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Cinderella

I’m having a little teary moment while watching this. I don’t really know why. It’s just too beautiful I guess. I can’t wait. I haven’t been this excited since Alice in Wonderland. *sigh*

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How cute is my dog?

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November Challenge #4: I can’t live without my book habit…

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November Challenge #3: The Weather Outside My Window

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November Challenge #2: I saw the gooseberries growing…

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Watch this because it is so damn awesome.

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An Open Letter to Lena Dunham

Dearest Ms Dunham,

I won’t lie and pretend to be your biggest fan, or gush and tell you how wonderful I think you are (though I do think you are pretty damn awesome). I will however, admit that I love how Girls is something that not everyone “gets” and it makes me feel a tiny bit superior when my husband watches an episode and gets all annoyed and confused, while I watch it with the same kind of understanding and kindredspiritness that I find within the pages of the books that I hold so dear to me. There is no question of your talent, and I feel confident in claiming that your integrity cannot be called into question either.

What I wanted to say to was simply this: This shit sucks.

I can only imagine how annoyed you are at these ridiculous accusations of abuse against your sister, which you were “stupid” enough to “confess” to. It’s all quite yawnable.

What makes me angriest though is that these kinds of false accusations (and I know without a doubt that in your particular case they are bullshit) are just so fucking damaging to the public in general. Yes, they are damaging to you. You have been hurt and I am sure you are under quite a bit of stress right now. You are undoubtedly experiencing hurt and stress and anger which you do not deserve to be experiencing, never mind all the abuse that you must be shielding on all social media fronts (because let’s face it: reasonable is not something we can always expect from our friends on the internet) – I do not in any way discount that. But this will blow over (not because you are a “white girl” as has been suggested but because you did nothing wrong) and all that will be left of this mess will be your bruised ego…and the ever-more-damaging subconscious public idea that people get falsely accused of abuse all the time.

It sucks. Here you are, a true-life honest-to-God innocent person with bile and rubbish being spewed at you. And what does the world see? The world decides that this always happens. Some attention-starved two-bit nobody decided to use you as a pawn to achieve their own fame…and in doing so they made it just a little harder for real victims to come forward with the stories of their abuse.

Because why should we believe them? People lie about abuse. All. The. Time.

I’m sorry that this happened to you, but I hope you know that there are people out there who get where you are coming from. Fans. Regular human beings. People less invested in media drama. And most importantly: your sister.

I hope your book sales are incredible!

Sending you love & luck from a part-time fan!

Nadine Rose Larter

 

 

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November Challenge #1: Love is Blue

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November Photo Challenge.

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I have to do this challenge. Because Sarah Addison Allen is doing this challenge. And she is my hero. 

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Finding Forrester

I think what I love most about this movie is that if you watch it hard enough you can pretend that you yourself are being mentored by a man of sheer brilliance. It is, I suppose, a movie that reminds us of what so many of us are missing as writers: someone to show us the way. Someone to yell and encourage and cause us to produce. And to stand up for our work if need be.

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Stranger Than Fiction

To kick off the madness of NaNoWriMo I decided to pop in not only my favourite writing movie but possibly my favourite movie period: Stranger Than Fiction. I could not love this movie more, and I think what I might love most about it is that it takes a specific kind of intelligence to appreciate it fully. It’s so easy to brush it off as ridiculous, but honestly I think it is Will Ferrels most impressive role, and Emma Thompson is just exceptionally brilliant in this one. The story, of course, is brilliant – but there is so much more too it. The colours. The videography. The insanity of it all. I so seldom re-watch movies, but I love this one every single time. Emma Thompson should be narrating as a living. Having her as a mom reading bedtime stories must have been extra special. That voice….*sigh*….that voice….

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn made me question a few things…

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this book a while ago and wanted to kind of let it sink in before I reviewed it. I also planned to go and watch the movie tonight and write my review afterwards, but we won’t be able to go anymore because of kid stuff. I reckon before I start with NaNoWriMo I should probably get my thoughts down.

This was certainly not close to being the best book I have ever read. To be honest the only reason I read it was because of the hype. The only observation I can offer is that sometimes I  kind of felt that some of the words used were a little “big” for the writing style. Maybe that’s just me though. As far as books go, it was pretty average, but this particular story did kind of tie in with something that I’ve been struggling to put into words for a while.

Now please, I need it to be absolutely clear that what I am about to say in absolutely no way reflects poorly on the author of this story. I am not one to bemoan the state of literature, or entertainment in general, and go on and on about how creatives have a duty to the public to blah blah blah. Creatives are not there to help you become a better person. They are not there to educate you or teach you any specific thing. They are there to create. That is not to say that the things we consume (movies, books, poetry etc) don’t have a growth-like/detrimental effect on us. They might. But it is your own job to be a specific kind of person and to make sure that you grown in the right direction. You need to question everything. You need to take nothing at face value. And above all: you need to remember that characters in books are not characters in real life.

I’ve been thinking about rape a lot. As in: I think about rape every single day. It’s kind of weird I guess, but it is a subject that has weighed on me for most of my life. I can give no real reason for that, other than the fact that rape exists in all sorts of forms all around us. So I think about it. A lot.

I read a statistic recently that noted that as little as 2% of rape charges are false. 2%! But let’s round up and call it 10% just to make sure that we haven’t made the number too small.

I read that statistic and my stomach lurched.

Do you know why?

Because for a very long time I have assumed that that number was much higher. I just assumed it. Seemingly for no reason, I, a girl (with a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted sometime in my life) assumed that a lot of women cry rape as a sort of “fuck you” to men who they are pissed at.

WHY ON EARTH WOULD I THINK THAT?!

The only possible answer I can come up with is because of the entertainment that I consume. The female falsely accusing men of rape is a common character who I have encountered many times, in many different forms. I first encountered her in the movie The Crush with Alicia Silverstone when I was very young. That movie gave me chills. I still, to this day, worry that that kind of thing will happen to my brother. The book Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult was just as chilling. And now, here’s Amazing Amy, with her special brand of crazy.
The false accusation of rape is so destructive (obviously rape is also destructive – I am in no way saying that it isn’t) and it has always struck me as such an efficient way to completely break a good man to a point of repairlessness.

Somehow, this woman, this destructive crazy (and fictional) woman who cries rape with ease and with the intent to punish and innocent person, has become a common figure. She has moved from the pages of books and from behind the camera and become far more “real” than she actually is.

And she has made it really difficult for women who have suffered real trauma to get justice for themselves. This fictional woman who exists only to add depth and dimension to stories (she is crazy because the story would be boring if she wasn’t) has walked into the lives of real women and she has planted this massive seed of doubt into the minds of the real public.

Is this the fault of the writers who created these women? Of course not! It is our (my!) own fault for allowing fiction to cloud reality without giving it a proper deal of consideration.

We all want our rapists to be scary terrifying people. We want our rape to be brutal, destructive, bloody. We need our rape to look like rape so that we can recognize it and be sure: this is rape.

But it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes rape happens at the hands of a super cool guy who you went to school with. Sometimes your best mate is abusing his wife. Sometimes it’s the teacher who gives the most interesting classes. The trusted religious councillor. People with kind faces and lovely demeanours.

They don’t look like rapists. So when their victims come forward, we write them off as liars. So-and-so is a good guy. He would never rape. She must be lying. Women do that “all the time”. And so we err on the side of caution.

Because even if she was raped, at least it’s “over”, right? She can get over it and move on. No one moves on from a false rape conviction.

Right?

It is easier for our peace of mind to believe that victim as a liar, than to believe the worst of someone that we love. Anger at a liar is easier on us than having to acknowledge that our fathers/brothers/husbands/mentors have violated someone in this way. (Note: I acknowledge that women also rape and that men can also be victims of sexual assault. I in no way minimise that.)

We need to stop confusing fictional crazy with real women. We need to not let the liberties taken by writers influence how we respond to these kinds of things. Let everything you read allow you to think. Don’t let the things you read be your truth, rather allow the things you read to lead you to your truth.

I am the first to admit that books and stories have shaped me and that in many ways the parts of me that have been shaped by the extraordinary minds of my favourite authors are my favourite parts of myself. I do need to be careful though. Fiction is only fiction. Fiction is sometimes truth but not always. Real truth is often a lot quieter than fiction. Real truth whispers and it gets lost in the midst of everything louder and flashier. You have to look for it.

You have to look for it.

You have to look for it!

It is no author’s job to hand it to you.

View all my reviews

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November Nonsense

Photo on 2014-10-31 at 11.12 AM #2I had brilliant plans for November. I was going to spend the whole month of November celebrating NaNoWriMo month by watching every writing movie I could get my hands on and laughing aat all the fools attempting this insane challenge while still being (blocked) writery. That seems to have changed. Instead: I am doing NaNo. Why? Because apparently if I don’t have travel plans to stress over then I don’t actually know what to do with myself so now I have to add a bit of pressure. Don’t ask me to help you understand. It doesn’t make sense to me either. Anyway, I shall be NaNo-ing. And it shall be brilliant/dreadful/rewarding. Or something. But I am still going to watch my movies. If you’re keen to connect with me on a NoNo level you can find me here: *click*

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On Staying and Going and Thinkery Things

DSCN2424I’m too zen. It’s weird. I’m not usually “ok”. I’m pretty much usually a mess. Lately I’m ok though. Obviously there must be something wrong…

(I’m kidding: yoga, better eating and a little meditation have gone a long way. I’m allowed to make awkward jokes about myself though.)

I guess it helps that our Thai trip is behind us now (pity the debt incurred during the trip is still very much in front though) and I am no longer overwhelmed by all the planning and wondering. For now we kind of have a vague-ish idea of where we stand and it feels like a good place to be. (more…)

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A Conversation About Crime

After four weeks in what remains one of my favourite places, I find myself back home feeling rather evolved. I realise this must sound trite and perhaps a little too Eat Pray Love but it simply is what it is. Since returning from Thailand I find myself a little more peaceful and at ease, and for me that is kind of a big deal.

There is something perhaps a little eye-opening about being somewhere else. Again: that sounds so silly. And yet it is true. During our travels, my husband and I met so many wonderful people. The best thing about Thailand is that you don’t only meet wonderful Thai people, you meet people from all over the world, and I cannot help but feel like these sorts of interactions make for a particularly satisfying plate of soul food.

A recurring thought that I have had over the last few weeks was a surprising one: Being South African has somehow prepared me for far more than I have ever considered. In some ways this is a good (sensible) thing, but I admit in some ways it is also perhaps a little disturbing.

As much as I would like my parents (and friends and loved ones) to believe otherwise: Thailand is not the safest place. Actually, the world is kind of not the safest place…

Before jetting off to a foreign land, it’s always best that those who love us are able to watch us go without having to worry about our safety. Of course this is almost impossible because love and worry go hand-in-hand, but I realised that as a travelling South African, I have been indirectly equipped with something that not all travellers seem to have: vigilance. If nothing else, this almost automatic vigilance should be a source of comfort to those who might be invested in my wellbeing.

While engaging in conversation with some of our new friends, I discovered that the topic of crime is a relatively universal one. That is kind of obvious, of course, but as much as we all love the stories about folks who live in neighbourhoods where they never have to lock their cars (unheard of in SA!) and about places where you can leave money lying out in the open and know that it will still be there when you get back, that is not exactly a common reality. Folks all around the world have dodgy things happening in their neighbourhoods. As South Africans we often have all sorts of weird ideas about crime. We sometimes think bad things don’t happen in other places, or other places’ bad things are different to South African bad things. Of course we are wrong. I am getting better at exploring the things that I am wrong about.

It’s strange perhaps, but during conversations about the botched investigation of the murder of the British couple in Koh Tao, and discussions about how tourists in Thailand are such easy targets for muggings and pickpockets, I found myself thinking about crime and the role it plays in my own life. While some of my new friends seemed to have found themselves in a place weeded to implement a slightly stricter routine of self preservation, the “scariness” of Thailand didn’t affect me at all.

Why?

Because I’m South African. And I’m a girl with zero upper body strength. I pretty much always assume that someone is about to mug me.

I hardly knew I felt that way until it came up in conversation. I am careful, and I am careful in a large part because of where I come from, but I have always been one to laugh off the doomsayers when it comes to South African crime. When folks ask me, with genuinely concerned looks on their faces, how I cope with South African crime, I always laugh it off. The perception of South African crime always seems more dire than the reality. I do not live in fear. I recognise that crime is an issue, and that it may touch my life at some point, but I don’t live in the kind of fear that other people seem to expect that I should.

This, of course, begs another question: Am I wrong?

So far, I have been lucky enough to have lived a life largely untouched by crime. But just because my experience has been one thing, I can’t really expect that experience to be a real reflection on the reality of what crime is in this country. I may happily stick up for my country and the beautiful people living in it (criminals aside, South Africans are great people!) but perhaps I am not so accurate in my defence.

As I was going off on one of my defensive tangents the other day, I started to list the few times crime that had actually touched my life. I expected the list to be short, but as I continued, I realised that the list was way longer than I thought it was.

Let’s take a quick look:

  • a.)   Grabbed on the vagina by a man who passed me in the street when I was a teenager (thankfully I was more infuriated than traumatised by the event)
  • b.)  Wallet lifted from my handbag while washing hands in a public restroom
  • c.)   Cell phone lifted from handbag while shopping
  • d.)  Cell phone lifted from my desk at work
  • e.)   My house has been broken into twice
  • f.)    Washing stolen from the line on various occasions over the years

These are massively irritating things and were quite upsetting at the time but they haven’t caused any long-term damage. I have learned to close my handbag properly and to hold it closer to my body. I am good about setting the alarm when I leave the house and not leaving any windows open. We have household insurance, which makes a huge difference when it comes to the trauma of discovering that your house has been broken into and half of your belongings are missing (although the violation of having a stranger in your house can’t really be fixed by a cheque). These are just simple things that are no big deal and eventually don’t really feel like a big deal, but when you list them I guess you kind of have to admit that it’s a little iffy…

And then I look at articles like the one I recently read on Hippo’s Blog about ‘The Real State of SA Crime’ and can’t help but wonder if I am exceptionally naïve to feel that way. If these are the kinds of realities that face South Africans, why am I not a constant nervous wreck? Nervous wrecking is, after all, what I am so exceptionally good at.

Should I be proud of myself? Or is it perhaps that we just kind of get used to these things? Perhaps they become part of our scenery, our psyches, our day-to-day. And they become almost invisible.

Is that bad?

Are my usual habits just good sense or have they been born from this place where I live?

It seems sensible that I don’t use an ATM unless someone (preferably male) is with me. It seems sensible not to take my camera with me to the park unless my husband is able to come too. It makes sense not to walk to my dad’s office down the road with my laptop in my bag unless I am not alone. It makes sense to never let myself get publicly intoxicated enough to make myself an easy target (although I admit that I kind of don’t really like being drunk anyway so that one is easy).

It makes sense not to walk alone at night, ever, with or without valuables on my person.

Doesn’t it?