Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

2016 has inspired a whole lot of "well wasn't that shit" kind of commentary, and it's pretty easy to agree. The anthropomorphic personification carrying a scythe has been busy this year. Apart from the extensively discussed famous folks, I've sadly been to the funerals of some people who left the world poorer for their departure.

As I didn't set a word for 2016, I'm going to give it one retrospectively - change. Globally, I think we're seeing the pain of change playing out. Times are changing. Our economic system is on its last legs. Our legal system is unable to reflect justice meaningfully in many areas. Our political systems have become so inbred that virtually no-one, anywhere has much faith in any of its actors. Wealth distribution is at breaking point. The environment is on a knife edge. Large swathes of people have recognised that our society is built on oppression. We need change, but change hurts. The powerful few are fighting with all their vast resources to stop it. They're exploiting our natural fear of change, and combining it with a fear of the other to create a backlash against it and protect their privilege. The backlash is dangerous, and plenty of smarter people than me have written about how history teaches us we can't ignore it and hope it will go away. Left unchecked, it could end catastrophically. Globally speaking, 2017 isn't going to be better, it's going to be a fight for the future. I am hopeful, but only if we take the threat seriously.

Personally, 2016 has also been about change. I've started the process of dealing with old, old issues that keep hijacking my brain and making me respond to situations in utterly dysfunctional ways. I've continued trying to navigate life without the heteronormative scripts of Straight and Monogamous that don't apply to me, but in lots of ways I'd been following for a long time anyway because... well I'm lazy and it's the path of least resistance. But it's not who I am, and I want my kids to grow up knowing there are lots of options. There is no One True Way to live and love. We all need to find our own. Then love brings about its own change, providing both the strength and motivation for facing the pain that comes with any change that actually matters.

At midnight tonight I won't be hoping for 2017 to be better than 2016, I'll be bracing myself for the work that's still to be done, in both the public and private spheres. But behind it there is hope that the work won't be in vain. That we complete the changes that have spooked us, and that we'll chop off the heads (figuratively speaking) of those trying to sacrifice our future for their power.

Through it all, there is the immense gratitude I feel for the people I love. You are everything, and the only reason for existence. I hope 2017 brings the rewards for the work I know more than a few of you have been doing. I hope we can be each other's strength, too.

To facing 2017 with strength and kindness!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Word for 2017

I don't think I managed a word for this year. If I did, I failed to remember it. I want a word for 2017. I'm trying to fix some long standing broken bits in my brain, so having a focus seems.... helpful. I've been pondering for a while, and this evening it made itself apparent.


Kindness directed outwards. The world is going to need every scrap of kindness it can get in the coming year, and any tiny way in which I can contribute is worth it.

Kindness directed inwards. This is... challenging. The hardest part of seeing the pshrink is being told to be kind to myself. My brain kind of goes into revolt every time she says it. I suspect that's not how it should be.

So kindness it is. And putting it here might help me actually remember it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Desegregation of Education

Well, since I've found the blog, rearranged the furniture and repaired the electrics, I guess I may as well use it.

This article was posted on a friend's wall, with much ensuing discussion.
Been musing on it for a while.
I disagree that changing the language is going to help much, because the problem is a segregation mindset, and a system that is based entirely on segregation. I think that mindset is more tenacious than a change of language can fix (although I fully recognise the power of language).
We have a schooling model that separates out different kinds of kids according to arbitrary parameters - medical diagnosis, performance on a test, ability in some specific area at age 12, parents' income. We then train teachers to deal with only subsets of these groups. There is a total focus on categorisation, usually done pretty poorly anyway.
The problem is, attempts to move more kids into the mainstream in the past have largely been based on grand gestures, without any changes to the way schools work, the mindset of segregation, or making sure that the right resources are available for all kids. So people have become wary of "mainstreaming", but it doesn't have to be this way.
We need to change the way we view education. There needs to be more teachers in classrooms - like at least 2 in every full class of 30. Classes need to be made up based on the way the kids work together, not ability levels or random draws. And all teachers need to frame their approach to students as finding the kid where they are, and showing them how to get to where they need to be next. Sometimes that may indeed require another teacher with skills specific to this child. Sometimes it may require another teacher who isn't triggered by this particular kid's behaviour. That's why teaching needs to be collaborative, not just in the staffroom but in the classroom.
Further on down the line then, segregation falls apart too. If kids sit in classrooms with kids of all types, then they get to appreciate that everyone brings their own strengths and weaknesses. When they are considering employing someone, they will consider the whole range of folks, instead of only those who they found themselves categorised with. Changing schools may not be enough in and of itself to break down segregation, but it's always a bloody good start.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Faces of Depression

Depression is a slippery thing. It looks different for different people. It sometimes feels to me that it's treated as a much more uniform thing than it is.

This post would probably be better as a piece of carefully written poetry, but sadly I am no poet and I suspect it would just end up sounding like some angsty teenager who's read too many badly written teen romances. So this is just a description of how depression feels for me. For no reason other than the words seem to need to get out of my head.

Depression doesn't slowly build for me, it hits me like a ton of bricks. Still, it's not triggered by only one thing. Lots of things will slowly erode my defences, and then one carefully aimed kick will just break me. It doesn't happen very often, it takes a pretty unique set of circumstances to make it happen - a bit like an airline crash.

It feels like sadness, emptiness and worthlessness.

It's listening to a poem with the lines:
Am I enough?
Am I enough?
Am I enough?
and tearing up because I'm pretty sure I know what the answer is.

And with all the emotion comes weariness. All I want to do is sleep. Often all I can do is sleep. I have obligations that need to be met, so I go out into the world to take the kids where they need to go, to do the work, but I barely manage the requisite social interactions.

I'm invisible when I'm broken. I can't be helpful or useful, so I almost cease to exist. I can be having a conversation with someone and they just sort of drift away in the middle of it, like they forgot I was there. I guess that's probably because I don't feel like I'm there.

To get back out of it, I have to fix it. Sometimes that means working out exactly what the kick was, sometimes I know what it was, and I just need to Spakfilla over the damage. But finding the motivation to do the fixing is hard. If I want to be visible again, I need to be useful and helpful again. I need the Spakfilla to set and make me strong enough to absorb the next kick and not break. But it can be hard to convince myself the world actually wants me back anyway. It carries on perfectly well without me.

Whether the world wants me back or not, eventually the need for human connection will drive me to fix myself enough to be useful enough to maybe be worthy enough of the world. It's happened every time before, and it will happen again.

In lieu of poetry, here's some Garbage lyrics.

"Fix Me Now"

Things don't have to be this way
Catch me on a better day

Bury me above the clouds
All the way from here
Take away the things I need
Take away my fear

Hide me in a hollow sound
Happy evermore
Everything I had to give
Gave out long before

Fix me now I wish you would (Fix me now)
Bring me back to life (Fix me now)
Kiss me blind somebody should (Fix me now)
From hollow into light

Crashing silent broken down
Falling into night
Who gave up an who gave in
I'll go without a fight

Cut me down or cut me dead
Cut me in or out
Kiss me blind time after time
Take away my doubt

Fix me now I wish you would {Fix me now I wish you would} (Fix me now)
Bring me back to life (Fix me now)
Kiss me blind somebody should {Kiss me blind somebody should} (Fix me now)
From hollow into light

Things don't have to be this way
Catch me on a better day

Nowhere only down from here
Pick me off the floor
Take away the things I dream
One time one place one more

Fix me now I wish you would {Fix me now somebody should} (Fix me now)
Bring me back to life (Fix me now)
Kiss me blind somebody should {Fix me now somebody should} (Fix me now)
From hollow into

Fix me now I wish you would {Fix me now somebody should} (Fix me now)
Bring me back to life (Fix me now)
Kiss me blind somebody should {Fix me now somebody should} (Fix me now)
From hollow into light

Things don't have to be this way
Catch me on a better day
Things don't have to be this way
Catch me on a better day.