathers got *arrested* for trying to rescue their daughters from houses and hotels where they were being abused and exploited, while the perpertrators got off without even a caution.

I can’t even. This is the country I live in. I lived in the next city over from Rotherham for three years and had no idea this was going on. Is still going on. I am so isolated from these horrors and travesties by the priviledge of being white, middle class, from a stable, loving family and extremely well educated. And at the same time, I can see how, if my circumstances were different, it could so easily have been me.

I have my own terrible stories* of things that happened to me as a teenager and young adult, that at some point I am going to talk about on here, if only because I still have not reconciled myself to them. It took me ages to get to sleep last night because those previous incidents were on my mind, courtesy of all the horrible stuff I’ve been reading about. I have memories from over a decade ago that I can still call up perfectly vividly, if I so wish, and even when I don’t wish. And it sucks. And I know I am not the only one, not by a long shot.

So I am going to be pruning my blog feed for a while because I need to look after myself and I need to be getting on with PhD things. If you have any recommendations for light hearted, fun, pleasant stuff to read, that would be most excellent. Failing that, I am going to order a whole lot more YA fantasy novels. For refernce, I love Tamora Pierce and Trudi Canavan. I may also dig out my Enid Blyton collection. Please, take care of yourselves, it’s a difficult time.

 

*Nothing on this scale or level of abuse, but sexual stuff with boyfriends that I did. not. want? More than enough of that, nevermind the pervasive street harassment.

Why “Scroungers” Rhetoric is BS

Just has to share this photo that came up in my FB feed:

Salma Yaqoob whips IDS arse on scroungers

Salma Yaqoob confronts Iain Duncan Smith on “austerity”, on BBC’s Question Time, 12th June 2014

Transcript:

“There are 13 million people in this country who are now below the poverty line, 1 million people in one of the richest countries in the world now face the very real indignity of relying on food banks… These are very real issues and it’s been done in the name of “austerity” and we’ve had this drive of people being called scrouongers but actually hald the people on benefits are pensioners… and 50% of people claiming benefits are in work because the wages are not paying enough; and yet I’m sitting next to Iain Duncan Smith who quite happily labels the poor people as “scroungers” when [he] claims £39 just for a breakfast like you can’t afford your own breakfast. When you live on your wife’s estate and have taken £1.5m of tax payers’ money, that’s what I call scrounging. That’s what I call shirking.” Salma Yaqoob.

Food for thought.

Link

I don’t know about anyone else but I was a massive Harry Potter geek when I was a kid, starting when I was ooo, 10, I guess?

Neville Longbottom

This lad comes on a long, long way

Now, I haven’t read the books since the last one came out and I powered through it in about two days in order avoid hearing any spoilers but I came across the fanfiction, “Dumbledore’s Army and the Year of Darkenss” and I have to say it is one of the best things I have read in a while. It’s all about Neville and the other teens who had to stay behind at Hogwarts when Snape and the Death Eaters took over. They reformed the DA and turned it into a military academy, essentially, running acts of resistance and information at a time when the mainstream press could not be trusted. Go read, but be warned it is LOONNNGGGG, longer than the books in fact. Worth it though.

It’s a coming of age story, and it’s about kids realising the adults don’t have an effing clue what to do, and that they have to look after each other. It’s about love and friendship and sacrifice. And fianlly it’s about hope in the face of terrible darkness, and picking up the pieces afterwards.

Jesus fucking H Christ, my supervisor is an idiot!

Just have to put this out here. Where I’d been accusing my supervisor of not getting back to me with comments, he had prepared comments and MANAGED NOT TO SEND THEM.

I THINK THAT IS WORSE THAN SEEMINGLY IGNORING ME.

This would not be the first time he’s convinced himself he sent an email when in fact he hadn’t. A prime example of that would be when I emailed to say I was going off sick with stress for two weeks and he didn’t respond at all.

So, on top of him not sending his comments on my draft for over 6 weeks, when I finally got to read them tonight, one comment really took the biscuit.

Mmm, biscuit.
Sorry. Distracted.

He’d managed to claim that the thing that was my idea was actually his and that he’d told me to do it all along, when in truth, he’d opposed me from the beginning.

It needs a lot of backstory, apologies.

A long time ago, back in my first year of my PhD, Continue reading

Emotion Dismissing and Thesis Writing

I’ve been trying to pay attention to the meta aspects of my thesis writing process and I have discovered a thing that is making it extra difficult.

I do not like sitting with uncomfortable emotions.

I would rather avoid, avoid, AVOID! than pay attention to them and work through them in order to carry on with what I am supposed to be doing. It is a big contributor to the procrastination habits that mar my writing habits, the other big contributor being boredom. Continue reading

Music and other things to be grateful for

Just wanted to share some music videos with you. The writing and editing is a slog but there are things to be thankful for. The weather for starters. Being able to sit in the sunshine in the garden, surrounded by flowers and insects, with gorgeous blue skies while I do work is a pleasure. I’m doubly grateful because it’s something I’ve not been able to do in a long time, not having a garden of my own in Cottonopolis.

My cat is another blessing. Being able to have lazy snuggles on the lawn is so nice and when I wake in the morning it’s usually to find him curled up by my feet.

My cat under the flowers, enjoying the sun

My cat under the flowers, enjoying the sun

I’m thankful for good food and vegetables and a bike that now works (thanks to my brother for fixing the gears!). I’ve also joined a gym as I want to get strong. I quit Jiu jitsu because of injuries but I still want to move and improve my fitness. Not gonna lie, loosing a bit of weight would be nice but I’m trying not to get hung up on it. I am all too aware that there are a lot of shitty messages regarding size and shape rattling around in the background of my brain, and when I’m stressed about other things they have a tendency to flare up. I’ve got half a draft on it but I’m not ready to go there yet. Anyway, things to be thankful for: being able to move, cycle, climb, lift weights and practise yoga.

I’m also thankful for our piano. Gosh, have I missed playing! Turns out when I’m playing for my own enjoyment and not for an exam, it’s actually fun and satisfying. I even taught myself a new piece this week: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C# Minor “Moonlight”: the Allegretto movement.

I’ve a long way to go until it sounds this good but I’ll get there. I’m also practising Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude, which I learned for a grade back in the day and still love to play:

For some utterly different music, here’s Julie Fowlis singing various Scottish Gaelic folk songs.

It’s suck in my head and makes me want to dance. I came across her from listening to the Brave Soundtrack, where she sings Touch the Sky, Into the Open Air and Learn Me Right.

The piece I have absolutely not been able to get out of my head however is A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal, Noble Maiden Fair.

Little baby, hear my voice
I’m beside you, O maiden fair
Our young Lady, grow and see
Your land, your own faithful land
Sun and moon, guide us
To the hour of our glory and honour
Little baby, our young Lady
Noble maiden fair

How to Recover from Critical Feedback

“… kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King

It’s been a while since I last blogged a long post and the mere thought of it has been nagging at me. Honestly though, I’m at a bit of a loss for what to say. The PhD writing is hard, as expected, but it’s thrown me for a loop and I’ve been procrastinating like a motherfucker. In fact, this very post is me procrastinating! How meta. You known those situations where you feel like you have a long list of excuses but no good reasons? This is one of those times.

I’m procrastinating because I’m trying to avoid something difficult: editing my “Shitty First Draft”. I was previously angry at my supervisors because they weren’t giving detailed or useful feedback. This time, when I submitted what I thought was a pretty good chapter, I got it back with devastating criticism. “Your writing is hard to read”. “It’s too waffly”. “I couldn’t follow what was going on”. Some of the comments were useful but mostly they just cut me to the bone. It felt personal, ya know? It’s my writing, an embodiment of my thoughts, and now you’re telling me it’s shit and I need to cut it down by half?! They’re my words! They made sense to me! How can they be that hard to follow?

Editting while defensive is not an easy task, it turns out. Continue reading