Be Nice It's Tuesday


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Plus

I think most people know the LGBT acronym, standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, which has been used for a long time. I don’t know how long, but I know that’s how I first heard the acronym several years ago. Nowadays it’s often written as LGBTQ, although people often get confused about whether the Q stands for Questioning, Queer, both, something else entirely. And I guess that’s the biggest problem of the acronym; confusion.

Writing and saying LGBTQ does start to become a bit of a mouthful, but it’s still leaving so many people out. The longest I’ve seen it written is LGBTQIA. Here we’ve got the A, standing for Asexual, Aromantic, Agender and (???) Allies, and I for Intersex, which is not the same as transgender, non-binary or agender. And even once you’re writing a 7 letter acronym it’s missing people out. Where’s the P for Pansexual and Polyamorous? Why should demisexual/romantic people have to share the already over-crowded A?

I absolutely support people using these labels, and I absolutely condemn the (minority of) (usually) straight people who make ‘jokes’ of writing the acronym with many random letters, or who say they are all ‘made up’ labels. I also understand that for many people, particularly those who are heterosexual and cisgender, it can be difficult to keep track of such detailed, ever-developing language.

But I hope that you, whoever is reading this, can understand how it feels to not be cis-het, but be left out of the acronym. I can only speak from the perspective of being asexual, but I imagine other people share my feelings. Every time I see someone write or say LGBT, or LGBTQ, or more recently frequently LGBTQI, I think ‘but what about me?’ (a very selfish thought, I know, but I’m only human). It feels like just another reminder that so much of society ignores my very existence, and why I still don’t feel able to come out to most of my friends and family. Not because they wouldn’t accept it, because they just don’t know what it is. But this isn’t just a problem of a predominantly straight society. So many people within the LGBT community only talk about LGBT or LGBTQ, which feels even more like being shunned from what should be a safe, welcoming, inclusive community.

As I said, I understand how confusing it can get. And in general conversation you probably don’t have breath left for that many letters, and if you do it just hurts your jaw after a while (is it just me who dislikes acronyms in general?). But! There is an easy way to get around this. A way to include EVERYONE, without having to remember so many letters and orders etc. And that is the +. Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with this, the plus sign (written +, said ‘plus’) can be added to the end of the acronym to mean ‘and others’. A lot of the time it is used. But a lot of the time, and not just by straight people, it is neglected. You might think it is a small and insignificant detail, I mean, who even notices? Me, I notice. Sure, I’d love it if everyone included asexuality and all other identities at all times, but I’m perfectly happy to sit on that little + rather than be completely left out.

Seriously, I don’t expect many people to really understand how much impact the presence or absence of a + can have on someone (outside a maths class), I was surprised by my own feeling on the matter. But please, whoever you are, listen to what I have said, and do one thing for me. Every time you need to talk or write about people who are not cis-het, use the plus. LGBT+, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, whatever you use, just add the +.

Please.

Thank you.

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Happy New Year

I’m not going to write something really long and elaborate today, I think there are enough people writing meaningful New Year messages and I am just one tiny voice in the massive crowd that is the internet.

But at this time of year I think it is important to look back on the past year and everything that has happened. To be grateful for all the wonderful things that have happened in our personal lives and in the world as a whole. And to reflect on the not-so-good things, and think about what we as individuals and as the human race can do to improve the societies, living conditions and political world that we are carrying forward into this new year.

I wish you all a wonderful New Year. I hope that in 2017 you will be happy, peaceful, healthy, and surrounded by love. But even if you get all of these things, I hope that we all remember to spare a thought for the people who are ill, lonely, threatened, and don’t have the luxuries and privileges which I know I often take for granted. I don’t have New Years Resolutions as such this year, but I do hope and intend to do good in whatever ways I can, and I hope you will join me on this.

Much love 🙂


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Winter Kindness part 1

I am very busy with deadlines, applications and music rehearsals at the moment, so I will keep this brief, but this post felt like it was just meant to happen.

I’ve written before about the power of small acts of kindness in making the world a better and happier place, and when things happen to me I often want to write about them but don’t get round to it. But today there were two occasions when a stranger was kind to me, and although they weren’t big things, they really made me happy.

This morning I was sitting at my desk, which is next to a big window overlooking the road, and I saw the postman walking up the path to my front door holding a package. I’ve been expecting something from my friend in Manchester, so I ran downstairs and opened the door as the postman was putting the package down in the porch, so he handed it to me and said ‘ahh, you were expecting it’. I smiled, but then saw that it was addressed to my housemate, not me, so I told him it wasn’t what I’d been hoping for – just as a way of making conversation. I thanked him and went back upstairs, and as I sat back down I saw that he had gone back to his trolley and was searching through the bag of parcels, presumably to see if he’d missed one for me. He didn’t find one but it was so nice that he cared enough to check.

Later I was walking in to uni. It was very cold today so I’d decided to wear my hat that looks like a penguin. I walked past some workmen on their break and one of them said ‘Is that a penguin on your hat?’ I replied that it was, and he said ‘That’s quality that, I love penguins.’ Again, this was just a nice interaction with a friendly stranger.

These two people probably didn’t think twice about what they did or said, but it stayed with me all day. But I try to do things for others too. This morning there was a very heavy frost, so I ran outside to look at it and take photos and enjoy the closest thing to snow we’re likely to get in Bristol. Our porch door had frosted over, so I scratched ‘good morning’ reversed into it, so my housemates would see it when they left the house, and one of them told me that that had made her day. It’s so easy to do little things that make other people happy.

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Continued tomorrow…


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Changes

A lot seems to have changed in my life recently.

Mid-September I left home again and moved into my new term-time house which I am renting with some amazing friends – it’s really starting to feel like home, and there haven’t been any arguments yet (even when we disagree about when the floors need cleaning). A week or so after moving in, my second year of university started. As well as being back to intense classes of German and Russian language, I’m doing modules of history and linguistics, and I’ve picked up Czech language. I’m enjoying the classes but it’s a lot of hard work, and I feel slightly like I’m drowning in an endless sea of vocab.

I’ve got back into the societies I was in last year, and am on the committee for my choir. Last week I went to an LGBT+ meeting for the first time, which was quite a big step for me. Also at the start if this term I started a new part-time job, and I am in the process of applying for two more.

A particularly exciting thing that’s happened is that I successfully asked someone out on a date. That was very scary, and I’m now nervous about meeting with him, I haven’t really done the whole dating thing before, in the past it’s taken so long for things to happen that we’ve just skipped straight to a fully formed relationship. But I resolved last summer to get better at doing things that scare me, and not just waiting and hoping things will happen, so I thought I should just go for it.

Finally, my family is currently very spread out, with one of my sisters in New Zealand for the next year. The other sister is in Edinburgh, not so far away, but still difficult enough to get to from Bristol that I don’t know when I’ll next see her. So I’m just trying my best to keep in contact with them as much as possible.

All of these changes are exciting, and I feel like I’m in a good place in my life right now, however they take up a lot of time and I am often very busy and tired. When I do have free time I usually watch Netflix or play my musical instruments. If I’m in the mood for writing I’m trying to write more of the piece of fiction I started over the summer (calling it a novel sounds too grand, but story sounds too juvenile). So as much as I want to keep blogging, and have loads of ideas, I just don’t really have the time and energy for it at the moment. I’m not giving up for good; I may post random things at odd times, and I hope to get properly back into it sometime, but for now I am freeing myself of the guilt I feel for not writing up any of the things I want to.

Until I write again, I hope everyone is doing well and staying positive, and don’t forget to keep smiling 🙂


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Freshers’ Week is Overrated

It’s that time of year again when across the UK (and a lot of other countries) young people are heading back for another year of school, college and university. I’m about to start my second year of uni, so inevitably I’ve been thinking a lot about how I was feeling this time last year. It was not the best time for me.

This year I am working as a mentor, so I have some new first year students assigned for me to email and meet up with and generally help out as they settle in to university. All of them have said in their emails how nervous they are about things like feeling homesick, meeting new people, living alone. One thing which has been mentioned a lot is Freshers’ Week.

For anyone who doesn’t know – I don’t know how it varies in different countries – Freshers’ Week is the first week of the university year. It’s when everyone moves in but before lectures start, a week filled with all sorts of exciting events to help new students get to know the uni and city. It’s something that really gets hyped up, it’s meant to be the best week of the year and all these new freshers go out partying every night and are drunk the entire time and you meet all your new best friends and go wild because you don’t live with your parents any more, etc. etc. But from my experience and  from talking to people this year, I think all that hype is actually too much pressure.

I enjoyed my Freshers’ Week. I went clubbing as many times that week as the rest of my life (i.e. twice) and met some cool people, and did some events that weren’t to do with drinking (shock horror). But people like me who don’t like clubbing often worry that they will have to go to lots of big parties, and that can be quite worrying. I was also very overwhelmed and homesick, so I wanted some time just to be by myself in my new room. And there are so many events going on, it’s often hard to know where to begin.

But the thing is, Freshers’ Week isn’t the be all and end all of your university life. It’s just the beginning. There’s the opportunity to go to clubs and parties all the time if you want to, and if you don’t want to you don’t have to. And I carried on meeting new people and making friends all the way through last year, and I’m sure I will again this year.

So if you’re starting uni in the next few weeks, I’m not saying Freshers’ Week will be bad. It is a really good opportunity to enjoy yourself before classes start, and I think it is important, in that week at least, to put yourself a bit out of your comfort zone and try new things. But don’t worry about it, if you want to have a night off then you’re not going to miss out on everything from that point onwards. And it really isn’t as big a deal as people often make out.

 


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2016 Reading Challenge: July

Books: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Why I read it: I loved this series when I was younger, and I’m really excited about the Netflix version which is coming soon, so I reclaimed my set of the books from my mum’s school library (she’s retiring, so it was my last change to ask for them back) so I could read them again in anticipation.

Basic plot: The series follows the lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents die in a fire. For the first half of the series they are moved from guardian to guardian while the sinister Count Olaf is following them trying to steal their fortune. They eventually take things into their own hands, after the adults in their lives continuously let them down, and begin to discover a secret organisation which seems to be tied in with their and their friends’ lives. The books are written under a pseudonym, as though they are real events, and Lemony Snicket is frequently addressing the reader to tell them not to read any further because it’s too sad, or going on tangents about his own life, which is linked to some of the characters and mysteries in the books.

Who it’s aimed at: They’re aimed at children, I’d say about 8+, and no specific gender, but I think they would also be enjoyed by teenagers, and I think a lot of adults would quite enjoy reading them along with their children.

Would I recommend it?: Yes, absolutely. I’d forgotten, or didn’t notice in the past, just how good they are. They’re so well written, in an unusual and rather funny style, and I really like piecing together all the hints and clues and secrets. They are also slightly frustrating at times, particularly the ending when not all the questions are answered, but I loved reading them again nonetheless.


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My Summer So Far

Hello!

Recently I’ve been struggling to actually get out the ideas I have into fully formed blog posts, so I apologise for the lack of content. But I quite like writing chatty posts, just about little things I want to say that don’t need a full post, so I’m probably going to be doing a few of them.

In my last post I mentioned some of the things I’ve been doing since I got back home from uni. I went to my older sisters’ graduations in St. Andrews and Edinburgh at the end of June. They were two lovely days with the family, and I’m very proud of them both. And I enjoyed the excuse to dress up posh. One of my sisters is home now, but the other is still in Scotland for a few more weeks.

It’s very nice having nothing to do, but I am aware that I don’t want to just laze around for 3 months, so I’ve been sorting out some things to do.

I took advantage of an offer at a local gym for 4 weeks membership for £20, so I’ve been going there a couple of times a week. I don’t push myself too hard, I’m not trying to transform my body shape in 4 weeks, but I know my fitness levels aren’t great, so I’m hoping this will help a bit. I have noticed it’s getting a bit easier. It is tiring though, especially as the walk between my house and the gym is 2.5 miles each way. I’m not generally much of an exerciser, but I’ve been enjoying going more than I expected, especially when I remember to take my iPod.

I was inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee to get back on my sewing machine, which I hadn’t really done much of since A-Level art. So far I’ve made a scrunchie and I’m half way through a dress. I’ve also been asked to make a scrunchie for a friend, and my mum want a table cloth and chair cushions for our garden, and a new sewing machine cover as our original one is very ripped. I’ve also been making more jewellery which I will be selling.

The other main thing I’ve started is volunteering at my local Oxfam book shop. I couldn’t really get a summer job as I have holidays booked, and didn’t particularly need to money or want the pressure. But I did want to be doing something which will hopefully help people and improve my CV, and volunteering is much more flexible than having a paid job. I’ve only done two shifts so far, but I’m enjoying it. I have to exercise great self restraint though, being surrounded by so many relatively cheap books, but my bookshelves are overflowing already!

I’ve been seeing my friends, mainly at the pub, but one has been joining me at the gym a bit. I also had lunch with a few friends, including one who, in the time since I last saw her, has got married, got pregnant, and separated from her husband. I wanted to have a catch up anyway, but after hearing about this thought she might be wanting support from old friends. She seems to be doing well, and I did enjoy seeing her scan pictures and all the baby talk.

The rest of my time I’ve been reading, gardening, putting off the revision I should be doing, despairing at British politics, and doing nonograms, which are fun Japanese logic puzzles (link to a website where you can do them).

The other day I bought myself a daisy plant, because daisies are one of my favourite flowers and I really wanted one.

Finally, my bedroom floor is currently rather sparkly. Last night I was feeling a bit sad, and my sister had asked me to make her some flowers out of sparkly paper and glitter, so I decided it might cheer me up to sprinkle my room with glitter. It did.

Hope you’re all doing well, until next time xx