Friday, 29 July 2011

Grace's Story

I wrote this out last night but forgot to post it. I thought it was the cutest thing ever so I had to share it with you. Before she went to bed, Grace told me she wanted to tell me a story about Mickey and Minnie Mouse. And here it is:

One day, Minnie was walking in the forest and she fell over and hurt her knee. Mickey took her to the doctors and the doctor said "That's not good" and gave Minnie some sweeties. Then they went outside and there was a monster and Minnie got caught in its mouth but then she got out and went back into the clubhouse because it was getting dark and the stars were coming out.

She's so adorable. And loves reading and telling stories. Just like her mummy :)

Anyway, that was all for now so I'll sign this off on behalf of my little story teller...

By Grace aged 3

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Addiction: Illness or life choice?

The news that dominated headlines at the weekend is that of the death of singer Amy Winehouse at the tender age of only 27. As famous for her public breakdowns, alcohol and drug abuse, just as much as her dark, solemn lyrics and impressive voice, her songs were full of soul, all relevant to the kind of person she was. But, as talented as she was, she is now just another statistic of a young life snatched by addiction.

I find that I am unsympathetic, to a degree, to those who have an addiction, whether it be drinking, smoking, even sunbed use, that the indivdual knows is putting their health at serious risk. So when I heard that Amy Winehouse had died, I wasn't completely sympathetic towards her. She took drugs and drank like it was going out of fashion, despite health experts and even her own friends and family, telling her that it was slowly killing her. And although her post mortem results haven't been confirmed as of yet, I can only imagine her addictions played a large part in her death.

With anyone, their death is, on the most part, a sad event. Whether they died of old age or from an addiction. I find that my sympathy lies, in the case of addicts, not only with their family and friends who will have no doubt tried their hardest to help their loved one, but with the addict themselves. For example, a heroin addict I do not feel sorry for. However I do feel sorry that they are an addict. I can only assume, having never tried any drug in my life, merely because it has never appealed to me, that it is all too easy for some people to get in with the wrong crowd and to feel pressured into trying things, whether they do or don't want to try them. The more they try, the more involved they get. They may start smoking cannabis in the park. The same people may end up doing lines of coke or injecting themselves with heroin not long after.

Obviously, I don't mean that that 14 year old kid you saw at the bus stop last week smoking weed is going to become a hard-faced cokehead. But for most people who become drug addicts, it starts, as it does with any addiction, small. A few spliffs here and there, a couple of E's at a party, you then start to develop a curiosity and an itch for more. The previous no longer satisfy your needs so you need to move onto the stronger stuff. As I have already said, I have never taken drugs, and never will. But I can imagine that in a way, it is like alcohol, when you start off the night on some kind of alco-pop until you realise that it is doing nothing, so you start on double vodkas. But of course, on a much larger scale. And once you know that harder drugs are much more effective than the soft ones you used to take, there's no going back. Why would you go back to the drugs that now seemed dull in comparison to the ones that can take you off into some other dimension and make you feel blissful and unaware?

This is what I find sad. That some people, whether they have been dragged in or have gone willingly, can end up so addicted that there is no turning back. Many people dabble in drugs and can give them up easily, as they only really use them socially. Others do them regularly but realise that they're harming themselves, that they can no longer seperate reality from their comatose hallucinations and that they could be killing themselves. And these people will ask for help to quit, get themselves into a rehab and try their absolute damndest to "get clean" so they can live a healthier, drugs free life. Take Russell Brand, for example. A well known celebrity (and one of my favpurite comedians) who's life of sex, drugs and alcohol is as famous as he is. He was into heavy drugs and was a sex addict. After being in and out of rehab, he finally got clean, at the age of 27, the same age Amy Winehouse lost her life, and he is now extremely succesful, married and even starring in Hollywood movies. It will not have been easy by any means, to get to where he is today. Because addiction is an illness, and like any other illness, if you do not seek to get it treated, it can spiral until it is no longer treatable and will kill you.

But is it a mental illness? Are people who take drugs just hiding from reality? Do they just have demons that they want to be rid of and so numb their minds with drugs and alcohol? Not on the most part, in my opinion. I know that people drink and take drugs, simply to try and forget about a memory or an event that haunts them. Perhaps someone was abused as a child or they are an ex serviceman who has come home from war. There are many reasons why someone would turn to an addiction, it isn't simply just because they thought it looked fun. And for those people, I feel deeply sorry. To feel you have nowhere left to turn. It must be dreadful to say the least. But just as we cannot group all addicts as just people who've gone a bit crazy as kids and mixed with the wrong crowds, we cannot group them all into being emotional recluses. What we can group them as are those who want help and those who don't.

I have the utmost respect for those who say, no, this has to stop and fights until they no longer have to rely on drugs. I have considerablely less for those who say, I could stop but I don't want to. I'm sure that most addicts would like to get clean but they feel they can't and give in even trying. And I can only find these people as weak. If you really don't want your addiction to kill you, if you want to live a long, healthy life, you need to be strong and determined. If you can't fight your addiction, I can't help but feel that sometimes it's because you don't have the willpower to do so, even if part of you wants to. And it is for those people I feel the most sympathy of all. Not because they're "poor little addicts with no hope in the world" but because they have no means to better themselves. Perhaps I am being naive. I know alcoholics who have been given plenty of opportunity to stop, been in rehab, even had liver transplants so that they can start their new lives with a healthy organ to give them the best chance. And what have they done? They've carried on drinking regardless. Something I find extremely irritating and almost disrespectful, that there are no doubt much more worthy candidates on the transplant list that could have had the liver that is now being abused. It makes me think why? Why, after being given a second chance, would you throw it all away for a a few bottles of vodka?

I suppose I would have to delve into the psychology of an addict's mind, but of course, I don't have that capacity of information. All I know is that there are some people willing to be helped and those who aren't because they aren't willing to help themselves. A sad but true fact that will continue to take the lives of people before their time. So what I have to say is this. Not all addicts are the ones you picture in your mind when you hear the word. Those dirty people who reside in doorways or filthy run-down flats, spread across the floor surrounded by empty bottles and used syringes. Some are people who are crying out for help and feel they have no other way out and no other means of escape. Normal people, like you and I, who take a bad path and can't seem to find a way to back track. Some do and they grab that second chance with both hands. Some, however, are like those people you picture. Addiction is a terrible thing. It consumes people so entirely that there is often no light at the end of the tunnel. And more often than not, it claims lives. And it is this and this alone, that I find the most tragic of all.

RIP Amy Winehouse

Monday, 25 July 2011

*insert witty title here*

I'm procrastinating slightly so as I don't have to go up to the park just yet. So I thought I would just do a quick summary of my week. Which, on the most part, has been generically boring.

So I didn't actually really do anything other than sit in the garden and go to the park until Saturday. Grace was out with her dad so I went out with a couple of friends. We ended up going to get one of my friend's belly button pierced which was fun to watch. Then after being ripped off by Subway after they put up the price of footlongs without warning me, we decided to go on a random drive to Southport. On the way, we took some fairly random pictures. One cyclist turned and smiled for the camera. I saw a cake shop and yelled extremely loudly "CAKE!" forgetting that my window was down and that people walking by probably thought I had some serious mental issues. We also amused ourselves by taking a picture of a sign for a garden centre called Lady Green, however the word "garden" was written underneath "lady" so naturally, since our brains haven't yet matured beyond the age of 14, we found this hilarious.

We finally got to Southport, still taking pictures of random people and phallic shaped monuments (spurring the conversation "Take a photo of that" "It's too big, I can't get it in... Oh wait, I got the top in..." Again, our maturity levels are low) We walked through the town to get to the pier and stopped in a bar where some guy that looked like a cheap version of Rod Stewart was singing and thinking he was all that. A cute little old couple started dancing together and as we tried to take a photograph we were constantly blocked by some woman, who was in the bar on her own, standing up and rapidly shaking her fat arse along to the music. Bar abandoned, we went to the fair. I hate fairs but we wandered around anyway. There was an air show going on and we couldn't quite understand why the tickets were £9 when we could see it for free, you know, since it was in the sky and all. Then, as we were minding our own business, a huge bang made everyone just stop and look up as if to say "Jesus tonight, what was that?!" Turned out it was some fighter plane, one of those ones that breaks the sound barrier, thus to unsuspecting ears, sounds like a bomb going off and causes a flutter of panic. We joked, saying it might actually be a terrorist attack but everyone would just think it was part of the air show. Then we hear an even bigger bang than the one the plane was repeatedly making. We turned around to see two huge black billows of smoke coming from behind us. For a few seconds we kind of looked at each other like, wow, maybe we were right. But of course, it was just part of the air show. Seems strange to use bombs as entertainment but I suppose if you've paid £9 to see something you could see and hear miles away for free then you'll want to see something different. Then we got bored and made our way back to the car, passing a sexy street singer on the way. Which we also took a photo of.

Not even joking...In the background. Look at the people on the right, running for their lives...

Said friends came back to mine later that night and we watched some Dynamo (super amazing magician, possibly the second coming of Christ) and ate Rusks. Then when they left, I went to put up the photos we took that day. 90 bloody photos. Of crap, basically. But still.

Yesterday I went with a friend to a forest near ours with Grace. We told her there were fairies in there and she had to look for them. We put her in fairy wings and my friend took some photos of her looking cute. Then she turned into demon child and started screaming and crying and being a general pain in the bum. So she wasn't allowed to go to the beach and we went home instead. Nipped over to my mums and she ended up playing inside their new caravan (Grace, not my mum) for about 2 hours until I forced her to come home so I could make dinner, spag bol, which she smeared all over her face.

Once she was in bed, I settled down to watch some TV. I watched a programme I'd recorded about the last space shuttle flight. Gutted because I never got to see it. Last time I went to Florida, I went to the Kennedy Space Center and I LOVED it. We were meant to see a shuttle launch but it was postponed. It's on my list of "things to do before I die" only shuttle has now been changed to rocket as the shuttle programme has finished now and so there'll be no more shuttle launches. Then I started watching a film called The Lovely Bones. The title sounded fairly nice, I'd never seen it nor read the book. But, my god, what a horrible film! It's about a girl who is murdered by a seriously creepy neighbour who lures her into an underground den he has built, then slit her throat, bunged her in a sack and shoved her into a giant metal safe, after she tried escaping. If I hadn't watched How I met your mother afterwards, I would have definitely had nightmares about it.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be going to the park for a picnic and I'm trying to get together the energy to actually move. Got to take Grace to the doctors later as well, landed with the creepy GP again. Whenever I get an appointment I always end up getting him. He's so weird, he never looks you in the eye, he either stares at his computer the whole time, or your chest if you've got a bit of boob showing. So that should be fun.

Anyway, I suppose I best go and sort this child out. I'm also dedicating this post (although there is nothing relevant in it) to all the people who were killed in Norway last week. Such a terrible world we live in sometimes.

Bye bye

Saturday, 23 July 2011

To all my beautiful blog readers

I just wanted to write a quick post to say thank you. To everyone who reads and follows my blog; who appreciate my writing; who give me positive encouragement to carry on. Without you all, I'd be lost.

This time last year, things weren't great and I wasn't sure about anything. But after starting this blog and having such lovely comments on and off here, it has given me the push and the drive to continue. I have always gone through life thinking everything I did was never good enough, that I was always second best at everything. But to be given such praise for something I would gladly spend the rest of my life doing really means a lot, especially when it gets me down that the people I wish would praise me most are those who never do.

I was going to include some names of people who have always avidly followed my blog from day 1 and, I hope, will continue to do so, but there are just far too many. But you know who you are and I would like to say thank you, personally, to you.

This blog might not mean anything much to those of you who read it, to you it is just a place that you can read about my life and my views. Which is, essentially, the idea. But for me it is so much more and although not all of you will understand why, from the bottom of my heart I want to say that I am so grateful for all your comments and your positivity and I hope that ten years from now, I can look back on it all as the starting point that got me to where I want to be.


Friday, 22 July 2011

A teenage pregnancy away from an ASBO

It's inevitable, in life, that we are stereotyped according to certain things. Whether it be because of our social status, race, sexuality, gender, sometimes even hair colour. And I am no exception. I have been stereotyped many times. I'm naturally blonde, so of course, I'm stupid, for example. Which, I suppose on occasion, is probably true. But for the last few years I have been cast aside into the big bad world of lifestyle stereotyping. Because I had a baby when I was 19 and I have relied on the the welfare state to help me since.

What do you think when you hear "teenage pregnancy"? Silly little school girls getting knocked  up so they can get a council house? Leaving their babies with others while they go out clubbing with their mates every weekend? What do you think when you hear "on benefits"? Lazy scumbags who sit on their backsides all day watching Antiques Roadshow and drinking lager? From my experience, and probably mine before it happened to me, that is the general opinion on those topics. Of course, I understand that this is a narrow minded view and not everyone will feel the same but both things are frowned upon in society, not actively encouraged by any means. So I just wanted to give a little insight into the life of your average "young single mum, scrounging off the state."

I was at University when I got pregnant by accident. I had done well in school and had just started my course when I found out. My first instinct was to get rid straight away. I had my whole life ahead of me, I was a very selfish person and hated kids so I was by no means maternal. But the father insisted I keep it. So I did. Less than a month after my 19th birthday, I had Grace. I remember the first night we had together, she lay in her plastic cot in the hospital and just stared at me with her huge eyes. She didn't cry once. Just watched me. It felt a little surreal, being a mother at 19 especially when children had never been on my priority list. But here she was and she was gorgeous. However, things with her dad didn't last and he left us when she was 7 months old. At the time I was on maternity leave from work. I worked at a hotel part time as a waitress and had done since I was 16, which is where I met Grace's dad. So luckily I still had a little bit of money to tide us over. To buy formula and nappies and clothes. But £90 a week was not going to be enough to cover all of that plus the £525 rent and all the bills. So I had a choice. I could live out on the streets or I could apply for benefits. So I chose the latter.

Later on that year, I returned to my job. While I had been away, Grace's dad had been back, telling everybody what a terrible mother I was and whatnot. Even though he was the one that had left me, but obviously he felt guilty and wanted to palm the blame off onto somebody else. So naturally, none of my workmates spoke to me and on the rare occasion that they did, it was in an offhandish kind of way. It was horrible to do an 8 hour shift with everybody ignoring you, whispering to each other about you and speaking to you as if you were something they'd just scraped off their shoe. It upset me that, not only had he left and made my life extremely difficult, he also made it so I found it impossible to work. I called my boss up and I told him that I wanted to leave because I couldn't work in an environment with so much tension because everybody hated me for some reason. A comment he didn't deny but instead replied "Yes, that's probably for the best." So now I was a 19 year old single mother, on benefits, with no job.

That was all a long time ago, as Grace is 3 now. But it hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies. I gave up on looking for a job for a while after leaving the hotel. I started looking again last year and applied for a few with no luck. I was even turned down for a job because I was "too overqualified." This year, I've thrown myself into writing. I started a distance learning journalism course, I am writing two books and of course, I'm updating this blog when I can. I'm looking for a part time job, sending my CV's off and also looking for freelance writing work online.  I couldn't think of anything worse than willingly living my whole life on benefits. And even while I am on them, I cannot understand why on earth people would be happy to do so.

Because, you see, not everyone on benefits is an idle scrounger. There are, a lot of us, who have some self worth and want to do something with our lives and the welfare state merely helps us get to that point when we're struggling. I was brought up with a high work ethic. I worked as a Saturday girl in a hairdressers owned by my grandparents from the age of 13 because my parents believed that if I wanted money for something, I should earn it myself instead of them giving it to me, because out in the real world, nobody hands you something for nothing. When I turned 16, I left there and started at the hotel working long shifts up until I was 36 weeks pregnant. But seeing the money I had worked for in my bank account was worth it and whenever I bought something, I felt a sense of pride, knowing that I had bought it with my own, hard earned money. Something that I can't wait to get back to. To be able to say "I pay for this house" or "I bought myself some new clothes." It may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people. But I wish, as much as I love my daughter, I could get out of this house and start earning some money of my own.

Many people do call me lazy because I have no job at the minute. Usually those people aren't single parents with a lot of things going on on the side which I would not associate with laziness. But, on that afternoon when I saw those lines come up on that test and my world fell down around me, when I truly thought my life was over and I could never do the things I'd hoped to do with my life, I genuinely thought I had ruined everything for myself. But it has taken me 3 years and a lot of ups and downs, most of which I could group together and turn into an Eastenders storyline, for me to get to where I am now. I may still be on benefits and not have a job. But one day, hopefully soon, I will. It has taken me this long to realise that if you are determined enough, things will prevail, whether or not you started out as a naive 19 year old, left holding the baby and relying on the state to help you. And I only hope that someday, I can pay back into the system that helped me to get to where I wish to be.

So next time you raise your eyebrows at a teenage mother or you feel like moaning about how you have to pay tax to fund all those dole-heads who class work as getting dressed ready in time to go to the pub, then perhaps stop and think. There will always be a handful of those, the "stereotypes" that let the majority down. There are teenage girls who get pregnant on purpose and for all the wrong reasons. And there are people who bleed the welfare system dry because they don't want to have to get out of bed to be able to fund their lifestyle. But there are people, like me, who blow apart the stereotypes. I became a teenage mother by accident and decided to face the consequences of my actions and ever since, I have only ever done what is best for my child. I hated having to go on benefits, but I didn't make my daughter's father leave us with nothing. And I fully intend to get out of the system sooner rather than later. Unless you have ever been cast in a situation, you are not free to judge. To do so is small minded. Don't aim your anger or your frustrations at a group of people, aim them at the individual who lets them down.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

So you want to be a writer?

  If it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.

if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.

if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.

if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.

if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.

if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.

if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-

the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.

unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.

unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

~Charles Buckowski~

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Casey Anthony: Bereaved mother or child killer?

Glued to the live stream on my laptop of Casey Anthony's sentencing, I was horrified by the outcome. The jury found her not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. Guilty of four counts of giving false information given to a law enforcment officer. For this she receieved a year in jail and a $1000 fine for each count, given 3 years credit for the time she had already served and additional credit for good behaviour. She was released from jail on 17th July 2011. The world watched as this woman, initially accused of murdering her 2 year old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, walk scot free, a smug smile brightning her usually cold, emotionless face.

Casey Anthony lived in Orlando, Florida, with her parents Cindy and George and her daughter Caylee. On 16th June 2008, Casey took Caylee from her parent's home for 31 days. In this time, Casey's mother Cindy asked numerous times could she see Caylee but was told that Casey was busy with a work assignment, that Caylee was sleeping or that she was with a nanny, Zenaida "Zanny" Fernandez-Gonzalez. On 15th July 2008, Casey's parents found that her car had been towed and went to go and retrieve it. Both George and the assistant at the tow yard describe smelling a terrible odour coming from the boot of the car, later saying that it smelt as if there had been a decomposing body in it, but when it was opened, it contained only a bag of rubbish. It was on this date that Cindy phoned the police and reported Caylee missing. In the phonecall she explained that she had been missing for 31 days. Casey told her that the aforementioned nanny had kidnapped Caylee and she had not seen her in a month. However, this nanny was to be only one of the number of discrepancies in Anthony's story.

After Caylee's disappearence was reported, Casey concoted a number of lies to take any impending blame off herself. The nanny story was just one of many. Casey said that the nanny, who she referred to as Zanny, had kidnapped Caylee. Zanny had never been seen by any of Casey's family or friends and it played out that although she did exist, she had never even met Casey or Caylee. So where had Caylee been for a whole month if she hadn't been with her supposed nanny? Another lie Casey told was to law enforcement officers, where she claimed she was employed at Universal Studios. She was taken there by police and asked to show them her office. After walking around for a while, she was then forced to admit she no longer worked there and hadn't done for around 2 years. She was arrested on 16th July 2008 for child neglect, providing false information and obstructing a criminal investigation. Her appeal for bail was rejected by a judge who claimed "she showed woeful disregard for the welfare of her child." However, after just one month, she was bailed out in the hopes that she would co-operate with the investigation looking for Caylee. She was arrested again on 14th October, indicted on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and manslaughter and four counts of providing false information. If found guilty of first-degree murder, the prosecution later decided that they would push for the death penalty, which is still legal in the State of Florida.

On 11th December 2008, a man called Roy Kronk reported a suspicious sighting in some woods. The police came to investigate it and found a black binbag with yellow ties in the trees. Inside was a laundry bag which contained Caylee's skeletal remains, duct tape covering her mouth area and stuck to the hair that remained. From then on, the case became extremely complicated, a mish-mash of stories, evidence, false statements, all encased in an obvious shell of guilt.

A lot of evidence was presented in regards to the unexplained disappearance and death of Caylee. The boot of Casey's car, as already explained, had had the smell of " a decomposed body" in it. A new forensic science, called "hair banding" was used, in which hair develops a dark band at the root after death. Such a hair was found in the boot of Casey Anthony's car and air samples came back positive for components consistent with that of a "decompositional event" although whether this could be of a human decomposition or not was not proven, nor ruled out. It also emerged that traces of chloroform were found. A search for how to make chloroform was found on a computer used by the Anthony's, along with searches for 'neck breaking' and 'death.' Cindy Anthony testified in court that it was her that did the searches on chloroform, not her daughter. When asked how she did so after records show she would have been at work at the times these internet searches were carried out, she responded that she had left work early on the days in question.

It all starts to seem a litte coincidental at this point. But that's not the end. The same types of laundry bags, binbags and duct tape all found at the scene where Caylee's body was found, were present in Casey Anthony's home. A Winnie the Pooh blanket found at the scene was similar to one that had gone missing from the home. And investigators retrieved heart shaped stickers, as a record showed that on the duct tape covering Caylee's mouth had had a heart shaped outline on although it was not visible after the tape had been dusted for fingerprints. Casey had also written a diary entry that was examined, It had no year on it, only the date, 21st June, in which Casey writes how she has "no regrets" and that she was the happiest she had ever been. She and her defence argued that the diary was from 2003, before Caylee was born, however further investigation showed that that particular diary had infact not been available for purchase until 2004.

Casey Anthony's trial began on 24th May 2011, led by Judge Belvin Perry. The defence was led by Jose Baez. In his statement, he suggested that Caylee Marie had climbed into the pool at her grandparent's house and drowned. In a panic, George Anthony had taken her body and hidden it in fear that his daughter would be charged with neglect. He and his daughter kept this a secret, explaining why Casey had continued to go out clubbing in the 31 day period that Caylee had supposedly been missing. Baez painted Casey as a poor, tortured soul, who was able to deny the fact her young daughter was dead and carry on as if nothing had happened because she was used to hiding her emotions, given that she was sexually abused as a child by her father and possibly by her brother, Lee. Both claim that this is a lie and neither of them had ever made any sexual advances towards Casey. This version of events begs the question, if Caylee had drowned in the pool, then why was she found with duct tape covering her mouth? Why cover a child's mouth as if to suffocate them or stop them from screaming if they were already dead? Why would George try to cover up what could easily have been construed as a tragic accident, as if it were a murder? Surely if she had drowned, his daughter would have been better off with a neglect charge instead of a possible murder charge? And why would he openly describe the smell in Casey's car boot as that of a decomposing body, when surely, if he had disposed of Caylee, he would not have wanted to draw that kind of attention?

The prosecution would, of course, agree with the unanswered questions above. They claimed that Casey duct taped her daughter's mouth to suffocate her after she became unconscious due to the use of chloroform. Her body was then left in the boot of Casey's car and was later disposed of in the woods. All the while, Casey was out partying. They painted her in quite a different light to the defence, saying that she murdered her daughter to get rid of the responsibilities of parenthood so she was free to enjoy her social life. Two cadavar dogs found stong traces of cadavar scent in the boot of the car and the Anthony's backyard also, but this was rendered as irrelevant by the defence team. Casey herself, did not take the stand to testify in her defence throughout the trial.

On 5th July 2011, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder, child abuse and manslaughter. The jury found her guilty only on four counts of providing false information. Watching the action unfold live, the Casey I had previously seen had melted away. When the sentencing was read out, she began to smile. A smile of relief that she was not going to be convicted of a murder she didn't commit perhaps. Or a smile of relief that she had gotten away with it. Despite the recollections and descriptions of her little girl's death, her face remained stony at best, rarely a tear shed.

This case attracted a lot of public and media attention and has been duped as "OJ Simpson 2" due to the overwhelming evidence against her yet still being found not guilty. People all over the world openly expressed their disgust at the verdict, which most thought would be guilty and that Casey would be facing the death penalty. But the jury on the trial were told specifically not to take into account anything they heard or saw about the case beyond the courtroom and they were told not to let their emotions affect their decision. With no absolute concrete evidence, without reasonable doubt, that Casey murdered Caylee, the jury was forced to hand her a not guilty verdict, to which many of the jurors were "sickened" by. despite it being the correct decision in regards to the law.

So, to the important part. What do I believe? I believe, along with at at least 90% of everyone else who has followed this case, that Casey Anthony is as guilty as sin. She was able to go out partying and drinking, knowing her child was dead. If Caylee had died accidentally, it would have been even harder to cope with than knowing she had been murdered at Casey's hands, which probably made it easier for her to take her mind off it. Although Casey would have probably loved her child, she saw her as nothing more than a burden, stopping her from living her life the way she wanted to, dragged down by being a parent, bundled with reponsibilties. She took Caylee away, refusing to let her grandmother to see her by concocting a number of lies to cover her tracks. In the 31 days that Caylee was "missing," Casey did as the prosecution claimed. Knocked Caylee out using chloroform, put duct tape over her mouth so she would suffocate and possibly to prevent her from screaming should she come round prematurely, then when Caylee was dead she was kept in the boot of Casey's car until she had worked out a plan of how to dispose of her. Then when she did so, she was able to carry on her party lifestyle, even getting the tattoo "Bella Vita" meaning "beautiful life" while her daughter was dead and buried in a woods, a laundry bag for a coffin, up until her mother reported Caylee missing and Casey was arrested in October. Her lies about sexual abuse at the hands of her father, although deemed untrue, were spread in a bid to make people symapthise with her. And in court, she showed little emotion, considering, had this death been accidental, she would surely breakdown remembering the whole traumatic experience that any normal parent would show being taken back to the day her daughter was found dead in a binbag.

As far as I am aware, because of double jeapordy, it means that Casey Anthony can never be tried again on the same offence now she has been accquitted and convicted (in the loosest sense of the word.) Therefore, she has walked away completely scot-free. Technically, she could go and tell people she did it and it would make no ounce of difference. So now she walks, a free woman. Or as free as you can possibly be when you are hated by such a huge number of people. Infact, she was probably safer in jail, now she is out, there will be people out there, other mother's, waiting to rip her apart. Caylee Marie Anthony did not recieve the justice she deserved. A young, beautiful little girl who didn't understand that her mother felt that her social life was more important than her daughter and would go to such terrible lengths to have her way. A little girl who no doubt loved her mother unconditionally and trusted her with her life, a life that that same mother snatched away from her for her own selfish gain. The only consolation is that Casey Anthony will have to spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder, because there will no doubt always be someone watching, waiting for her. Because, although the case may be over, one day karma will catch up with Casey Anthony, and when it does, that is when the true justice will be done.

RIP Caylee Marie Anthony (2005-2008) May your justice be served some day

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The forbidden practice of sleep training your child

Here I am. With a rant. Just because I can really. There is one thing that annoys me most about other mothers. Their inability to see past their own little bubble. Of course, it doesn't apply to all mothers, not even most. But just a handful. Two words; Sleep training.

For anyone who doesn't know, that applies to parents who use the methods of either CC (controlled crying) or CIO (crying it out) CC means that parents leave their crying babies in their rooms when they have established that the only reason they are crying is because they do not want to be in bed, and go in and check on them at regular intervals until they have fallen asleep. CIO is similar to the above, except the parent leaves the child and does not go in until they are asleep. On the face of it, it sounds quite cruel. So I'll put it into a situation.

Imagine you have a 6 month old child. For 6 months, neither you nor your child have had more than 4 hours of extremely broken sleep. Although you live with the father, he does nothing to help you and has never got up in the night once, so you are left to get up no less than 8 times a night, to a crying baby who is only crying because they want feeding or they just want to be awake. Then, because you and your child are both so tired during the day, that you do nothing constructive. You have no energy to even get dressed and your child doesn't have the energy to try the simplest of tasks like rolling over or playing. The, bedtime comes and the whole process begins again. Makes you feel a little tired just reading it doesn't it? Well, when I was 19, this was my routine. Before I put Grace to bed every night, I would check she was fed, bathed, her nappy was dry and that she was generally ok. She could be giggling away, babbling to herself but the second her head hit her cot mattress, she would cry. I was so tired, getting no help and I was at my wits end. I was already in a terrible place with other things that were going on and the extreme lack of sleep was making me worse, not to mention it was affecting Grace too. Because, of course, babies are human too and need sleep to build up energy for the next day. So I decided to "sleep train" her.

Once she was in her own room, I would take the baby monitor into the lounge (we lived in a flat so her room was next door) and listen out for her crying. I would leave it 20 minutes at a time (unless she was hysterical, in which case I would leave her for 10) I would go in, stand by her cot but not pick her up. She would stop crying until I left the room again. I hated doing it but I knew something had to be done. After less than a week, she was going straight to sleep and not getting up until the next morning, something she has done ever since and she is 3 now.

But there are always the ones who think they're better than everyone else. The ones who say "Well these statistics say this" and "this study says that" or "my 'how to be the best ever parent so you can sit on your pedestal and look down on all the other terrible mothers guidebook' says you should/shouldn't do this." I know people who don't agree with CC/CIO which is fine by me, I may not agree with some of the things they have done. But you always get the minority who have to take it one step further. Did you know, for example, that if you use sleep training techniques, not only are you practically treating your child the way you would treat a dog, but that your child will become an introverted recluse who will fear showing their emotions? No? Neither did I. Because, not only did I not tie my daughter out in the back garden with a bowl of water and a stick, but she is very expressive, a complete extrovert who speaks to everyone. And anyone who knows her will know she is by no means afraid to show her emotions.

But then again, I must be wrong, if the studies say otherwise. You know, the studies done by those people in white coats who probably have no children, the studies done on an "average" and not individual basis? Yes, those. Now, I really don't care all that much about the fact that some people think it's wrong to use sleep training. I would do it again if I needed to. But what annoys me is that people are so small minded. Tell me I'm treating my child like a dog will you? Get a grip! For one, it is none of your business. And two, how about you go and sit with your perfect child in your perfect little world instead of sitting on the internet whining about other people. Seriously, do people really have nothing better to do with their time than to attempt to make other mothers feel guilty for their parenting choices?

Anyway, rant over. To all you "in your face" anti CC/CIO'ers, I say, get off your high horse and stop being a complete imbecile. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

Harry Potter and The Week in Summary

Wow, I really have neglected my blog this week, sorry folks! I've been fairly busy and not really had a chance to sit and write any articles. Let's see, what have I been up to...?

Well on Monday I ended up going out with my friend to get something to eat. Grace came across a grab machine full of toys in the pub and would not let go of it, she kept running off to look at it with sad eyes in the hope I would give in and play it but I told her that I wouldn't win anyway because those things are totally rigged. Needless to say, she wasn't happy with that and she began playing up. So I then told her that the toys in the machine weren't actually toys, they were naughty children that had been stuffed. She soon settled down. Then we went off to get ice cream and then back home.

On Tuesday, I was getting super excited for the X Factor auditions. I took Grace to playschool in the morning and they handed me a letter. I read it when I got home. They were having a presentation for the end of the year the next morning. Thought nothing of it. Until I realised it clashed with the auditions. My life was shattered. The next day I went to the presentation, which was cute. Although there were far too many children there for my liking. I got home to see a lot of photos all over my Facebook of people who were at the auditions and I died a little inside. Dermot will never know of my love for him now.

Thursday was pretty much the same, took Grace to school, picked her up. We went to the park and then up to the outlet village where she tried to pose as a mannequin in a shop window. We had McDonalds and merrily made our way home.

Friday was a little more busy. We got the bus to Birkenhead to go swimming. Got to the pool and they were too full. So we got the train elsewhere. Got in the pool eventually, which just happened to have the most gorgeous lifeguard ever. I had to keep telling myself to stop staring at his legs. They were good legs. Anyway, yes, we got out, had some lunch, missed the bus and ended up doing a round-the-world trip home. Then the highlight of my week... I went to go and see Harry Potter. I have literally never been so excited about going to see a film ever. It definitely didn't disappoint. It was AMAZING. I almost cried at a few bits. Especially Snape dying. When I read that in the books I almost cried, he was my favourite character, but to see it happening before my very eyes (and not to mention I have a serious crush on Alan Rickman who plays him in the films, even though he is 65) was very unnerving and I fought back a few tears. I have to go and see it again, at least 3 times. I refuse to believe that my childhood is now over and there is no more Harry Potter to look forward to.

Yesterday I went over to the Next sale. It's brutal in there. Seriously. You could drop down dead and women would step over you or kick you out of the way. I did manage to make it out alive. Went to a family gathering last night at my Uncle's house for his birthday. Ate a lot of food, which is actually one of my favourite things to do. Then my child decided it would be nice to wake me up and have me out of bed four times at 1.30 in the morning. I was having an awesome dream as well. Not that I will write it down here. Ahem.

So today it is pouring down and I intend to do sod all for the most part. I suppose I should do the housework at some point. But it can wait. I may get my Deathly Hallows book and start reading it again, just to rekindle the magic that is slowly dying after HP has come to an end *dramatic sigh*

Anyway, that was fairly brief and uninteresting. I may write up another article later if I am not being consumed by the words of JK Rowling.


Monday, 11 July 2011

Welcome to Dullsville. Population: Me

I'm sat writing this in my pjs. At 12.30pm. That pretty much sums up my last few days. Moping about my house, feeling sorry for myself. Yeah, that's me. A big ball of woe.

Nothing of discernible interest has happened. On Saturday, I had a child free day. I spent it alone. Again. I went to put some cheques in the bank and I had to get the bus. I'm not even lying, the entire bus was full of old people. There was nobody under the age of 70 on there. All in their giant overcoats. Even though it was scorching hot. On the way back, the bus driver was a bit fit, even though he was at least 40 so I spent the 20 minute journey home telling myself to pull myself together. When I got back, I decided, hey, a walk would be nice. So I took my notebook down to the marshes and sat down. Wrote a very scribbled storyboard for a new story even though I'm not even a quarter of the way through my current one yet. Then I decided that my bum was numb enough and I needed to walk it off. For two hours infact. I walked and walked. Eventually got home with my feet still intact.

Sunday, I had a child free afternoon as Grace went out with my auntie and uncle. Again, I spent it alone. I started to write a piece to put on here about 9/11 but it got a bit heavy so I started a marathon of Harry Potter movies. I managed to watch three through the whole day. But much to my dismay, my dreams last night were not filled with magic and Hogwarts. Just a very odd dream about my disgust at having gone to someone's house, opened the fridge and found only "light" drinks instead of full sugar ones. That is the the general summary of my life at the minute. Even my dreams are dull.

On a lighter note, I should be going to see the X Factor auditions in Liverpool on Wednesday with my sister. Even though I don't like any of the new judges. But I know Dermot O'Leary will be there aka my future husband. And on Friday, I have a ticket to see the new Harry Potter film (hence my marathon this week) and I am SO excited, for a 22 year that's kind of sad. But I'm not ashamed to tell the world of my love for HP. I am hoping to go equipped with wand and lightning scar.

Today I will mostly be sitting about, whining about stuff and feeling fed up. The sun is shining and I have barely moved from my bed, except to spray some ants in my living room and watching them die. I am a sadist as well as a totally bitter, cynical, mardy old cow who's fists clench up when I read about how "in love" people are and how their lives are like a "fairytale." Do me a favour and shut up. God, I'm a horrible person. Not that I care. Life is too short to be nice to people. That is my philosophy of the day.

Anyway. I'll shut up moaning now. Life could be worse I suppose. Mind you, it could be better once in a while too....

One day, this will be me...

Friday, 8 July 2011

Just a quick one

Just a short post, today I am writing away like a little ferret (not that ferrets write, but you know what I mean) and a few of you have been asking what my story is about.

For years, I have written stories. And I have always said that one day I would complete one and send it to a publisher. But I never have and so I decided that this would be the year where I would do it. I wasn't sure where to start, I needed to think of something that would not only interest people and make them want to read, but also pull on the heartstrings a little. Then, one night, I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when an idea came to me so I jotted it all down in a notebook and the next morning I wrote up a storyboard. It is involving a lot of research so I'm hoping that it'll pay off in the end.

I won't go into too much detail about the story, only to say a few basics. I don't want anybody stealing it after all. It is about two sisters, both adopted at birth (but not the same age) who find each other then begin looking for their biological mother who turns out to be on Death Row for a crime she insists she didn't commit. Of course, the story is far more in depth than that and there are many twists and turns in it. But I will say no more at the risk of giving too much away. Anyway, I just thought I would stick in the first paragraph of the story on here for people to look at if they so wish, to maybe get a feel about it. Until it is finished and sent to a publisher though, nobody will be allowed to read the whole thing from start to finish.

"18th July 1988. An unusual grey cloud hung over the skies of Sacramento, California. Inside the general hospital, a young girl lay on a hospital bed, staring out of the window. After a few seconds, a small whimper brought her back to life and she turned to face her bedside. There, lying in a clear plastic cot, was a baby. A tiny little human, with tiny fingers and a tiny nose. A tear fell down the girls’ cheek. Touching the cot tenderly, she mouthed “I’ll never forget you” at the beautiful blue eyed baby who was staring up at her. Then, a knock at the door roused her and she wiped the tear and sat upright in bed."
I may post more paragraphs on here as the story goes on. But yeah, there you go. Now I should get back to writing.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Sceptics and Believers

You're lying in bed one night when you hear an unusual thudding sound. You will instantly think one of two things. It's probably your imagination/the heating/the wind. Or there's something weird in the house, perhaps a ghost, trying to get your attention. You see a strange light in the sky and you think either, it's probably just a plane. Or you think that maybe you are seeing a spacecraft of some kind. Although there is quite a fine line between sceptics and believers, on the most part, you either believe in things that go bump in the night, or you don't. But there are also the people in the middle who choose to remain open minded with a "see it to believe it" attitude.

The most common supernatural belief, I have found, is in ghosts. A ghost as a dictionary definition, is the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons. Many people who claim to have seen a ghost in their home say that it has been the spirit of somebody they knew, a relative perhaps, or even a pet. Most of the time, these spirits do not speak but appear and then disappear just as quickly. On some occasions, people claim that these ghosts have "spoken" to them in order to pass on a message. Of course, many ghost sightings take place in more typical environment such as graveyards or old buildings. Most of you will have seen photographs of "ghosts" taken at these places, a lot of the time by people who didn't even notice anything in their shot until the photo was processed. A lot of them look real enough. But are photographs enough to prove they exist? Probably not.

As a child, I was always very perceptive. I also had (and still have) an overactive imagination. It's why I love to write, because I can come up with scenarios easily in my head and expand on them to create a story. It also means that it can sometimes get the better of me. When I was living at my parents (who's house is built on an old coalmine) a lot of "strange" things always happened in my room, like my name being whispered while I was in bed or ornaments simply falling off shelves when they weren't even close to the edge. I would tell myself it was my imagination and it helped. My room was an L shape and my bed was in the far corner. I always slept with my door open, I couldn't sleep unless it it was. From my bed, with an open door, I could see the door to my sister's room. Opposite my sisters room were the banisters of the stairs.

One night, when I was about 13/14, I was in bed, wide awake, when all of a sudden a dead weight fell on me, from my knees downwards. I physically couldn't move them and I started to panic a little. So I froze, to see if it would help. I looked towards the door and at that very moment, walking from the banisters into my sister's room, I saw a young girl. She looked about 7 or 8, with hollow eyes and long dark hair. She had a distinctive dirty face and her clothes, which although it seems "typical" were dark long sleeves with a white pinafore over the top, which was also covered in dirt. I remember seeing the way she walked, dragging her feet along the floor. It all happened in slow motion although it must have only lasted 5 seconds at the most. As soon as she had disappeared into the other room, the weight on my legs lifted. Since that night, I've never slept with my bedroom door open again, even though I have moved house several times.

After that incident, the "unexplained" incidents began to become more frequent. One thing that will always stick out in my mind is this. One evening, I had been going through my CD's (yes, CD's, what a novel idea!) and had taken them all out of their cases and put them to one side. It was late and my parents kept coming in and telling me to go to bed. I did eventually and my mum told me that I had to put all my CD's away first thing the next morning. I went to sleep anyway and the next morning I woke up and went to put my stuff away to find that all my CD's were back in their cases and the cases piled neatly on my desk. Nobody else was in the house at this point and they had all been in bed by the time I'd turned my light out the previous night. So when they got back, I asked if anyone had touched them and nobody had been in my room. Which I knew because, as a very light sleeper with a very creaky bedroom door, I would have heard them come in and woken up. From then on, things in my room would move or tidy themselves. Although I tried to convince myself it was some sort of sleep walking to begin with. Until one time I had left an empty house for an hour, came back to an empty house to find that several of my ornaments had moved and books were out of place.

I seem to take this kind of thing with me and after moving house to a small Victorian cottage, things continued to happen. But to a bigger extent. I had Grace by this point and she would wake up in the middle of the night screaming and when I went to check on her she would be sat up, staring towards the built in cupboard thats door had opened, apparently by itself. One night, I had a graphic dream about a man. He was standing in the doorway to my bedroom, he had blood all over his hands and he started walking towards me. As he did so, he put his right hand onto the wall next to the door. I woke up shortly after and went back to sleep. The next morning, I was walking back into my bedroom when I noticed a handprint, much bigger than my own, on the wall next to my door. It was a brown/red colour. I took a picture of it, you can just about make it out:

But, despite all of this and more, I am not a full believer. I am still slightly sceptical and I'm always looking for a more reasonable explaination. As I said, it could all just be down to my overactive imagination. Most of the time it is. The concept of ghosts existing seems almost impossible, thinking logically. If they exist, why do they only seem to appear in the "right" location or at night? Why has a ghost never been seen walking around Asda? If there are spirits all around us, how can they pick and choose when and where they appear. You should be able either to see them all the time or not see them at all. When people see their dead friends and relatives as spirits, is it more of a comfort thing than that they have truly seen them? My grandparents have claimed to have seen their dead parents a number of times (although I have to say, their house is one of the most eerie places come nighttime) and that when seeing them they felt a huge sense of relief and calm. I suppose it's the same as believing in Heaven, in a way. Believing that your loved ones are watching over you. Having said all of that though, I must touch briefly on this point. One which made me think. As human's our range of sight is actually fairly limited. We only see in one type of light spectrum, anything outside of that spectrum is not visible to us. For example, we cannot see infra-red. Is there then, a possibility, that ghosts reside outside of our visibility, only entering it on occasion which is the moments where we claim to be able to see them?

Many sceptics argue the existence of the supernatural, ghost activity in particular, as illogical thinking and an over-reaction of the imagination. They provide many alternative explainations to what some would describe as a supernatural experience. Sleep paralysis for example. This is where, upon falling asleep or awakening, a person is "paralysed." It can also produce hallucinations, some extremely vivid, which is why some say that supposed ghost sightings at night when in bed, are infact linked to sleep paralysis and these "ghosts" are merely hallucinations. Some sceptics simply do not believe in the supernatural because it has not been scientifically proven to be true. The countless number of hoax photographs that emerge do not help the case of those who claim to have genuine proof that these things exist as it only puts further doubt into the mind of a non-believer.

Other than ghosts there are many other forms of supernatural beings that people believe exist. Demons, poltergeists. But it's not just supernatural beings that people believe exist, but also extra-terrestrial. Aliens. Many people all over the world claim to have had some kind of alien encounter. Whether it be seeing a UFO or actually being abducted. Claims of strange objects and lights in the sky are made every day. Usually these "UFO's" turn out to be weather balloons to aircraft. The most infamous report on the subject of aliens is the Roswell incident. It is a widely discussed conspiracy as to what actually took place in Roswell. In 1947, in Roswell, New Mexico, a UFO allegedly crashed and it and its passengers were retrieved by the military. They claimed that the debris found was infact, that of a weather balloon, however many alien fanatics believe that this was a cover up and they did actually discover extra-terrestrial life but have been forced to keep it confidential, hence the story of the weather balloon that emerged. Again, there have been photographs of the supposed aliens, along with video footage of an alien autopsy, which was found to be partly faked and therefore, deemed unsuitable as evidence for the existence of aliens.

There is also the phenomenon that is ball lightning. Ball lightning is a spherical "ball of light" seen mainly after thunderstorms. These balls of lightning fall rapidly, as with normal lightning but can spring back up in a number of directions. This is often an explaination for UFO sightings, which usually consist of people seeing a ball of light, moving rapidly in different directions across the sky, even hovering for a few seconds before shooting back up. All are also characteristics of ball lightning. 

When we think of aliens, we picture those grey skinned, bug eyed creatures. We imagine them as hostile, wanting to probe us and take over the planet. Their disc shaped spaceships, shooting out lasers. That's Hollywood for you. But in reality, aliens could actually be anything. They could look like us. They could even look like cows. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that aliens exist. Because another race from another planet is what we would call "alien" and I'm not naive enough to think that humans on planet Earth are the only living creatures in the Universe. Somewhere out there, there is another planet like ours, that can support life. They probably wouldn't be like us. But the possibility is definitely there. There is also the possibility that they are far more advanced than we are. Do I think they would travel here to destroy us? No. Infact, I don't think they would travel here at all. We have never discovered any kind of extra-terrestrial beings in our solar system. Therefore, any other civilisation would have to live beyond our galaxy. For them to build a spaceship that not only could travel that far but also live long enough to make the journey of hundres of thousands of lightyears, to me is inconceivable. Of course, I wouldn't rule it out as impossible, but it seems illogical to think that there are little green men hovering above the planet in their UFO's that have somehow not been spotted by any satellites, waiting to beam people up so they can probe them and then send them back again. And these people who claim to have been abducted are always very average people. Surely, if aliens wanted to know more about us as a race, they would beam up somebody important and interesting, like the President of the United States or someone famous like Justin Bieber (fingers crossed they wouldn't send him back) 

As a topic that I sit on the fence with, which for me is quite a rarity, I cannot really come to any solid conclusion about this. All I can really say is that only you know what you experience. You can choose to think rationally or you can embrace what you believe. We don't know for sure if these things exist, neither do we know if they do not. Science has not provided us with any complete evidence for or against and so the disagreement will continue. When you experience something out of the ordinary, it can alter your previous beliefs and likewise, when you rationalise them in your mind, you can also change your views. I am very much a "see it to believe it" person, sat on that fine line. I have, however, "seen" and yet still I can't fully make my mind up because I am very scientifically minded and my rational side is constantly making exuses for anything I experience until science can prove it either way. And until then, I suppose none of us will really know for certain.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The beauty of difference

I often wonder why, in the 21st Century, homosexuality is still such a controversial topic. Why there is still so much hatred towards homosexual people and why many believe they do not deserve the same rights as heterosexual people.

In the UK, same-sex marriages are currently not recognised as legitimate and are not yet legalised, however gay couples can take part in a civil partnership. Similar to and including the same rights as marriage but not technically a marriage. This has been a possibility for same-sex couples only since 2005. Also in 2005, it was deemed acceptable, after 3 years of deliberation, for gay and lesbian couples to adopt in the UK. Only 6 years ago, were same-sex couples given any kind of real rights. And still, those rights are not equal to those of heterosexual couples. So why is there such a stigma attatched to being homosexual? Why do some people find it unacceptable and wrong? Is it down to fear?

My daughter has a gay father. He left me for another man and although I was angry, I knew that people can't choose who they are. And that it was no real reflection on me as to why he left, I just didn't have the right "equipment." People do make jokes about it to me and I laugh it off. The classic is always "Make sure you don't turn another one." Of course, I don't tend to take life too seriously and I do just take it on the chin. It doesn't bother me, mainly because I know you cannot "turn" somebody gay. The only thing I do worry about is my daughter. She is only 3, so at the minute, it's not too bad. But once she starts primary school, I do fear that she will be bullied for having a dad who is gay. Children can be cruel and we all know of those parents who love a bit of gossip and wouldn't think twice about mentioning something like that with their kids in earshot. But the point is, I shouldn't have to worry about that. I should be able to send her off to school, knowing that she will be accepted for who she is and not who her parents are and that even then, a homosexual parent should just be something that people overlook and don't think is unusual.

I fail to comprehend those who refuse to accept gay people. I believe that it is only a hatred for a handful of people but for most, it is a fear. I know that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong. "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is a detestable sin." Or something along those lines. There you go, in black and white, God says homosexuality is a sin. End of story. Of course not all followers of the Bible are quite as closed minded as that. But there are many who are. I watched a documentary not so long ago about America's "most hated family." It was about a family that are at the heart of a religious movement in America with the Westboro Baptist Church. They preach that "God hates fags" and have extremely strong negative opinion on LGBT people and they also state that the terrible things that occur in the world is God's way of punishing us for our "relaxed approach" to homosexuality. They picket funerals of dead US soldiers, blaming the country's tolerance for gay people for the deaths of their servicemen. Even young children attend these pickets, holding up signs saying such atrocities as "Thank God for cancer." I found it a disgrace to watch, seeing them tell homosexual people about how they were going to burn in hell for their sins, knowing that this wasn't some sick game. They actually truly believe this, believe that they are God's "messengers" chosen to spread His words of hate to the world.

There are others who are not religious that still promote negativity towards homosexuals. This is when I think it is based on fear. It wasn't all that long ago that gay people were thrown into cells, deemed unacceptable to live in a heterosexual society. We cage animals when they are vicious and we are afraid they will attack. We cage criminals not only to punish them, but to keep them out of society because we are afraid they will pose a threat or a danger. Why then, would we cage homosexuals? They are not vicious or dangerous. Perhaps it is because they are feared as an "unknown." Especially years ago, when they were few and far between (or at least they appeared to be as it was a topic never spoken about) As a heterosexual person, you do not experience life in the same way as a homosexual person. You are attracted to the opposite sex which has always been the "norm" in society, and to a point, still is. Then along comes a gay couple and you are suddenly thrown into a world you don't understand and that can sometimes cause fear. Not in the strong sense that you might feel fear of flying or heights. But of the unknown, a world you have no experience of.

Generally speaking, I do think that the LGBT community is widely accepted these days, by non LGBT people, at least in the UK. It is not uncommon to know a gay couple from within a friend group, for example and many celebrities are "out" as gay. The stigma attatched to it has changed dramatically over the years from being completely unacceptable to being moderately acceptable. There are discrimination acts in place to protect them and, as I said earlier, they are now able to adopt children and enter into a civil partnership (although I believe there is a movement to try and get religious marriage ceremonies legalised and recognised in the UK) It wasn't until the late 60's that homosexual activity was de-criminalised and before that, it was a criminal offence to partake in such activity. In the 19th Century, it was even punishable by death. Now, however, a "hate crime" as it is referred to, against a homosexual person, whether it be attacking them, abusing them, even killing them based on the fact that they are gay is a criminal offence and people can be served a heavy sentence for it. A far cry from the days when homosexual people were killed for being gay.

Despite the obvious advances that have been made to try and give gay people as many rights as heterosexual people get, including being allowed to recieve state and health benefits, they are still not fully accepted in the community. There will, in my opinion, always be those who cannot understand that anyone would dare to behave differently to society's rigid normality that they have grown so accustomed to. But the truth of the matter is, we don't have control over who we are as people. You do not decide to be homosexual. I believe it is built into your genes, just as your hair colour and personality are. We would not reject a person from society based on what kind of music they prefer or what food they like. Why? Because it's a preference, a relation to your personality and the uniqueness that makes you, you. Being gay is nothing more than that. An in-built preference for the same sex. It isn't wrong and it isn't a sin. God may like to tell those who listen to Him that homosexuality is an "abomination" but then how do those people, who believe that God created man, be so hateful towards a person for being gay when after all, God was the one who made them. "In the image of Himself" might I add. At the end of the day, we are all different. We like different things and act differently from one another. The world would be a dull place if we were all the same. And it is the beauty of that, that makes us incredible as a species.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Family. Can't live with them, can't live without them

I am currently burnt to a crisp and taking some time out from the sun so I thought I would write a quick post on here, since I know you're all dying to hear from me ;)

Been a bit of a busy bee with it being Grace's birthday yesterday. She got spoilt, as per usual, even if she did spend half of the day yelling at everyone when she didn't get her own way. Typical woman. I haven't really got all that much to add to that really, we just had a nice day out at the village fete (old school, right?) and then a little gathering at my parent's house afterwards then Grace went to her dads. So, if I may, I'm going to use this next part to rant. You were warned.

I'm sick to death of people thinking I'm some lazy, Jeremy Kyle watching layabout. Seriously. I love my family, they're awesome. But sometimes, I don't think they realise how crap they make me feel. Mainly my parents to be honest. Yesterday, we were talking about something or other and my sister who is 17 and got a job at Sainsbury's around Christmas last year, was saying how the outfit she was wearing totalled to £90 and I said that mine only totalled to £7. Then everyone started saying "Oh well if you had a job, you could spend that sort of money on clothes." Which is wrong because I would never spend £90 on one outfit anyway, but that's besides the point. So I said that even when I was working, I didn't spend all that much on clothes. Then I got "What, you worked? When? How many days did you work there for, two?" Bearing in mind that, as a teenager I wasn't given money by my parents, so I had a Saturday job from the age of 13 up until I was 16 when I could get a "proper" job working as a silver service waitress in a hotel so I could earn my own money as well as being a sixth form student at the same time. I only left my last job when I was almost 20 because I was 36 weeks pregnant and it was the hotel policy. I didn't go back for reasons I won't bother going into.

Currently, I am a single mum to a 3 year old, I am studying journalism and I'm part way through writing a novel alongside looking for a part time job. Is that good enough for my parents? Course it isnt. All I ever get is "What's the point in studying, just stop putting things off and go out and get a job" or "why are you doing/not doing x,y and z with Grace? Because you should/shouldn't be." I don't think I have a tough life, as far as things go, and I don't expect praise with every little thing I do. But I honestly do wonder why I even bother. I'm studying so I can get a career I love and that makes a better life for me and Grace. Sure, it might take a few more years to get to where I want to be but I would rather that than just get a full time job stacking shelves in Morrisons (no disrespect to anyone who does that by any means) for the sake of not "wasting my time."

The thing is, the people telling me all this are the ones who didn't go into higher education, they left school with a handful of GCSE's and went straight into any old job they could find. Which was ok for them. But you can't do that anymore, you need an NVQ just to get a 9-5 office job these days. Most of you will know how passionate I am about writing and I'm willing to wait however long it takes to make it into a career, I don't care how hard I have to work, I will do it. So why aren't my parent's proud of me for wanting more for myself and being determined to get it? Probably the same reason why they constantly shoot down my parenting. Everything I do with Grace is the wrong thing. I decided, even though it killed me and I cried every night for a week before it, that I would allow her to stay out overnight with her dad once a month. A really hard decision but a mature one that needed to be made. But instead of a "You did the right thing" I got a mouthful of crap about how I only wanted her to stay out so I could go clubbing with my friends and that I was selfish (couldn't be more wrong if they tried)  Last month, I cracked down on potty training and I finally started getting somewhere and she was doing really well with it. Until a couple of weeks ago when she refused to use it and now she has gone totally backwards and I'm tearing my hair out about it. What do I get to add to the stress? "She's 3, she should be potty trained by now, you need to make her go on the potty, don't go easy on her, it needs to be done" as if I haven't tried. If you've had children, you know you can't force them to go on it or they're even more likely not to. I'm just fed up with them constantly criticising everything I do. I think I would take a heart attack if one day they said to me "You know what, you're not doing too bad with all that parenting lark and the fact you are trying your best to get a job you love and that will give you both a good life is really good, well done."

Anyway, sorry about that. Went off on one a bit there. I just get really annoyed knowing that they all see me like that, that I'm incapable of anything. I'm trying to ignore them until the time comes when I can turn around and say "You know all those years where you talked me down and made out I was a nobody? Well, look at me now." But it's hard when you get thrown so much negativity and never any positivity.

But enough about that, I'm off back out to enjoy the sun. With a lot more suncream on than I had before. I looked in the mirror and I, quite frankly, look awful. Who knew you could burn your stomach? Not had that before. Anywho, off to the lobster pot I go.

Arrivederci :)