Days Like These

You know those mornings when your dogs bark every time you start to concentrate on something, and you have to go out mid-afternoon so you’re reluctant to really get stuck into anything, but you can’t ignore the fact you really ought to get stuck into something, so you decide to pass the time writing a blog instead of pretending Tumblr browsing is market research?

Me too!

I try to be all behind-the-scenes-y on social media, especially Instagram, but if I showed you what my office space looks like right now, you’d all stop taking me seriously. (I’m aware that implies you already take me seriously, which is unlikely. My point is, the room looks like Royal Mail exploded.) There are two baking trays on my printer, tissue paper and open boxes sitting in places where other things should go, receipts stacked underneath the printer and a Pilates ball in the middle of the room to really set the ambience. I’m not moving any of it until tomorrow, when my mum is away and I can haul things up and down stairs without causing havoc… I’m thinking of changing my room around so I stop keeping shop supplies on the floor, but if past experience is an indication of ‘a quick tidy up’, I won’t just move some things around. I will deep clean, throw out shit I’d forgotten I owned, redecorate my desk and probably take several hours doing it.

But on Monday I will breeze downstairs and all will be right with the world… I’ll probably write four pages, finish a blog draft, do Pilates, enjoy a constant stream of Etsy orders and have a backer on Patreon. All because I spent the time re-organising, of course.

I wish I believed that.

I mean, everything is in place for all of those things to happen. I have pages of notes to turn into prose, a couple of blogs to craft into viral-article material, a free sticker scheme on Etsy until next Sunday and a Patreon full of excellent perks and reasons to support my work. But the biggest thing to happen on Monday will probably be my driving lesson. Maybe that is a bad example because driving is a huge thing for me and I often have to practice breathing before a lesson, but you know what I mean? Sometimes you can plan and organise and de-clutter and be as zen as you like and things still don’t fall into place. Is there a word for that? I feel like the Japanese or the French or the Greeks would have a word for that, while the English just vocalise it by making vowel sounds and flapping their hands. Like ‘mojo’ or ‘kefi’. What the hell did the English say before we learnt ‘mojo’?

I’m digressing. Perhaps I will decorate Indifferent Ignorance until it’s time to leave. If you have any ideas about how to describe ‘with the best will in the word, you’re running up a down escalator’ in less than 13 words, let me know.

Oh and if you follow me on the social media, I apologise for any spammy photos this evening of the O2. We’re seeing Top Gear Live That Isn’t Called Top Gear Live Since Clarkson Got Sacked. I am hoping for muscle cars and lots of this:

Top Gear complaints form dontkillthevibe.t
from dontkillthevibes.tumblr.com

Oh iPhone, You Have My Heart (and my attention span)

Yesterday I cleaned and rearranged my entire desk, so now the multiple Post Its and to-do lists are all zen, just like my mind will be when I start work every day. Coincidentally, today I activated my new phone (or half activated it, since apparently it takes ages for my provider to realise it’s sending cat emojis to a different device) and I’ve been thinking hard about which apps I want to reinstall and how I want to use the new phone. At the moment the home screen is so serene, with twice as much space as the old one… admittedly it’s twice the size, but it got me thinking that I’d really rather fill my phone with mindfullness apps and cookbooks than I would with work things or social media – which are sometimes work and sometimes personal… and always time-consuming.

I feel like getting a new device is the perfect excuse to embrace hippiness and quit my Instagram habit. Become one of those people who checks their mobile for half an hour each day, with the occasional game of snake while stuck in a queue. I always feel that although those people might not get updates from their Etsy shop or messages from Headspace reminding to keep their shit together, they must already have very peaceful minds. I want my phone to be a tool to enrich my life, god damn it, not something to which I am beholden just in case Sweet Pea the dog updated her feed.

Okay, bad example because Sweet Pea will only ever enrich my life. But you know what I’m getting at? I spent a large portion of my teenage years living with repetitive strain because I texted far too much; I often don’t sleep because I just had a quick check of Twitter in bed and two hours later I’ve got the Syrian civil war and Gerard Way’s massage Tweets papering the inside of my skull. And why do I reply to emails on my phone? I have a desktop, an iPad and a Windows Surface, all of which are easier to read, easier to type on and, oh yeah, won’t fit in bed with me.

Thing is, when push comes to shove – which it does too often – I have to work from my phone. It’s so accessible, and Instagram doesn’t work nearly as well from a desktop. I need all five email accounts on my phone, both Etsy apps and Tumblr just in case my zen desk space failed me and I only remember something important in the car on the way to a birthday. And what if the iPad, desktop computer and Surface break in a freak accident? I need the Internet for money, so boom, the phone is a lifesaver. I don’t even like leaving it at home on a walk because what if I get attacked by crazy people or trip over or find a stray dog and need to actually speak to someone?

Upon reflection I think that it’s all down to me not taking my phone to bed (or into the bathroom, or to situations where I don’t actually actively need to use it). I’m the one who decides whether or not I should check Facebook for the 10th time on that device that morning, and it’s down to me to choose not to. Like anything, my phone will only take over my life if I let it. The part of me that wants to be chilled and  organised has to sit on the nervous news-seeking Internet junkie part of me. I’m fed up with only avoiding my mobile on holidays and at Christmas, and I know that if I spent less time refreshing my feed and more time properly working, I’ll be more productive in the long run.

So I’m telling you this hoping that by holding myself publically(ish) accountable, I might actually do it. Think of it as a new month’s resolution (speaking of, where in God’s name did September go?!). Have any of you ever tried minimising your tech use? Did you end up moving to the jungle to be at one with nature or did you flake out as soon as the new OITNB dropped? Please share your stories, because I think I’m going to need a support group for this.

In Which I Have Learnt About Racism in the US

I wasn’t going to comment on the Charleston terrorist because I knew that a lot of people would automatically take umbrage with the term ‘terrorist’, and more might expect a ‘not all atheists’ blog. Both of those potentials are weird and exhausting so I figured I’d just share some posts by people smarter than me. Like this and this:

I think between them they express my opinion enough that I don’t need to waste Internet space trying to say the same thing. What I would like to talk about today is what I’ve been learning about the American south recently. I have never actually been to the States and I suppose I’ve been quite lucky in that the American culture I’ve absorbed over the years is as intelligent, if not more so, than the culture I’ve experienced from anywhere. MCR, Mindless, a million and one novels, the civil rights movement et al is all really fucking smart. No racism allowed, no sexism allowed, don’t be a piece of shit to other people and what in God’s name is wrong with letting people get married.

In the wake of this Charleston murder spree I’ve learnt that I’ve been really lucky, and blinkered, to only experience the smart people. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that there are stupid laws about letting idiots own guns and letting police officers shoot unarmed suspects… and I have a Tumblr account; I read the ‘white privilege’ posts. I just didn’t fully understand them until recently. I try really hard not to be a ‘all x people’ – when the English say ‘Americans are stupid’, I’m usually the first person to say ‘maybe you just haven’t met the smart ones. There’s a lot of people in that country, statistically they can’t all be as thick as this fucker on Fox News’.

By the same token when I see a post screaming about all the white people, promoting misandry or being rude about straight people, I think ‘you’re tarring a group the way some people tar your group. Kindly look out of your fucking window and understand that being discriminated against does not give you leave to discriminate’. Judge people based on their shitty personalities for Christ’s sake… So that’s me trying to be less of an arsehole than the dregs of Tumblr.

I just had no idea that the Confederate flag flies over the South Carolina or that roads are named for Confederate generals who fought for slavery that descendants of slaves have to pass through every day on their way to work. Those Tumblr users still need to grow up, but I think I understand more about why they’re so angry. I’m angry, and I’m white and live thousands of miles away from where this shit is happening. There is an inherent race issue because it’s fucking ingrained into the nation’s subconscious. Changing laws is one thing; changing culture is quite another and I must say, American government, I can’t believe you have the gall to invade other countries to teach them how to deal with racially-motivated terrorists when you have the problem within your own boarders.

I also didn’t know that being an atheist in the South is a really huge deal. Until I saw this:

There are two schools of atheist thought? Some atheists are against feminism? Whut. I think I’m beginning to understand why Dustin Lance Black makes a point of going back to Texas… Liberals in the States are dealing with a lot more shit than I ever appreciated and they have a massive job on their hands politically, socially and geographically. (Seriously who decided Texas should be the same size as the entire UK. Scottish independence just looks like if Dallas wanted fiscal autonomy.)

So that is what I’ve been learning recently. What about you?

When Smart People Make a Boo Boo (#DistractinglySexy & Tim Hunt)

Generally speaking I think it’s a good rule of life to never engage with online debates, mostly because ‘debate’ usually means ‘people SHOUTING THEIR OPINION with NO INTENTION of EVER listening to OR learning from the other side(s).’

But  I must say I’ve enjoyed the #distractinglysexy hashtag.

For those of you who try not to listen to news about people being sexist: Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel Prize-winning science professor at University College London, recently told a conference that when one is working with female scientists, ‘three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.’ I’ve never worked in a lab, but apparently it’s just one of those things.

I suspect someone has had a few fleeting/wonderful/awkward workplace romances in his time. Which is okay. When you’re attracted to someone, they are incredibly distracting. If I did work in a lab and liked a colleague, I would have to transfer workspaces until they moved or it blew over, just in case I accidentally spill polonium on my shoes when they take their coat off. (That sentence in itself may be why I’ve never worked in a lab.)

So it’s okay, Tim Hunt. We get it. What we don’t get is a) why you are distracted by all the girls, b) why they cry why you criticise them (the best teachers do not criticise, they merely point out what we can improve), and c) whether or not your views have ever genuinely impacted someone’s career.

I’m really not that bothered about a 72-year-old thinking a certain way about a certain type of person, and he’s perfectly within his rights to say it – although he might not be all that smart if he thought it would be a good idea to be sexist in front of a room full of women. The only really worrying thing is that people with ignorant views, whether they’re sexist of racist or homophobic or whatever, are often in positions of power and responsibility – and not everyone can separate their personal views from their jobs. I’ve no idea if Tim Hunt was ever involved in allocating grants or awarding places, but some people are and it makes me want to petition a law preventing CVs from showing anything but skills.

Still, at least the people on Twitter are making light of it all.

Petitioning D&G?

I’m going to break an unofficial habit of a lifetime and talk fashion.

Haha, not actual fashion, snowflakes, that’d require interest in clothing other than my jeans. Dolce and Gabana, yah.

So if you pay attention to LGBT news, fashion news or the general news, you’ve probably heard that Misters Dolce and Gabbana have got themselves into trouble with Elton John, and anyone who’s ever used IVF or been part of a non-traditional family. Even though Dolce and Gabbana are definitely not traditional. And neither are lots of their clients. And most people.

I think they’re hypocritical, and short-sighted for not having considered the potential backlash, but if they think IVF babies are ‘synthetic’, that’s their prerogative. I’m not that interested in the bitchfest that’s started up either, because it’s not that different from any other bitchfest, and any argument via Instagram makes me feel a bit like this:

Found on Tumblr I think
Found on Tumblr I think

My conundrum is that the other day I got an email from All Out. I love All Out – they’re a LGBT rights group that works almost exclusively through online petitions, which tend to call for political change in regards to LGBT equality. They campaign to stop deportations of LGBT people to countries where they could be imprisoned, for example, and helped ensure the Olympic charter was altered to prohibit discrimination of athletes based on sexuality. I get to help the civil rights movement by doing a small thing that can help a lot of people. Yay!

This week All Out sent an email asking me to sign a petition asking D&G to ‘use your platform to open minds, rather than spreading hate’. They point out that D&G have ‘become part of the problem and not the solution’, which is true. Straight homophobes will almost definitely use their comments as excuses for discrimination… ‘the gays only like traditional families, let’s deny them the right to be one’. It’s gross. Plus they’re undermining all of the LGBT people who are living in fear of their lives or fighting to have their rights recognised.

But if D&G wanted to use their platform to promote LGBT rights, they would. They’ve already backtracked/elaborated on their comments (which were made in a magazine so could’ve been misprinted slightly in the first place?) and apparently they have different views about IVF and family anyway – none of which are really anyone else’s business. On the other hand, do they have a responsibility to be pro-anything-which-supports-LGBT-people, both as LGBT people and major designers? If they do, should I tell them that?

My gut feeling is that they should be allowed to say whatever they want, but also that they should know better. I won’t boycott the brand, mostly because that would involve having the money to buy from it, but I would pause for thought before accepting any D&G castoffs. I’m just not sure if it’s my place, as someone who’s pro-freedom of speech, to tell someone what to say. What do you guys think?

International Women’s Day ft. Men

Happy International Women’s Day! I spent ages looking for a GIF of Mary Elizabeth from Perks of Being a Wallflower saying “thanks for the crumb” but I couldn’t find one, so I’ve decided to not be too cynical… apart from to say “thanks for the crumb, we’ll go back to not existing for the next 364 days!”

Wait, I’ve changed my mind. I just glanced through the #HappyWomensDay tag on Twitter and Christ almighty, there are things to say.

This is an MCR reference that's actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
This is an MCR reference that’s actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). From sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

I almost wrote a blog yesterday about Selma and MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, but it felt contrived partly because I hadn’t done a lot of research but mostly because I haven’t been on the receiving end of racism to the point where I feel qualified to write about it. And that feels weird, because if, as a women, I read an article by a man which thoughtfully and carefully discussed women’s rights and sexism, I’d be delighted.

I recently stopped calling gay rights ‘LGBT rights’ and started saying ‘civil rights’ instead, because civil rights are people rights, and we are all people… right? At the risk of sounding like Tumblr, we all have something that makes us less-than citizens in the eyes of the law and society – unless we’re incredibly wealthy, straight, white men who have been highly educated. But that doesn’t mean wealthy, straight, white men who are highly educated can’t be just as passionate about civil rights as everyone else. Maybe they have a direct link with a minority group through their family or friends, or maybe they just have the capacity for empathy. Some of my favourite civil rights rants and gestures have been by the MCR guys – remember Frank’s homophobia is gay t-shirt? Or when Gerard did that Q&A and talked about gender fluidity?

I’ll probably end up writing something about MLK or Selma, but not until I’ve got the time to make it a decent piece of work. I’ll still get really nervous, though, that black people are will say “fucking white girl has no idea what she’s on about and just made things worse.” I don’t want to step on toes, I want to show that we are all people who deserve the exact same rights and treatment regardless of the characteristics we can’t control.

I’m going to stop talking before I ramble my way into a hole. Does any of this make sense to you guys? I mean, I’m definitely more eloquent than those people on Twitter, but it wasn’t hard…

Instaglam

It has occurred to me that I might not have actually told you guys that I have an Instagram account. I know it was included in those little icons that used to be on the sidebar, but they annoyed me and I haven’t got around to putting them back minus the annoying bit (pixelation and wonkiness. I am very tech-savvy). Anyway, to remedy that I am now trying to include a little widget in this post and maybe on the sidebar so I have one less icon to depixelate.

I wasn’t actually expecting that to work. Anyway, I put quite a bit of stuff on there that’s not anywhere else, because Instagram posts embedded into Twitter do my head in. I also spend too much time looking through the feeds of people whose work I like.

If you’re on there say hello and we can embark on a frenzy of over-tagged 1970s-esque arty pics!

Colour Codes

I think I might have been insulting people for ages. I mean, I know I’ve been insulting people for ages, but it turns out I might have been accidentally insulting people who I actually wish to do the opposite of insult.

That’s getting tautological so I’ll get on with it: yesterday Benedict Cumberbatch (I’d forgotten how hard his name is to type quickly) apologised because he accidentally used the term ‘coloured’ instead of ‘black’. I did a quick Internet search, aka poked about on Twitter and Tumblr, and there was surprisingly (refreshingly) little bullshit about… or maybe I didn’t look hard enough, haha.

My point is, I was under the impression that it’s completely okay to use the term ‘people of colour’ to describe non-white people? I mean, it’s pretty standard usage on Tumblr, and if anywhere is going to eat you alive for using the wrong terminology, it’s those snowflakes. Where I come from people say ‘black’ and ‘coloured’ interchangeably, and not usually in a racist way (if you want to insult someone’s race, there’s a way more varied list). Apparently Martin Luther King used the term ‘citizens of colour’, and if we should follow anyone’s example my gut feeling is that MLK is a good dude for the job. So should Benedict have said ‘actors of colour’ instead of ‘coloured actors’? Or ‘black actors’? What if he meant anyone who isn’t white but isn’t necessarily black? Should anyone care when he was actually making the point that the acting industry isn’t as diverse in the UK as it is in Hollywood?

Have I just insulted more people in my ignorance?

Help.