book review caitlin moran how to be a woman
Books, review, thoughts

#CurrentlyReading: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

book reviews

If you know me, you’ll know that I have something of an addiction to books. I own roughly 350 books spread across 4 bookshelves around my house, and I have absolutely no intention of stopping until I get my own Beauty and the Beast style library. Am I asking for too much? Possibly. Will I give up? Unlikely. Anyway, unhealthy obsession aside – I’m starting a series of blog posts called #CurrentlyReading – essentially book reviews before I’ve finished the book, just because the book in question is just too damn good to wait (or  too terrible to continue).

caitlin moran how to be a woman

To kick off this literary love-affair, I’m excited to share Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, published in 2011 by Ebury Press.  I first heard about Moran through one of my favourite BookTubers (Leena from JustKissMyFrog), and put her on my to-read list along with another 20 or so books. I completely forgot that I wanted to buy How to Be a Woman until I saw it at Blackwell’s in Newcastle (also known as my second personal nirvana after Waterstones) and quickly snapped it up before my little brain could forget again. I am now hooked. This book is part-memoir, part-humour, and 100%  pure wit. She takes us through her own life, from awkward childhood through to impossible puberty and that mysterious thing called Womanhood in a seemingly effortless thread of questions, like:

  • Why do women get Brazilians?
  • Do we have to get Brazilians?
  • Why is everyone asking me about babies?
  • Why is everyone asking me about my love life?
  • Why is everyone getting married?
  • What about porn?
  • Why do bras hurt?
  • Is there a better name for ‘the vagina’?
  • What are the worst names for ‘the vagina’?
  • What’s this ‘fashion’ thing?
  • Children?!

And so on and so forth, hilariously mingled with Moran’s very relatable personal anecdotes. I rarely laugh-out-loud when reading, but this one has had me snorting cappuccino out of my nose in the most unattractive way possible. One of the blurbs on the cover is from Grazia and describes the book as, “The book EVERY woman should read.” Quite frankly I’d like to take this further and say anyone who is or indeed knows a woman should read it, even if it’s just for the laughs. We do our best learning when we’re laughing anyway. I like to think so, at least.

Let me know if you’ve read this book or anything else by Caitlin Moran in a comment below! What are your thoughts? Is this something you’d read?

-Kelly

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anxiety breathing exercises
Adult Life, thoughts

How I deal with anxiety spirals

As I type this out on the fly in my favourite coffee shop, I’m on day three of teetering on the edge of a cliff. Fall off that precarious ledge, ladies and gentlemen, and we plummet headfirst into that oh-so-annoying thing called an anxiety spiral.

This manifests differently in different people and it can be triggered by any combination of things; hormones, alcohol, changes in your life, being faced with decisions, public speaking, social interactions, the wrong word at the wrong time, something embarrassing you did five years ago, et cetera. The list is virtually never-ending, and the effects can be crippling to some, and plain inconvenient to others. I’ve experienced situations which had me feeling so helpless, I couldn’t leave my bed all day except to use the bathroom. It wasn’t great.

The anxiety spiral

Personally, the main thing that gets to me during one of these spirals is the obsessive part. If something sets me off, I get tunnel vision and can’t see anything or anyone else but that thing causing the anxiety. And to be quite honest, it can feel like my mind is unravelling at the time.

It’s the end of the world to me, even if to my friends or family it shouldn’t even a blip on the stress radar. I’m the worst person ever, how can anyone stand me let alone like me, I’m the most annoying thing ever to walk the earth, I’m probably too loud and talk too much, I’m not actually a good writer, I’m not really good at my job, I’m not a good person, I’ve probably offended someone today, I sound stupid, and that person who saw me drunk three years ago probably still laughs at me sometimes. This is just a snippet of the thoughts that swirl, quite mercilessly, around in my head when it’s happening; your reality is distorted, and even though what you want most in the world is someone to stroke your hair and say everything is fine, you know you also won’t believe a damn word of it. You’ll probably think they’re just saying that to make you feel better. I guess the best you can do in that situation is to trust your support system to be honest with you.

For people dealing with anxiety know that it generally comes with physical manifestations too – anything from a quickened heartbeat or nausea to a full-blown panic attack. Everyone has their own version of this personal hell, in varying degrees, and I can only tell you what it’s like for me. I’m lucky to have never dealt with a real panic attack, but having your mind obsess and your heart feel like it’s going to bust out of your chest is also deeply unpleasant. Logically, I know my ‘fight or flight’ is kicking in and the adrenaline is making my body feel panic, but that does little to help me at the time.

How I’m dealing with my anxiety

For a long, long time, I didn’t know that this thing that was happening to me had a name or that it was happening to countless others in the world. I was weird and panicky sometimes, that was it. It always passed – but it also always came back.

I got a little older and took time to really dig down into what it was I felt, what triggered those feelings and what made me feel better when it happened. Fast forward to this weekend, and I’ve actually written down, on two sticky notes, the things that aggravate my anxiety and the things that help me manage it. Almost like an ‘in case of emergency’ reminder. Here’s a snippet:

Things that make it worse
  • PMS. Lord Jesus, PMS.
  • Drinking more than two or three glasses of wine.
  • Indecision.
  • Too much coffee.
  • Being disorganised or messy.
  • Falling behind on deadlines.
  • Not taking the time to cook meals.
  • The possibility that I’ve hurt someone’s feelings.
    • And then overthinking this for hours on end.
  • Not being active.
  • Spending time on social media.
Things that (therefore) make it better
  • Regular exercise – get those happy hormones a-flowin’.
  • A clean bedroom and freshly laundered sheets.
  • Five-minute meditations – I use an app called ‘Calm’.
  • Cutting down on social media.
    • I highly recommend switching off notifications as a trial if you’re uncomfortable with completely ridding your phone of the usual suspects.
  • Reading for leisure.
  • Making lists (evidently).
  • Staying on top of my work.
  • Doing things to make other people happy.
  • Sketching, writing, or playing videogames.
  • Spending time by the sea.
  • Puppies. Lots of puppies.
  • Drinking less coffee, and avoiding it after 5pm.
  • Evening Primrose oil. That shit is legit.
  • Getting out of bed and having a shower even when it seems like the hardest thing ever.
  • Talking about it with someone I trust.

Of course, I’m not against the use of medication to help with anxiety and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Pharmaceuticals should absolutely not be demonized or viewed as some sort of necessary evil; I have loads of friends who tell me how their lives have been massively improved by anti-anxiety meds, and I’m happy for them. I’m just trying my own thing first, and that’s okay too.

tips to deal with anxiety

Anyway, I just thought I’d share what I’m doing to keep a handle on things and stay balanced when anxiety makes that difficult. Sharing this kind of stuff helps others who might be struggling with it, so I’m all over that.

I’d love to hear what you do when this demon scratches at your door, so feel free to share your tips in the comments!

-Kelly

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the sound and the fury william faulkner
Books, thoughts

#CurrentlyReading: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

the sound and the fury william faulkner

Another blog post and yet another book my fellow bookwormy friends. I was re-watching Mad Men for the umpteenth time and noticed that Don Draper’s lady-friend, Joy, was reading The Sound and the Fury in one of the episodes. I’ve wanted to read something by William Faulkner for a while, and the title of this particular work is – let’s face it – pretty badass. I’m half way through the novel right now, and wanted to share my thoughts with you guys.

The first thing that struck me was the way he brings together the stream of consciousness technique with a certain ‘bare’ quality that I just love. What do I mean? Here’s an excerpt:

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight o’ clock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather’s and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it’s rather excruciating-ly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father’s. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

That. Last. Line.

It’s not the easiest read in the world, so give yourself some time to settle into the book and adjust to the character’s perception in each chapter. The Sound and the Fury is probably best described as a tragedy, so don’t read this if you’re looking for a light, happy story, and get ready for some messed up lives and fragmented family happenings.

Oh, and I find it best to read Faulkner without any distractions (e.g. TV, Netflix, YouTube – forget about it). At the very most, some instrumental music or the background buzz of a bustling cafe’ will do.

Have you read anything by Faulkner? What do you think about his work? 

-Kelly

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Daphne Caruana Galizia murder malta
malta, thoughts

Who killed Daphne? A year on, we’re still demanding answers

Daphne Caruana Galizia murder malta

Image credit: Reuters

I can hardly believe that it’s already been a full year since Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated just minutes away from her home in Malta. That’s 365 days of no justice and approximately 525,600 more minutes (and counting) of the government and its various institutions failing miserably. I wanted to add the number of times Daphne’s memorial had been cleared away and re-built, but quite frankly I’ve lost count.

Some days are harder than others

Every time I tap to open Facebook on my phone, I’m met with another smack in the face courtesy of news from back home. These days I barely recognise it as ‘home’, but that’s another story for another blog.

So like any other social media-saturated millennial, I scroll through Facebook, and inevitably come across some more bad news. Another scandal. Another lie. Another piece of Malta’s soul sold to the highest bidder.

Sadness or white-hot anger comes in waves, and sometimes the two come together and I feel overwhelmed. With frustration. Indignation. Disgust. Helplessness. Rage. Disbelief.

On those days, I sometimes need to take a moment and look away from it all before it builds into actual anxiety. I don’t like doing that, particularly because it’s in our own interest to look at this sad state of affairs squarely in the eyes. To be informed. To ask questions. To question authority, more so when they shy away and squirm and show us how much they hate it.

No. Collectively looking away is what got us here in the first place. But I, like many others, often find myself exhausted, buckling under the weight and relentlessness of it all.

But for the most part, I look

I look at every new, shoddy piece of propaganda the Prime Minister’s crew churn out and peddle to their supporters. I look at the blinkered masses sitting, open-mouthed and clamouring like baby birds, waiting to gobble up the next thinly-veiled lie dumped onto them by the powers that be. I sometimes wonder if politicians ever chuckle as they type what they know full well is bullshit of the highest order. Perhaps they’ve been lying and lied to for so long they scarcely know the difference any more. As a quick example, check out the post by ‘Justice Minister’ Owen Bonnici. Yeah, the one who cleared away the memorial and thereby violated our freedom of speech. 2+2=5:

I look at news of another shady link between another big shot bully and another unsavoury character and think about how, in a normal country, you’d resign at the faintest hint of scandal. You’d have some sense of shame. Dawn ma jistħux,  u ma jafux jistħu. All our politicians seem to have is pure arrogance. And lots of money. Money paid out of our pockets. Gentle reminder there.

I make myself look at comments and statuses on social media and I see some hope, some resistance, in the face of hate speech so vile you’d think those commenting were facing their worst enemy, rather than a total stranger whose only crime is trying to hold our government accountable, demanding justice and transparency.

Orwellian Malta

I look at the news that the protest memorial opposite the law courts has once again been cleared away, and wonder if it was on Owen Bonnici’s orders again or not. What are they so afraid of? Do they really think we’ll give up and forget that easily? They did it again last night. I struggle to call Mr Owen Bonnici ‘Justice Minister’ while keeping a straight face. Surely to be a minister of something like justice, one should fight for justice. I’m reminded now of George Orwell’s 1984 and the Ministry of Truth:

The Ministry of Truth is the ministry of propaganda. As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. – Wikipedia

I look at all of this, and the sale of Maltese (also EU) passports, and the sale of what precious little untouched land we have left to people with more money than morals. I look at the pollution, the lies, the death, the crime, the venom, the impunity, the smoke and mirrors, the racism as a rallying cry, the overdevelopment and €10+ million apartments for the elite when locals can’t even afford to rent a shitty room in a shitty part of town anymore.

Finally, I look at the news that our most illustrious PM let his carefully-curated mask slip and issued an actual threat to Simon Busuttil. He told him he wouldn’t be able to set foot in Malta again – language unbecoming of a PM and more suited to something like a wannabe mafioso in a low-budget gangster movie. This is significant. When the PM appears to bully and threaten someone, it gives the trolls in the comments section and niche Facebook groups a sense of legitimacy when they do it, something like: “if our glorious leader can do this, then so can I. Hell, I’m probably doing him a favour.”

I see Glenn Bedingfield (remind me again what a sexist, ill-mannered bully of a man is doing in parliament?) saying ‘jitlifni’ (translation: he makes me lose my temper”) to justify swearing, in parliament, at Simon Busuttil. To the public, this says: you can attack people and it’s okay because they’re asking for it. It is not okay. This is dangerous.

The situation has never been so desperate

Certainly in not my twenty-something years of life, anyway. Those who lived through the Mintoff years see what’s happening with an intensified sense of dread because they recognise the signs. They know the violence, the fear that comes with an out-of-control government that operates more like a family business or brutish band club. There’s at least one key difference between then and now – social media. The whole world is watching, and we’re here to tweet, write, resist, protest, question, and fight. And I’ll bet my entire comic book collection that the powers that be can’t fucking stand it. They probably yearn for the good old days when they could carry out their shady business in peace. Oh well.

Identity crisis

What kind of labour government is this? As a supposedly centre-left party, labour is meant to represent and champion the rights of the people – specifically, the working class. The average Joe. What we have instead is a self-serving Labour government that caters to the millionaire, the property tycoon, the questionable banker, etc. Fuck the actual people you’re meant to serve, right?

I don’t know if we as a nation even know what our respective parties are meant to stand for any more; truthfully I don’t think they know themselves. But then that’s what happens when we treat politics like football matches and so-called leaders like gods for so many years. Muddied waters and blurred lines and blind tribalism. We are all losers here.

I remind you once again that politicians are doing us no favours by being in power. They are your elected officials, there to serve you, the citizen. They are literally paid out of your pocket. Hero worship and a refusal to hold them accountable over the years has brought us here. They slap us in the face, rifle through our pockets, laugh, and we say ‘thank you’ by giving them the vote or letting them off without so much as a double-take. Or by voting them in again. Hold your political leaders and their cronies accountable.

There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. They want us to fight amongst ourselves because it takes the heat off of them. Forget party politics and talk of sore losers. Make no mistake – we’re all getting screwed over here. It doesn’t matter which colour you swore allegiance to in the past.

Resist.


Read more about Daphne’s murder and corruption in Malta here:

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international women's day
malta, thoughts

The Sound of (the Prime Minister’s) Silence

On the 5th of March the unofficial memorial set up by mourners following the assassination of investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was swept away overnight. Maybe ‘they’ thought that people would forget; uwiva, let it go ħi. Granted – overwhelming apathy and failure to stand up to the abuse of power is essentially how we got here in the first place, but they were wrong about this one. I write ‘they’ because I assume it took a few cowards to move that many tributes so quickly in the dead of night. Within hours, fresh flowers, candles, photos and banners sprang up once more, with those seeking justice for Daphne and fighting for freedom of speech feeling more determined than ever. I guess that one backfired. The people will not forget and they certainly won’t be silenced.

 

Daphne Caruana Galizia Memorial

Photo credit: The Shift News

 

Hush now

That’s what I want to talk about today – silence. You see, silence can be very loud. When somebody (a dirty politician or sham bank, for example) works hard to keep you quiet, then there’s a 99.9% chance that you know something that’ll see them exposed as the frothing cesspits they truly are. That’s bad for business. They’ll probably try to bully their way out of it by flinging out libel suits like a manic chimpanzee might fling excrement, or threaten to sue you, your grandparents, your auntie and the next three generations of your family if you speak up. Too often, the bullies win and the ones blowing the whistle are left vulnerable. This silence is one of fear.

Then there’s optional silence, far more telling than the silence discussed above. By saying nothing, people speak volumes. Amid all the public outcry and disgust at this underhanded move to erase her memory (and with it hush-up the call to defend freedom of speech and demand justice for her murder), our most illustrious Prime Minister has been very quiet indeed. Wait, sorry – he/his PR team has been quiet about this particular issue, but very busy tweeting about other things. On the 5th, @JosephMuscat_JM was mainly retweeting news about his favourite football team (Milan FC, in case you were curious) and the VOT16 result (16 year-olds can now vote in Malta, and how convenient for the PM that this news item was around to distract the masses on this specific day). He’s also been very talkative about his other smokescreens – I mean accomplishments. His account, like his time as PM, thrives on sycophants praising the hell out of this government, telling the world how proud they are to support his party. They genuinely believe they’re living in l-aqwa zmien (the ‘best of times’, Labour’s slogan). They do it so fervently that you’d think they’ve never heard of car bombings, a slain journalist, the Panama Papers scandal and shady dealings with even shadier people. He has said nothing about the clearing – not on social media, and not on any news articles or in any interviews. Nothing. Whether he gave the go ahead for the clearing or not is completely irrelevant – his silence, his failure to condemn the act, is what makes those responsible feel justified. It’s a failure to do his duty as PM. This silence is one of complicity.

And then there are all the questions. Why so silent? Who has the most to gain from having Daphne’s memory and public outrage fade away? Who has the most to lose when we do get #JusticeForDaphne, and who has the most to lose from real freedom of speech taking root in Malta?

Failure upon failure

Muscat’s deafening silence and the government’s overwhelming lack of action in response to the assassination is made far more apparent by the Solvakian government’s reaction to the recent murder of 27-year-old journalist, Jan Kuciak.  Kuciak was investigating tax fraud that had ties to the government; he and his partner were found shot dead in their home.  Three government officials have resigned (Malta: zero) and the president (who has the same powers as ours) has called for action in the form of an election or reshuffle. So – which Slovakian officials resigned?

  • Culture Minister, Marek Madarič
  • Chief State Advisor, Maria Trošková
  • Chair of the Security Council, Viliam Jasan

The Maltese equivalent of these officials would be something like Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Owen Bonnici; Minister of National Security and Home Affairs, Michael Farrugia; and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carmelo Abela. Just putting it out there.

Our government’s response has been abysmally bad. The sheer arrogance of our PM and his gang of cronies is actually astounding at this point. It’s an arrogance that became even clearer when Muscat was asked about his thoughts regarding the government’s accountability in the case of Daphne’s murder following their Slovakian counterpart’s response:

Naħseb li l-accountability tagħna hija li nsibu min għamel il-qtil […] u nsibu min bagħat dawk il persuni. (I think that our accountability is that we find the ones who committed the murder […] and find who sent those people.)

This is not accountability. This is an arrogant cop-out. What he’s saying here is that in his eyes, it’s all done an dusted now. He can try to wash his hands of the matter with as many bogus answers and smokescreens as he likes – the blood won’t rinse out so easily. Too many questions and crooks remain. It’s the same arrogance that we’ve somehow let politicians get away with for years. Now we’re reaping the rewards, and with the current opposition leader in place, the outlook seems pretty bleak right now.

Why do so many of us not only tolerate this open sewer of a government, but embrace it? Support it? Glorify it? Why do so many people idolise and hero-worship party leaders, acting like they can do no wrong and ready to ignore every evil and attack anyone who dares to oppose the great leader’s views like some sort of twisted mercenaries?

Your elected officials are there to serve the country. To serve you. They’re not doing us any favours (unless they’ve bribed you with some fancy government job, then yes they are because this isn’t a meritocracy right now). They’re being (over)paid to do a job, and believe me – if you or I were doing as a bad a job as them at our 9-to-5, we’d be fired and out the door by the end of this sentence. But that’s the fate of mortals like us; the gods sitting in their lofty parliamentary seats have (unanimously) approved amendments to the Pension Bill, meaning that MPs are eligible for a massive pension after serving for just five years. That’s a potential pension of €40,000 on top of their social security pension. Us mere mortals have to make NI contributions for around 25-35 years for a fraction of that amount. Considering their recent job performance, that hardly seems fair, does it?

-Kelly

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being yourself
Adult Life, Living Abroad, thoughts

What’s a ‘tiffin’ and when will it stop snowing?

As I write this, I’m sitting at Waterstones watching snow drift past the windows overlooking Newcastle city centre. To my left – a red pot of Earl Grey tea (fitting, since I’m so close to Grey’s Monument) and a teacup, with a cherry and walnut chocolate tiffin beside it. What’s a tiffin? I have no real clue, but it’s biscuity and amazing. A few years ago I wanted nothing more than to be in this exact place, just reading a book or doing some research. And now I live here, and I do that – perhaps too often, judging by the number of Waterstones Cafe loyalty cards I fill up. Today, the sky shifts from icy grey to bright blue with sunlight bouncing off the snow – almost blinding. It’s perfect.

It’s perfect because today is one of those days where I remember that I’m doing something I’d dreamt of doing for years before getting the gumption to actually go out and do it. Sometimes, somewhere between the ever-present deadlines, self-induced crises and little worries here and there that come with living alone, I forget how special that is and how much it means to me. So when I crunched through the snow on my way down here today, I felt happy. I feel light. I won’t ramble on about it – just don’t forget to take a moment from time to time to appreciate what you’ve achieved. Just be for a while.

February is at an end and spring is technically just around the corner – although I am curious about when the season will actually show up. Winter seems intent on overstaying its welcome. Yes, spring is synonymous with rebirth (or in my case, awful hayfever), but rather than that, I find that I’ve been thinking about change recently. Small changes, specifically. Changing bits of my day or shifting my habits because it’ll make me feel better in some small way. I mean I’m doing typical things like eating more fruit (ish), maintaining a balanced diet, going to the gym three times a week and all that jazz. I’ve even cut down my coffee intake to a maximum of two cups a day. But I’ve been thinking about one thing in particular: ‘authenticity’.

If there’s one theme in all my work, it’s about authenticity and self-expression. It’s the idea that some things are, in some real sense, really you – or express what you and others aren’t.  – Bernard Williams (Philosopher)

I don’t exactly mince my words when it comes to saying what I think, and I do try to be myself, but I feel like there’s something nagging at me. I think that moving to a new country, not knowing too many people, it can be easy to say or do things that you don’t necessarily think or want to because in your anxious mind it means winning favour or friendships (even if you’re sbukkata/outspoken like yours truly). It’s totally wrong, of course. Back in Malta, your people know you and have done (for the most part) since primary school. They know how old you were when you disobeyed your parents and got wrecked in Paceville, they know who first broke your heart and how long it took you to get over them, and they know exactly how you like to take your tea or coffee. There’s no complication there, no need to ‘appear’ any certain way. Move abroad, and it becomes tempting to be a little too agreeable because you want certain people to like you. Forget ‘silly’ – it’s stressful and unnecessary and should have been left behind in secondary school. People who are meant to become your friends will become your friends anyway, bullshit or no bullshit. With that in mind, I want to work on being a more authentic version of myself, or more authentically me – whatever way you’d like to word it. It’s a strange thing to try and express, but my guess is that if you understand what I’m trying to say you’ve probably experienced it yourself. I don’t even like using the word ‘try’ up there – if you’re trying to be authentic then I feel like there’s still some kind of artifice involved. I suppose it’s something like being the you that you are when you’re alone in your room folding clothes, or happily walking to Waterstones with snowflakes settling in your hair – and not compromising that for anyone, really. The only person you should be concerned about ‘liking’ you, is you. Isn’t that who you can always depend on in the end? Anyway, that’s just been on my mind recently and I felt like sharing – it’s probably some sort of weird way of holding myself accountable to this commitment to authenticity.

-Kelly

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malta, thoughts

The situation is desperate.

There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.

Daphne Caruana Galizia

I’ve been trying to write and re-write this blog post for a while now. Part of me still can’t quite believe that Daphne Caruana Galizia is dead – murdered. Assassinated, to be precise. Every time I sat down to write this words just failed me. So I guess I’ll try to keep things simple and attempt to articulate what’s been happening in my head.

First, there came the shock and disbelief. I wandered around the city pretending to look for the right place to sit down and do my work, but really I was in a strange daze, only half-listening and half-seeing. Everything seemed a little muffled. There was the shock at the fact that there was yet another car bombing in Malta, then there was the dread that came when reports came in that it was Daphne. She seemed indestructible to me. Fearless. Relentless. Hungry for justice. I didn’t always agree with what she did or how she did things, but that doesn’t matter – who the hell agrees with a person on every single detail? She was a role model for someone like me – an outspoken Maltese girl who fancied herself a bit of a writer, even when her writing was average at best. Who else did I have? How many strong, intelligent, precise, eloquent female writers did we have on our rock? How many of them have the courage to stand against corrupt politician after corrupt politician, with libel suits and threats coming hard and fast? I couldn’t do it. Hell, sometimes I hover over the ‘publish’ button on this blog wondering if what I’m saying is ‘ok’ – what would I do if I was about to expose another dirty politician? I’d be too scared to click. I’ll probably hover over ‘publish’ and tweak and edit this for an hour before I upload this.

Next, the grief. The morning after the news broke things sunk in properly. I was in bed scrolling through Facebook and pausing at the Maltese headlines that were flooding in. I stopped and read Matthew Caruana Galizia’s heartbreaking status about the moment he heard the blast and rushed to his mother. I read about the moment he was in that field, surrounded by pieces of his mother. Policemen standing, unable to do anything – of course, the police force should have done something when she reported the threat on her life two weeks prior. Now it was too late. Then I just cried. For him and for her and for what it all meant or could mean. For what my home country has become – a mafia state. Words seemed to fail.

The anger and frustration came hot on the heels of that sadness. Outrage. Disgust. They all melted together and the words came back to me in a flurry. Here’s what I shared on my personal Facebook, because I still feel the same:

“They” (Who are they? The powers that be, regardless of political allegiance) might not have ordered the hit but they’ve created the exact conditions that facilitate this kind of brutality. Every politician and law enforcer is accountable. We’re accountable. We’ve allowed for it through overwhelming complacency as a nation.

Oh, and if the police didn’t protect Daphne, how can you be confident that they’ll protect YOU? Your family? That they’ll ‘protect and serve’ because you’re a human being and not because you’re on the same ridiculous “football team” of a political party? That they won’t leave you high and dry because you speak out against corruption (again, forget party colours), or be one of the idiots car-cading to the sound of your death bells? When police rejoice in the murder of a journalist (with no consequences, of course) something is very, very wrong. If you feel safe, you’re not listening hard enough. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying enough attention. If you’re not disgusted, you should be. Keeping quiet is how bullies and scumbags win, or feel they’ve won. We need now, more than ever, to speak up and speak out when we see wrong being done by the people in charge. Forget your party. Fuck the party. This is about your rights and your country. A country that is getting more fucked up by the day.

There have been protests. Vigils. Sit-ins. Some people are standing up and doing things to try and get some sort of justice in the rotten EU state of oh-so-sunny Malta. My only hope is that they don’t stop – that we don’t return to the same lackadaisical attitude that brought us to this point.

There have been statements made by ‘politicians’ trying to ride on the back of this tragedy. The same politicians who just weeks earlier were slagging Daphne off and trying to escape from her pen. Some dared to suggest that heqq, you have to be careful what you say hux (that’s a summarised form of it, anyway). As though pointing out corruption and expecting the culprits to be held accountable opens you up as fair game. I’ve even seen a worrying number of keyboard warriors banging on with their ‘shame on you’s directed at the grieving family for not wanting key figures from our corrupt government to attend the funeral. People are ridiculous.

We still have some strong writers in Malta, but it’s not every day that we get a DCG. That brings me to another thing that’s been on my mind recently – the abysmal state of journalism and news in Malta. Where do our journalists come from? What are we doing to foster good investigative journalism? Are serious journalists even safe anymore? It doesn’t feel like it. Our news outlets are questionable at best, filling their pages or websites with the usual partisan bullshit and barely ever scratching the surface of what’s really happening in Malta. I’ve felt uneasy about this façade we’ve been presenting to the world for a while now. Oh, look, we’ve got the EU presidency! Oh, and look at this, Valletta is the city of culture 2018! Oh, and we did this, and that, and the other! EUROVISION! A news article about toilet hygiene while people are still demanding justice for Daphne’s assassination!

DISTRACTIONS.

The costly aversion of the eyes from the bubbling, open sewers just beneath our pothole-ridden, traffic-choked, garbage-littered streets. Crime. Corruption at the highest levels of government, creating the perfect climate for those looking to do wrong. And yet people persist in keeping their blue-or-red blinkers on, worshipping their leaders instead of holding them accountable for their actions. Make no mistake, voter. You’ll be held accountable for the smallest of crimes – they’ll hold you accountable. But the same rules don’t apply to the ones who supposedly make or safeguard them. Spineless hypocrites (just another term for ‘politicians’).

And I’m sure someone reading this might try to make it look like my views are coloured by one of the major parties on our island. That’s part of the problem, of course. Go ahead – I don’t care. I have no party. To hell with them all. They’ve all failed us. Failed Daphne and her family. We need to start from scratch. Call in pest control because the country is being run by rats. Clean slate. I might be asking for too much, I know.

I won’t be silent. I won’t be afraid. But I don’t think I can bring myself to call that place ‘home’ for now. It doesn’t feel like it.

 

-Kelly

 

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lifestyle blog
Adult Life, thoughts, Travel

So…I’m moving to the UK.

Well I have been quiet for a fair while, haven’t I? Things have been a little hectic, partly because holy shit I’m moving abroad for the first time in my life. And that kind of thing takes time, you know? Existential crises take time.

 

Where am I off to and what’s the plan?

Anyway, I’m moving to a northern city called Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and I’ll be living and working there while I study for an MLitt Philosophy at Newcastle University. Hurrah! For a long time, it’s basically been my dream to do exactly that – but that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows once I hit the big, red button.

The (Blind) Panic

There have been many times where I was gripped by this white-hot fear that it was all going to be a terrible mistake – that I’d end up alone, nobody there would like me, and it’ll all just be a massive failure resulting in me returning to Malta with my tail between my legs. The flip-side to that was pure elation at the fact that I finally took the steps I needed to get myself where I want to be; it’s easy to get too comfortable here in Malta. Easy to forget how badly you need to leave.

On wanting to leave Malta

Before some of you reading this hop on the ‘MALTA D BEST’ bandwagon and get on my case for wanting and needing to leave, give me a moment. Malta is a great, beautiful island with centuries of history and some of the nicest people you’ll meet this side of the Mediterranean – but no matter how great your home country might be, I think it’s just so important to live abroad for a while, in different countries if possible. Why? Well I just think it shapes us into generally better, more independent and interesting people. Living with your parents until you’re like 30 isn’t the way to encourage personal growth, just saying.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll move on to one other reason I need to leave: the way this country is being ruined one development, one crane, one bribery at a time. The fact that ‘we’ the people seem so powerless to stop it is maddening.

I’m tired. Tired of the year-round struggle with allergies and throbbing sinus headaches I get because of the dust. I’m tired of the 8+ cranes I see every morning as I make my way to work. I’m tired of the other (countless) cranes spreading across the island like some sort of plague. I’m angry about how the so-called Planning Authority is doing literally nothing to preserve our history or maintain some sort of aesthetic integrity in our cities, towns, and villages. They don’t care and they don’t listen. I’m angry that the government does nothing to stop this rampant over-development of our tiny island – we’re going to run out of space, and you can’t bribe someone into creating more land. I’m tired of the traffic and pollution. I’m tired of how disgusting this supposedly-1st-world EU country looks when you venture beyond the bits we show to those all-important dignitaries. I’m tired of the complete disregard shown to the environment. I could go on, but I think you get it, right? On to more positive things!

Things I’m Excited About

Oh goodie, my favourite part. I’ve been visiting Newcastle ever since I was a child because I have family up north – so I already know what I’m excited to do once I settle in there:

  • Waterstones, Blackwells, and all the other bookshops that are NOT Agenda
  • Cooler weather (I’m a winter person)
  • Sweaters and scarves and wooly socks
  • Hanging out with my English family
  • Newcastle University!
  • Grainger Market – a huge market in Newcastle where you can buy all the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat you want (and more) at really good prices
  • Trains
  • Castles, lighthouses, ruined monasteries, etc.
  • Amazon Prime Now, not even going to lie
  • Having my own space that’s 100% mine and not in Malta
  • Lush
  • Snow (a little bit)
  • Pub lunches
  • Living right next to a huge park
  • Getting a bicycle

I’m a woman of simple pleasures. Give me a bicycle, a good bookshop, and the university of my dreams and I’m set. Oh, and here’s a picture of a tiny seaside town, just an hour away by bus, at sunset:

 

Anyway, I think I’ve moved past the whole ‘terrified to leave’ stage and into the ‘I’m so excited’ stage! Of course I’ll miss everyone here, but I’m only moving a 3 hour flight away. It’s not Australia.

Have you moved to another country? Do you have any tips for a newbie like myself? Hit me up!  

-Kelly

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david walliams what the fuck
thoughts

4 Things Wrong with this Anti-Gay Marriage Ad (other than the obvious)

I generally try to have lowkey Sundays. You know, sit in the sun. Have some green tea while listening to Spotify and reading Time or The Economist. But sometimes the universe conspires against you to make sure your Sunday just tests you – case in point, the following ‘ad’ that was printed in MaltaToday:

gay marriage in malta

Let’s just take a minute to let this one sink in. Ready? Okay, time to break this down and take a look at what’s wrong with this ad – other than the fact that someone actually felt inclined to make an ‘ad’ like this. 

1 | It’s Total Bullshit

We’ve known each other for a while now, ladies and gents. You know I’m not one to mince my words (as hard as I may try for the sake of propriety). I’m a big reader, and I have to say that it’s truly a rare thing to find such a strong, pungent concentration of murky toilet-water as this. I don’t think this ad homophobic rant is representative of all the Catholics in Malta – just the ones who like to use the faith as something to hide behind while they’re peddling their existing hateful views.

homophobia in malta

Oh, and a word of advice to the wannabe Donald Draper who typed this thing out: saying ‘we respect everyone’ followed with ‘but’ a couple of sentences later is basically a way of saying, “forget everything I just said, it’s time to get to what I actually think. F*ck all of y’all.”

2 | It was Printed

Someone actually received this nonsense and said, “yep, this is something I think my publication should print. I like what this says about my newspaper. This is totally fine. Giving these people a platform for their hate-mongering is exactly the kind of thing I can do to make the world a better place today.”

gay marriage malta

What is wrong with people? Are we that greedy and so hard-up for cash that printing something like this is a fair trade-off? Isn’t there some sort of ethical issue here? Isn’t it irresponsible of a publication like this one to print something that just makes hateful people feel justified in their venomous views? I have a lot of questions.

3 | Marriage is…

Who the actual f*ck gave you zealots the right to decide what marriage is? Why can’t we just celebrate love instead of concerning ourselves with the gender of the people doing the loving? The world can be a dark, dank place, so excuse me if I think we should just be happy about the fact that people still have the hope and romance to believe in a ‘happily forever after’. Marriage is a promise two people make in front of their nearest and dearest. It’s a celebration of love and an oath symbolising that those people standing up in the nice outfits are going to do their damnedest to love each other like Kanye loves Kanye (and maybe even more). Your personal views on what marriage ‘is’ should never be imposed on anyone else. So mind your own business.

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4 | The Other N-Word

And by that I mean ‘natural’ versus ‘unnatural’. My coffee is in desperate need of a re-fill so I’ll make this one super easy to understand:

Natural (adjective)
existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind.
Examples: The Niagara Falls; Widnet il-Baħar; a beautiful sunset; my love for gin and tonic; heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships between living things.
Unnatural (adjective)
not existing in nature; artificial; man-made.
Examples: My make-up’d face as it appears on Instagram; the colour of my nails right now; the institution of marriage; the law; the Eurovision; Kinnie. 
Sorted? Sorted.
giphy (1)
Oh, and on the off-chance that the person who penned this full-page piece of garbage happens to come upon my distinctly unnatural blog, here’s another word I’ve taken the liberty of finding for you:
what does salty mean
Used in a sentence: “Stop being a salty bigot and let people love other people, get married, and have a damn party. Preferably with a considerably strong open bar.”
giphy (4)
Happy Sunday.*
-Kelly
*Only applicable to those who don’t go around chastising politicians while trying to take the moral high ground via a full-page homophobic rant. Grazzi. 
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what is a slut
Adult Life, thoughts

What does a slut look like?

what is a slut

Hey guys! I recently wrote a little something for Eve  – let me know what you think! Here’s an excerpt:

Language is a powerful thing when it comes to shaping society and how we interpret the world. The way we speak about women who own their sexuality and refuse to be ashamed of it reveals a cultural assumption that women can either be virgins or whores, and there’s nothing in-between. It reveals a ridiculous level of societal concern (and nosiness) about the sheer possibility that a woman might be promiscuous; religion and state are so concerned about female sexuality that it creates rules, unreasonable dress codes, and even legislation protecting this sacred, purely feminine purity.

[Continue reading on Eve.com.mt]

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