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Archive for the ‘Things I don’t like’ Category

7 October is Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) Awareness  Day. Few people know anything about this condition. I didn’t until a friend was diagnosed with it almost 20 years ago. It sounded horrific.  Some years later, I developed shooting nerve pains in my face. Once again, I was lucky with my GP and my dentist. Both suspected it might be TN and I was saved the months or sometimes years of multiple tooth extractions and struggles to find a diagnosis that other sufferers have endured. It has since changed its form to what is called TN2, and now manifests with a constant burning. That change, too, was diagnosed quickly.

The condition can go into remission for days, weeks, months or years. But it is a progressive condition, and flares (or attacks) become more frequent, and for some, constant. They can be triggered by touch, wind on the face, weather, stress, brushing teeth, eating, or talking.

Even after diagnosis, TN patients struggle to find adequate pain relief, are accused of being drug seekers, or of exaggerating the pain by medical practitioners who know little about the condition. One woman reports of being told by a psychologist that she had “two arms and two legs” and should “get out and live.”

I have joined an online group of New Zealand sufferers. It is a supportive group, but shows the devastation this condition wreaks, as it is filled with people who have had to give up working, who live constantly with pain, who struggle to care for their children or elderly parents, or live anything close to a normal life, and who feel isolated and lonely. Yet they are able to joke online, climb ladders to paint their houses, travel overseas, and keep connections, even while their family and friends distance themselves, because they struggle to deal with someone who is constantly in pain.

So far I have been lucky, and I know it. So I’m torn between balancing the need to make more people aware of this condition and my desire not to make this a big deal – because for the moment, for me at least, it is manageable. So I’m talking about it today because there are many who are not as lucky as I am. And having TN makes me more aware of others in pain too. I now know how chronic pain or severe pain can be extremely debilitating, whatever the condition that causes it. It can be exhausting and restrictive and isolating. You never know when it will hit. And although someone might look fine, that doesn’t mean they are not screaming inside.

So I choose to use TN Awareness Day to implore you to reach out to anyone you know who suffers pain and let them know you care.

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In the last week or so, our Prime Minister was embroiled in an argument in Australia, when a shock-jock Radio DJ commented that the Australian Prime Minister should “shove a sock down her throat.” Rightly, the violence and innate misogyny of the comment was widely deplored, including by Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, who said, “I find that very disappointing, and of course, that’s way out of line.”

He could have left it at that, but he added, “I have two daughters, so you can expect that’s how I would feel personally about it.”

Why did he feel the need to say that? Didn’t he understand that women deserved respect before he had daughters? Didn’t he speak out against obvious misogyny before he had daughters? Didn’t he object to obvious violent threats against women before he had daughters? How does his wife feel about this? She was around before his daughters. Was he so unaware of gender issues and sexism that it never occurred to him before having daughters? Or did he just not care?

Not to mention that by equating the leader of his neighbouring country with his daughters, he is infantilising her, suggesting she is in need of his protection, that he’s a father figure.

Why are men so proud of defending women’s rights because they have daughters?  I don’t get it. And clearly, they don’t either, because if they thought about what they’re saying, they might actually understand.

C’mon, blokes. You either support and defend women’s rights or you don’t. By stressing that you support women and object to offensive language and behaviour about them because you have daughters, you’re not endearing yourself to women. Or not this one, at least. You’re saying that if you didn’t have daughters, you would be less appalled. That you’ve never seen women as your peers, that you accepted misogyny and discrimination in the past, that you never saw us as people. You’re boasting that you felt free to ignore our issues until you had daughters.

In fact, it is almost as if you are justifying your position to your fellow men, using your daughters as an excuse for your defence of women. As if that is something that needs to be explained away.

No surprise that I am, quite frankly, sick to death of a man’s defence of women’s rights coming with the qualifier, “I have daughters.”

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  • [The uploader has not made this content available in your country/region.]
  • [This provider does not ship to New Zealand.]
  • Netflix in NZ is not the same as Netflix in the US. We pay more for less.
  • Website promotions are almost always restricted to the US, Canada, and UK/Europe.
  • Spell-checkers or grammar-checkers rarely offer a New Zealand English option.
  • There are different global Amazon sites. They do not allow you to gift between sites. For example, at Christmas we discovered that you cannot buy an e-book on Amazon dot com and gift it to a member of Amazon dot com dot au (Au=Australia, which is what NZers are forced* to use), even if you are sitting on the same couch!
  • Postage/shipping (frequently) costs more than the price of the object.

*   unless, like me, you’ve somehow managed to evade detection and stick to the dot com site

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Usually, New Zealanders get irritated when we are ignored. It is common when overseas to have to explain to people where our country is in the world. And for goodness sake, New Zealand is often even dropped off world maps. But this week, we’d far prefer to revert to our more familiar incognito status.

The common theme in the media here is shock. It’s the first word almost anyone uses. I’m not so surprised, though, that this happened somewhere in the world, given events in recent years. Given international travel, social media, media agencies that irresponsibly support extremist attitudes, changing rhetoric, and right-wing moves, there is nowhere now that is truly immune from that. Not even here. But with a progressive government, and a diverse and accepting society, until now we have always felt safe in New Zealand. (Well, except for natural disasters.)

For me though, I almost instantly reacted with anger. Anger that Christchurch, such a beautiful city, a city where I lived for five years during my university years, where I met my husband, and where I visited just a few weeks ago, should go through another major trauma when it is still recovering for the devastating earthquakes only eight years ago.

I was and am angry that a person or small group of people could be so cold and calculated. Anger that they could betray our country, betray our promise to those who were targeted that they would be safe and accepted here.

I was angry at the NRA (which extends its influence beyond just the US) and other weapons peddlers. There is a gun shop – the first I can ever remember seeing in our city – that opened about ten minutes away a few years ago. Almost every time I have driven past it I have resented its existence. It has never seemed to fit this city, this country. But on Friday afternoon and over the weekend, I felt overwhelming anger at it, its owners and staff.

And then, as we learned the shooter was Australian, there was even more anger at him. Anger that he would bring his toxic hate to our country, harm our citizens, ruin our reputation. And anger at their government’s policies over decades (centuries really), at their recent treatment of Muslim refugees, and the outrageous rhetoric of other politicians there that have legitimised this hate. And I’ve been angry at some of the people I know there who have supported some of these policies, and some of these attitudes.

And then we learned of his “manifesto” of hate, and of his admiration of Trump’s approval of white supremacist movements, and my anger surged anew. Anger at the language the US President used only hours later that echoed those of the shooter. Anger at those who apologise for Trump, but still support him and the racism he incites. Anger at those who may not apologise for him, but still support him openly whilst decrying any responsibility for the acceptance of this hate. Anger at those hypocrites who expressed their sadness in the media or online, and those who had the gall to accept condolences, whilst refusing to denounce his comments, his white supremacist supporters and his policies. Their silence, their hypocrisy, makes them complicit. And so I am angry at them too.

Social media is flooded with images, new profile overlays declaring love, strength, and echoing our Prime Minister’s words that “They are Us.” People share drawings of kiwis crying. I haven’t used any of these. It’s not really my style. And whilst I have appreciated my overseas friends who have done so to show solidarity, or who have sent messages, these actions don’t feel significant enough for me to encompass the depth of my feelings. They don’t express my disgust, my grief, my anger. And so I have abstained.

I don’t usually write posts such as this either. But I feel now, more strongly than I ever have, that silence is inappropriate, it is acceptance, it is collusion, it is complicit. So if you’re reading this, and you recognise yourself in my earlier paragraphs, know that I see through you too.

And if you have been one of those who sends love and support and is equally horrified and angry, know that we are strong, we are decent, and we are full of love. That’s what we have seen throughout New Zealand, and – mostly – around the world, since Friday’s events. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the way we have responded. I am proud that this has not been politicised here. I’m proud of our Prime Minister, who has been articulate and compassionate and decisive. And as my anger abates, exhausted, I am deeply saddened that it has been necessary.

 

 

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  1. I signed up for emails from a minimalist site, and it cluttered up my inbox, so I unsubscribed.
  2. Travel photos that are over-saturated in editing, and make beautiful places look completely fake. The Cinque Terre villages in Italy are frequent victims of this; compare the different photos here and see what I mean.
  3. Or travel photos and even postcards on sale that are very obviously photoshopped. You can’t believe what you see anymore, and I hate that!
  4. The dog person vs cat person divide (though I have to admit that I’m really a cat person.)
  5. Bloggers who promote their own communities by bringing in new users, but never give back by visiting other blogs, or by paying tribute to others working in the same area.
  6. Struggling to find topics for Microblog Mondays, because it’s hard to keep a post to eight sentences.

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Has anyone noticed? I feel that suddenly, last week (or perhaps on the weekend), my WordPress sites suddenly have extra advertising. I always knew there were one or two ads after my posts, and that was fine because they have to pay for the service somehow, but now they seem to have encroached into the top of the sidebars as well, and the ads are impossible to miss. I do not like it, and yet I do not want to succumb to their obvious pressure to opt into their paid service (though that’s their prerogative, of course), thereby rewarding their strategy, and encouraging them to engage in this activity again in the future.

I’m so sick of having a hot bedroom at night, going to bed with a cold compress, and waking later feeling as if I’m having a constant hot flush, which I’m not, because that’s why I’m on HRT.

The neighbours are subdividing their section, and building their retirement home in the trees that are currently our northern boundary. It will substantially change the character of our house, the privacy in the garden/on the decks, and in our bedroom and reduce the value of our house, and I told them so because we’ve been far too nice and accommodating so far, even though they themselves are trying to take our wishes into consideration in the design of the house – except for the fact that they’re building the damn house in the first place.

More curses, because there was something else I wanted to write about, but I’ve forgotten, so I hate that too.

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Yesterday I finished a major project. It was the third of the photobooks I have created from our trip earlier this year to Iceland, the Baltic, and Norway. I’m very proud of it, as our photos from Norway in particular are beautiful. It would almost be impossible to visit Norway and come away without beautiful photos. Some of my favourite photographs were taken out the front of the car as we were driving, and some required a bit more thought or design; here are just a few.

Fjaerlandfjord, with boats in the foreground and snow on the mountains

Fjaerlandfjord, from our beautiful hotel, is the cover of our Norway photobook

A bookshelf on Fjaerlandfjord, with Boyabreen glacier behind

Mundal, on Fjaerlandfjord, is an international book town

The Geiranger-Trollstigen national scenic tourist route, surrounded in snow

The Geiranger-Trollstigen national scenic tourist route

Fb reminded me that this time last year I had already booked our flights and the Baltic cruise, and I was right in the middle of researching and planning our travel. I realised last night that, on and off, I’d spent a year planning and organising our trip, being on the trip, or completing photobooks after the trip. Of course, those aren’t the only things I have been doing, but I do feel that now I have some real space to think about other things. It’s time to move onto other long-neglected projects, and you know, that’s quite an exciting thought.

 

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