In truth, I have complex feelings most days. But today, and all this week, I have had complex feelings about being British. Monday was November 5th – Bonfire Night – and today is November 11th – Armistice Day, and the centenary of the end of World War One. So, for a Brit living in Ireland, with 139 days until Brexit apparently becomes a reality, it’s a day for complex feelings.
[NB: writing this, I’ve ended up scribbling a LOT more than I thought I would, so this is probably going to be written in several parts.]
This week I’m in Seattle – partly to catch up with old friends, and partly to attend my favourite con: GeekGirlCon. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a con focused on celebrating women and girls in geek culture and building an inclusive, welcoming, intersectional space for geeks of every gender, size, colour, shape and creed. It’s my happy place. We went to a bunch of amazing panels – Afrofuturism 101, Sappho on the Silver Screen, Breaking Stereotypes with Star Wars – and there were many more we missed. Last night, myself and himself sat around with old friends and dissected the good/bad/ugly of Star Wars (midichlorians featured heavily), with a Mon Mothma mini trapped in a gelatinous cube.
All of this reminded me how much I *love* critically engaging in geek culture. It’s something I did a lot of here in Seattle that I haven’t really continued in Dublin. I miss sitting around and talking shite about Star Wars or Doctor Who (a short skirt is not a personality trait, Moffat) – without anyone gatekeeping or getting bent out of shape.
While getting coffee yesterday, I had a minor revelation about JK Rowling and Harry Potter – and so rather than spend my morning researching the Master’s thesis I’m supposed to be writing, I’m wearing my Time-Turner and ‘Feminist Killjoy’ badge and ready to ramble about Dumbledore, bravery, wokeness and White Feminism™.
My current status: emotional whirlwind. A week after the polls have closed, I almost still can’t quite believe that we won the referendum to repeal the 8th. A landslide no less. I think it’s going to take a while for that to sink in. There has been many media/internet opinions on how the campaign was won – many, sadly not emphasising the grassroots feminist aspect, and ignoring the importance of donuts, or correctly folding t-shirts. But today, I am not going to give you another hot-take – instead, in another attempt at using writing as personal therapy, I’m going to talk about genies, ants and growing up.
I’m tired because I don’t remember the last time I had an evening off or a good night’s sleep. I’m tired because I’m not eating properly, or exercising, or taking care of myself, and my body is feeling that. I’m tired because I work a physically and emotionally demanding job. But mostly, I’m tired of asking people to give women the right to make their own decisions. I’m tired of asking people to vote Yes on Friday.
But I’m still doing it. So, for one last time, please vote YES in the referendum this Friday.
In November 2016 while living in Seattle, I wrote a (very) short blog post asking people to vote, particularly for those who are disenfranchised but have to live with the consequences of that vote. Now, nearly 18 months later and back in Ireland, I find myself once again asking for people to make sure they’re registered in time to vote on an issue that massively affects me but that I have no control over.
I’m talking, of course, about the upcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment.
As any immigrant knows, there are a million little things that continue to be different from ‘home’, long after you’ve settled into the big differences. For me, mapping the seasons onto the calendar is one of them – in particular, answering the question of ‘is it spring yet?’
I had a whole post I was going to write when I got back from our trip to Seattle. It was going to be about emotional labour. About how society consistently undervalues the unpaid/low paid womyn’s work that keeps the wheel spinning. About how practising what you preach is tough, and will probably lead to you getting called out on your problematic shit. About learning from your mistakes, and owning them, and apologising like you mean it. About reflecting on yourself and growing and changing what sucks. About how that’s hard work. It was going to be interesting, and I was going to try really hard not to talk about how great I am.
But on Monday, after a great trip to Seattle and a wedding in London, I was out of energy. Jet lag, I figured. Still, I felt kinda low. Didn’t want to do anything much. Decided to play some video games. I started up an indie game from Zoe Quinn. And I can’t stop myself from crying as I realise what that painfully familiar feeling creeping over me is. I tried to ignore it. I went out to a campaign meeting, hoping that jet-lag would be enough of an excuse for my weird spacey disconnectedness. I went home with my partner, watched Game of Thrones, hoped it would be a one-off ‘bad brain day’.
As a non-resident immigrant living in the US, we had limited political agency (I retained overseas voting rights for the UK, my husband was wholly politically disenfranchised) – and we were specifically warned about getting “too involved” in anything political by our relocation team. At times, as you may imagine, this was incredibly frustrating – especially during the global clusterfuck that was 2016. So one of the things I promised myself when I moved back to Ireland was that I would get involved in the causes that matter to me. One of those things – and the one I mostly yell about on the internet – is abortion rights.
I’ve had a busy few weeks. Last weekend, we had a friend from Seattle visiting at the end of a big Europe trip, as well as an old university friend of mine from London. The weekend before that we were in Naples, visiting another Seattle friend on a Europe trip. And the weekend before THAT my mum was over and I graduated. So we’ve now got three weeks of laundry, no groceries, and – perhaps inevitably – I am going to offload my thoughts onto the internet.