Archive | Jelly- Life and Thoughts RSS feed for this section

Companion Texts, or, How Good Books Saved My Life Thanks

14 Jul

Hey! I know it’s been a while, like literally years! Hi! I don’t know if you read this anymore but! I feel smarter now! Qualified to write! I am nineteen and off to university to do medicine and to pay a lot of money to stop thinking as much for myself and maybe also learn something about bones, but I feel prepared for it. Like my life is on track. Like I know who I am.

And why might that be?

It is my accumulated hoard of books, books.

(Also, like, life experience and better mental health. There are many things.)

They are my children (and somehow also my parents?). My paper sorority. My boxing gloves. My teachers. And, as Sara Ahmed puts it, my “companion texts”.

Companion texts guide you, wait to be referred to in times of trouble when none of your friends, maybe, know, but the living paper holds the answer.

They do not have to be feminist in an academic sense, a weighty sense, but when I think of these I think of writing that inspires me to be strong. Stronger. Enjoyable to read, a breeze, does not mean that it isn’t educational. Some of the best lessons are through humour.

Reading is so good for me because it feels like an active process. When I went through a phase of writing out endless lists of Pros and Cons about myself to Truly Understand Who I Am, No For Real This Time, I would always write “reader” on the good side. I take it in and churn it and the knowledge hardens like a fist.

I must thank my older sister for a large proportion of this list. Thanks! However, I can also thank myself for wanting to learn and making it my hobby to stretch out my mind and love myself when I could easily not. Thanks, me!

So – I recently had this conversation with a friend on a train. A male writer who is famous.  She loves him. I have tried three of his novels and am Uninspired. She is trying to convince me and I am talking out why I don’t want to be convinced.

I realised that – and this almost certainly makes me a Nasty Feminist™ (how dare I let my politics interfere with my appreciation of art?) – beyond any artistic concerns  what really Ground My Gears was the blandness and predictable perspective of the inevitably male protagonist. He dreams after women, projects his everything onto them, hopes that they will sort out his life and its beigeness without contributing anything himself.

I said, hey, maybe this is why I don’t really read books written by men any more!

It clicked into place.

Once I thought this, other thoughts followed as they are wont to do.

  • Is this why I haven’t been enjoying the Classics™ like I used to?
  • Is this why all the books I’ve read recently have been by women?

And then the meta of:

  • Is this why I am saying sorry less?
  • Is this why I am getting into more fights?
  • Is this why I am less craving of approval?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I have moved towards and am gravitating towards women and PoC and queer writing to help understand the world. The new views split apart what we know. What I know. As a white woman there are lots of worlds that I don’t know, and literature helps me to understand them and grow accordingly.

My list as follows consists of what I have read that I think falls into this category – of strength giving, teaching, world opening. If you have any others I would like to know. And I hope this lists keeps extending through my life, amen.

  • Living a feminist life, Sara Ahmed.

Because this book basically inspired me to start this list I have to put it first. So. So good. It made me get into my first argument with my dad about him speaking over the female members of my family. So make of that what you will. But! I resurfaced incandescent from reading it!

  • Anything by Octavia Butler. Especially Dawn and

As well as being compulsive reads, the science fiction is remarkable for its 1) brown woman characters 2) really smart explorations of the world we are falling into. Exactly what sci fi should be!!

  • The Earthsea Quartet, Ursula Le Guin.

Especially the last one! Amazing amazing fantasy but the last in the series just puts a Big Ol’ Dollop of all the women we needed in it, and IMO the best.

  • Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncoMouse™, Donna J. Haraway.

It’s technical and you might need to read it with a glass of water and a dictionary, but for me as a prospective doctor being introduced to the idea that science is not infallible (!!) and that it is constructed, like anything else, by history and culture, was really important to think about!

  • Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde.

I started reading this again after receiving it for Christmas and devouring it in one (1) sitting. Yes. Yes, yes.

  • A little life, Hanya Yanagihara.

TW: graphic descriptions of sexual abuse and child abuse. Fucking heartbreaking. I cried in work reading this, but delightfully my manager had read it too and understood the struggle.

  • Fun Home, Alison Bechdel.

A Classic. Subtle family and art and everything and

  • Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi.

One of the first books I read that changed how I thought about reading. So fun! Like a friend telling a good story and you gasp and cry! So good to read as a 12 year old and now as a 19 year old and hopefully again and again until I’m 80!

  • The mushroom at the end of the world, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing.

About mushrooms (matsutake to be precise) but also about everything that connects humans with nature and commodities and culture.

  • Are Prisons Obselete?, Angela Y. Davis.

Small but groundbreaking. Filled with restrained and measured anger at a system we cope with because we haven’t the bravery for anything else.

  • Staying with the trouble, Donna J. Haraway.

We cannot give up. We have to stay with it, and work with it, and hope. Whether it’s the environment or capitalism, the ways that we have destroyed the world can be not reversed but acknowledged, and to survive means finding radically new ways of doing it.

  • Beloved, Toni Morrison

Like a piece of poetry. Like a spell. Thank you. Can’t believe its my first Toni Morrison book but ya gotta start somewhere I guess.

 

Gallery

Why I tell gross boys at parties that I’m a lesbian (not true).

21 Jan

Here is something I don’t like: saying no. Rejecting people. Resisting the urge to start nodding before the question is even asked. (I just want people to like me??? Is that a crime???)

Here’s something I do like: parties. I like Absolut and dancing and treading on the fun side of “too glittery”. (Who makes the rulez anyway? Fight me. I have more glitter than you will ever understand.)

Here’s an experience that connected these two things and revealed something small and unimpressive about myself:

I was standing at the edge of a party, panting and getting ready to rejoin the fray, and I saw a Boy approaching. A boy that had already approached my friends but had been put off by their defensive group formation. But I was alone, and recovering from a surprise piggy-back, and there was nothing I could do apart from wait.

He swooped and slotted next to my bum with his delighted grin already prepared, showing his slick teeth. There was nothing less I wanted in that moment than to speak to him. Nothing.

He said words which I could not hear over the bass but it really didn’t matter because we can probably all guess. I definitely caught the word “beautiful”, which is always a bad sign when from someone you don’t know.

I grimaced at my friends who gave me cheerful thumbs ups and laughed. Cruel friends!

This boy got closer and closer and my feeling of please don’t touch me got closer and closer to overcoming my politeness until he said something like “so, are you here alone,” and I was like. No.

The time honoured excuse of

“I’m sorry, I’m a lesbian.”

burst out.

This is not true. In the plastic language of describing sexuality to teenage straight boys, however, it is partially true.

I am into boys. I was not into this boy. At this point, I was really into spinning in circles with my excellent friend until light smears and we collapse laughing, and at the back of my mind was a fierce desire to obliterate anything that got in the way of that.

The boy says “What??”

And then “You’re too cute to be a lesbian. I never would have guessed.”

And then “Are you sure?”

And then, blessedly, he detached in search of some goddamn straight girls.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I was less drunk, I thought about this incident and what it shows about how I perform being queer and a lady – alternate hidings and dramatic reveals when it suits me.

The way I just described this, it sounds like I was against it from the beginning. Although I was never going to do anything with him and it was too noisy to flirt properly anyway, the vibe he got from me at first was probably “Lol, whatever, at least this boy appreciates this dress because none of my friends gave me enough credit and I look like the one hundred emoji tonight.” I was not flirting with him, but I was also not giving him the No as soon as he walked up, probably because I was too out of breath to move fast. He took this as a yes – lol @ entitlement – but this is kind of his problem. However, I didn’t say no. Is that my fault?

So why didn’t I? Why did I semi-lie to get him to go away? Why is the word no trapped somewhere deep in my throat when it comes to situations like these?

I turned him down with amusement, with the word sorry of all things because no way in hell could I just say no. I was so unable to say no that I couldn’t just say I’m queer and therefore interested in all genders (true), I had to shut him out completely, provide an excuse for not being interested in him and not appreciating his unwanted attention.

Being a lesbian, in the snap judgement I made at the time, more acceptable to this random guy’s ego than a straight (( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) rejection in a situation I was uncomfortable in.

I mean, it worked! He went away! But this entire experience – and it’s not just a one-off – makes me realise that I should work on rejections, because my sexuality is not, technically, a reason, but my lack of attraction is.

Another thing: I am femme AF. Make-up, shiny everything, heels, whatever. This is why this dim boy thought I was ””””too cute”””” to be gay.

People think I’m straight, all the time (itself a form of erasure)*, which can make life easier for me in specific situations. It can hide me, and I am often hidden. If I am flirting with a boy, sometimes I purposefully don’t tell him I’m queer for fear of putting him off (I’m fully aware I have bad taste in boys and don’t know how to flirt.) I’m also white, cis, acceptably-bodied, etc. (see below for me breaking this down further). I also don’t want to deal with the endless nonsense of explaining what queer means and having  people say, actually from a straight person’s perspective I don’t understand and think you’re wrong. (Good).

 

IN SUM TOTAL: FUCK MALE ATTENTION AND APPROVAL 2K16 BUT ALSO STAY SAFE GALS, DON’T FEEL FORCED TO COME OUT UR NOT LYING TO ANYONE FUK DA SEXUALITY POLICE. KEEP ON TRICKIN THOSE FUCKBOYS @ PARTIES AND LAUGHING WITH YA GALS, WHO GIVES A SHIT.

*two interesting articles about femme privilege and whether it exists or not. It’s all about intersection of identities, guys! The main point is – the shit I get is shit that all women get, and the good stuff is probably due to white privilege. WoC, trans women etc. are likely to have a very different experience as being femme from my middle class white one. Still interesting points though. And also, is people wilfully ignoring the possibility of queerness a plus? Are small favours rooted in misogyny (free bus rides, free drinks etc.) really evidence that I’m lucky? idk

http://femmedreamboat.tumblr.com/post/39734380982/femme-privilege-does-not-exist

http://www.autostraddle.com/femme-privilege-does-exist-a-little-153400/

We are different people, if you are wondering.

11 Nov

Hi! I’m Jelly . And I’m Lilipop.

As today is the first anniversary of Jellypop and we get a lot of emails and comments from people who think we are the same person, we thought now would be a good time to tell you a bit about ourselves. At the beginning (and this really was in our baby days) Lilipop used to write in bold and me in normal. Due to my innate laziness, this plan died quietly after the 3rd or so post. Since then, we’ve been writing without names (me, sorry) and without any obvious identifiers to let you know who is actually talking. I was thinking about going over all of our old posts and doing names and the right fonts but to tell the truth I can’t really be bothered (sorry). We thought we should tell you a bit about us to prove we are not actually the same person.

I am Jelly (hi!) and I write most of the ~emotional~ side of things here at Jellypop. I really enjoy reading, and at times I am quite insecure and sad, although hopefully I am getting over that. I like drawing and baking and dancing alone in my room, and I haven’t shopped at anywhere but charity shops and bargain basements for 6 months. In the future (although I am fully aware this is a horrible question for any teenager to have to answer), I’m thinking of being a doctor or a biochemist, although in my wildest moments I dream of being in a cool girl band (although I cannot sing/play guitar/drums for shit ((Jelly is a flute playing goddess though)) and travelling the world with my cool friends. I like comfort, and in theory enjoy parties, and the way to my heart is either art galleries or late night music video channels.

And I am Lilipop. I normally try and do more informative/factual blogs because I always wanted this to be a safe learning space and I really enjoy learning about feminism from awesome blogs. I mostly do feminism but for hobbies, I go to school, am addicted to social media and do crafty making things, my favourite thing I made recently is Eugene the Uterus which is a crochet uterus with a bowtie on.  I really love my friends a lot and making internet friends is funsies but I adore going out to museums and so on with my lovely pals the most. Music-wise, I play the Viola, Bassoon and Tenor Sax. I really don’t like thinking about the future, I just try to be happy and do my best in the present. Also the future is very scary.

Basically, we are two really good friends who were ok-ish friends at the start of this blog, and now are really close. It’s pretty great. I highly recommend Lilipop as a superbuddy to moan about everything from classical music to sexist shits with, because she is the empress of the universe and you should worship her, just saying. Anyway this blog is really fun, as are you, and I’ll make sure to put my name on next time bc we are definitely different people and it’s probably important that the internet doesn’t view us as one, double-headed-two-voiced vaguely teenage amorphous entity. Bye!

Go me.

2 Nov

Tw: self harm tw: general icky thoughts around that area

Hi guys, this is Jelly, and today is a date that you’re probably not interested in knowing about. It’s Saturday the 2nd of November, and it marks a week since I have self harmed. If we ignore that fact that a week is a truly pitiful milestone, I’d like to talk about how I even got to this point in some sort of attempt to help me stop.
The first time I self harmed was on an exchange trip in Germany, with a terrible, mind-rolling migraine, and I didn’t know the words for ‘please stop the car’, ‘i would ask for medication but it doesn’t work on me’, ”i am suffering the worst pain i have ever felt in my life’. I felt unreal, and bloated from my head outwards, and I held my arms with my fingernails and dug in to stop myself floating away. It didn’t even occur to me that this was not a good response. And thus was established a truly flawed leap of logic that kept me harming for a good year before I even realised that something might be off.

If I didn’t use blades, it couldn’t be self harm. Small brown scars and scabs appeared on my arms, on my back and shoulders, after a particularly bad migraine day, and it wasn’t self harm when I dug in and drew along and welts appeared, and no-one even asked so I didn’t have to think about it too much. I grew my nails long and thought of more excuses to hurt myself – stressed, tired, cold, unreal, in pain, angry – times when I thought I could be grounded by pain I could control instead of pain I couldn’t.

At one point I scratched and didn’t stop for half an hour, and it scabbed over two inches long and an inch wide, and it looked so exactly like a trackmark that someone came up to me and finally asked. It’s not blades, I said, and I drew on it with green sharpie and picked at it and thought of stupid excuses for people who asked as to why I would have what looked like a knife wound on my forearm. I looked at myself again, at this point, and maybe, side-on, I realised I might have a problem.

I saw a counselor, at school. I didn’t cry on our first meeting. She held my hands and said ‘you’re a bright girl. stop doing this. this, this is bad’. I managed to bullshit her (I even believed it myself) that it was only a response to my headaches. She made me promise that if I started using blades then I had to tell my parents. Easy. She didn’t see the huge loophole she had left there, and especially the huge loophole for me – I had never wanted to use blades. What I did want to do was control one thing in my life that had increasingly not been mine. Easy.

I told my friends, and they looked at me anxiously and held my arms and said ‘at least it’s not blades’. I know right! I thought slightly hysterically. Aren’t I great for not doing that! They helped, however. I slept a little more and talked more and ate more.

Eventually my headaches got better. My self harm did not. I didn’t use blades – I scratched (two more fake knife wounds), ‘accidental’ hot water spills, walking deliberately through brambles, provoking my sister so she would hurt me and I wouldn’t have to do it myself, bites that I liked to pretend were from someone who loved me very much, eventually copper wire and shopping tags and cigarette burns (which, surprisingly, didn’t hurt very badly). This summer was not a good summer for me, in that respect. Things were thick and heavy and there were silences. It was very easy to reach over to my arms in the middle of a long day or in a rushing sort of pressure in my head and scratch – no-one notices, I have found, even in the middle of a conversation. I bit my lips. I looked for blood. I was very proud when some things scarred white on tan or pink on white.

This should not continue. It will not continue. For the first time, I have made a concerted effort to stop. I am worth this much, I think – as a contrast to a year of thinking I was worth nothing at all – and sometimes I stop and sometimes not. I am in the process of appreciating small things about my self; my music taste, my clothes, my hair, my flute playing, my ability in school, my sense of humour, the way I love people. My family is stressful but soon I will choose my own family. My body is no-one else’s concern. I am ‘sweet’, ‘kind’, ‘patient’, ‘amazing’, ‘cool’, and a ‘good listener’, and you know what, I am also able to buck the fuck up and stop worrying about what other people think of me.

I am afraid that this has been hugely melodramatic. It is only a week, after all. But I just want a written record that I am able to not be sad. I can do this small thing. Thank you to people who have heard me moan for hours, to Lilipop who listened and sent me links, to Cat in Aberdeen who received a coil of copper wire in the post and a promise that I am better, to my big sister, because I am super duper great, and I am worth everything in the world.

Books, dude

15 Oct

Jelly says: Books, dude. Just, just, books.

I am literally writing this so someone can talk in depth with me about fictional characters and how insignificant and infinitely beautiful our lives are. These are my favourite books and they hurt me inside in a pleasant way, like a bruise or a really intense back massage. You know what I’m talking about. Read these please
please

please

Building stories is an amazing graphic novel that comes in a box filled with pamphlets and leaflets and comic strips, not in any particular order, that build up the small and fractured lives of tenants in an apartment building. It is incredible how human life is so perfectly summed up in this.

Anything by Virginia Woolf, but start with Mrs Dalloway and then swiftly progress onto To The Lighthouse (my favourite). It is very readable and real from the very start as long as you believe her utterly.

Anything by Sylvia Plath. Her poetry is (dare I say it?) better than The Bell Jar, but since The Bell Jar is one of my favourite books ever, that is really saying something.

Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys – it’s a take on Jane Eyre (which you should also read, btw) written by a awesome PoC lady in modernish times, told from the point of view of the mad wife. It’s intense in the best possible way.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – amazing and worrysome- anything by Alexander McCall Smith – fabulous – anything (but especially The Labyrinth, a collection of essays, as well as Senor Vivo and the Coco Lord) by Louis de Bernieres, who is dark and curls around your ribs and makes you laugh.

The Cloud Atlas, Birdsong (which made me cry and think of terrible things), The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson (a lovely short novel about how people are not what we think they are), His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman (omg so much better than the movie that I fall down and whimper about the beauty of the characters and also – best fricking love story ever fricking told frick my life), White Teeth by Zadie Smith (hnng people people people).

Lost at Sea is a graphic novel about growing older not up. Ghost World is about much the same thing, but is spine tingling and very funny. American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The Bloodstone Papers (about small lives and being Anglo-Indian and is written so evocatively), The God of Small Things (about love, about love, about love).

I also really like poetry, and I have lots of favourite poems and anthologies. To make this list I literally read of my bookshelf and typed the first thing that came to mind
Please tell me anything that you loved, will love, are loving right now, I have no money but I will get books by selling my clothes on the black market if need be.

THE POWER OF LOOOVVVEEEE

23 Sep

Heavily inspired by this post.

Love is our only treasure. Women are told to find ‘the one’, and are groomed to be an easier choice for a heterosexual man. For us being in love means total, perfect, happiness. If you listen to popular culture (and sadly, people often do) for men, it often means a depleted wallet and nagging phone calls when you are having fun. Heterosexual love in our society, like anything else with a gendered aspect, is completely skewed so that women are passive, submissive, dependent on a man. Love, in its truest form, in the Greek ballads and I-would-die-for-you-in-a-heartbeat form, seems to have the power to change governments and to start revolutions and to be radical and exciting and incredibly powerful. But to be in love, to be a woman in love (especially with a man), changes that force into something with a tinge of contempt. A woman in love with a man means you give up power – and a man in love with a woman gains it. I know that most heterosexual relationships are not like this, but the very idea that they might be needs to be changed so that love as a – I hate to say it, as it is the title of most 80’s songs, and therefore imbues the very text of my article with a sort of desperate cheesiness – power becomes recognized.

To be in love, says the dictionary, is to ‘have a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude towards a person’. My sister describes it as simply ‘an intensity’. We all know it is strong. But a woman in love has no power at all. Observe: a girl must wait for her lover. A man must search. A woman in love is giggly, silly, faintly ridiculous and pitiable. A teenage girl in love is fickle and will soon move on to the next ‘perfect man’. (She must, when she realizes that men are not all that everyone built them up to be). A woman in love must fight hard to keep her man that way too. She must not pursue him, for that would be ‘trying too hard’ but instead, perhaps, pursue one of the thousands of internet ads. A woman must change herself, squeeze herself into what someone else thinks they should be, to laugh and toss her hair and to pretend that she doesn’t care too much, to have perfect sex (and hair and smile and a perfect forever after) in order to be what everyone thinks a woman in love should be. And finally? A woman in love must put up with shit with her lover (because that comes with being in love, of course, a woman must always compromise) and roll her eyes and say he is lovable because what else can she do?

I am in no way shaming heterosexual relationships, you must understand. God, I know a million (billion?) heterosexual relationships are what they should be, rather than what someone else thinks they should be. I am merely analyzing the way even something as supposedly innocent as love is laden with expectations that the ‘fairer sex’ must live up to.

And a man in love has expectations but they are not the same, of course not. He saves her, he chases her, he brings her flowers when he does something wrong, he complains about her nagging to his friends, his life remains the same and hers does not. And yet a man in love is an amazing thing compared to a woman in love; positively mundane compared to things a man would do for his woman, the ways a man could love his woman.

To be in love as a female with a man appears, on the surface to be pure. You have found happiness, what you were born here to do. Digging a little deeper produces a melee of contradictory and uncomfortable truths about the way a woman has to love, and seems to be very unradical. But, despite my cynicism (and my assumptions) love is powerful because what else can be better than wholly trusting someone with everything you have? Being in love means changing your identity to fit them in, to partly unravel yourself so another human soul can be beside yours. If nothing else, something has to be said for the most written about subject in history. 

I leave you with the following important messages: Make radical love! Destroy things! Kiss! (if you like that!) Make sure that all your relationships include a large amount of healthy communication and reciprocal compromises! Never feel forced into anything you want to do! Much love is anti-establishment, so please continue! I don’t know why you’re reading a 700-odd word essay about heterosexual love written by a probably-never-been-in-love not heterosexual 15 year old girl, but thanks anyway! I wrote this largely after midnight, so don’t judge!

thank

Teenage girls are much like werewolves:

24 Aug

maligned, misunderstood, moods often regulated by a 4 week cycle, prone to staying up late, running in packs, hairy in unexpected places… the list of cliches (and disturbing similarities) goes on. Some of these cliches, admittedly, are true. We are dangerous. We do like tearing things up, and staying up late, and eating odd foods at odd hours. But much like the imaginary werewolves of legend, teenage girls have a lot more to them than what you hear from books and magazines. Before you say anything about us, ask yourself: when is the last time you spoke to a teenage girl as a human being?

I’m a teenage girl, and therefore my in-depth analysis of this much undermined species may be a little biased. But I believe, to the contrary, that my close position gives me a unique insight into their lives. Let’s start with the basics. What do they look like?

Well, the answer is anything and anyone. The only requirement for being a teenage girl is to identify as female and be aged between 13 and 19. That’s it. Between those constraints, everything you do is automatically ‘teenage girl’ behavior. Leading on from that, every aspect of your appearance, your likes and your dislikes, are ‘teenage girl’ things. Congratulations! Simply by existing as a teenage girl you’ve filled these imaginary requirements. Unfortunately, being a teenage girl is not as easy as that.

Due to many factors, including your age and gender, society is out to get you. Not in the pitchforks and angry mob sense that is usually associated with your hairier counterpart, but nonetheless, society has a grudge against you. As well as the usual shit that comes with being a teenager, including stuff like exams and puberty (ugh), you’re a girl, which means that your opinion is taken less seriously, if you have lots of sex people think you are worth less, you are far more likely to get sexually harassed and raped, and you are constantly made to feel insecure and disgusted about the body you inhabit.

Now we’ve got that covered, the most important question is left to be answered: what are teenage girls actually like?

Books and magazines, films and music, tell me that I can be the sort of teenage girl who has low self esteem, who curls her hair, who parties every night, who is in a band, who only ever thinks about clothes and boys, who does badly in school, who does well in school, who plays video games, who wears pink. You have to be one of these things; you cannot be many, or all, or none.

The strange thing is that I know lots of teenage girls, and none of them are like this. My little sister is a teenage girl, and she bites me hard enough to leave bruises and bakes me cookies and is still scared of that scene in Harry Potter. My friends, who are teenage girls, are, collectively: good at making grilled halloumi, passionate, lazy, literary, pretentious, loving, bargain hunters, good at maths, pregnant, not interested in boys, very good snoggers. None of them have ever been written about. No editor of a magazine covered with things we cannot afford and bodies we shouldn’t want to have has ever seen these teenage girls, angry and scared and multi-coloured and myriad in our unclassability.

Do you know what the most important similarity between werewolves and teenage girls is? Neither should be underestimated.

%d bloggers like this: