Punk and Circumstance – by R. A. Kennedy

Music is very important to many of us.

It can be the difference between a great day and a terrible week. No matter where we are in our lives music speaks to us, it doesn’t judge, it is there for you and it will listen to you if you listen to it. Music helps explain our own feelings when we ourselves cannot put our emotions into words, it shapes us and creates us, and a world without music in any form would be extremely dark.

I think we can all agree that we live in such fractious times, both socially and politically. Whilst there is so much fantastic music out there, there is a large proportion of it that, in my mind, corrupts and twists the art form and that, my dear friends, is the non-music conveyor belt of shows like the X Factor. These television shows shatter dreams and exploit those that quite clearly have the talent and the focus to make great art.

The list of problems with these types of talent shows can be summed up by this line from Rush’s The Spirit of Radio (From the album Permanent Waves) –

“One likes to believe in the freedom of music but the glittering prizes and endless compromises shatters the illusion of integrity.”

Outside the safe confines of Pop, R&B mainstream and the hype that surrounds many of today’s “hottest” acts, the sound of angry guitars can be heard. A rallying cry of sorts. A quiet resistance. A dawn of a new era that is somewhat reminiscent of the late seventies, the rise of Punk and the wave of Indie music that not only spawned some stunning post-punk bands but also established itself as a musical genre.

I’m not talking about just anyone with a guitar and a dream, the vast swathes of Metal bands that are continually breaking new ground, or how Metal is continuing to grow as a genre and a culture. I’m talking about a very thriving alternative rock scene that over the last few years has seen young, guitar driven rock bands that have something to say in the face of today’s social and political enmity.  And whilst alternative rock in all the sub-genres has never gone away, it seems the timing is right for new bands with something to say and who also mean what they say; to be thought-provoking and challenge the perceptions of the world around us.

The present has ties to the past and sometimes those links can be very small but ever so significant.

Listening to bands such as The Clash, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, The Replacements and many others made me think about how much of this music is still relevant. It still means something, against the backdrop of today’s society. Punk and other genres right up to Grunge still mean something.

And the rise of bands such as Slaves (who are nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize) and Savages, with a new album out next year and a recent performance at Banksy’s Dismaland, are showing that the musical resistance is growing strong and shouting back at the status-quo.

By using the world around them, these bands are channeling that into some truly stunning music that nods to past influences but is entirely original and very exciting.

Rock has sent a message to the hearts, minds, and souls- will you answer the rousing call?

*******

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Romeo Kennedy is a Cornish SFF writer and book reviewer. R. A Kennedy’s stories mostly take place in his beloved Kernow. Once described as a “F**cked up Beatrix Potter” as many of his fantasy short stories feature nefarious animal characters.

R. A. blogs at http://sleeplessmusingsofawellgroomedmoustachedman.wordpress.com and is a writer for http://www.garbage-file.com

A Folklore enthusiast, specializing in Cornish Folklore and Mythology, as well as major interests in all things geek from books, comics, film, and television. A lover of most kinds of music and a bassist himself.

He tweets at @RomeoRites

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Pen pals – by JAMIE ANDREWS

A delightfully quirky tale of how meeting up with a pen pal can go so, so wrong.

 Do you ever get so righteously drunk that you think it’s a good idea to prank your sober self?

I have.

The last time this happened I ended up registering for a pen pal finder website.

Two days later I get an email saying I have a message from a Japanese chap, aptly named Super K!.

Now, in retrospect, this is where I should have deleted the email, the profile, the pictures on my phone from the drunken night that led to this and a million other more sensible things.

Sadly, I’m not sensible… I’m an overly curious halfwit. So I decided to read the email and, as it turned out, this Super K! seemed like a cool bloke.

What’s the harm…? I remembered thinking to myself.  And so I messaged him back.

These messages went back and forth for about a month or so and Super K! and myself were starting to become buds (albeit online ones).

I even told a few of my actual, genuine, real life, human being, non-internet friends about it and bar from the odd bit of mockery for being a tosser (and rightly so), they seemed intrigued too.

Then I get an email from him…

Hey, Hey!

I’m in England, in Lewisham!! We should meet up!!!

Again, what I should have been thinking to myself at this point was, “Of all the places to visit and he chose to stay in Lewisham..? Really?”

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(Dustmen in Lewisham do things differently).

In reality I thought, “That’s awesome!” and messaged him back, “Why don’t you come to Croydon and we can go for a drink? You can meet the rest of my friends and it’ll be a right laugh.”

We arranged to meet up and ironically none of my friends could make it.

So I dragged along my little sister (she was really happy about this).

The first thing that struck me about Super K! was his hair (it was immaculate). This was shortly followed by the way he dressed (very, VERY well – if a tiny bit effeminate and sparkly). He was also pretty short and he had this curious way of making his hips wiggle as he walked, instead of his shoulders.

We went to the pub and had a few drinks, chatted about a range of light hearted subjects and seemed to be getting on well. I got him to confirm what the kanji tattoo on my right bum cheek says (another story for another time) and in general, he just seemed like good company.

Then my little sister asks him, “So why are you staying in Lewisham of all places?”

It turns out he’d moved there.

To become a hairdresser.

Six months ago.

Then he looked at me dead in the eye and said…”And for the gay scene… Do you know any good gay clubs?” then he put his hand in front of his mouth and managed a squeaky laugh that can only be phonetically written as ‘TeheEeeeeheeeheeah! Aha!’

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not what you’d call 100% straight (more 85-15%), but when you’re sitting in your local pub and an effeminate looking Japanese hairdresser announces: he’s lied, has been living in Lewisham for the last six months, then tries to stroke your thigh and lean in to kiss you on your near to non-existent neck, I think I was justified in recoiling in what can only be described as wide-eyed #whatthefuckdude-fuelled terror.

To top things off, my wonderful dearest darling little sister reacted the same as I can imagine any other little sister/witch would do in the situation. She stifled her laugh, said she was going to get another round of drinks in, then burst into fits of giggles as soon as she was out of earshot.

Then started telling anyone we knew in the vicinity of course…

Luckily for me there was a LGBT+ night at the local alternative bar close by. I suggested we gave the place a visit (my intention was to hook him up with one of my friends, then bugger off; no pun intended).

As it happens, this plan failed. And it failed badly.

Why?

Because even though I was introducing him to pretty much everyone in the club. Who in one case politely offered to ‘Fuck his tight little backdoor in.’

Super K! didn’t seem interested (although this got another ‘Eeeeeheeeheeah!’).

In fact, he had pretty much decided he was going to stick to me like shit to a blanket instead.

Now whilst walking around a bar, talking to your mates and introducing someone to them is normally considered a sociable thing. Two hours of being followed by an artfully camp, manboy, was starting to look like I’d made him hold onto my pocket (metaphorically)…

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(Apparently it’s the third front pocket you need to worry about)

Now as you can probably imagine, this entire situation was starting to piss me off.  Not wanting to seem to be rude I informed Super K! I was leaving, and if he wanted, I could show him where he needed to go to get the bus home. He took this as an invitation to partake in a spot of man-scuttling and near skipped out of the club (my image/orientation has been in doubt in that place ever since).

It took about ten very awkward minutes to get to the bus stop with Super K! In tow. It wouldn’t have taken that long normally but Super K! spent every waking second trying to hold my hand on the way.

We got to the bus stop.

We waited at the bus stop…

He tried to kiss me again.

I again politely informed him I wasn’t interested and asked him to stop. Then I patiently pointed out, that he was quite slight and if he carried on I’d level him.

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(Hello Mr Mystery diner. Today we have a special on fist and floor).

I think it was at this point that he finally realised I wasn’t interested and as far as I can tell took his go to option in that situation.

He went apeshit.

In between him screaming at me in broken Japanese and flailing his arms around like a hyperactive windmill, two salad-dodging community support officers decided to show up (their sense timing is notoriously amazing in situations like this).

It’s common knowledge that community support officers are good at two things: being self-entitled and being useless at anything that isn’t harassing teenagers. Unsurprisingly, upon seeing what was going on, they decided to intervene.

I was trying to explain the situation to one of these rentacops while Super K! Is screeching things like ‘HE SAI HE WAN NO TO FUK ME! *SOB* NOW NO FUK I GO HOME! I FUK HIM!’ in the background at the other officer.

Then it went quiet.

The wally in a uniform and I turn around to see Super K! running at some speed towards a night bus. He gets on it and the bus drives off.

I shared a moment’s worth of bafflement with the support officers, shrugged at them and went home.

Strangely enough I never heard from Super K! again.

Moral of the story..? Cultural exchange can go visit someone else itself, if it thinks it’s getting anywhere near my arse ever again.

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***Jamie is a renegade halfwit, writer, poet and ish-artist. Who when allowed out of his cage to be exercised, hangs around the beautiful English town of Croydon. The rest of the time he’s sat in a cave, fiddling about with himself and sporadically spewing out creative nonsense which can be found on his facebook page and on Twitter. ***

NOTHING LIKE AN ICY DOCTOR TO DAMPEN ONE’S SPIRITS: HILLARY UMLAND’S JOURNEY TOWARD PRODUCTIVE WOMEN’S HEALTHCARE

One Woman’s Journey Through Medical Hell: Ridiculously High Costs, Apathetic Doctors, and Capitalism Impinging on our Right to Good Health

A personal account by Hillary Umland

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At this very moment I am quickly flipping through my mental Rolodex trying to figure out what I own that I can sell for money for an out-of-state surgery that I have yet to set up with an endometriosis specialist I have yet to find, but it’s a long time coming.

Tandem bike I never ride, regular bike I never ride, CDs I never listen to, a stereo I never use… Thank you, endometriosis, you make every day a glorious joy. At the very least, you’re helping me purge my apartment of superfluous junk.

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Almost a year ago I was found riddled with Stage IV endometriosis during a laparoscopy to drain a two-and-a-half inch complex filled cyst. Since then, my life has been one doctor visit after another, and me having to repeat over and over, “No, I do not want the Lupron shot. How about you cut me open and take it out?”  

Maybe I should back up a little.

I have felt what I now know are the symptoms of endometriosis for over 20 years – the entirety of my menstruating life.

Some of my symptoms include abnormal, excruciatingly painful and heavy periods that can last longer than a week, sprinkled with nausea and vomiting, migraine-like headaches, and fatigue.

When I called my doctor or went in with complaints about having to miss school or life because I could not unravel myself from the pain-coil I’d become from my period, she would always say, “just take no more than the recommended does of ibuprofen or Midol and use a hot water bottle.”

Well, doctors know best, don’t they?

Endometriosis occurs when lining similar to the lining of your uterus sheds monthly is found outside of the uterus and anywhere else it latches itself to.

In my case, I have endometriosis implanted on nearly every organ in my abdomen, except for my liver. The wall around the liver is a different story. I even have some lesions on my diaphragm, which is highly uncommon and tricky to remove.

The three gynecologists I have seen have pushed the Lupron therapy on me since day one, but at 35, I am uncomfortable with spending who-knows how many months taking hormones to put me into a menopausal status, then loading me up with more drugs to combat those side effects, until I don’t feel symptoms anymore.

I would rather be cut open and have my insides ripped out, thank you.

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Stage IV: Organs being lassoed together by endometriosis. Photo http://www.womens-health-advice.com/questions/endometriosis-stages.html

I have had the pleasure of undergoing a colonoscopy at 31, after over a decade of digestive issues (which I now like to attribute to the scar tissue on my bowel and intestines from endometriosis implants), which showed nothing wrong. I’ve also had a tube shoved down my throat (upper endoscopy) to see what all of my constant liquidy sounding belches and stomach upsets were coming from in my mid-20s, only to find nothing. There’s nothing I’ve read about the implants on my diaphragm causing this, but since it is on my gallbladder, maybe that’s an issue?

The gynecologists I’ve talked to only tell me that I should see a gastroenterologist because they have no way of knowing for sure that the endometriosis is causing anything more than painful bowel movement and urination. Yes, I would love to add yet another doctor and doctor bill to my already longer than necessary roster.

My new gynecologist’s response when I asked if there was a specific diet I could try was something to the effect of “we can’t recommend anything like that, really.”

There are a host of websites, and even a book, about diets for endometriosis sufferers. What I changes I’ve made to my eating habits have been from Endometriosis Resolved.

http://teenspeak.org/2012/03/30/an-endometriosis-diet/

Cutting out a laundry list of certain types of food is to help ease some of the symptoms, like excessive cramping and digestive issues. I have to say, it’s helped me a bit. As much as it kills me, I’ve cut way back on my dairy intake, avoid gluten as much as possible, have taken off processed foods from my grocery lists, and refined sugar products are a thing of my past. I’m also cutting out soy and wheat, which has been a bit cumbersome but completely doable. I have a bit more energy and less bloating, not as many headaches or constipation. However, sometimes it works, and sometimes everything I eat makes me feel sick to my stomach. Everything but vegetable broth. “It’s all a learning process though. I’ll figure it out!” is my daily mantra.

Honestly, with endometriosis, there is no definable cause, there is no cure, there is not perfect treatment for symptoms, and there isn’t even a set list of symptoms for each type. I could have Stage IV and feel absolutely nothing, or Stage I and feel all of the symptoms x 10000. It seems to me that endometriosis does what it damn well pleases.

Doctors don’t know what to tell me other than to take the Lupron shot. When I say no, they purse their lips and say they’ll look up names of specialists for me. They can’t tell me that any digestive issues I have are a result of implantation flair ups.

They can’t tell me what to do other than exercise and now take muscle relaxers. It feels as though I’m in this alone, have to find symptom reducers alone, find specialists alone, make every single decision about where to go and who to see and what to say about all of this alone.

This becomes a tiresome process, and I let it get the best of me some days. But as soon as I get up, I am even more determined to be loud and firm about what I want and who I need to talk to about it. And as soon as I find a specialist I am comfortable with, even if the money isn’t quite there yet, I will be on the next plane to talk with them.

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***Hillary Umland is a flash fiction/short story writer and freelance editor living and working in Nebraska. She has been published in the July/August 2015 of Unbroken Journal. You can find out more about her endo-woes on howtodoonething.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @hillaryumlaut. ***

How DOES a transient childhood affect adult psychology?

Our Editor in Chief has lived it; now she’s going to research it.

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My Life on the Move

by: Kelly Fitzharris Coody

(And yes, that’s me in Kindergarten, then Preschool on the left, and me, as an adult, on the right. And, no, I haven’t had plastic surgery–sometimes, when we go through puberty, our faces change.)

Let me start with a small tale that is apart of a German Christmas tradition: December 6th is St. Nicholas’ Day and “der Nikolaus” brings some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, to the children. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of the children, who usually place them by their doors on the previous evening. In some regions of Germany, there is a character called “Knecht Ruprecht” or “Krampus” who accompanies Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) on the 6th of December. [http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/germany.shtml]

As a child in Germany, my brother and I would partake in this tradition yearly. We also ate a hell of a lot of Kinder eggs and wore scary-looking ski masks in the winter.

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Fast forward to present-day: As an adult in the states who is bilingual in English and French (and quite a bit of German, too), a woman whose first memories were formed out in the German countryside in this massive, crazy-looking three-story house where we built snowmen every year, you can see where I’m a bit of a cultural mutt.

I was present when the Berlin wall came down; before, during (I watched the damn thing happen from a hotel window), and after. And then we moved back to the states in 1990, to the touristy white sands of northwestern Florida. 

I’ll often get asked, “Army brat?”  (usually by a young guy)

And answer with a sigh, “No, my dad was in the Air Force.” 

Young guy: “Oh, well, what did he do?” 

Me: “He was a fighter pilot and later a flight instructor.”

Young guy: “Oh my God. Top Gun is one of my favorite movies!”

Me: ::eye roll::

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Don’t get it twisted; I’m not hating on Top Gun; it’s a classic. But it’s also a movie. Meaning um, it’s a movie? It’s a fictional account! As iconic as Top Gun is and was, try watching it with a former fighter pilot. (Ahem, dad.)

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With each place I had to say goodbye to, a part of myself was seemingly trapped back with it as I waved somberly out the back windshield.

I can say with confidence that, as a child from a military family, sometimes you just don’t feel quite complete or like you can completely fit in (as an adult). Because, really, how can I? It’s as though a part of me is in Aschaffenburg, Germany, Niceville, Florida (and yes, this is a real town), Hampton, Virginia, Wichita Falls, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona and even Austin,Texas. And now, in Fort Worth, Texas….you get the picture.

Yeah, I lived in Europe, adopted quite a few of the customs, but I’m an American. My dad was an officer so people either love me or hate me, for reasons that I still don’t quite understand.

Guys wanted to come over to my house (not to go on a date), but to talk to my dad about their chances of becoming a pilot. 

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The New York Times posted an article back in July of 2010 about this very topic: how does a transient childhood affect adult psychology?

It concluded that moving a lot during childhood “may” do long-term harm. There are quite a large number of variables, hence the word “may,” but they address all of that and more in said article.

Of course the introverted fared worse than the extroverted, according to the study.

The article started with some pretty negative and shocking statistics: “Adults who had moved a lot were more likely to have died when researchers did follow-ups 10 years later.”[http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/fashion/11StudiedMoving.html]

And as I sit reading this, an adult who had a transient childhood, struggles with depression daily, I started screaming silently inside my head. 

“But don’t panic,” then chides the article. 

TOO LATE. WHAT?! DEAD? WHY?! WTF?

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I will say, though, that the moves got harder every time, meaning that the older I got, the harder the move was. To that end the New York Times article was spot-on; the parts I question are the never-addressed question of: why? Why do we feel restless and dissatisfied as adults? It’s a popular theory that as human beings, we are defined as a sum of our experiences. And if that’s true for my brother and I (along with countless other military kids), then we have very few people that are a sum of our exact experiences. Maybe we feel restless and dissatisfied because we view the world so differently than the people surrounding us. 

I have a lifetime of irreplaceable treasures and memories, but only three other people in the world share that with me (My dad, my mom and my brother). And I guess that’s not such a bad thing after all.

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Nevertheless, when my dad had to go TDY to Saudi for a year when my brother and I were in elementary school, we understood. We cried. [TDY is a military way of saying “away on business”]. I’m sure my mom cried even more, but maybe she didn’t.

We should revel in the fact that we have a wealth of knowledge and have faced and overcome adversity that other people have never had to face. Our diverse backgrounds mean that we can strike up and hold an intelligent conversation with almost anyone; and that we know what it’s like to be the new kid, to be bullied, misunderstood or ostracized. 

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That’s the Saudi jewelry my dad brought back for me. The one on the left is “Kelly” in Arabic. 

So, even though I went through a lot of heartbreak, heartache, and then puberty while moving to Wichita Falls (not fun), I also learned a lot of valuable lessons. I learned languages and excelled in school, contrary to what the New York Times article said. Depressed or not, I still wake up every day and make my life happen. And I think we’re doing just fine.

I post this article today in tribute to my father, whose 60th birthday is today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

#thekidsareallright

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