Happy thoughts 

It only takes one thought, an unhappy thought, to slip and fall. Down down down. Into the depths and darkness. Gulping in the smoke and smog. Twisting and turning until I almost hit the ground. Where I will lie broken. 

And that’s where you may find me. Revitalise me with your happy thoughts. That become my happy thoughts. Teach me to float back up. Until I have the strength to fly and then soar. 

So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land! – Peter Pan

A new thing a week

I was reading an article which suggested trying out a new thing a day. Amazing as that sounds I don’t have the energy to attempt that! So, me and my partner decided we would try doing a new thing a week. 

The rules: neither of us could have done the thing and it needs to be in the UK. 

52 sounds like a small enough number but given it’s cold and rainy it’s actually proving to be quite difficult! A real bunch of adventure hunters we’re turning out to be (!)  All the ideas we’ve come up with so far would be great in the spring / summer. But onwards we go and I’m sure this year will be better because of it. 

So far we’ve (1) gone to a book market that neither of us had been to before and (2) went inside a squat to visit a friend. 

The 2nd one is a little bit of a cheat as he has been inside squats before – just not this particular one though. And also it was more of a errand as he’d have to do as he needed to see said friend. But I had just recovered from the flu, it was pouring outside, I had an exam the next day and we were both busy on the weekend. So off to the squat it was! And it was interesting to see a space reclaimed. Not the way I could live but I appreciate people have different life experiences that would lead them to this path. 

On squats – some students have legally occupied an abandoned building in Oxford for homeless people. Please sign this petition to support them. I can’t imagine having to sleep outside in this weather – I am struggling even under my duvet. 

Other ideas we have:

  • Horse riding 
  • Learning and playing a game of chess 
  • Fly a kite 
  • Eat a cronut 
  • Visit Harry Potter world 
  • Visit Hunterian museum
  • Visit House of dreams 
  • Bake something new 
  • Volunteer in a soup kitchen 
  • Trampolining place
  • Secret cinema
  • Pottery class
  • Escape room/time run 
  • Hampton Court Palace or Crystal Palace maze

It’s been a lot of fun so far. Not too outgoing but it is only the beginning and spending that time together – no matter what we’re doing has been great. Even coming up with new ideas has been exciting. 

I would defo recommend giving this a go. I know two weeks have passed but 50 is still a huge number. And you don’t need to do it with someone. Or even with a specific someone – maybe try something new you’ve never done before even if the person you’re going with has. 

Any ideas you have of things we could try would be awesome! And I’ll update you all at the end of year on how it goes. 

The first day 

I do find is weird how we humanise the years like a block of time scheduled by the western world has any control over the fate of the whole world. 2016 was an awful year we see all over social media. It was made into a comical horror “film”. It was 2016 that caused all the deaths of the celebrities and 2016 that caused Brexit and Trump.

2016 and not people. 

In this way we can shift the blame away from ourselves – the voters and non-voters. The friends of fascists and non-friends who did not organise. 

We mourn the names of those who’s names were in lights. And that is understandable and natural. Our heroes, the unfallable, now gone. 

But natural death comes to us all. And though we mourn their dates we do not mourn the deaths of those caused by our hands. Syria, Yemen and Palestine to name just a few. We watch humanity die live from our screens. In their homes, in the sea, in the hospitals. Outside our own doorsteps we have the homeless, unable to apply for help – dying from the cold and hunger. 

Now that we have entered a new year the suffering for the millions will not stop. 

Happy New Year. May we always be concious of our actions, throughout the entire year. 

2016

Looking back at this year I am honestly struggling to think of positives. This year has taken many of our greats, and has replaced them with continual wars, noticeable rise in fascism and  uncertainty.

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The year is 365 days long. Yet it is hard to think of highlights when the most recent news is filled with children dying in Aleppo, Trump and Brexit happening so recently and, on a personal level, being stuck on a project I am not enjoying at all. Our perspectives are warped and bloated – bubbles of despair far outweighing the small pockets of hope we have seen.

And there have been pockets – the election of Malia, the first Muslim women president of NUS – someone who has put liberation in the heart of all she does, #BLM, Momentum. But even Momentum is fractured and Black Lives Matter UK is working on its direction and Malia continues to work on fires caused by those unwilling to give her a chance. I am in a new relationship and it is going very well. And dare I say it, I think I am in love. But we live in two different cities and navigating our relationship long term will be a struggle.

Tomorrow will be like today. A few seconds on a clock do not bring certainty where so much uncertainty exists. Do not provide answers to questions and do not rid us of the pain we have carried for the last 365. But unlike tomorrow we have this concept of a new year. So we can pretend it is a new beginning. We can try and better ourselves at least.

Perhaps nothing will change. But for my sanity I will change. I will refresh my outlook. Go in ready to take on the battles like they are new, with new energy and new resolve. I will try again like I have not tried a million times before. And maybe, just maybe, it will all work out differently this time.

I wish everyone a blessed New year and pray you are able to overcome this year. 

An unplanned ode

Today’s my last day working from the office this year. I would love to say it’s my last day working but alas I have decided to roll over my left over holiday to next year in the hopes I will make some use of it. I did only just get back from holiday about a month ago – though how quickly a tan fades and the longing to be on a plane out of here comes back!

Given I haven’t just written in a while I thought I would do just that. I did mention in the last time I did one of these that I am now in a new relationship. It will be just three months in a few days but boy does it feel longer. It is a weird one because we have been friends for two years now, and very good friends for several months. And when I say very good friends, I mean talking to each other everyday for about 3 months before we dated. There was a lot of “does he like me”, “why did he say that”, “can he tell I like him”.

Three months ago I decided I would give him until December to tell me if he liked me. God forbid I be the one to take the leap first. A few days later he said something that melted me and I just blurted out “you and me – what’s going on?” Completely unplanned and super awkward. But we talked and of course it turned out he liked me to and the rest is history.

He’s a shy one. And when I say shy I mean significant speaking disorder, inaudible shy. In fact, barely anyone can hear him and even fewer can understand him. But somehow I manage it. When he does speak, every word is important. And when he writes, he is quick and poetic.  Continue reading

The age of automation: work less, paid more

I work to make the rich richer. Improve the technology companies use, saving them resources and ultimately costs. Old ways of working are replaced by software or more efficient robots. Ultimately this leads to loss of jobs.

With the rise of strike action happening over Christmas directly caused by this it got me wondering about the sustainability of manual work forces.

Even with my lovely starter salary I am consistently in my overdraft. With the cost of living in London is rising still and work available reducing, I wonder how the capitalistic state we live in can continue. We continue to blame immigrants for loss of our jobs. But is it computers that we forget to worry about?

We invest billions to save trillions. Do we not want to be more efficient and advanced? Of course the answer is yes. Technological advances are inevitable. The problem is those at the top are taking savings made as profit, and making those at the bottom redundant. This is only sustainable for so long before you have a nation of people with no jobs. Now do the managers care – probably not. But we shouldn’t let that stop us.

What could the solution be? Here are a few of my own musings on a Monday morning over Christmas break. No theoretical and economic backing has gone into this except my own experiences working in the industry. I would be very much be interested in book recommendations or thoughts in the comments.

Less work, more pay.

With a global world, a world where the sun never sets and boundaries are just lines on a map, why are we still sticking to the 5 day a week schedule? Why not have a timeless workforce? One where each person works less overall – say 35 hours per week. The money saved from the cumulative longer hours and more efficient work done can be poured back in to pay everyone a decent salary.

And then we will all have more time. Time to help out in our communities, grow our own food, stay fit, spend time with our families. More rest to reduce the stress induced mental health and physical health issues draining our NHS. Reduced crimes due to rise in employment. A reduction in the divide between the poor and rich.

We will take back control of our economy so that it works for us rather than we work for it.

A utopia worth fighting for.

Workers of all lands, unite!

Bullshit 

Her: I don’t like Beyoncé 

Me: oh yeh? Why not? 

Her: because she bleaches her skin 

Me: well she’s quite light skin to begin with 

Her: bullshit 

Me: and anyway there’s societal pressures for people with dark skin to lighten their skin 

Her: bullshit 

Me: it’s genuinely considered an attractive feature and something companies capitalise on 

Her: bullshit

I will never get over the entitlement of white middle class women to not only assume they know what societal pressures for *women of colour* are like but ignore information when they are given it. 

This is why your feminism is not my feminism and your liberation will never be my liberation. 

The good immigrant 

My driver this morning asked me what I thought about Brexit. Months on the conversation goes on in the radio. A polish man, was not allowed to vote himself. 

I told him I voted stay. And not because I necessarily believe in the EU – a structure designed to find strength in the weakness of others. The us against them. But because of the racists and xenophobic rhetoric. 

My boy Tom did not vote out because he wanted out. He voted to get you and I out. To keep you and I out. 

And I don’t believe in the good versus bad immigrant. Yes my people and your people built this country, died for this country and continue to keep this country running. But some of my people are unable to work. For sickness or lack of work. Others make their money through the hustle. And they too “deserve” to be here. 

Because you too have your sick, your old, your poor. 

This small island is your home. And it was your fathers home. And his father’s before him. Amongst the smoke and the concrete and the cobalt. 

My father was born in the sun, around green and blue and brown. My father lived in a mud house, in a tin house and now rules a brick house. 

He came here promised work and was given a beating and spit for free. In his 40s something burst in his stomach and he could no longer lift his arms all the way up. He sold his shares in the resturant and signed on. My father is not a good immigrant. 

And even still this too is my home. 

“Here’s to them waking up at 4a.m., calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here’s to their children, to the children who despite it all become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists and rebels. Here’s to international money transfers. For never forgetting home.” – first generation, questions for Ada, Ijeoma Umebinyuo

My bi brother 

My sister found my little brother’s phone still in his hand late on night. Light still on and headphones still plugged in. He was fast asleep. She reached to take the phone from his clutch and place it on the table besides him. And then she dropped it. 

He had been watching porn. And not just any porn but gay porn. 

Her little brother. 17, brown and Muslim. 

She didn’t know what to do and and came crying into my room. She gave me his phone. He had been messaging a older man. The man had sent him pictures and videos. And he had sent pictures back – but only of his face, fully clothed (as far as the pictures on record showed). 

I proceeded to printscreen and send to myself so I had this man’s number. A man who was sending naked images to minors. And accidently locked the phone. Fuck. 

The next morning my brother saw someone had messaged me the pictures. I called him into my room and explained I that I was simply worried about the pedophile and reassured him I still loved and cared for him. I apologised for going through his phone and told him he could speak to me if he wants. 

He told me he was bi. And I told him it was ok. He begged me not to tell mum and I promised him I wouldn’t. 

And I haven’t. 

But we haven’t spoken about it since. Not me and him. Not my sister and I. 

I have always been an advocate for liberation and this included LGBT+ rights as you cannot separate them. Yet as a straight, cis person – it has not been personal before as racism, disabilities, sexism and islamophobia have been. 

Since then I have been doing a lot of thinking about queerness. I do wonder if we are all born queer and socitial and other pressures lead us to live one way or another. For instance, LGBT+ communities were very prevalent and accepted in south Asian communities prior to western, Christian colonisation that outlawed it. And yet Islam specifically prohibits non-heterosexual relationships. It also prohibits all sexual relationships prior to marriage.

I guess it is easy to speak about rights that go against your culture when the two don’t have to intersect. This whole thing has made me question my allyship. Clearly more for show than I had previously realised. 

And of course this is not about me. I am sure my brother is going through a very complicated thought process, being outed without his choice and having to navigate life as a bi, brown, Muslim man. 

Yet that does not take away from me having to do a lot of learning and growing.