Creeped Out: the Price of Being a Woman in Public

Yesterday was Pokémon Go Community Day. For those of you who don’t play the game, that’s a day when  a specific Pokémon appears a lot during a three hour period, often in a special colour as well and with an exclusive attack. In short, a day when we meet our friends and spend the day together, catching Pokémon and then having good food and fun together. I went with them for part of the time (I was out for a full two hours, I’m so happy and proud) and quite at the start, the following happened:

I was standing there with my two phones (yes, completely normal for Pokémon players as well), when some random dude approached me:

“Young lady, you’re pretty backwards, even I am more advanced in my usage than you!”

Now, first of all, no strange man in such a situation calls a 40 years old woman “young lady” as a compliment. He was berating me and trying to remind me of my place. Second: I have no clue what he was even getting at. He had obviously no clue what I was doing, but of course thought that he was entitled to explain it to me. I looked up from my phones:

“Excuse me?”

He continued:

“Yes, you gotta tell your phone what to do don’t you know…”

At this point I gasp interrupted him:

“Could you please leave me alone?”

Of course he reacted like any old white guy reacts when being told to leave a woman alone, he started to rant:

“I’m entitled to have an opinion! Am I no longer entitled to have an opinion or what?”

I answered that yes, he’s entitled to have an opinion, he’s just not entitled to my company, so he needs to leave me alone. He repeated something about this being a free country and so on and grumbling left me alone. This happened because now my friends and family, who’d been standing all over the place catching their own Pokémon had by now gathered around me to support me. We’re all pretty sure that this would have gone very differently if I’d been on my own.

I’m pretty sure all women here have had similar experiences. Such harassment has nothing to do with “looks” since I’m a fat middle aged lady. It has nothing to do with “being helpful”, because I obviously didn’t need or want any help. It’s got to do with male entitlement to the public sphere, where women are only allowed on condition of putting up with such shit. And it also shows how this entitlement is framed in terms of human rights and especially the ever favourite “freedom of speech”. That guy thought it was his right to keep bothering and lecturing me, while me telling him to get lost was akin to China mowing down protestors with tanks or something.

Recovery: The Condition(ing) of Being a Woman

I’m making slow but real progress, but everybody and their dog keeps telling me to take it slow and I’m really trying to. But I also know that I’m far from “functioning normally”, not to mention that my current level of mobility is also due to generous amounts of anti-inflammatory drugs and painkiller. Anyway, one good aspect of German health insurance is that I’m entitled to a household aid  for as long as I’m recovering. And my most wonderful sister organised everything with her care service and this morning the wonderful S. showed up.

Everything about my working class woman upbringing was uncomfortable. First of all letting a stranger in when my house is a complete mess. I know, I know, the woman came because there’s a mess and I can’t clean, but try to tell that to your subconscious. The other one is to have somebody clean your shit while you’re mostly watching. (I did help as much as I could). I know that many working class men have absolutely no problem with watching women clean while they’re lying on the couch, but for a woman? I’ve been both raised with some traditional crap about cleaning and quite some deep seated hatred against people who watch women clean, since I’m just two generations removed from women who had to go out and work as maids, being abused by master and mistress alike.

Still, I’ll need a household help after recovery as well because I think my body just told me that it is done with playing nice and putting up with my psychological issues of having to do all my cleaning myself.

Silence

For the words fail me to express my thoughts and feelings, my anger and despair.

On Yom Kippur there was an antisemitic attack on a German synagogue, killing two people in the street and at a Turkish take away:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49988482

And if you think I’m bitter, just yesterday the government decided to cut funding for initiatives that fight fascism and provide help for people who want to leave right wing structures.

Holidays: Sagrada Familia 5

Or “being too smart for your own good”. Many photographers have nice expensive gear and then set everything on “automatic” and wonder why their pics are not that nice. Well, I’d never do that but do most of my adjustments by hand so I can get the best results. Except for when I forget about something. So here’s the question for the fellow camera addicts: Why do Giliell’s pics have this annoying blueish tint?

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Here you can see the different style of later architects who worked at the cathedral after Gaudi’s death: sharper lines, more influenced by cubism than modernisme.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

Write your guesses in the comments and I’ll tell you if you’re right tomorrow.

Holidays: Sagrada Familia 4

Let’s stop with all the hospital talk for a while, because I’m getting sick and tired of it. Seriously, I was not made for “long, slow recoveries, but I guess few people are. There are so many more pictures from the holiday, so let’s dwell on that beauty.

These pictures showcase the architectural elements inside the cathedral, which are just as beautiful as the windows. I love the light stones.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Hospi-tales: Stink

You’ve all been waiting for this topic, right?

For somebody working with teenagers, I still got a very sensitive nose, especially when the body concerned is mine and it’s also “amazing” what your mind can fixate on. Here’s the truth: being sick stinks. First of all, while my brain knew what happened, my body was still trying to run away from a sabertooth tiger that had just pierced my leg or something. In other words, it was ramming up the response, trying to mobilise as much energy as possible, resulting in me sweating like an ox. The second, and more lasting thing is medical stink. All the medication needs to get out of your system again and part of it just goes out via your skin. And it’ll keep doing that for a while, so I#m off to take a shower first and use some very sweet smelling body butter afterwards.

You’ll excuse me.

Hospi-tales: Pain

Or: getting older just means more opportunities to expand your horizon on “the worst thing that ever happened to me.

As mentioned before, I’m not very loud about pain. As a kid I hurt myself regularly in the way kids do, and the more serious it was, the more quiet I got. I once seriously cut my finger making potato stamps and my mum only noticed when my sis asked why I got red paint and she didn’t. During my first Judo tournament I promptly broke my clavicle in my first fight. I told the people from the sports club that it hurt. Judging from my lack of crying, they told me it would be better in a few minutes and I went to fight another fight. Afterwards I really insisted that this hurt and was taken to the hospital. I said I was in pain, I expected people to believe me. For some reason I still do, despite all evidence.

Anyway, back when Caine posted about her back problems and the work with the pain clinic, I believed her, I understood, I felt empathy, but I didn’t really understand. Of course I’d been in pain before. You can’t break a couple of bones and have children without knowing pain, but I didn’t know Pain. Well, another acquaintance I didn’t particularly enjoy. The hospital was (mostly*) good with painkillers, it was a shame that I was in such a peak that even the morphine didn’t do much anymore. The amount of pain I was in would have been an indicator to transfer me to another hospital for surgery if the treatment of cortisol injections directly into the spine didn’t work. Which leads me from Pain to PAIN. The worst thing in the first days was sitting, as it put weight on my poor inflamed nerve, but in order for them to inject me into the spine I needed to sit and round my back. I simply jumped from the table twice. When we finally got down to it I was crying, whimpering and at the end more or less passing out. If PAIN has a bigger sibling, I never want to meet them.

 

*Sometimes there are nurses who take it upon themselves to decide that you are really not in that much pain and shouldn’t have painkiller. No, not even fucking metamizol, which is usually effective and has lower (but not no risks) than the alternatives.

Hospi-tales: Of being stupid and emergency care

Well, as you all know I used the last week to to enjoy the benefits of socialised healthcare. This first post will mostly explain about some good things about our system and some bad things about being tough.

I’ve been having some back troubles since summer. They usually flared up, subsided, no problem, right? So when my left thigh started hurting whenever I got out of the car or sat for too long, I didn’t heed it but thought “it will pass”. Please, don’t be me. I don’t know if the worst could have been avoided if I’d gone to the doc then, but I’d be kicking my own ass if I could reach it anyway.

Well, on Friday last week the pain increased to the level that I called my GP. I got an appointment for Friday this week… Saturday morning I decided it could not wait and made Mr drive me to the on duty GP. This is one level of German healthcare meant to prevent people with colds clogging the ER. Problem is that sometimes the person is not a GP but a specialised doctor,though I think they changed the rules and exempted specialists who are not able to diagnose an actual emergency like psychiatrists or eye doctors. The post is located in the hospital so they can react quickly in case of an emergency. The nice doc examined me, determined I had no neurological failure and sent me home with more pain medication. After lunch I had to admit that it wasn’t working and had Mr drive me to the ER.

Well, the system to keep the ER unclogged only works to a certain degree. I saw them send people next door, telling them that yes, their cold was bad but a case for the GP, but there were others who insisted to be an emergency. There was a guy who insisted he’d been waiting for hours (it was 45 minutes, as the friendly receptionist told him) and who demanded to be seen immediately. When he got told he had to wait he told them “well, just tear it up, I’m going home!” And of course actual emergencies and I do understand that an old lady with chest pain is probably more serious than me. But I was never good at making my pain heard, so I got pushed to the back of the line until I told them after two hours that I was about to puke on the floor from pain. That got their attention. I got sent for x-rays (nothing to see, thankfully) and hooked up to IV painkiller. I was offered to stay and first declined (I am not the smartest cookie), but when the painkiller didn’t show any effect I decided to stay.

The morale, dear children: go see your doctor if you can. Don’t wait until you become a Saturday afternoon emergency.

Well, ouch.

Before you send out parties in search for your missing host: I’m in hospital with a nice big spinal disc herniation. Sorry for the not working link, you can google it yourselves.

They’re trying to get the pain under control with medication, cortisol injections in the spine and physiotherapy. If that doesn’t work they’ll transfer me to the university hospital. I’m sick and tired of this shit, and patience has never been my strong suit.

My BFF has brought me a plush llama. I miss y’all.

Teacher’s Corner: In case you’ve been wondering…

In plain text, for when Twitter fucks up.

A teacher’s day:
We write a class test. A student goes to the toilet. he returns 5 min later, sweaty and out of breath. There’s dog shit on his shoes. He smears it all over the floor, 2 chairs and a table.

The first kids finish the test. I tell a student to stay in his seat and not talk to another student (I told them to bring something to occupy themselves with) because others are still writing. He yells at me and runs out of the room. Everything smells of dog shit

I spend my break supervising the dog shit student. He has no explanation for how this happened. I need to call his mum.

I’m supporting a trainee teacher. After he tells some students to stay after the bell has rung, one of them kicks my rucksack. I spend my next break coaching the young colleague on classroom management.

School’s over, but I still have a parent teacher talk scheduled. After the parent doesn’t arrive, my colleague phones him. He thought it was in an hour! He’s on his way. I use the opportunity to go to another parent teacher talk. I should really be in two places at once.

Talks went well, parents have gone home. I phone the mum of the temper tantrum kid. She more or less throws her own tantrum. Her poor boy is always picked on! Teachers never do anything about the things the kid doesn’t tell us because teachers never do anything. Makes sense

It’s three o’clock now. My breakfast is still in front of me. I really need to write a report but thankfully my principal postpones the meeting until Monday. And it’s not even the worst day of the week. Except for the dog shit.

Holidays: Sagrada Familia 3

I’m sorry. I’m a bad blog host and a worse friend, so I’ve been neglecting y’all again, but life’s been busy again, both at work and at home. No, no catastrophes, just lots to do. But here are some more glass windows to make up for it.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I know, the purpose of these windows and designs was to remind people of the greatness of god, but all I see is the greatness of humans who set their minds to something.

Holidays: Sagrada Familia 2

Last time we looked at the front, now it’s time to enter. I momentarily feared I was going to be shot at the security checkpoint because I jumped towards my backpack as they were trying to open it. But the nice people were trying to open a backpack full of camera equipment holding it so that my lenses would fall out. They afterwards agree that it’s a nice camera…

Anyway, when you enter you walk past a gate with flower and plant decoration, complete with assorted beetles. I couldn’t find out if there was something special about this fellow, but it was polished shiny from all the hands, so it seemed customary to caress it as well.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Visiting in the evening is amazing as the sun shines directly through the windows, basking everything in light and colours. We were extremely lucky with the weather. In Mataró it had rained all morning and when we set out, it was still cloudy. In Barcelona the clouds tore up, the air was clear and fresh and the sun shone all evening. When we got back we saw that in Mataró the rain had returned with a vengeance…

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved