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Review: The Library of Unrequited Love

The Library of Unrequited Love
The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This little book is a sweet soliloquy by a librarian woman as she converses with a man who accidentally spent the night in the library. If nothing else, the idea of the book intrigues me and I have to admit that I currently feel inspired to attempt something similar. I love the style of it. It’s so different.

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Review: Martin Misunderstood

Martin Misunderstood
Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So this little bit of odd brought to us by the queen of crime was…well…odd. I swear Ms Slaughter decided to just have a bit of fun with this one, I must admit that it made me kind of giggle a few times. She kind of disses Patricia Cornwell at some point which I thought was a bit “ok then”. Weird. Just weird. But nice and short. My newly lazy reading ways have started to appreciate nice and short. So at least there’s that.

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The Bully Culture

Photo on 2015-10-05 at 10.54 AMIf I learnt anything from my school going days – or life in general really – it is surely that any questions that attempt to delve deeper than the prerequisite curriculum demands of any subject matter are questions that will have you either immediately dismissed or, most likely, laughed at. Somehow I have not yet learned to stop asking them. Questions keep me up at night. They plague me during the day. And they continue to haunt until they have been satiated.

Last week someone walked into a college in Oregon with a gun and killed a bunch of people. This kind of story has become so commonplace lately that surprise doesn’t even register anymore. I still get that wave of dread that washes over me though. These things make a thousand questions flood my mind. How does this happen? Where do they get the guns? Why these particular people? Why that particular school? What made him make this decision? Does this happen so much in America because it happens in America? Is it a monkey-see-money-do scenario?

But mostly, all I can think of is this:

Imagine your day starts like any other. You respond to a text from your mom. You grab a quick cup of coffee. You dress and you leave for school. You imagine what your classes will be like today. You imagine what you might like to do after class. Or perhaps where you would like to go for dinner. Maybe you have specific plans with friends. And then suddenly, all those nothing things become everything. Because you’re staring at a man with a gun and you realise that this is how you die. And it doesn’t quite fit, because you didn’t plan to die today.

It keeps going over and over in my head…

I didn’t plan to die today. 

Barrack Obama’s face during his speech after the shooting surely mirrored our own emotions. He stood before his country as a parent, and he mourned the loss as a parent. And he was broken.

As I watched him, it struck me that it must be incredibly hard to be president when this kind of thing happens. Obviously, being the president is not easy, anyway, but this particular subject matter is so complex.

And here’s the biggest problem: It doesn’t really make sense.

In his speech, Obama correctly pointed out that mental illness cannot be blamed for these tragedies. There are people suffering from mental illnesses all over the world, and yet this thing, this thing where someone takes offence and then walks into a school and shoots the kids, this seems to be a uniquely American pastime.

Of course, the subject of gun control comes up and suddenly there’s a frenzy everywhere. I have friends and family all over the world and thanks to social media you very quickly begin to see where folks stand on these sorts of subjects. It is a heated topic, gun law, and neither side has any intention of hearing the other.

I have to admit that I very much think it is a far more complex matter than a simple case of stronger gun laws.

Now, I should clarify here that I’m not anti the implementation of stricter gun laws, stricter laws are undoubtedly necessary. I know little of what the actual gun laws in the States are, but understand that they are very lax. In South Africa, you need a license for a gun, and the gun has to be kept in a secure non-movable safe at all times. There’s no sleeping with a gun under your pillow or in your dresser drawer. You do that and you become the criminal. I have no doubt that stricter gun laws in the States will make a significant difference.

But they won’t make all the difference.

When these things happen, we like to blame “mental illness” and I must say I find this weird. It sort of suggests that crazy people are running rampant and there’s nothing we can do about that expect hope we never end up in the line of fire.

Well…that attitude seems a little insane to me…

I do have to wonder, though, if American society doesn’t create these people.

For a moment I would like to clarify something. I know that there is a typically held attitude where a person of colour will commit a crime and they are seen as a filthy criminal/gang member, while a white man will commit a crime and he is seen as “mentally unstable”. I agree that this is bullshit, because that attitude that usually accompanies these observations is one of scorn for the coloured criminal, and almost pity for the dejected and broken white man. Gross!

I, personally, cannot help wondering if these things are not exactly the same though. Not only are they the same in their horrifying brutality, but they are the same in that employing a little understanding might help to provide a little clarity. Understanding might open up a path to solution. So first, I cannot help but ask myself if both these types of violence, in fact if not all types of violence, are not simply lessons in Cause & Effect.

On a very superficial level, I think gang violence makes sense to most of us. Children growing up with impossible poverty get recruited to gangs because they feel they have no choice, or simply because they know of no other choice. That’s a rather watered-down understanding, of course, but it is something we can wrap our heads around. And, if we dig deep enough, we can even empathise with it. If I suggest that gangs exist because of circumstances, it is a pretty acceptable statement. It’s uncomplicated enough to think of it this way.

Well, I’m starting to wonder if these white boys who like to shoot up churches and schools and girls dormitories are not the same. They exist because of circumstances.

America’s acceptance of  and participation in what I like to refer to as The Bully Culture is honestly one of the scariest things about America for me and it is something that I can’t wrap my head around – even though I have my own history as a victim of regular bullying! I always thought that this bully culture was just something that you see on TV or read about in books. I thought it was a sort of bastardised exaggeration of real life. But it’s not. In many ways, it’s a copy. It’s sort of just The American Way. And for so many people it is a terrifying and inescapable reality. I imagine that might offend so many people, but the thing is, this rampant bullying is something that is so obvious and so vile that outsiders like myself cannot help but notice it. Of course it’s not all Americans but it’s enough for it to be noticeable. The ripple effects reach all the way over here. It happens here too, senseless bullying. I imagine it happens all over the place. But no one else seems to be shooting up their schools.

There is just so much aggression!

And then more aggression is employed to combat aggression! Even people who are more socially aware are aggressive to those who are not. People make mistakes and they are lambasted instead of corrected. It’s too hard to grow when you feel like you are always on the defensive! Transgender children are committing suicide because of bullying at school and at home. Gay children as well. The media bullies celebrities on an hourly basis and calls the public over to join in on the bullying. Children, teenagers, adults: all of you somehow feel less than when your social status is not considered “high” enough. Even though we know that our differences should be celebrated – they are STILL treated as some sort of social violation. You cannot live in a society where you are constantly told that everything about you is wrong, and then not expect casualties.

If I can put it simply: Where is your empathy? 

Why are you not teaching empathy to your children?

Why are you not helping children combat bullies on the playground?

Why are you so happy to say “boys will be boys” when someone gets hurt?

Why are you not available to help children fight the battles that they cannot handle on their own?

Why are you teaching your children to hate gay people?

Why are you teaching your children to hate people of colour?

Why are you so incapable of seeing the humanity in others?

Why are you so happy to allow your child to bully another child?

Why are you making excuses for rapists?

Why are you making excuses for kids who shoot up schools?

Why is there such a huge lack of kindness in the way people treat each other?

Why are you so convinced that you are better than everybody else?

Why is the humiliation of others such a sought-after prize in American middle class society?

And if you’re not doing the humiliating, why aren’t you standing up against it?

I truly do not understand.

The bullies are using guns now. And some of the bullying victims have learned that if they want their power then they have to become the bigger bully. This is what their environment is teaching them. This is what the circumstances are creating. Is it your fault that someone shot up a school? No…it’s his fault of course. But are you ok with wondering if all the unnecessary bullying might have driven him over the edge? Are you also ok with wondering if something like this might not have been avoided if you were not so lax about letting bullies get away with the things they get away with? Should you have dated that boy who you didn’t want to date just in case he decides to shoot you and your friends? OF COURSE NOT! But you didn’t have to shame him, either. You didn’t have to run to your friends and point and laugh. You didn’t have to kick him over and over and over again. And before you yell at me about how you are under no obligation to be nice to someone who is making you uncomfortable, I know that. I do. But some of life is awkward. And there’s a difference between being unkind for the sake of unkindness and being unkind out of fear. There is an unkindness that stems from a gross sense of superiority. It is toxic. And yet somehow we think the Mean Girl trait is cute…

There are criminals who exist for no real reason. There are psychopaths and monsters and dictators in the world. There is little to nothing that we can do about them. But there are also criminals who are created on a daily basis in homes and schools across America (and across the world). Every time you take part in that bully culture you push someone toward that outer edge. Every time you teach scorn and hate and elitism there is someone learning that they are not good enough. Desperation is brewing. I’m a grown up now, and I get to live without a bully culture plaguing my daily existence, but I cannot help but notice that the same cannot be said for others. It seems that the bully culture follows them into the workplace. Into adulthood. The desperation then beings to make even more sense. Because there is a very real threat that time will offer no reprieve from a life of constant degradation.

And the saddest part? So many of us take part in this culture, not because we are bullies ourselves, but it is a survival skill that we learn. We stand by idle while a friend, or classmate, or fellow human is humiliated. We share racist propaganda online. We judge all muslims by the acts of an isolated few, yet cannot turn that same judgement on ourselves. We play along with this bully culture,  because it is how we keep from slipping to the bottom of “the pecking order”. Because no one ever told us that there doesn’t have to be a pecking order!

I very much believe that things like gang violence could be combatted by an alleviation of poverty.

In the same way I believe that these monsters who shoot might not be created if they were allowed to thrive in the kind of environment that seeks to build and not destroy. Maybe not all of the monsters. But some of them. Some of them might have been ok.

Kindness is everything.

Empathy is everything.

Charity is everything.

Standing up for those without a voice is EVERYTHING.

Think about this for a moment: Yesterday he was an idiot bragging to his friends about how he made a little girl cry. Today he is bragging to his friends about how he had sex with a girl who was passed out at a party. Tomorrow he will brag to his friends about how he plans to shoot up a school. 

You keep saying that the first part is boy will be boys. When the second part happens you’ll call it a juvenile mistake and you will shame the girl for trying to ruin his life by pressing charges.

And when the third one happens you will cry mental illness.

It’s not mental illness. At least not exclusively. It’s societal illness.

And you are the society.

You can’t point fingers at “terrorist muslims” and then take no responsibility – claiming “mental illness” – for the child killers born out of toxic hatred in your own environments.

You can’t throw a party about the idea to build a wall to “keep the migrants out” because you somehow think that it will fix things, when in your own very back yard there is a boy planning on shooting up a church service.

You can’t scorn the sexual choices of others and damn them to hell, but then be confused when a rejected member of society takes their own life.

You cannot stigmatise mental illness and then wonder why a shooter chooses to shoot instead of choosing to get help.

I was voicing similar Social Justice  type concerns with my father the other day and he is quite adamant that you can’t change people and that there is little to no point in trying. And maybe he is right. You can’t change OTHER people. But you can change yourself. Every single day you can change yourself. You can demand better of yourself. You can demand that you do your best. Always. That is a change you DO have control over. You can raise your children to be great people. You can stand up for the downtrodden, the underdogs, the poor, and all those treated as less than because they are not beautiful rich straight white thin cis-gendered people. You can do those things. And you should. You should do them every day. And you should make a thousand mistakes while you try to be better, and a thousand times you should be open to doing better next time.

Because when YOU try, then the world becomes just that little bit better. The people around you are just a little bit better off. And you can be proud of the person who looks back at you from the mirror. Don’t take part in the game that leads to these sorts of tragedies. Because it is never going to be enough that you just didn’t pull that trigger. Enough comes when the change in you inspires just one person to do a little better. How incredible to be the inspiration instead of the insult! We’ve always been told that it takes a village to raise a child. Well maybe it does. But if so, it might be that the village is broken. And it’s up to us to fix it. One self at a time.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I am just a naive idealist. Maybe in reality nothing we do matters. But on a daily basis we all happen to each other. Everything you choose to say and do happens to someone else. Every time you let a bully get away with a small bit of injustice, he learns that he has no boundaries. He is invincible. He can do whatever he wants. Every time you fail to stand up for the bullied, they learn that they are worthless. They are not worthy of love and respect and dignity. And none of those things are true!

Yet we all keep teaching each others those things.

I’d like to stop. I’ve watched for a long time. I’ve seen the damage we do to each other. Unspeakable damage that I pray I never have to experience on a more personal level than I already have. I pray the same for you.

I love America. I really do. It it the place where half of me comes from. And it also the place where so very many of my absolute favourite things in the world come from. It is a beautiful country, with so many different aspects to enjoy. New York blows my mind in that massive cosmopolitan kind of way. And then places like Maine overwhelm me with a whole other kind of beauty. America is filled with so many of my favourite artists. My favourite storytellers. It is filled with thinkers who have made ME think. It is heartbreaking to think that it is becoming a place where I will not happily take my child for fear of his wellbeing – not just his physical wellbeing but his emotional wellbeing as well. It has become clear that America is no place for the gentle. It is too sad to acknowledge that I am very much starting to feel that I may never choose America as even the most temporary of homes, for the simple reason that it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is the kind of place where far too few people ever actually feel welcome.

These monsters are being born out of the  American Dream. That dream is in danger. When you have to teach your child what to do if a gunman comes into his classroom then the dream is in danger. Maybe it is already too late for anything to change. If racism and violent homophobia are still such toxic realities in a country where “equality” has been around for a lot longer than it has been around here, then it does seem kind of hopeless when it comes to thinking that there might be something that can be done about this particular brand of violence.

And yet I still cannot for the life of me escape the feeling that even though a little bit of kindness might be a naive bandaid to place on such a gaping wound, it might be far more necessary than anyone is giving it credit for.


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Review: Mister God, This is Anna

Mister God, This is Anna
Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mister God, This is Anna is a book a bout a man who finds a little girl wandering the streets, and he takes her home. This always tickles me, because: how insane! Granted it does sort of explain itself out of that hole, and the book is set in the 1930s so it is forgivable, but still, it makes me giggle. Then again, if you pulled that kind of thing today, would anyone notice? I think it’s probably less likely than we expect.

Anyway, the book is ok, I suppose. I don’t think you need to be a believer in God to enjoy it, you simply need to be respectful of religion, I suppose. Anna is a precocious little thing who spends her days puzzling the narrator, Fynn, with intense questions and poignant observations about the world around her. It does get a bit blahblahblah in the middle, but all-in-all it is quite a sweet story.

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Review: The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling

The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling
The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling by Lawrence Block

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Over the weekend I was mock-pouting at my husband for “abandoning” me to go and run a marathon (seriously: why do folks in their 30s insist on this weird phenomenon?) and for the fact that I was up way too early on a Sunday morning because of his sudden need to sports. I then jokingly grumpy-yelled at him that he needed to go and find me a book to read and that he should be aware that the state of our relationship depended on his choice.

This is the book he brought me. I imagine it is because it was one of about 3 that he has read in my entire library.

So this book has a copyright date of 1976. Now honestly I find that quite impressive because often when I read older books, I find them filled with cliches. This is not necessarily the fault of the authors themselves, because maybe they weren’t cliches back then but they are today. Anyway – this book is quite low on the cliches and I love that becauseI personally suck at steering clear of cliches in my own writing, but am quite adept at spotting them in the work of others.

This is a fast-paced read and it’s heavy on the dialogue. Somehow it’s easy to read without being annoying, in fact sometimes it’s even quite charming with a hint of humour that doesn’t try too hard to be funny. It’s not meant to be a grand masterpiece and that’s fine. Just something easy to read over a couple of days before moving onto something a little more taxing, perhaps?

I loved the relationship between the protagonist and his sidekick. She is a lesbian, which is a subject barely tackled in the novel. I love how flippantly it is treated, like it was no biggie for those days. Then again, I suppose he is also treated as if his burglaring is no biggie, just an extension of himself. (I mean no offense in comparing homosexuality to burglaring – of course I don’t think they are the same. I am merely pointing out that these two characters were beautifully accepting of each other while never making any sort of big deal about the acceptance. It was nice. Especially out of a time when such things were far more taboo than they are now.)

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Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some books are kind of lovely when you think back on them, have you ever noticed that? It happens to me a lot. I find myself slogging through something that everyone else seems to have loved (I mean come on – this was one hella popular book at one point) and just longing to get to the end so that I can move on, and then once I’m done I kind of look back and go “hmmm that was good” and I feel all glad to have made the effort. Is that insane? I’m starting to think that maybe it is…

Anyway, The Lovely Bones is well written, of course. And the concept of it all is quite sweet. I want to rewatch the movie sometime (I remember not loving it before, but that is all I remember about it) so that I can compare the two. But I didn’t love this book. It is sad. And kind of heavy. Some folks say that it is hopeful but I didn’t feel that way about it at all. It was just heavy…

I never really know how to rate books that are good but that I didn’t enjoy. Enjoyment seems to be the point. I can understand how some might enjoy it, of course, so I can still value it’s merit. But I didn’t love it. And I think that loving it is kind of important. So my apologies for the 3 star rating, as I do feel that the book maybe deserves more. It just doesn’t deserve more from me.

Does that make sense?

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JK Rowling Makes So Much Sense

Anyone who knows me knows that JK Rowling is my queen and that I’d be the first to vote for her as world president. For one: you can tell a LOT about someone by reading their books, and she is no exception. Her heart, humour, and humanity is written all over those pages. She is so beautiful to me. She always has been.

But with this Lumos video? She’s outdone herself. I can’t stop thinking about just how much sense this makes. And I cannot fault how right she is. Thank you. Jo, for being the beautiful humanitarian that you are. We all have so much to learn from you.

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An Open Letter to The Herald & AlgoaFM

20150904_105548I am addressing this letter to the local news sources in my city, but I have to wonder if perhaps it shouldn’t be directed at all news sources in general. Today my heart is fighting between giving in to utter futility and roaring out loud with an all-consuming anger.

A while ago I stumbled upon an article in The Daily Mail about how refugees coming ashore in Greece were really making British holiday makers uncomfortable. Now I have come to expect this kind of revolting angle of reporting from The Daily Mail so the fact that they were absolute arrogant idiots about it didn’t surprise me at all, but I was nevertheless disgusted. Here were some people, who were fleeing across the ocean in search of sanctuary, and the Britons were moaning that they didn’t feel comfortable sipping cocktails while there were people loitering around and begging for food. People who were lost. Confused. Hungry. Exhausted. And crippled by a language barrier.

I thought about that for a few days and then I guess I moved on. Life, as you know, has a way of making us do that.

imagesAnother Syrian plight that gave me pause was the picture of the Syrian child with her hands up in surrender, because she thought a photographer’s camera was a gun. That image haunted me for a little longer than the idiocy of The Daily Mail and the part of the story that they weren’t telling.

And then on Wednesday night, I was milling through my Facebook timeline and I stumbled upon the photograph of a little boy washed ashore. My heart crawled into my throat. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t click on that picture and look at it properly. But I had to. Because it was damn important.

I did not sleep well on Wednesday night. In the last two days I have learned of myself that I don’t want to move on anymore. I want to move forward.

download (1)Finally, last night, after a day of stifling tears here and there, so as not to alarm my children, I gave in to the emotions that where overwhelming me and I finally sobbed myself to sleep.

I cried for almost two hours over the loss of Aylan (and Rihan) Kurdi. Their deaths mark the very essence of the lack of humanity that has our entire world in a vice grip. Their deaths remind me that I have a child capable of dying. Their deaths remind me that life is worth preserving.

The death of Aylan Kurdi has the power to shake this whole world on it’s head. The death of Aylan Kurdi has the power to give us all the wake up we so seriously need.

And yet? At the time of writing this, neither AlgoaFM nor The Herald have so much as acknowledged his existence. Or at least not enough for the story to have travelled to their Facebook pages. News24 has at least touched on the plight of the Syrians in a sort of cursory manner, but you guys?

How can you not see how important this story is? How can you put more political rubbish on the front page when THIS is happening? Your front page tells us that the  education system in South Africa is in bad shape. We already know that!

I am not usually one to bemoan the things others choose to care about. I don’t yell “Why such a fuss about a lion when there is rape?” or “Why do you care about animals when people are starving?” I get that the things that touch us are different. And I also get that caring about one thing does not mean you do not care about another.

But this? This feels like one of those things that absolutely everyone should be talking about. Everyone should be wrecked about it. And if we live in a society that is insensitive to these things, we should be reminding each other why this is so important.

So I say shame on you! You are in such a position of power. You are in a position where the choices you make and the stories you tell could actually AFFECT the lives and hearts of real people. You could play a part in increasing the softness in the world.  And today you chose to hide under the shadow of bureaucracy instead. Shame on you. I cannot accept that you are robots operating under a set of rules that barely take into consideration the true human condition, and yet today’s paper reads as if that is the case.

images (1)Today you could have been telling me about the plights of refugees in our country. You could have been telling me about where our country stands when it comes to people like the Syrians who are so desperate to find new homes. I want to know this. I want answers. I want to know if my country helps other countries because I have no idea about any of that. I want to know if there is anything I can do from right here to help those people. I want to know if I will be arrested if I happen to take a boat load of Syrian people home. The possibility of being arrested might not stop me, but I still want to know. Why aren’t you telling me?

There are people who want to help. Not just in this situation but in many situations. You could tell us how.

But the same old same old political drama is on The Herald’s  front page again today. Somehow political party versus political party is more important than the fact that our fellow humans are dying in absolute terror by the thousands. And all because they are so desperate to save their families. No. Their story has been squished into a small box on page 6. Barely a story. Where you quote…you guessed it… The Daily Mail. You don’t even mention that Cameron has given in to the pressure put on him by his people to accept more asylum seekers. The people, every day citizens like you and me, made that man change his mind. THAT IS NEWS!!

11059706_975219615862804_1468637924916160380_nIn case you don’t know why is it news, I am going to tell you: We the people understand families. We understand people. We understand love and fear and pain.

So please, for humanity’s sake, when there are children washing up on the beaches of this world, choose them. Choose them even though you think people will not care. Choose them even though you think that pictures of dead children will upset people. The people need  to be upset. The people need to cry. And we need to care.

Because we are all people. We are all capable of putting ourselves in the shoes of someone else.

And it’s about damn time that we actually did it.



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Little Boy

CN6lhVfVAAAuCtHI dreamt of you in the night

Though this mourning’s haunt is harder

My heart crushed for you and your father

Your lost mother, and brother


And my thoughts keep going back to the same place

If only he had died too

Because, your dear brave father…

…now he has to live without you


I have one like you, too

He’s a little older, though I haven’t noticed yet

I still think he’s three, not seven

And he’s been my heaven for longer than that


So a part of me has died today,

Searching for your soul

Because I know your father, left behind,

Could never hope to be whole


I hope that there is a God to meet you

Someone to calm you, and keep you

On the other side of all this…

Some form of bliss


And I hope that in your heaven

There are greater rewards

For little boys lost

In old men’s wars


And when I am a little older

When I have done my time

I hope that there are hugs in your heaven

Because I’d like to give you one of mine

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Springing Forward

Photo on 2015-09-01 at 9.14 PMI had one “plan” for Spring Day today: see if my razor is capable of navigating through the forrest that I have been growing all over my body. Of course, that didn’t happen because it’s too damn cold today and I’m pretty sure all that fuzz is actually keeping me warmer than usual. Instead of the evening with my usual – tv/ipadding/tea – I found myself on Google, investigating costs for trips – sans tv! I reckon it’s time to plan a new adventure, even if I can’t take it anytime soon. I imagine that it is in all the not planning that all these things that we want to happen don’t. If that doesn’t sound particularly profound it is because it isn’t. And yet? Well…and yet the plans are hardly ever made because we’re always waiting for one bloody thing or another. Bugger it. My head is too buzzy for waiting. And so I’m making plans and checking out hotel prices and silly things like that.

But  even though I’m in the very dreamy stages of planning right now, what I want to know is:

Where are the weird places to go? The quaint and quirky and wonderful?

Where is the most interesting place you have ever been?

I’m thinking of Prague.

I’m thinking of Cambodia.

I’m thinking of Bhutan.

I’m thinking of Nepal.

I’m thinking of Colombia.

I’m thinking of Italy.

I’m thinking of Iceland.

Where are you thinking of?

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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?