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‘Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths.
That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.’ Louis de Bernières, wrote this in his novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Truer words were never written. It has taken me a while, longer than most to comprehend those words but finally I am at peace with the could-have-been that was us. I forgot about you for a while but then you started to infiltrate my social media feed and when I found a voice note from you this week, I played it. I listened and remembered fondly how these voice notes, scattered throughout my day, were like little precious jewels. My eyes would sparkle with a child-like delight every time I opened one. Your voice so comforting, familiar, calming. Goodnight baby, I love you. The last thing I heard at night, the first thing I awaited in the morning. Some days you would sing me a tune or play me a ‘special song for Fatiema’. Especially, after you’ve had your morning run or won your soccer match or had a great day at work.

And then just as I remembered that, I remembered all the other things. The parts where those very jewels, cut me like shards of glass. Your tone: cold, angry, distant, foreign. I remembered the rejection, the hurt, the humiliation. My oldest friend’s face as she found me distraught in foetal position, rivers of tears stinging my eyes after you broke my heart. And when you finally decided to face your own cowardice, more or less this time last year, the little jewels reappeared. Though they sparkled much much less. The trust was gone. And when I finally reunited with you, under the twinkly lights of the city, I never felt happier nor sadder in my whole adult life. For it was then that you too, realised that crazy stupid love was not enough. That you prefer bespoke shoes and well-cut suits, driving around the leafy suburbs jamming to Future, while I love meandering the gritty city streets in my ripped jeans and Stans with my earphones blaring some indie band you’ve never heard of. That you love tea and I am undeniably a coffee person. That the very things we love about each other, was now driving us apart. That we would never fully understand each other even if we spoke the same language. Don’t go, I will miss you, I said. I know, you said. I still love you, I said. I love you too, you said and will always love you…

…but I have to go.

And so you walked back to your car and I watched you drive away. Further and further until you moved on. And in time I did too. Your space in my head was replaced with people and new places, with new habits, with songs, with mantras and prayers, with food, with work, with books.

Your space in my heart will be filled eventually by a certain someone and this time, I hope he will stay, stay, stay.

 

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To Kon-do or don’t?

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Yaaasss, we have finally returned 2016 to sender. Being Janu-worry and under some financial duress, I’ve been forced to think creatively about my free time in 2017. Co-incidentally I’d been wanting to do some tidying up for a while and when I stumbled upon a story about Marie Kondo on Buzzfeed, I took it as a sign. This Japanese powerhouse through her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,  is helping millions free themselves from the burdens of attachment. I quickly spiraled down the YouTube rabbit hole… it was an almost spiritual experience for some. They call it “Kondo-ing”. People’s lives have changed drastically once they got rid of the clutter that was holding them back. The mantra is simple: Clean your space and watch the joy rush in. Did I need more space for joy and less for shit? Abso-fucking-lutely!

And so I devoted an entire weekend to the teachings of Ms Kondo and her KonMari method of organizing and decluttering. The plan is to group all your belongings into categories and decide if an item brings you infinite joy in order to keep it. YOU. HAVE. TO. BE. RUTHLESS. If it doesn’t spark any positive emotional response, thank the item for its service in your life and let it go. Just like that.

I started with my shoe cupboard. Heavens, all I can say is that the early 2000s were a sad year for shoe design. Next up the clothing wardrobe, the underwear shelf, the accessories, the handbags and finally all the other weird crap I’ve squirrelled into top cupboards, under my bed, my side pedestal and finally the mothership… my overflowing dresser drawer.

Sjoe. I found things from almost every phase in my life. The only rational thing I could think of was that, in my previous life, I was a shopping bag. The amount of stuff that I had accrued at only 33 years old, was rather excessive and a bit rude tbh. Also how much money had I wasted?

The more I purged, the more sweat beads trickled down my forehead. My pulse was racing – I felt almost euphoric. I thanked things, then tossed them away never to be seen again… Sometimes I tore them up violently (this goes against the KM method but whatevs, it was a douchebag-ish Valentine’s note and a few letters from the bank) until I reached for a card from a late family member. Urgh. The feels. I asked myself what this old musty card sparked in me. The answer was sadness, loss, grief. And so despite possibly being the last form of physical communication from this beloved person, I purged it. Throwing away the old card did not make any memory I have of her less vivid or meaningful. No, the memories I have are more concrete than any piece of paper. And this right here, was the lesson.

Stop hanging on to stuff.

I cried, laughed, sang, sweated and processed so many suppressed emotions over these two days. With every item it got easier and by the end of it, I was two black refuse bags of pure crap; and 2 black refuse bags of straight-to-charity items lighter. I felt instantly energized and officially hooked.

Hmmm, I wonder if you can “kondo” the heart. Watch this space.

 

 

 

Beach, please!

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It all started in 2014. After a series of disappointments in life, I found myself devoid of all the glitter, sparkle and shine that over the years I had become known to possess. In it’s place was a strung-out, stressed-out, bitter, hostile version of me. Somewhere out there, on the journey of self-discovery without a GPS. Therapy, medication, scheduled time-outs and mindfulness helped marginally but it was only after finally making critical decisions I knew in my heart that I needed to make, did it occur to me. Nothing would happen, unless I actually made it happen.I was unhappy not because of something or someone, it was my choice. I had become so immune to experiencing life’s joys and blessings (and OMG there are so many) but like anything, if you are concentrating only on one thing, you tend to drown out everything else. It was also then and there that I made the decision to cut off internal and external thoughts and things that would deter me from experiencing these daily miracles fully. This included my job and some people in my life. A change is as good as a holiday right? So I chose change—and a solo holiday! I also heard that in Zanzibar, they live by an infamous mantra ‘Hakuna Matata’ which as you know means ‘no worries’ in Swahili. For a sufferer of generalized anxiety disorder this was precisely what I craved on the daily. This carefree, laid back way of life is so ingrained in the people of this land that I simply had to find it for myself. Was it in the water perhaps? In the air? Or maybe the food. It had to be here somewhere waiting for a stressed-out Suzie like me. And so, there I was one morning on a red-eye flight to this magical island off the East Coast of Tanzania.

After five days of searching, I can confirm that ‘Hakuna Matata’ is not found in a sunrise or a sunset sailing on a dhow nor snorkelling in the warm, salty waves of the Indian Ocean. It is not found in the refreshing sweetness of coconut water, nor the spicy crunch of grilled fresh squid hot off the coals. It can also not be found in a secret spice shop tucked away in Stone Town and most definitely not whilst collecting gigantic starfish with giggling  children on a sandbank (though all of these things help immensely with restoring your soul and sense of humour). No and No. It is not something you can find. It just happens in the moment. In the acceptance that everything in life is as it is meant to be, in the present. Just like that. Being fully aware that every single second that passes will never, ever, ever come again. Realise that and you’ll never be lost again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do the chickens have large talons?

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So after I finally came down from my Eurotrip euphoria, I made some vital decisions to consciously uncouple from my job (Eek I know, right!), certain people and some things in my life. My body went into full on panic mode. I talk about my struggles with anxiety, openly and honestly, because I was in denial for a long time. A lot of you out there, are too. We are conditioned not to talk about our feelings and often told ‘Be strong, it’s all in the mind’. Haha, well the mind controls the body and believe me, the physical effects of mental disorders can be as debilitating as any physical condition. I fully believed for a while that a 1 hour pep talk to get yourself out of bed in the morning was perfectly normal. That silently crying in the smelly bathroom stall because you can’t remember something you said yesterday, was OK. That the heaving weight I felt on my chest daily, was because I was unfit. That waking up at 2am every morning in a cold sweat and then only falling asleep at 4am was cool. Insomnia is all the rage with the creative set, right? And then if I prayed, meditated and pinned daily mantras on my Pinterest board, I would be able to deal with the crippling self-loathing and fear of failure that presented itself daily.  It didn’t. Slowly but surely that old trapped feeling would invade every inch of my being again. And yes, I still pray, meditate and pin my daily mantras but I won’t deny the effects of a regmaker pilletjie. Today I am tripping hard on my schedule 5 Urbanols after switching from Xanax. I feel as spaced out, nonsensical and emotionally empty as my bank account after previously mentioned Eurotrip. But that’s feeling a damn lot better than overwhelmed.

So before you try to brush off the millions of peeps who suffer from illness of the unseen kind, as all in the mindrather STFU and don’t.

Instead read this hilariously accurate account of what it’s like to have to take medication to function normally https://depressiondarling.com/ and then Vote for Pedro.

Once I was seven years old…

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I’ve been a real miserable little shit lately. If you have had a physical interaction with me during this time, sorry, I’m not sorry. Allow me to explain.

So the thing is, I started thinking about my future long before my peers. I knew it was not going to involve children or a husband at first. House-house was not in my play time repertoire. Shop-Shop was. I used to sit at the dining table with my Aunty’s filofax and Parker pen scribbling away, ‘taking orders’ and designing clothes for my dolls…. whilst making calls to imaginary clients on the cordless phone. I used to devour old issues of 1970s Vogue and had scrapbooks filled with all these ‘styles’ as I called them. My grandaunt and Ouma both seamstresses, often turned my drawings into actual creations, much to my delight. As you now know, I didn’t get into fashion design but I got into fashion magazines and for most of my adult life have been immersed in the seemingly idyllic world of style and celebrity.

I don’t think ordinary people realize this but as a female creative working in fashion, there is a lot of pressure. Firstly, it’s a fiercely competitive industry. Secondly the fact that you earn a pittance but work a lot, doesn’t rate highly either. Thirdly, people who don’t work in it, just don’t get it. ‘What exactly do you do?’ says your fam in a snarky tone. ‘You aren’t dealing with life, law or money so how difficult can this job be…. it’s at a fashion magazine sweety.’ ‘Shouldn’t you rather be in advertising? I heard magazines aren’t doing well’ ‘I don’t understand how you are earning this meager salary, are you a permanent employee?’ ‘Blah Blah Blah’

Those words stick in your psyche and you nail it down to self-doubt. This IS where you want to be. And once you’re in, there’s the pressure to stay ‘in’. You’re this young, approval-seeking ingénue who gets sucked into a dark abyss of image, appearance, egos and maniacs trying to prove you are one of them. Increase the circulation; win the awards, make shit-hot happen. And whatever you do, don’t trip and fall because there are a million others who would kill for this job, they say. So you live your ‘best life’ of the cool glamgirl, but in reality you feel more photoshopped than Candice Swanepoel’s waist. And after too many tight-as-ass deadlines, Calmettes, cigarettes, regret purchases, wrinkles, therapy sessions, rehab stints, eating disorders and shriveled up ovaries later… you find yourself agreeing with the haters who told you off in the first place.

You don’t belong here. And you just want out.

But it’s too late, you’ve already sold your soul and developed Stockholm syndrome lite. The very thing you now hate is the thing keeping you going. In your mind, you hear Miranda Priestly say ‘Oh, Don’t be silly! Everyone wants to be us.’ And you agree. But then you sit quietly after one too many public meltdowns and realize the devil doesn’t only wear Prada, the devil owns Prada and Mr P, all of them. It’s a perpetual cycle of fuckery. A gang of rich old men tricking fools like me into buying often overpriced, material things with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like… But hey that’s okay! There’s a card for that – all we need is all your identity document, payslips, bank account statements and a lock of  hair for added security. If you miss one payment we can seize all your assets and you could possibly face jail time. Orange is the new black you know. But that would never happen because we want to keep you indebted loyal to us, so as soon as you make a payment, we will increase your credit limit and we will throw in an extra 25% for online purchases if you sign up for our newsletters and like our Facebook page, so we can entice you with even more personally curated purchases (read: control your behavior by stalking you). You’re such a slave to fashion good customer!

Yeah fucking right, I am now one credit card down, two to go. Still paying off a life I didn’t really want to be a part of with all my most personal details scattered in cyberspace. I am now not only a consumer but also part of the indoctrination process. The hunter and the hunted. I stand at a conscious crossroads.

Fashion is fake but me… I am real.

 

Love is a battlefield

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So here I am, another month, another year and another broken heart later. The question is how many more times do I have to repair this heart of mine before it shatters to pieces? It’s the law of physics that says you cannot undo what is done. Right now it’s barely SABS approved, it has gaping holes, cracks and scar tissue and is sewn together (thankfully) by very fine wires know as family and friends.

Well for one thing, my heart is anything but fragile. It’s rather resilient. It has survived truth bombs, betrayal battles, legions of lies and scores of soul-less snipers of emotion. It has even during these tactical attacks, stopped dead in its tracks and travelled all the way to my throat but after a very short period, it goes back to what it was intended for – keeping it all together.

Telling the other pieces of me that it’s ok to come out of hiding…that somehow with all the collateral damage, we’re all going to be fine really. The heart isn’t like the others. It is and will always remain on my side. It might betray me momentarily and find itself well behind enemy lines (usually because the brain is too tired to negotiate with it). But even so, my heart and I refuse to believe this world isn’t filled with love and hope and magic and romance and all the mushy gushy things that our logic tells us is utter bs. We choose to see it in everything and everyone regardless of how much blood, sweat and tears could potentially be lost. Because as the great Sade one sang, ‘I’m a soldier of love…

…everyday of my life.’

 

When in Rome… and Paris

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Ah, we’re midway through 2016 and I have barely had a chance to gather my ducks and write something in such a long time.

If you have been living under a rock, I would like to point out that I have hiding in a giant lurve bubble for the past seven months, glued to my phone, laptop and Wi-Fi zone. I have been in a long distance romantic situation with a man who I now will refer to as He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Let’s just say a male douchebag is a universal concept.

Long story short, I planned a holiday to see a man who ended things with me 24hours before my visa application appointment and 1 month before takeoff on my already booked and paid for all-inclusive trip. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, simply stated that he didn’t know what he wanted anymore. That we were on different paths and journeys and the struggle to stay cohesive and in the moment was not going to be easy, what with different continents, one hour time delays, terrorist attacks (WTF ISIS), my deadline-driven working hours, his hospitality working hours and that elusive Whatsapp call that doesn’t get lost in cyberspace. And then let’s not forget the ultimate killjoy: the exchange rate. It was a shocking yet amicable agreement and within 3 weeks of ending things, I was 200m away from his place of work. Sobbing. Irony, what a bitch.

So what’s a girl to do with a broken heart on holiday in the city of passion and then the city of love you ask? You channel your inner Liz Gilbert and you EAT. PRAY. LOVE  and while you’re focusing on the love bit, throw in some Tinder. I was a million miles from home with a few euros, a few galpals and a voracious appetite for pasta, pizza and haha sausage. And it was a cold. We’re in 2016 folks, technology is here to help us.

I was going to feel all the feels, we were in Rome after all. Hear, see, taste, smell and take it all in. I would fill the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-shaped hole in my heart with other things. And so I did. Roma turned out to be a crazy, heady mix of juxtaposition. Of OTT and rusticity. Of religion and blatant sacrilege. Of modern architecture, of ancient ruins, hustle and bustle, old old and new new, of luxury and OMG everything smells of Armani or whatever Italian fragrance is on fleek. And yes I felt the ‘dolce far niente’ but I somehow did not entirely desire the ‘attraversiamo’. Yes, I ate the pizza, the pasta AND a tall blonde (I know, right?!) Roman emperor made a brief appearance but allora! my heart was still stuck in Terminal 2E of Charles de Gaulle Airport where my last exchange of words with He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named took place. I couldn’t wait to get back to my ‘other country’.

Then Paris finally came and there I was living in a fourth floor walkup (no lift, not even joking) in the Marais. Puffing away on my Marlboros, listening to Phoenix on my earphones and strutting the streets in my bottines, like I owned them…and I did. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was my favourite souvenir from my last trip but the real love story is my utter adoration for the city. Those streets seem to cast a couldn’t-care-less magical spell over me and I can get totally, absolutely fucking lost in the beauty of them.

Before long my schedule was back to back with activity- old friends, new friends via Tinder, stolen kisses and a poignant moment on Place de la République as I lit a candle in remembrance of the Bataclan victims. They say home is not a place, it’s a feeling and in that moment, I felt it. The song of the hooters, sirens, music blaring from the shops, an accordion drifting on the breeze, the buzz of the traffic, a flurry of 1200 French words per minute interspersed with a million other different languages floating in the air… all synchronized with the beating of my restless heart. I knew this place. My soul had walked these streets long before my footsteps had caught up. And though leaving was a little easier this time, thanks to 4 degree weather and a suspended bank account, a bad day in Paris, is better than a good day anywhere else!

Bisous ’til next time.