School strike for climate (New Zealand)

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Today, while I sat in my air conditioned office, a chant slowly grew in volume outside the window.  I’d been hearing it off and on all day, but now it was really noticeable.  I go to the window and see a procession of young protesters walking down Queen Street (the main street in Auckland).  They hold up their signs (some clever, some not-so-much) and chant “Hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go!”  They’re loud and they’re passionate.  For the first time today I realise that these kids are serious.

They spill over from the footpath and halt traffic, determined to be heard.  These are not kids who just want a cruisy day off school.  This is old-school type protesting, the kind we used to see.  You’ve got teens waving their arms and shouting in the faces of policemen, and you’ve got teens thrusting their signs at truck drivers, insisting they stop and take notice.  These kids are passionate.  They are sincere.  They are determined to make a difference.

At my last job, I was the second-oldest person in the office, and I had a number of co-workers who were in their very early twenties.  They were very passionate about climate change among other things.  They’d nag the rest of us about coming back from the supermarket with single-use plastic bags, or for not using reusable drink bottles at our desks.  It wasn’t inspired by anything other than a passion to save the planet.

I’ve never been passionate about recycling or any of the other myriad things I could be doing to help the planet.  I only started separating my recycling out recently.  By which I mean, in the last three years.  And I could still do better on that front.  I have only just stopped using single-use plastic bags , and it’s mostly because the supermarkets have stopped offering them.  I only started using public transport in December.  Yeah, it wasn’t an option for me the last two years, but it was for the seven years before that and I chose to use my car instead which was more expensive so there were no wins there.  I love nature (I’m a country girl who was brought up on a farm) and I love how beautiful our country is, but I’ve never put any effort into helping to maintain it.  I suck.

My friend Kat said it so eloquently in Sour Grapes and Humble Pie when she wrote ‘Maybe just maybe they are fighting for their life today. The life you got to enjoy already. With clean air, oceans to swim in and gardens to watch your kids play in.’  My kids are city kids, and sometimes I wonder at the difference between the childhood I had on the farm and the childhood they had in the city.  And it’s remarks like that which make me stop and think.  I’m going camping in April, and it’ll be fresh air, peace and quiet, hopefully enjoying nature.  I need to do my part to ensure that others have a chance to enjoy what I have already enjoyed and will continue to enjoy.

It’s easy to say that these kids just want a day off school, but the truth is, the generation after mine, the post-millenials, they ARE passionate about the environment.  They really are.  And they’ve got so many people today talking about climate change, the environment, and our personal responsibilities, so the truth is, they have achieved what they wanted to achieve.  They have been heard and they are making a difference.  That’s bloody inspiring.

Music Monday: Bastard! by Kath Tait

It’s Music Monday (a meme started by The Tattooed Book Geek and I’m also joining in The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge on Writing.com.  Their prompt this week is ‘emotionally raw’. Which is actually pretty tough for me. Music is a huge part of my life. I associate numerous songs with different events and occasions, and far more with individual people. But I had a happy childhood, and I’m one of those people who tends to be fairly emotionally level – I don’t have massive highs and lows, particularly lows.

Which isn’t to say that my life has been perfect. It hasn’t. But when I think of ‘emotionally raw’, my first thought is grief, and I don’t actually have a lot of experience with grief. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve lost grandparents, but none of my immediate family or friends.

The next thing that comes to mind for ‘emotionally raw’ is heartache, and I haven’t had to cope with much of that either. I met my husband when I was 19. I have a song that reminds me of the boy I called my boyfriend for two weeks when I was 14. I have a few songs that remind me of my boyfriend from age 14-16. And a couple that remind me of the boy I dated from 16-17. But none of them broke my heart.

I was hurt by a boy when I was 18, because we decided we liked each other, but then before we even really had a chance to be boyfriend and girlfriend, he told me we couldn’t be because “the thought of holding my hand made him want to vomit”. Turns out it was an unfortunate choice of words and he was basically terrified of being in a relationship. Which made far more sense when he later came out as being gay. *Rolleyes* I do have a song that reminds me of how hurt and upset I was at the time, before any of the explanations came out. It’s called ‘Bastard’ by Kath Tait, and it’s a bitchy little folk song.

I suppose that was emotionally raw for me at the time. Looking back, it was so inconsequential, but at the time it destroyed me. Isn’t that stupid? I’d never been dumped, and to have this sweet Christian boy tell me that the thought of holding my hand made him want to vomit… I still don’t even really understand the depth of my reaction. I’d been bullied before. Teased, I guess, is how I would have phrased it at the time, but call a spade a spade and all that. I’d been teased a lot for my weight, even though I look back at photos of myself and wish I could convince the younger me that I just wasn’t as overweight as I thought I was. Just because I wasn’t twiggy skinny like so many of my classmates…

Anyway, I didn’t know this boy well. I’d met him at a Christian camp where we were both working as leaders. I was relatively new to the whole Christian lifestyle, not having grown up with it, and he was a friend of a friend. I’d been single for probably a year or a bit more. I hated being single. All that bullying had left me with little self confidence in my looks and body, despite having had two steady boyfriends right throughout high school. I hated being single mostly because I worried no one would ever want the me who I was on the outside. And part of hating being single was a desperation to be with someone…anyone. I had crushes on the stupidest people. Not stupid like they were morons, stupid in that they were totally wrong for me. Crushes for the sake of crushes, in the hope that one of them would like me back, and it didn’t really matter which one, so long as someone did. I guess I was seeking confirmation that someone could find me attractive. So then for this boy to turn around and say what he did…

I remember telling my flatmates, and out of everything, I distinctly remember Vanessa (she was sister to two of my flatmates and I can’t even remember why she was there that day) saying “Wait, he actually used the word vomit?” After that, I remember doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, which made my flatmates panic a little I think. *Rolleyes* I’m not very domesticated and for me to be voluntarily doing housework meant something was very wrong. *Laugh*

As I said, he was a friend of a friend, and one of my flatmates went to uni with his brother. They were talking about it, and as I understand it, the brother went home and said “You told her that the thought of holding her hand made you want to vomit?” and the guy realised how awful that sounded and rang me to apologise. We never spoke again, but my friends told me later that he came out as gay. It explained even more.

I don’t hold a grudge. He never meant to hurt my feelings, and it was such a non-relationship, it’s ridiculous that this isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about it. Does the memory still hurt me? No. Did it hurt me at the time? Yes.

You know, when I started this entry, I had no intention of writing about this incident or using that song. It’s not a great song. It made me laugh the first time I’d heard it, but it’s not a powerful or emotive song. But I’ve written quite a lot, so I guess this is what this week’s entry for Music Monday and Soundtrackers is going to be, huh? A bitchy little folk song for a boy who used an unfortunate turn of phrase to end a relationship that hadn’t even started yet, because he found himself in over his head and was trying to fix the situation before he got in any deeper.

You know what the worst of it is? I can’t even remember his name.