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Dear Kids: About Sex…

 

I’m still feeling a little grumpy after reading this article on The Herald website yesterday. I can’t seem to be able to stop thinking about it.

You see… I did not choose to home school my kid because I necessarily think school institutions are terrible. I don’t. At least not all of them. Obviously there are good and bad points to just about anything. But I think this sort of thing kind of makes me realise that I might very well never send my kid to “real” school. Because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to help being that mom who complains every five minutes. Yes. I’d be the mom that all the teachers hate. I’d be discussed in the staff room. I’d make people cry. It probably wouldn’t be good.

If you didn’t read the article, it tells of how the Grade 11 pupils at Alex High School are looking after fake babies for two weeks. If  the point of this exercise was some sort of tepid initiation into the trials of parenthood, that would be one thing (although I have some serious concerns about even that!) but no. The exercise is to promote abstinence.

To quote The Herald:

The high school is conveying the importance of sexual abstinence to its Grade 11s in a clever way – making them experience what being a parent is all about.

Um: gross…. (more…)

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Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns
Paper Towns by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I actually finished this book over the weekend (Well…on Monday but that was a holiday so it was still the weekend) but haven’t quite been able to accurately decide what I “think” about it. I’d heard this book being accused of trying to be “bigger” than what it actually is so I kind of had that in the back of my head while reading it, but I gotta tell you: I didn’t get that. I don’t think John Green tries to be anything. He just kind of is. And it feels to me that without trying he says so incredibly much. I love this man’s soul, and it lives in those pages. What a beautiful soul.



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The Fragility of Teenagers

I don’t know how to write any of this without stepping on a hundred toes. I don’t know how to write this without accidentally throwing accusations where they might not necessarily belong. But when it comes to broken teenagers, well this shit gets to me, and I have stuff to say that might not be liked. And I imagine that I will probably say it badly, with disconnected thoughts peppered by disconnected rage. For that I apologise.

My heart is feeling a little heavy today. Last night I noticed a few posts of a missing teenager in Northgate going around. I considered sharing one, but something told me there’s no point and so I didn’t. This morning I see she was found at the Northgate Mall where it looks like she leapt to her death. The News24 article reporting the story tells of other teenage suicides over the past while, one of which occurred after a boy was forced to publicly apologise for cheating on his exams. A twelve year old shot herself because the girls in her class were mean to her. I don’t know why Kiara took her own life. I imagine it had something to do with the very real stress that consumes you as a child, but is brushed off by adults as “kids being kids”.

And my question is this: Why do grownups never do anything? Do we  turn thirty and someone how all forget what it’s like to be in high school? Or what it’s like to be in junior school or play school for that matter! Or is it that the devastation of the bullied something only very few people experience and therefore not enough people are equipped to cope with it? Why are we not constantly reminding our children that yes, being young can be bloody awful, but don’t worry, once you hit your twenties you somehow find your tribe and it gets so much better. Instead we bully them ourselves with stories of how high school is supposed to be the best time of your life (*vomit*) and preach how they should be grateful that they’re not grownup yet. Well you know what? As much as I hate paying bills, as much as I am still a generally stressed out human being, I don’t cry myself to sleep four times a week anymore. I don’t loathe every part of myself. I am not so consumed by what is wrong with me that I can barely function. I don’t have to put on a fake brave face anymore. I can say what I am feeling when I am feeling it. And I know that if you’re a dick to me, I can call you out for being a dick and I’ll have ten fantastic friends standing right behind me ready to set your dickish ass on fire. I did not have that as a school going child. So fuck high school and how great it is to be a kid. It’s not great to be a kid for everyone, and it’s about damn time that people in charge of fragile children actually realise that. (more…)

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A Small Tribute to My Husband

DSCN9397I have become myself lately. It is  a weird thing to say perhaps. Cliched, most probably. But true nonetheless. I’ve always been the way I am, really, but over the last few years I’ve gotten better at it. Or worse, depending on how you feel about it. Sometimes I tell myself to be less. But then I just laugh. Say fuck. And carry on. Possibly while mumbling something obnoxious like sorry not sorry.

Thanks to Facebook’s new little memory lane feature (which is more comprehensive than Timehop) I keep being reminded of the people who have come and gone in my life over the years. I keep coming across someone and going “Oh wow, I wonder how they are?” only to discover that they’ve deleted me and therefore sending them a “hey how are you” message would just be awkward. It’s no biggie obviously. But it is kind of funny how often I can look at a specific person and go, “hmmmm…I think my particular brand of human is not quite for you.” It’s usually the people who are all gushy “oh you’re so cool because xyz” who end up having a huge (unspoken) offence because of zxy. That’s how it works around here, folks.  I’m guilty of the same.

And that’s where my husband comes in. I recognize that I am a rather high maintenance person. I recognize that I have sharp edges. I recognize that I am loud. Obnoxious. Outspoken. Controversial. I have standards that I am not about to compromise to stroke your ego. I swear too much. I’m bitchy often. And if you’re a dick I’ll let you know about it. Do I give a shit about making polite social situations awkward in the name of keeping the ignorant peace? Nope. Oh dear…

When I was dating my child’s father, my dad gave him some “advice” concerning me. He told my ex that to deal with me he would have to grow hair on his tongue. Well, the ex told me this and I thought it was very funny. In fact I was quite impressed that my father even knew me well enough to say that (not sure why since it only makes sense that as a parent he might have a relatively ok understanding of the weird creature he produced). My ex, however, was not amused. He was quite traumatised in fact. And this hair on his tongue thing came up in just about every fight we ever had. It freaked him out completely.

And the thing is: I think a lot of folks are like that. I think a lot of folks just can’t deal with people like me (and you and you and you) so they don’t. They can’t tell the difference between intense passion and anger. They can’t tell the difference between observation and accusation. They can’t tell the difference between being seen and being excused. Or frustration and being yelled at.

But my husband just deals. Always. And I can’t imagine that being married to me is too easy considering how the poor man never gets away with anything. He’s so good at being with me though. And I think that’s mostly because he already had all that hair on his tongue (or thought it worth it to grow some) but also because so often, despite our mutual inability to back down from anything, once the dust settles he does actually try to hear me. And as much as he tries to pretend that he thinks I’m some sort of bizarre enigma, and as much as he likes to look at me with a wtf expression from time to time (especially when everyone else is doing it) I think he does actually understand me quite a bit and he’s not afraid of that.

So thank you, husband. For not only being good at being married to me, but for being good at knowing me. Thank you for letting me be me and for accepting the beautiful mess that comes with that. Thank you for being the best damn male feminist that I know and for never ever expecting me to ever fill any sort of preconceived gender role. Thank you for being so damn kick ass that you take on a whole bunch of what others conceive to be “female” roles without ever complaining. That shit right there is sexy as fuck. Thank you for being supportive always. Thank you for trusting me with our children….so much so that you let me boss you around a LOT when it comes to them. These things that you do are not invisible to me. I promise. And I do not take them for granted.

I love you. So very much.

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What the hell?

So I just stumbled across this tweet….

It’s making my nose crinkle.

Is it legal for companies to pimp folks out on Twitter?

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Review: The Magician King

The Magician King
The Magician King by Lev Grossman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me a really long time to read this book, because it killed me to go through it. I fell head over heels for Lev Grossman when I stumbled upon a tattered copy of The Magicians at a flea market. There is something about the way he writes that gets to me. He’s not particularly sophisticated or anything. Just kind of….ugh…real. This book? This book made me feel like I know the man too well. Like he’s a lover that I have become accustomed to. A lover who I see exceptionally well. Am I the only one who reads this way? It can be a little scary, truth be told. Not because I mind understanding others through their writing, so much as I am terrified that someone might come to understand me through my own. It’s so weird. It’s sort of like the person is told through the story, instead of the story through the person. I loved Codex and I loved The Magicians. But this book? I can’t quite put into words how I feel about this book. In fact I can’t even put it in to stars. Because sometimes it was five stars and sometimes it was one star. Why? Sometimes the misogyny showed so hard that I wanted to smack it away. Sometimes it was like Mr Grossman was mocking the story instead of telling it. And sometimes? Well sometimes, especially when he was telling Julia’s side of the story, there was this soft, beautiful understanding laced with so much incredible love that it was impossible not to be infected by all of it. Not only did I come to understand (and relate to!) Julia completely, but I also could not help but come to love her as she was handled and told with such affection that it was contagious. Maybe that is crazy. Maybe I “read” too much into things. But there is a very special presence in this book which I can’t deny. And that special presence made all the other foibles forgivable. Because that’s how we love, isn’t it? Completely. All inclusively. Warts and all.



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If heaven is real….

 

I swear I’m not drunk but I’m sitting here tearful because I’ve inadvertently found myself  thinking about the uselessness of heaven. In the book I’m reading,  two of the characters have gone to the underworld to console a friend who needlessly died in battle. For some reason it has wrecked me. And not because of the storyline (though perhaps the scene has served as a reminder of a more traumatic event from the previous book) but because of the idea of afterlife in general. It’s so strange to think how the idea of heaven has been this consoling thought when it comes to how humans deal with, and even justify, death. We like to think of loved ones happy in heaven smiling down on us. It gives our hearts a rub and we feel better.  That is, of course, if we even believe in heaven at all, which I admit has proven to be a little difficult for me of late. It has just now occurred to me that even in my wildest most fantastical of hopeful dreams, I cannot remotely comprehend any kind of “goodness” (in this instance: heaven) that would ever be able to erase the pure agony of being ripped from those I love. We are often so quick to observe that the pain of death lies not with the deceased, but with those whom the deceased has left behind. This thought serves us as consolation as well. But surely this particular idea can only be true if no afterlife exists at all. I can’t help but feel that if an afterlife exists that it might simlly be a place to store souls, because in life we tend to start gathering up souls with whom we cannot live without, and if we’re expected to die and then enter the afterlife without them, then by default heaven cannot exist at all. Only hell.

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The Incurable Depression of Being a Reader

20150721_140720-01My son woke up this morning and the first thing he said to me was, “Mom, I want to be magic.”

The only thing I could say to him was, “Me too, baby.”

We then went on to discuss how wonderful it would be to own a TARDIS.

I could see he was in pain. This lack of magic. This lack of a blue box. It hurts him. He’s a happy child. But this lack of magic really hurts him.

And I thought…this poor kid. If he’s anything like me it’s really not going to get better. He’s not going to “grow out of it”. He will probably try to stifle it. He might tell himself that his longing for otherworlds is silly and childish. And for a while he might believe it. He’ll try drugs and alcohol and they’ll be fun for a while. And hobbies. Sex. Girls. Boys. But it probably won’t go away. That need for an adventure is a parasite. Burrowed deep. And it wants more than what planes and money can do.

I know it won’t properly go away because I’m 33 years old now and I still wish I was magic. I still look at flowers and imagine that a fiary might pop out. I still think, “one day I’m going to walk into a cupboard and end up on a mountain” and I still think one day I will be able to type out blog posts using only my thoughts and not my fingers who are feeling a little cold right now.

I’ve been reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians now for well over a month.  The character of Julia is killing me which is making the experience kind of painful – which is why it is taking me so long to read. But then….it’s kind of always painful, isn’t it? It pains me that Hogwarts exists only in a netherrealm which is only accessible to my mind and not my body. It kills me that here is just here, which at the same times seems such a strange way to feel considering my capacity to be delighted by earthly things.

I sometimes wish I wasn’t a reader. I wish I wasn’t a creator. I wish that I could indulge in the quiet content that everyone else seems to manage so easily. I wish reading made me happy happy instead of devastated happy.

Some books take the sad away for a little while. Sometimes. When you find the right ones (which takes work). But only for a little while.

But then you get back to life and life is kind of lacking unicorns.

 

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Computerlessness

 

I’ve been a little off of my computer lately. For about a month or so I haven’t been able to pick the thing up. My camera is filling up with un-uploaded photographs. My inbox is just getting fuller and fuller. And yet: blegh. I am sitting here right now forcing myself to actually just check up on stuff but I can’t think of anything that needs doing. Not on here. All “the things” can surely wait for some other time. My inbox seems a little daunting. I am trying to care but I just can’t.

Do you ever get that way? All this life on computers just doesn’t feel like life. I suppose that’s kind of dumb when I consider that it’s not like I have switched off completely. I still troll Facebook and Twitter on my phone.

I’m just not writing stuff.

That’s the gist, isn’t it? The writing stuff. That stuff you’re supposed to do when you’re a writer.

I think it might be time for a little sojourn into Julia Cameron’s world again. This one has gotten a little dense.

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Review: Revenge

Revenge
Revenge by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Well… That’s over…. I was kind of hoping for some sort of magical plot twist or something. I was happy to discover that for once I was completely wrong about who the killer was, so yay for that. Either I’m losing my touch or some actual intrigue was employed. Honestly I haven’t read about such two dimensional and not-really-believable characters since Fifty Shades of Grey. Although that said, the whole Fifty Shades phenomenon makes more sense to me now than it did before. I guess this is jut the kind of writing that a lot of folks prefer. I just didn’t feel like there was any depth to it at all. I get to read my new Lev Grossman novel now though. I’m actually salivating at the thought.



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Review: Murder

Murder
Murder by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I made a booboo in my last review. I referred to this series as the “LA Confessions” series. It’s “LA Connections”. My apologies. Otherwise it seems I’m flying through these which is great because I need to move on but I can’t move on until I’m done so at least it’s quick. Still not much happening to thrill me much. I don’t believe anything anyone says. It could be that I’m in a mood and just find anything anyone says to be disingenuous, or maybe that’s just how it is. I don’t know. On to the last instalment though. So maybe I’ll be surprised? I think I don’t know who the killer is so far so yay for that. Unless it turns out to be who I think it is. In which case I’ll be annoyed. I always guess. Every single time. It’s not the writer’s fault. Apparently I have really loud spoilery spirit guides.



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Review: Obsession

Obsession
Obsession by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Meh. This instalment of the LA Confessions series seems even more insignificant than the last one. And I keep thinking….this can’t be how Hollywood people are! And if this really is how they are…. Can we rather just pretend otherwise? There was ONE redeeming (ok that’s not quite the right word) part where the *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* high class call girl gets busted in the middle of sex with the guy she has unwisely started dating. That gave me a small giggle. Although I am also one of those people who doesn’t think that prostitution is an unseemly profession so I don’t see why the guy shouldn’t just get over it and accept the fact that sex with random strangers is her job. And then just be grateful that she doesn’t charge him!



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Review: Power

Power
Power by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m probably going to regret writing this review. Kind of how I regret writing my Fifty Shades reviews or the Fear and Loathing review. Sometimes indignant honesty feels good at the time, but later you re-read yourself and you have to admit that maybe you’re just a cow.

I decided to pick up this little series for one main reason: it consists of four very short books. I’m super behind on my reading goal for the year and when we had our yearly Larter “What Are Your Goals For The Year” meeting, I insisted that my only goal for the year was to read 100 books (I’m tired of writing goals falling way short of my expectations) – I have to admit to myself that children need to come first for a little while because I am incapable of juggling. But I am super failing at this most minuscule of goals! And now I’m even cheating because seriously I don’t think reading these books counts. Anyway – I chose them because they were short (I bought them at a by-weight book sale about 2 months ago) and because I needed something “easier’ to read. The last book I read made me feel super unintelligent – it was out of my league. And then when I actually did start understanding it, it wrecked me a little. So I needed something to unwreck me. I expected this to be a cheap trashy romance novel. With some fun sex scenes and a murder or two thrown in just for fun. Yay!

I also thought to myself that I could probably “learn” something from these books. I read a lot of different types of books and I like to have an idea of what the contemporary masses are consuming. Jackie Collins sounds like that sort of writer. Surely. I can learn something! I can’t “learn” from books like Toni Morrison’s or Margaret Atwood’s or King or Irving or any of those folks because they are too out of my reach. I can only gawk at them in awe. I won’t ever write like that, and that’s fine.

So I picked up this book. And? Well I’m still scratching my head. I am so confused. None of these characters seem to possess any sort of logic. The entire thing is filled with cliches – though I wonder if they were perhaps not so cliche in 1996 when it was set? So fine. It’s not “timeless” – not many folks can pull that off. Totally forgivable. But still… I kind of felt a bit eye roll-y throughout the whole thing. And I can’t figure out why this is divided into four books when the first one doesn’t really stand alone in any way. It’s sort of a nothing story about nothing people. But not in that profound where where nothing happens but you still feel like something has happened. More like stuff happens but you really just don’t care. Then again: that’s exactly what I was looking for in the wake of my Morrison devastation.

I’m very confused. But I AM learning. I am learning that I think maybe I write this way. And I am worried I won’t be able to change that. Because even if this is something that folks really like to read (Collins has many fans – though she may not be to my taste) I don’t want to write this way. I worry that I will write in this way that does so very little for me. And I know just how pompous that sounds but I do. I want to write the kind of books that make me happy. These sort of books don’t make me happy. They’re way too much like fat-free yogurt.




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Review: Love

Love
Love by Toni Morrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy hell. I did not enjoy this book. This book is not entertainment. At all. It is a gut wrenching piece of pure raw honesty about how life is. My insides are sour. I can feel the blood in my veins. My heart is pounding. Be warned that it is full of triggers. It might be best to keep that in mind for those who are sensitive to them. Shit. I can’t even get my words out. Nothing made sense. And then it all made sense. And now I feel sick. I didn’t enjoy reading this book. It wasn’t like my favourites, the sweet magical stories about abnormally bad circumstances being overcome by average, but secretly special, people. There’s no feel-good. But it is also not Virginia Andrews-y or Picoult-y where all these crazy unbelievable bad things happen and you are able to remain sane because “that’s crazy”. This was not crazy. This was real. And I cannot escape the truth that Toni Morrison’s work is incredibly important.



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Colourful Evenings

untitledA bizarre turn of events lead to the husband and I going out on Saturday night. I suppose for most there is nothing unusual about that, but to be honest I have been slowly slipping into extreme hermithood of late (thanks, but no, I don’t need “fixing”) so a bout of spontaneity, prompted by yours truly no less, can be considered quite miraculous. I kept seeing an event popup on my FB feed that told me that a bunch of my friends were going to “Dessa – Live in Concert“. Of course I had no idea who that was so I YouTubed her and discovered that she has kind of cool music. The event was free (this counts as something because we could not be more broke) so we figured we might as well go. We could, after all, skip dinner and afford a beer or two.

I am SO glad we did it. Being the hermit that I am I hadn’t actually been to Chapel Street Studios before and I couldn’t have been more delighted by the vibe of the place. It’s weird I guess but I walked in and immediately was “happy” to be there. This doesn’t happen to me a lot. I used to blame this on myself being uptight, which I am, but the thing is that I tend to be exceptionally sensitive to energy. Some energy flows with you though, like you’re floating in a calm sea, bobbing up and down as gentle waves move towards the shore. Other energies bash up against you, the suffocate you, they drag you down to the ocean bed and twirl you around a couple of times before they let you even think  about which way could possibly be up. On Saturday night, Chapel Street Studios  had a with you energy. It was pretty damn lovely.

We were treated to a bunch of incredible local performance artists (forgive me for not remembering any names – I had a bit too much wine – it was cheap) as well as the beautiful and enigmatic Dessa, from Minneapolis and all-in-all we just had a great evening. The event was put together by Creative X (if I’m not mistaken – forgive me if I am) and I must admit I am very curious to find out more about what they do. They seem to have gathered around them this beautiful sense of community, and with it a positivity that is electric. And my favourite part? There was enough colour in that room to paint a canvas. And maybe I just usually hang out in all the wrong places, but I found that kind of special. I looked around that room and thought, “this is how my heart knows South Africa to be”.

And the lesson? There are like-minded people out there. I won’t find them in the comments section of media outlets on Facebook. But they are in my back yard. Live in the flesh. And that’s fucking awesome.