Homemade Faggots Or Food For Thought

Of all the adjustments people ask me about in my relocation from US to the UK such driving on the left while sitting on the right side of the car or learning how to use different systems of measurement or money, the most interesting is the difference in what certain words mean here versus in America. Take faggot for example. Last night John had faggots from the special’s board at our local pub.

Being raised in country where faggot has a whole other meaning, I had to snap a couple of photos to use in discussion here later. This caused a bit of chatter at the table we were sharing with our friends, Jean, Robert, and Jeff. Robert had the faggots too and after seeing my interest in photographing both the menu board and John’s dinner we talked a bit about faggots and the meaning and use here in the UK.

After doing some research this morning, I found more than a few sites which talk at length about how the word faggot came to be used in America as a derisive word that is often thrown about to bully or dismiss someone of a different sexual orientation. While one might assume that Americans were wholly responsible the shift in perception, I discovered this morning that at certain points in time, Britons have themselves used it to describe more than meatballs and wood for a fire.

It seems that during its evolution down the ugly path it has been used to describe not only a homosexual male, but according to a post over at The Straight Dope, it has also been a way to label and dismiss women during certain periods in history, ” Nineteenth century Britons also heard “faggot” used in reference to an ill-tempered woman, i.e., a ball-buster, a battleaxe, a shrew. That meaning of the term continued into the early 20th century, and the usage was gradually applied to children as well as women.” How all of this evolved from what was originally used primarily to denote a bundle of sticks is discussed in detail here, and to a lesser degree here as well.

This post was originally intended as a post about food and word use and the differences in people and countries, but another thought kept nudging me, tickling the edges of my concentration saying, ” Hey, why are you skirting around the really ugly stuff ? “

Which led me to something other than the neat wrap up I had intended. I wish I could forget how word use and name calling are linked to bullying by people with a need to wield power and control over others.

Most of us have experienced some form of it growing up or even as adults, but I can’t imagine a life tainted by some of the horrendous acts that I have read about over the last few days. Some of the blogs I read have offered points of view not really touched by the news media and there are a few I want to leave you with.

A little food for thought.

Anniegirl1138 sometimes shocks my toenails off with what she has to say, but she almost always leaves me with something to think about as is the case with her post today. It is well worth reading and I would suggest you watch the video if you have time, but be prepared.

Jennifer Petkov is You over at Anniegirl1138

Penelope Trunk wrote a very interesting post the other day which while dealing with what looks like a different subject matter is really more of the same with regard to bullying and ugly places some people go to when trying to dismiss someone’s value and credibility.

Generation Y in Politics: Krystal Ball’s Candidacy can be found at Penelope Trunk’s blog.

Jayne Martin usually focuses on the funny, but gets very serious with her post below.

How Many More Kids Have To Die ? which can be found over at injaynesword.

I will finish with a gentle and important message from Karen Walrond.

love thursday: on bullying, modeling behavior and making it stop which can be found over at her blog home, Chookooloonks.

When Drowning – Remember – Hope Floats

He had a head full of hair bleached almost white from his days lifeguarding in the sun and long tanned legs covered with tiny hairs so blond they shimmered like a million curly threads of gold. You might not think this would be my overriding memory of the day I almost drowned, but it remains a strong image almost 38 years later.

I don’t remember names easily and have a variety of mnemonic devices I use when meeting new people, but I remember his name, the golden boy who was almost a man that summer who quietly saved me from drowning in a lake at summer camp. Other children splashed and played barely noticing as he dove into the water and made his way to me.

In the moment I saw him coming, I realized how badly I was struggling to keep my head above water having worn myself out trying to swim to a raft anchored in the center of the lake. There were older and bigger kids playing and resting around it and I wanted to join them and set off without thinking too much about the distance.

Due to lack of experience, I was not as strong a swimmer as the others and all my desire and belief in my ability couldn’t save me, but Gordon did. Gordie, as the other campers called him when giggling about his good looks came across the lake in a flash and gently flipped me over onto my back talking softly to me as I floated my way back to shore.

I remember feeling ashamed and slightly babyish worried about what the other kids might think, but no one really noticed. Another key thing I remember is that I never made a sound. No cries for help, no waving for someone’s attention … I just struggled in the water while life went on around me.

I read a post this morning about how easy it is to miss the signs of drowning and it occurred to me how often in life we may feel as if we are going under for the last time even when there is no water involved.

Sometimes it’s life that pulls us under and it can happen in sight of the shore surrounded by people we know. It can be difficult to determine when someone needs just a bit of assistance like the gentle guidance of Gordon that day or someone requiring full on resuscitation.

If I had only remembered what I already knew, I would have flipped over on my back and floated until I was rested enough to go on. Fear took over when I became overtired and I lost all sense of reason. Looking back now, I can see the larger lesson of that day.

Years later I saw a movie where Sandra Bullock’s character Birdie tells her daughter,

“Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will … “

I thought the poem below might be good for Penelope Trunk who writes her own poetry here and for anyone else struggling today.

Lie back daughter, let your head

be tipped back in the cup of my hand.

Gently, and I will hold you. Spread

your arms wide, lie out on the stream

and look high at the gulls. A dead-man’s

float is face down. You will dive

and swim soon enough where this tidewater

ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe me,

when you tire on the long thrash

to your island, lie up, and survive.

As you float now, where I held you

and let go, remember when fear

cramps your heart and what I told you:

lie gently and wide to the light-year

starts, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

– Philip Booth

My New Blog Crush Is A Brazen Careerist

I hope you won’t think me fickle, but I have new crush and she’s been taking up quite a lot of my time lately. Penelope Trunk’s blog, Brazen Careerist is so popular that she has tons of readers … 52,400 subscribers at present. Most of them probably think they’re stopping by to pick up a little career advice, but there is so much more to this woman than just how to get ahead in business.

We haven’t known each other for long … well, she doesn’t know me at all, but I do have a few favorites of hers I want to share with you. This bit of advice makes total sense to me. I have known this for a while now and actually managed to work it out on my own, but I was well into my forties before came together a flash of awareness. Here is another post that might look like business advice, but it’s really like a parachute in a way. Then there is this one, I like it because it might make you think differently about the stories you’ve been told about how having or finding the right job is the path to happiness.

Part of what I’ve been impressed with is the way that most of her favorite posts are about her relationships with the people in her life who mean the most to her. Of course you will find seeds of other topics tucked neatly in the intellectual soil waiting to germinate in your consciousness. She’s good that way … she knows how to take a bit of this and that and shape it into a good story that will make you want to stop by later to see what’s happening in her world. Before you know it you be hanging out like a stage door groupie, waiting for the next post. Okay, maybe you won’t have it that bad, but I do think you might enjoy a little nose around her space if you’ve got some time in your schedule.

And this crush thing … it doesn’t mean that I don’t still love you too, because you know I do!