Mountanish inhumanity. A literary response to the refugee crisis.

From the play, “Sir Thomas More”, written by Shakespeare (and others) Act 2, Scene 4.

LINCOLN.
Sheriff More speaks; shall we hear Sheriff More speak?

DOLL.
Let’s hear him. ’A keeps a plentyful shrievaltry, and ’a made my brother Arthur Watchins Seriant Safes yeoman. Let’s hear Sheriff More.

ALL.
Sheriff More, More, More, Sheriff More!

MORE.
Even by the rule you have among yourselves,
Command still audience.

ALL.
Surrey, Surrey! More, More!

LINCOLN.
Peace, peace, silence, peace.

GEORGE.
Peace, peace, silence, peace.

MORE.
You that have voice and credit with the number
Command them to a stillness.

LINCOLN.
A plague on them, they will not hold their peace; the dual cannot rule them.

MORE.
Then what a rough and riotous charge have you,
To lead those that the dual cannot rule?—
Good masters, hear me speak.

DOLL.
Aye, by th’ mass, will we, More. Th’ art a good housekeeper, and I thank thy good worship for my brother Arthur Watchins.

ALL.
Peace, peace.

MORE.
Look, what you do offend you cry upon,
That is, the peace. Not one of you here present,
Had there such fellows lived when you were babes,
That could have topped the peace, as now you would,
The peace wherein you have till now grown up
Had been ta’en from you, and the bloody times
Could not have brought you to the state of men.
Alas, poor things, what is it you have got,
Although we grant you get the thing you seek?

GEORGE.
Marry, the removing of the strangers, which cannot choose but much advantage the poor handicrafts of the city.

MORE.
Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.

DOLL.
Before God, that’s as true as the Gospel.

LINCOLN.
Nay, this is a sound fellow, I tell you. Let’s mark him.

MORE.
Let me set up before your thoughts, good friends,
On supposition; which if you will mark,
You shall perceive how horrible a shape
Your innovation bears.
First, ’tis a sin
Which oft the apostle did forewarn us of,
Urging obedience to authority;
And ’twere no error, if I told you all,
You were in arms against your God himself.

ALL.
Marry, God forbid that!

MORE.
Nay, certainly you are;
For to the king God hath his office lent
Of dread, of justice, power and command,
Hath bid him rule, and willed you to obey;
And, to add ampler majesty to this,
He hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword, but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,
Rising ’gainst him that God himself installs,
But rise against God? What do you to your souls
In doing this? O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
Tell me but this. What rebel captain,
As mutinies are incident, by his name
Can still the rout? Who will obey a traitor?
Or how can well that proclamation sound,
When there is no addition but a rebel
To qualify a rebel? You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used?

This is the strangers’ case;

And this your mountanish inhumanity.

Isn’t it funny that even 500 odd years ago, we were talking about the same problems and behaving in much the same way?

No I won’t “suck it up”.

You see me whine on Facebook about being sore and tired. You sit there and smile knowingly or roll your eyes because you’re a gym-goer too. Or a runner. Or a crossfitter. Or an otherwise Tough Mudderfucker, but you’re not me. You know all about muscle soreness and recovery and optimal heart rates and that fabled exercise high.

You think you can say certain things to me that I will react positively to – because we’re friends.

Backstory.

I’ve just started back at the gym and back into regular exercise after watching my weight change eight kilograms in the wrong direction. For someone who was already around 102kg and has fought tooth and nail to get down from 152kg, that’s a scary number to see again. So I’m back at the gym. I’d love to go back to my personal trainer but even at $20 for a session (and I feel I need at least three sessions a week to be worth anything to me health-wise), I can’t afford it. So I do it on my own and try to do a good, honest job of pushing myself.

But you know what? This shit’s hard.

So, yeah, I complain.

Occasionally, like today, I write a mildly amusing-to-me comment on Facebook expressing my current hatred of whoever invented gyms and that I was sore and that I was going to make myself sorer by subjecting my body to yet another session of physical torture known as working out.

What I got in response, among other things, was being told to “harden up, princess” and “suck it up, cupcake”.

Ha ha, right? Really funny. Ren’s just whinging again. Let’s poke fun at her. She won’t mind.

She does mind.

OH BOY, she does.

Yes, she is whinging again but she just needs a little support. Sometimes she needs to be coddled because, heaven forbid, she’s feeling more than a little fucking delicate at that moment. She might actually need for someone to remind her why she am doing this when she hurts from repeated sessions of “sucking it up” and to keep going when tears of actual physical pain are mixing with sweat.

I do “suck it up”.

I am “hard”.

And you will hear/see/read me complain because that’s what I do when I’m feeling bad. Because, fuck you, I want someone to tell me that this IS WORTH IT.

What you don’t see or hear about is the way my hip joints grind so painfully the day after a particularly hard session of squats and treadmill work that I can feel the sensation of it in my back teeth. What you don’t see or hear about is the way my lower back throbs for days because I was stupid and just so happy to be moving that I forgot the “Ren can’t run or jump” rule but did burpees, star jumps and jogged in place on solid concrete for ten minutes.

So DON’T tell me to harden up. I do this shit in SPITE of how much I suffer for it in the days following.

I have to balance what I do in order to be able to walk the next day (if not the next hour) because I’ve got other shit I need to “suck it up” for and get done.

I love my friends but sometimes I really want to smack them up the back of the head.

With a shovel.

Renlish.com
Words to live by.

No, I’m not getting pregnant. But thanks for asking.

So, Christmas. It really is that joyous time of year when family think it’s okay to get all up in yo bizznizz and ask inappropriate questions and say inadvertently hurtful things. The fact that I have not become pregnant yet or made any attempts at becoming pregnant in order to give my in-laws (or my own parents) grand-babies has officially been pointed out to me. This has not been helped by the fact that distant relations of child-bearing age have been popping out kids left, right and centre. Not to mention my own sister is up to number two. The traitorous bitch!

(No. Not really. She’s just a bitch. ;) )

I feel for the Outlaws. While my mother and father have come to accept that I am probably not going to be the one to give them babies to spoil (because my little sister is fulfilling that role spectacularly), my Outlaws, particularly the manbeast’s mum, are feeling left out of the grandparents stakes. They only had one child – adopted one, in fact, so I think that it makes it a little harder for them for them to come to terms with my childlessness.

I should really make it clear that the Outlaws have not said anything directly to me (or the manbeast, as far as I am aware) but comments around the topic have been heard. Comparisons between myself and another baby-bearer in their family have been made – within earshot.

This is not terribly new, though. The whispers of the possibility of hearing the pitter-patter of little feet started shortly after I married the manbeast and turned 30 – three days apart. Those comments were very occasional, most of the time in jest but even so, there was an underlying tone of “So… when are you actually going to have a baby?” Of course now, six years later, those whispers are turning into shouts of “You’re STILL not pregnant?!”

Outwardly, I can only smile and shrug. Inwardly, I cringe. And get a little annoyed.

Renlish.com - Inigo Montoya

Let me say here and now that I love kids. LOVE them. I am not by any means anti-child at all. I would happily steal everyone’s kids. I’m the cool aunty who hypes up all small people under the age of 10 on sweets and evilly hands them back to parents at the end of the day just before the sugar crash happens.

Seriously, that ALONE is reason enough to never have children. Anyway…

I would love to be a mother. But…

I am anti-pregnancy. I am anti-gene pool. I am anti-starting a family in a turbulent marriage. And it’s not just my decision either!

Okay, so probably having my mate Inigo help me sum things up isn’t going to cut it…

Reason 1: Pregnancy is Gross

It is. I find the whole idea of carrying a baby abhorrent – and I am sorry if that offends anyone. And I know perfectly well that my feelings on the matter are totally irrational and stupid but that’s the way it is. No amount of trying to convince me otherwise is going to get me to change my mind. I know a couple of people who loved being pregnant, adored the idea of new life growing inside them, enjoyed the feeling kicks and sucker punches to their bladders. Most people I know who have kids didn’t like the pregnancy so much but it was simply a means to an end for them. They wanted kids, they had them. Of course you have to get pregnant to get the kids.

Me? I tell everyone “I want kids – I just don’t want to get pregnant.” The confusion on their faces as that sinks in is highly entertaining.

PregnantSpray

I find nothing endearing about the process, and no, contrary to what many people tell me when I say that I am anti-pregnancy, I am not afraid of giving birth. That can be virtually painless if I want it to be. It’s the nine months leading up to birth I don’t want to deal with. It’s the idea of this… thing… growing on me and in me. It’s the hormones which, in all seriousness, screw that! My hormones have been messing me around enough as it is. I am a physical and emotional wreck.

Reason 2: My genes suck.

No, I am not talking about appearance because I am gorgeous and the girls in my family get the maternal genes. No issues there.

How do I put this sensitively? I am a firm believer in the idea that mental dysfunction is hereditary. There have been studies which prove this – though I suppose there are studies which prove anything if you throw enough resources at any given topic. But I’ve found this to be true in the case of me. In every single branch of my family there are issues.

No. Just no. I cannot and will not deal with that possibility. I grew up with it.

Selfish much? Hell yes.

This is the reason why I have not take up a friends half-joking-half-serious offer of surrogacy for me. Yeah, she can have the baby but it’ll still be from my genes and NO. All of the no.


Reason 3: It’s just Not a Good Time

I know there are loads of people who’ve been unprepared for their pregnancy – who have felt that they’re not ready, but “Oops!” and they’ve dealt with it with aplomb. I also know a couple of people who HATE being mothers but love their kids and if they had their time over they would make different choices. I don’t want to be either one of those people.

I am however a firm believer in family units. Kids belong in environments where they have loving, supportive guardians who want them. My marriage isn’t wonderful at the moment. Enough said. I refuse to become pregnant and have a baby in this environment and I am definitely not going to get pregnant and start popping out kids just to please specific people or fulfill my destiny in the social norm.

And the next person who says I “don’t know what love truly is” until I have kids, I WILL punch you in the fucking face.

Reason 4: And, well, the MANBEAST doesn’t want them.

This is the one thing that irritates me the most. As the potential sproggin-bearer, I am the one who cops all the looks, all the comments and questions, and all the sideways glances. Does the manbeast? Rarely. Me? Not a day goes by when I am not reminded that my biological clock is running out of battery power.

But has anyone actually asked the manbeast if he wants children?

Guess what? I have.

The answer is no.

Though we both agree that I would make a great mother.

So there you go. If I thought it would make a difference, I would post this blog to all the people who keep asking about the state of my uterus, but I doubt it would make any difference.

I am going to grow old and alone.

And I’m okay with that.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Prepare yourself – this is an old school Ren rant the likes you haven’t seen in a long while on this blog.  Grab a coffee and settle in.

If you know me, then you know I like watching Youtube.

Actually, Youtube has pretty much taken over my entertainment viewing.  But apart from watching excessively cute videos about kittens or crazy pugs, Ghost Adventures or serials about feasts in Tudor times, I also watch those folks who have something to say to the world in the hopes that it might make one person out there in the big blue yonder feel better or stronger or just happier within themselves.

One such person is Emma Blackery.  She’s a little British powerhouse of attitude and snarky English humour but one of her recent videos really struck chords with me. Even though it’s aimed towards people at least 15-20 years my junior, I found it fascinating.

Watch it:

I could only applaud her comments on the topic. She said things that I probably needed to hear back in the day when I was stressing over study guides, trying to pick the classes that would lead me into the designated career I might have been destined to have. Nevermind that at the grand age of 16 I was still swinging between wanting to be a palaeontologist, vet, kindergarten teacher, or speech pathologist – all in one year.

(Hint: I achieved none of these things.)

The thing that absolutely gives me the shits about high school is that at the age of 15 or 16, a young person is expected to know what they want to do with their lives.  If they’re “lucky” they’re sat down with a some sort of guidance counsellor and are told what their best options are given their results in their studies to date and their own personal interests.  If they’re not lucky, they will have to figure it all out on their own.

Outside of school, the REALLY unlucky ones will be having their futures decided for them by their parents who will insist they need good grades to get into the good universities to become doctors, lawyers, and similarly well-paid professionals. Because money means a good life, does it not?  Everyone wants that for their kids, right? I knew so many girls in my school who were so stressed out by the need to do well in maths and sciences, all because they didn’t want to disappoint their parents.

It’s shit.

Here’s why it’s shit:

It’s not fair to expect a child, someone who isn’t even old enough to vote yet, to know what they want to be doing five, ten, or twenty years into the future – to know what they want to base their whole existence on.

I’ve spent my whole adult life wondering what my purpose is and I’ve never, ever figured that out. Most people are just not that lucky.

At age 33 I had a breakthrough moment after working several years in an industry that was useful and respectful, and climbing my way up the corporate ladder and into an executive pay packet.  That breakthrough moment was being called “made redundant”.  I was being forced out of my safe, well-paid but unhappy little world by big business.

As my soon-to-be-former employer wanted to keep their appearance of giving a shit about their employees alive, they arranged careers counseling and job seeking seminars for us in the hopes that we wouldn’t bomb the place in the 18 months between being told of the company changes and eventually being kicked out. It was a nice gesture and some made full use of it. I didn’t make enough use of it, however the one session I had with the counselor was extremely enlightening. One of the first questions she asked me and the way she responded to my answer had a resounding effect on my psyche.

“How old are you?”

“I’m 33.”

“Goodness! You’re just a baby! You haven’t even had a chance to consider what you want to be when you grow up!”

I was like… “WHAT? I said I was 33, not 23!”

Like I said, all these years in Corporateria thinking that I was a failure because I hadn’t figured out my place in life had left me depressed and unhappy and completely unfulfilled. I was supposed to be a successful business woman. And I was! I was textbook. I’d worked my way up through the ranks, became a senior to assist running a large team of people, had an awesome pay packet, people looked up to me, I had responsibilities… all for what?

I wasn’t happy. I was fucking miserable. This was not where I wanted to be but I was doing it because that’s what was expected of me. I didn’t stay in uni to become a speech pathologist so this was the next best thing.

No kid, at the age of 16, 17 or 18, knows where their life is going to lead them unless they ABSOLUTELY WANT TO BE OR DO SOMETHING. No one should be forced onto a certain path because it’s the one their parents approve of, or a school adviser said that you were too dumb for anything else, or because money “for a good life” is important.

While the 12 months of unemployment which followed my redundancy absolutely sucked, it gave me the chance to consider what I wanted to do – and you know what? I think that opportunity to change my future to the way I want it to be has actually passed me by. But I am ok with that. I have a job I enjoy, it’s close to home, it’s simple routine. The money ain’t that great but I can budget and learn to either make do or deal with occasionally dipping into the red for things like holidays and or big purchases. I’m happy with picking at my life and choosing things to do along the way. It allows me to be brave occasionally.

At the grand old age of nearly-36, I have the bittersweet pleasure of hindsight. If I could have my time back again, I probably would have stayed in uni. But I would have also change courses.

If I could do it all again – I’d be digging up old/dead things for a living and loving it.

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