Christmas Eve’s Eve

It’s Christmas Eve Eve. Me and the fada are sitting the kitchen compiling our festive playlists for our respective blogs (or blobs) while everyone else is very sensibly asleep. I’ve been home since Monday, finishing up a Christmas post for Gaelick (Link to come later), wrapping last minute pressies, tidying a bit, singing with my niece & family and cooking like mad. My brother’s partner and I decided to cook a gormet vegetarian meal from Terre a terror and took her, my sister and I most of the day to prepare. But at the end of the night it was great food.

Here is my small selection of Christmas Choons for 2014. Some of them are old favourites, some relatively recent and some that have nothing to do with Christmas as such but are still lovely.

Every year a friend of mine has a party and it’s one of the highlights of my Christmas where we are asked to draw a heartwarming picture with our non-dominant hand. It’s the Cratchitts being able to buy a new house with the money they got from Scrooge.

Ninja's Christmas Party

New year, new home, new baby! Much joy for Bob and Emily.

I’m going to make a cup of tea and head bedwards but I will leave you with a photo of our Christmas twig from this year.

Christmas Twig

Our Christmas Twig


The Yawhg or Co-Operative Gaming FTW

I’m a big fan of a website called The Mary Sue. Now, contrary to the images the name may conjure, it is awesome, sub headed “A guide to geek girl culture”, blogs about new releases, feminism, geekery and wonder. It’s basically my perfect site.
(Also on a similar page but not something I’m going to talk about now is
Now a good while ago in April, I found a review there for a new independent game that had just been released, The Yawhg. This game looked amazing, Becky Chambers’ tales of playing this game drew me right in and I knew with no other information that this was my kind of game, that I would love this game completely. I kept the review open for about two months as a reminder to go to the site, buy the game, but as things so often do with me I forgot and kept putting it off. But eventually I bought it…

The Yawhg is an interesting mishmash of genres and game types, part board game, part tabletop game akin to D&D, you have a character, a tiny picture of a person, and that’s your starting point, all four have the same starting stats, you just have a picture and a portrait that paints itself more with each round. Blue woman, Green man, Red lady, Orange guy, all moving between eight different locations one move a round, with six rounds.

The Yawhg Will be here in six weeks...

The Yawhg will be here in six weeks…

There is a great evil coming, very soon and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to deter it, no one knows what The Yawhg is, and no one mentions it, so you and your companions do the only thing you can do, live your lives.
When I bought it, I was slightly prepared by Becky’s review, I knew that aiming high in one or two stats would benefit me, but I didn’t understand how really, and on my first playthrough I lost the fight, we were defeated, the town was doomed. I sat at the kitchen table, arms wrapped tightly around my legs, staring bereft at the screen, my girlfriend doing something else on the other side of the kitchen came round to see what was going on and I roped her into playing the next game with me…
We failed again and sat on the verge of tears as the town was doomed a second time and our characters’ epilogues rolled across the screen. It took us a few minutes to gather ourselves together enough to try again, but we did. Both of us armed with the knowledge of how we had failed last time, we tried harder, rather than playing one character each, we took two. We payed attention to who visited which location, we allocated jobs best suiting our stats and it paid off! This time, instead of the burnt and crumbling husk of our town, we saw the flag fly high over towers and blue skies. I changed my desktop background to that ending picture so that even when we lost I would have the reminder that we had won and would again.

Since that first day I’ve played it loads; quick games by myself trying to get new endings; with various friends trying to get them hooked, with my siblings, who didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I hoped; different games, again and again. The replayablity of it is somewhat debatable, the game changes, and you won’t ever be able to play the exact same game twice, and there are lots of different endings (I doubt I’ve uncovered even half) but I can imagine some people getting impatient with it, however I love it and will probably continue playing long after everything has been revealed.

I curled up today for a couple more games with my partner, and it really is the perfect game for a lazy Sunday afternoon, great played cuddled up with tea and a duvet, made perfect by that cozy content feeling when you flourish (as we did). I’d recommend it to anyone who likes stories and playing games with friends around. I think in this age of internet co-ops and online gaming, it’s good to have a game that you have to band together over a single computer to play.

The Yawhg is a lot like life, you do what you can, you have to take chances and try as hard as you can, and as in life sometimes you fail, but it’s worth the failure because you could succeed and at the very least you’ve tried. Sometimes buildings are devoured, sometimes you don’t understand the jokes, but sometimes you get to dance, to help an orphan, to have meaningful conversations late into the night.
My only real other advice is this- If you see a wall-like hedge, run, destroy it, whatever.  Just get away.

Insert 2

The Irish Problem

There’s a problem in Ireland and it’s been going on for centuries. It’s not the rain, or the alcohol, the leprechauns or even the occasional famines we’ve been known to have.
The Irish problem is emigration, we’ve been coming and going for 10,000 years or so. After the great famine the population halfed, a quarter died and a quarter left, in times of recession (which seem to happen often) many people would leave to find work overseas, and since 2008 it’s been going on again.

My grandmother came to Ireland from The Niger Republic, as did my great grandmother 30 years later. My grandfather was born in Wales to Irish parents, moved around a lot before settling in the south of Ireland. My mother was sent across the sea to go to school in Meath at 5. My father came to Dublin when he was 18 to go to college and met my mother there. When my brother was born they moved around a lot, across two continents and several countries.

I come from a family of emigrants and immigrants, so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that when I was 17 and found myself with no decent job prospects and no qualifications (Due to home education) in a world where to get into third level education you desperately need qualifications, I left. I was and still am the first of my group of friends to leave, but almost everyone I know knows someone who has left. Two of my friends seem set to go to college in Wales or Scotland in the next year or two, and who knows what’ll happen when everyone starts to finish up college and look for jobs.

There’s this interesting thing where you are simultaneously an emigrant and an immigrant with the particular issues that come up for both of those. The tiny cultural differences that suddenly become so massive, the huge amounts of homesickness. People make horrible comments about immigrants sometimes, occasionally in a semi friendly banter, more often when someone forgets that I wasn’t born here. A couple of weeks ago a billboard went up around the corner from where I live. it was from UKIP (The UK Independence Party, a group primarily made up of close-minded dickheads) saying “Stop Open-Door Immigration, enough is enough”. It’s pretty damn demoralising to walk past that every day. On the other hand, when I was in college there was a running “joke” about the “Damn Irish, coming to our country, taking our jobs and our women” which became hilarious when everyone realised I had in fact done just that.

I get overly excited when I meet someone from Ireland, joyfully chatting about where we’re both from and who (if anyone) we know in common. According to my girlfriend, sometimes I get grumpy, morose and patriotic if I’m away from home too long. I occasionally freak out about living in a country with a monarchy.And when I finally do go home I want to jump around and hug everyone.

I guess what I’m tying to talk about here are the difficulties of emigration on a personal level, it’s different for everyone who leaves, depending on the whys and the hows. It was hard for me, it wasn’t a decision I had a lot of time to think about. From conception to actually moving I had about 2 weeks in total. I was going to a town I didn’t know, in a country I didn’t belong in, a college course I knew next to nothing about and to lodge with a woman I had never met. But I had family nearby (An aunt and my brother living quite close) and more support than a lot of people who have to leave their birthplaces.

People ask me is England home now, and the answer is that it isn’t, Ireland is home, for always and ever. I want to go home one day be it in a year or ten, because it’s where I belong.

And I’m going to end it here, because I’m not sure what else to say right now, though I’ll probably write more on the subject soon.

A post-script. I was originally going to name this post “The Irish Curse” until I realised that that is slang for an Irish man with a smaller than average penis. Whelp, there goes that title!

Another post-script. The UKIP board round the corner has been replaced by an ad for Sainsbury’s Apple Pie, much more palatable!

Short Poem Drop

Potato Salad

Listen to the radio,
News of job-loss, doom, and gloom.
Look out of the window,
Gray skies, dark, rain,
Tired, Angry, Fractious people,
And for me? Nothing to look forward to but potato salad…

Can I Borrow It?This is a featured page

She said “I love your top, can I borrow it?”
And she took it, I never say it again.

She said “I want that lipstick, can I have it?”
She went home with it, I never saw it again.

She said “I want those earrings, can I take them?”
She took them and left, I never saw them again.

The last time I saw her she said, “I love your skin, can I have it?”
She took my skin and left, I never saw her again.

Fears Of The DeadThis is a featured page

I’m curled in a fetal position,
I’ve been this way for years,
They came one night and killed me,
to help to cure their fears.

Now I’m in a museum,
Naked, Screaming but no one to hear,
I’m here, alone, cold and scared,
I’ll be here forever I fear.

(This poem was inspired by the bog bodies in the national history museum in Dublin).

The Handbag

The handbag contains:

An old bus ticket,
Pages from some old books,
A blue purse,
Two pieces of paper, one saying “Anger”, and the other “Hallway”,
A music notebook full of chords, songs, and lyrics,
Two pens, one gold, one black,
A rose quartz on a string,
A library card,
A gold-ish bracelet,
A Book, “Remember Me When I Am Gone Away” by Christina Rossetti,
A small cloth heart, red gingham with white thread,
and a stolen bourbon.

On The B and The T: A Response To GCN’s LGBT Soup

We have a bit of a problem.
And when I say “we” I mean the LGBT community, otherwise known to some people as the LGBTLMFAO. Recently Ireland’s longest-running national gay publication GCN published an article that has raised a lot of comment and heckles- LGBT Soup

Now before I dive into this, there are two clarifications I want to make. Firstly that I usually really enjoy GCN and it’s writings, it’s interesting, relevant even if I find it focuses a bit too much on the G in LGBT sometimes, this is not an attack on GCN that I’m writing, but an article published by GCN and written by the deputy editor was the catalyst. Secondly, I’m majorly focusing on writing about bisexual and trans* issues and marginalization here, and being neither bi nor trans* I am admitting now that I may screw up on something somewhere, but if I’ve messed up, please tell me what I’ve gotten wrong or if I’m inadvertently offensive because I am happy to learn and be corrected.

There are masses and masses of issues I take with this piece, majorly the marginalization of bi-sexual, trans*, and asexual people, all of which I will get to in a minute.

While I do agree with the basic premise as put forth by GCN in their The Editor Responds, to write more opinion pieces and create and facilitate discussion, which I believe is the first step to changing any social opinion or feeling, and to comment on the use of LGBT and the extended abbreviations that are also added on (A quick look at Wikipedia tells me that the letters often used are LGBTQQUCITTSAPSHOFP) I do not agree with the way Ciara McGrattan has chosen to phrase her views.

Let’s start with the thorn-bush-like issue of the acronym. I think practically everyone can agree that it is too long and fairly damn confusing, but right now we don’t have anything better. Since I came out I’ve been involved occasionally with a few official LGBT groups and I really love the feeling of community that I’ve found there, a community majorly built on acceptance and openness to individuality, so it upsets me to hear other people saying that some people don’t belong in the movement. We need an umbrella term, a really big and lovely umbrella term to describe ourselves, and the community that we’re building but until then let’s stick with what we’ve got and let people add on what they need as they need? Yes it’s sometimes a bit off putting, and quite unwieldy, but is that the worst thing in the world?

Now we get into the section where I start quoting… When talking about trans* people and their place in the LGBT movement she says “By including an identity not specifically referring to same-sex attraction (T), the flood gates were opened.” “But as big a fan as I am of sensitivity to marginalised individuals, I am more concerned with accuracy of language.“. I understand that the trans* community has issues that are not always mirrored by the issues of the L, G and B, as gender and sexuality are often separate issues, but there’s still the major point that draws us all together and means these conversations are even an issue in the first place, the fact that we all face marginalization and discrimination, and we can fight that together.

“Even the current LGBT mouthful is unnecessarily long, when ‘gay’ suffices for all same-sex attractions. This doesn’t cover bisexuals, you might argue. It doesn’t need to: ‘bisexual’ is only a description of what someone is doing when they’re not same-sexing it up.”

“I propose it’s time to simplify and perhaps employ a modicum of moderation to the unwieldy beast of LGBTLMFAO initials. Do you sleep with people of the same sex? Welcome to Gay Club. In a relationship with someone of the same-sex? Welcome to Gay Club. Trans and exclusively attracted to people of your gender? Welcome to Gay Club. Attracted to both sexes? Good for you, but unless you’re with someone of the same-sex, you aren’t part of Gay Club.”

That’s Ciara McGrattan’s view on both bisexuality and what we should use instead of our current, lovely umbrella term. And I disagree heartily with both. Isn’t the whole reason we banded together because straight cisgender people didn’t want us in their club? Now is not the time to get all cliquey!

Now, there seems to be over whelming belief from all sides of the ring, heterosexual and homosexual that bi-sexuality is not a true sexual orientation and instead is the name that people have chosen to describe themselves when they can’t pick a side, are sexually thrill seeking and therefore exploiting the feelings of the people who are “genuinely homosexual”, or are just plain greedy. When I was 14 I read a novel a friend had about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality and in the novel a friend of his who was already out warned him not to date bisexuals as they were fickle and would break his heart. Now maybe it’s just me but I don’t think that’s on.
I think bisexuals possibly even have more issues to face within themselves when coming out because they face both the stigma placed on homosexuality and and the stigma placed on bisexuality. I know bisexuals who have had a massively hard time coming out and some who haven’t come out at all because of these stigmas and articles like LGBT Soup just help continue these.

And the idea that your issues only matter when you’re in a same-sex relationship? That’s just insane. It’s saying that when I’m not in a relationship or as it was so nicely put “same-sexing it up” my issues don’t count? Is everyone asexual when they’re not getting laid in her worldview? She seems to be saying that sexual attraction is only an issue when you’re acting on it, something I massively disagree with. The whole point is that we all have a place here, anyone who has had issues along the way because of gender identity or sexuality, and personally I whole-heartedly welcome allies too. Come in from the rain under our umbrella, we’ve got soup!

Somewhat Related Links- (Mostly stolen from Consider The Tea Cosy)

Other responses to LGBT Soup-

We Are Not Your Afterthought – Responding To LGBT Soup

LGBT Soup for a Reason

Further Reading on B, T and Acronyms-

Wikipedia on LGBT

STAD- Stop Transgender Abuse and Discrimination

The Case of the Missing Bisexual

The Case of the Missing Bisexual

What Does A Lesbian Look Like

Last Thursday, I became a proper lesbian.
Now, understand. I came out as gay in 2009, but that didn’t really count.
I’ve had girlfriends, but as everyone knows, any girl can snog another girl and not be a “dyke”.

No. To be a real lesbian, you must own a plaid flannel shirt. And so it came to be, that after a quick shop in Oxfam, I became a proper lesbian.

Now, properly and unsarcastically, I call bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new plaid shirt, it’s actually really comfy and I think it looks good. But I’m not wearing this shirt because I love women, and wearing it does not make me gay either.
When I came out there were a few people who were confused because I “looked straight” which I’ve always found strange, I suppose I’d technically be termed as a “lipstick lesbian”, or “femme lesbian”? I can’t keep up with all the hip new terms the kids are coming up with.
I’m just a woman, a woman who likes women, and dresses. I’m not more attracted to “butch” women or “dykes” because I feel there needs to be a gender binary balance to our relationship. I just feel that my sexuality and attraction to women have no connection to the clothes I wear. And it frustrates me when I try to come out to someone and they can’t comprehend my lesbianism due to my wearing of long floaty skirts, or when I buy clothing and my friends give out to me for looking “dykey” and playing into stereotypes. It seems I just can’t win!
So what do you do? What can you do in the face of all these stereotypes and lose-lose situations?
Confuse the hell out of people back. Wander around in flouncy dresses and Doc Martins, plaid shirt with hippy skirts.
Wear the clothes I want to wear, that make me feel happy, comfortable and like the person I really am.

Plaid shirt now bought and worn in, I must make a hair cut appointment to get a buzzcut… Or maybe a mullet.

The Cake Project Part 2: Sir Terry Pratchett

So, I’d met Neil Gaiman, and 14 year old me was halfway there on her life goal quest, owning a twice-signed copy of Good Omens.

The only problem was that part two of the plan involved tracking down a world famous author who had Alzheimers and was probably not doing much touring due to recent aid diagnosis. At any rate, meeting Neil had been a fluke! No way I could pull that one off again.
But in November my father got an email from someone in TCD (Trinity College Dublin, full ‘official’ name – The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin) where he worked saying that Terry Pratchett was receiving an honorary doctorate of English and there were limited tickets available to go and see him give a talk. Some how (Probably through dark magics) my father got me two tickets. Now believe it or not, I had barely any friends at the time who were into Terry Pratchett at the time, and I ended up with a choice of two, one of my best friends or the lad I was dating. I ended up given them to Nadia, a choice I never regretted seeing as me and her had a brilliant time, and me and the lad broke up not long after.
The night before I was going up to Dublin, I did some baking and stayed up most of the night painting an ice cream box to put the biscuits I’d made into. I painted it, painstakingly and quite impressively for the lack of artistry I generally showed, with things from the Discworld, there was the Luggage, Rincewind’s ‘wizzard’ Hat, the Discworld itself, and something else that fails to spring to mind. Biscuits boxed and bagged along with a letter I wrote Sir Terry and a bunch of books in my bag I was ready.

The talk was brilliant, when I saw Terry Pratchett talk a second time his PA had to give most of the talk as Terry’s Alzheimers had progressed further. But when I saw him in 2008 he was brilliant. But the point of our story comes at the end of his talk. He’d finished the talk and was getting ready to walk out down the central aisle. There was going to be a wine reception in The Long Room afterwards but it was unclear whether Terry Pratchett would be there, I got very worried that this was my only chance ever to give the biscuits to Terry Pratchett, As he walked out I asked Nadia if I should give it to him then, and playings devil’s advocate she said yes.
I ran across a row of chairs and jumped into the aisle in front of him, holding out the bag saying “I made you cookies!”, he smiled and laughed, saying “I suppose I’d better give you a kiss then!” and kissed me on the cheek, before walking out.

He was at the wine reception, and I got my copy of Good Omens signed by him, just beneath Neil Gaiman’s signature.

Coming next The Cake Project Part 3: Bell X1