Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hair-raising stuff

I’m sure that at some stage of your life you have had the (unwelcome) pleasure of reading a puberty book. I’m not talking about the nicer ones available such as Babette Cole’s ‘Hair in funny places’. On the contrary, I’m talking about the kind that made you squirm as a child. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have never come across anything such as this, let me give you the just of it –

1. Awkward pictures that make you gawk
2. Descriptions that make you cringe
3. Concepts that are inwardly hilarious (I’m going to get hair WHERE?)

Right, great observation but where am I going with this? Today while I was working feverishly on a number of varsity assignments, I had the misfortune of hitting writer’s block mid topic of a very important essay. Looking down at my hands, willing them to continue typing, I noticed a hair; one single ‘too-long-and-too-dark-for-a-hair-situated-on-my-finger’ kind of hair. I moved to brush it away in a sort of ‘Gross, that-does-NOT-belong-to-me’ motion, only to find that it didn’t budge. Hence my next reaction was to pull at it, only to find myself yelping out in pain.

The hair belonged to me. I took a closer look; the lengthy black hair was in fact contributing to a furry pelt covering that bit of skin between the knuckles of my finger! Correction, fingers! Perhaps to provide you with an understanding of my shock, I am of fair complexion and also of fair hair colour. Dark body hair is not something I have too much of.

My point is this: we are prepared ardently by our mothers (usually) for the weird bodily functions of puberty but WHO is supposed to be there to prepare us for the weird bodily functions of the elderly (read ‘eighteen and anything up’) and at WHAT stage does this person present themselves. I have black knuckle, or something, hair. Help me!

Ear hair, nose hair, chin hair, lip hair; as adults we get hair in funny places. Where’s our picture book? In the mean time, I guess we do what we can. We invest in hair removal crème, nose hair trimmers, facial wax strips and we adopt an ‘as it comes’ approach. As for me, I am amused by the fact that the body changes continuously and I appreciate that the best way to deal with these kinds of changes is a hands-on approach; I Veeted those dark tresses outahere.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We are what we do

They cook to eat, to sustain themselves.
You cook with passion, to experience flavours and savour the tastes of the world.
You are a chef.

They run to maintain their fitness levels, to watch their weight.
You run to feel the road beneath your feet, to feel the hard-earned sweat on your back.
You are an athlete.

They dress in what society tells them.
You dress to express yourself, to show appreciation of colour and textures.
You are a stylist.

They sing under their breath, to pass the time.
You sing at the top of your lungs because you feel the music, you believe the words.
You are a vocalist.

They seek medical advice at the sight of a scratch.
You hug tears away because you know the healing power of support.
You are a doctor.

They drive to travel from destination ‘A’ to destination ‘B’.
You drive for the wind in your hair, darting from lane to lane, tunes playing.
You are a rally driver.

They plod along, disinterested.
You walk with purpose; your eyes open to new things, different things; the world around you.
You are an explorer.

They are restricted by mental barriers and the pressures of others.
You let your mind flow freely into space; it’s where the best ideas come from.
You are an astronaut.

They are what others tell them to be.
You are what you do, what ever you want to be.
I am a product of myself.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Coffee cliché

Last night myself and a few friends went out for a late night, relatively expensive, Cafe Chameleons coffee and Mississippi mudpie. Dangerous stuff but very much worth the trip; a very Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City event. What saved us from this terrible Sex in the City association was that we dragged the boys along (very little dragging...Chocolate mudpie is always a great incentive).

The place was quiet, relatively few tables occupied, yet we were placed next to a very rowdy table of twelve; a bachelorette party. There was much of the usual, the clinking of champagne glasses, bursts of untimely laughter, sing-songs and the like. I couldn’t help but look over approximately one hundred times in the short space it took our delectables to arrive. Everyone around that table was having so much fun; secretive chatter between bridesmaids, the ongoing enticement from the bride-to-be’s mother of all that was still to come for the evening and of course, the glowing blush of the bride every few seconds (BTW this is not a love-blog). It was, in all its pink-and-glitter fabulous(ness), a spirited and warm-hearted event.

We got down to our yummies and subsequently my friend and I needed to take a short bathroom break. A long story short, we bumped into the bride-to-be and her mother in the bathroom. A really fun pair, they told us about the list of tasks to be completed by the end of the evening. They were looking for two young guys they could palm phone numbers off of. We offered the services of our table for the evening (and watched from behind a wall, the reaction of our boyfriends when approached by the bride-to-be and her bridesmaid).

It was all in good fun and the girls-only bridal party were grateful for it, especially when considering another table were approached shortly after ours and the bride-to-be was told to, and I quote, ‘piss off’. They finished off their evening with several rounds of strawberry liqueur while we ended ours with a table underwater as my dear friend landed his full glass of H20 all over the tables. In cleaning up and calling for the bill, imagine our surprise when the mother of the bride-to-be came over and said quite simply, ‘you guys were such great sports, I’m picking up your tab’. Uhr, THANK YOU!

The moral of the story is: Karma exists, spontaneity is often rewarded and most importantly, being genuinely nice without the expectation of something in return will bring you happiness, participation in life and free coffee. We were doubly rewarded when the mother told us girls as we were leaving, ‘the boys were only willing to dish out their details when told that their girlfriends were in on the event’. Cute (sigh...perhaps this is a love-blog).

We are afraid of the wrong things

Consider the statement ‘We are afraid of the wrong things’.
Well, that would depend on what it is that you are afraid of. Personally I fear being a victim of crime, of disappointing people who are important to me and not succeeding.

Although my string of fears are perhaps the wrong things to be afraid of, fear in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Fear keeps you cautious. Sometimes it keeps you motivated. It can even keep you safe. How would one determine a valid fear and what is the difference between the right and wrong fears? In my opinion, a valid fear is one that holds consequence. For example:

‘I’m worried that I can’t pay rent this month’ – valid fear

‘I’m scared to lose my child to this disease/virus’ – valid fear

Our fears are motivated by results. They are also motivated by our doubts. You can’t pay rent? Well then, you’ll just have to find somewhere else to live. You don’t have a deposit or the finances to do that? Well then, on the street you go. Your child or a loved one is deathly ill? You might lose him/her.

On the other hand, fears that are created out of irrational worry are often invalid fears. In some cases, people’s fears develop into phobias. Phobias, however unreasonable, can consume a person, leaving them with anxiety disorders and the inability to lead a normal life. It is my opinion that in a case such as this, most fears are invalid. For example:

Allodoxaphobia- Fear of opinions. (Well now...)

Anablephobia- Fear of looking up. (At what?)

Chromophobia or Chromatophobia- Fear of colours. (Tell that to a person robbed of his/her sight)

Deipnophobia- Fear of dining or dinner conversations. (You must be boring then – read a book)

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words. (Of course it is)

Levophobia- Fear of things to the left side of the body. (???)

Syngenesophobia- Fear of relatives. (Hmmm, perhaps this one I understand)

The point is, we could be afraid of everything everyday but where would that get us? Four padded white walls and imaginary friends (the kind that don’t carry germs and disease, don’t allow for emotional hurt, don’t expect us to push our limits... oh boy, can’t wait!)

Ultimately, however valid a fear may be, it is reasonable to consider that the world does go on. You will heal, in time. Your situation may improve, in time.

So perhaps next time we come across something that is slightly scary, something that strips us from our comfort zones, let’s put it into perspective: will this activity result in 1) my death, 2) permanent physical harm, 3) the end of the world?
If this doesn’t work, you can find comfort in the fact that you are not the worst off when it comes to being afraid. Yes, you may be overly cautious and a nervous wreck but you will work through your fear in the end. It could be worse; some people are afraid of themselves!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fish falling from the sky

Fish falling from the sky? Really?

You would think not but in fact fish have been reported as falling from the sky on more than one occasion. Over the years, fish of all shapes and sizes have catapulted their way down to earth from the heavens.

Falling fish seem to be the result of severe storms and tornadoes, although this has yet to be proven. It is said that strong winds pick up the fish and the fish are subsequently carried, sometimes kilometers from where they were originally picked up, overland to where they become the surprising result of fish falling from the sky.

But don’t hold your breath because this intriguing occurrence is not limited to fish. It encompasses a wide range of weird things, those including frogs and toads, squids, worms, periwinkles and hermit crabs, lizards and birds. Alligators too, although you would have to live in America’s deep South to experience this kind of rainfall.

My personal favourite took place in Naphlion, Greece, in 1981 where residents of this small town woke up to find small green frogs falling from the sky. Not particularly different to most bizarre rain experiences, what sets this story aside from the rest is that the frogs falling in Greece were native to North Africa.

The question yet to be answered, or perhaps proven, is how these animals found themselves falling from the sky. Is this paranormal experience one that can be factually defined? This, of course, is open to interpretation. What may come in handy is to consider what you would do if you found yourself amidst a reptile rain encounter. Perhaps think twice before you define the next shower you find yourself in as ‘raining cats and dogs’. You just might get what you wish for.

My apologies...

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness - Robert Muller

People talk about those ‘three difficult words’, ‘I love you’. Then there are others, such as ‘thank you’, ‘good-bye’ and ‘it’s my fault’. The most difficult words to say however include merely two little, itty-bitty, enormously effective words – ‘I’m sorry’.

You all know what I am talking about. No one is perfect. We are all in fact human and sometimes we all – yes, we all – make mistakes. What is important is how we choose to pick ourselves up from our mistakes, but this is by no means a small task. What sounds simple enough has the flesh of grown men breaking into rash.

Oh yes, you were wrong. You’re not as wonderful as you think you are.

This realisation may turn your road to error-recovery from difficult, to extremely complicated.

So, what to do? The first step is realising that you have made a mistake. Sometimes it may take a while for you to realise that the mistake is yours and when you do, I promise it is going to make your stomach curl. Once you have admitted your mistake to yourself, its time to tell those who were effected by your mistake that you are sorry. Apologising to the people hurt or affected is the first step; you are aware of your mistake and you are sorry. Try it out. ‘I’m sorry’.

It’s not as difficult as it seems. It isn’t even as remotely complicated as you would like to think. Putting these two short words into your vocabulary regularly, means that you have overcome your fear of your being wrong.

‘I’m sorry’ will make you feel better. It will help you heal. The best part is that it will help the person you have hurt to heal too. Whether your mistake is one with friends, business colleagues, a loved one or something in practice that you have blotched up, just say sorry. Don’t be afraid. Taking this big step will reward you with the best prize of all, those ‘three difficult words’, ‘I forgive you’.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What is the colour of the wind?

If someone asked you what colour is the wind, what would you say?
Would you answer quite seriously, ‘It’s see-through, transparent, with a few bits here and there of whatever it has picked up’ or would you know that there is more to it than that?

To feel the wind, paying little heed to it other than its inconvenience or perfect timing, means little, but to consider it and see its colour move and curl around you…well, your opportunity for paramount experiences are unlimited. Yes I’ll admit it is a little bit ‘hippy’, but try it. Stand still, you can feel it. Don’t close your eyes, that won’t do. Open them; you can see it. It’s social, political, caring. It’s moody and sensitive. It’s emotional and it is all for you.

A deep red the day of the Soweto uprising, pure white the day the Berlin wall came down. It blew red, blue, green, white, black and gold, colours of a new tomorrow, a new South Africa, the day Nelson Mandela left the gates a free man.
It blows a soft yellow for those who are content, a warm apricot that rustles the leaves. It’s aquamarine to cool a hot day. It blows black as the eye of a storm when it is restless, and hazy grey when it is tired. It’s sapphire green when all is at peace.

It blows magenta for fun and cobalt blue coming off of the sea. Purple and teal, dramatic and bold, for the days it chooses to dance. It’s electrified and bright every time an artist takes the stage; it’s somber and moody shades for string musicians.
It’s a silver tinge beating against your window as you sit at the mantle, watching the rain and sleet. It’s taupe breezing through the trees. It blows fiery red for those hurt and unprotected and it’s dark blue for those who are in mourning.

Feel it, as you stand there. See it whip around you in colourful hues. The wind is alive with emotion; open your mind. It’s whirling around you, inquisitive and curios. It feels all for you. It wants you to see. Open your eyes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

FIFA fever Cape Town

It’s here and it’s pumping. It’s pulsing through the heart of every Capetonian, every South African. From Gugulethu to Kommetjie, from Somerset West to Cape Town city centre, it’s here people, it is here! FIFA fever is rushing through the streets and it’s getting faster, it’s getting bigger, it’s getting stronger. It’s on the mind of everyone around the world today; 100 days to go… 2010.

The time for famous Cape Town cynicism is over. The FIFA World Cup is upon us no matter your view of the supposed outcome. With an airport upgrade, a renovated Cape Town station, the introduction of the Integrated Rapid Transit Station, if you’re not in it for the soccer, you can at least support how it has developed and improved our city, our country.

Throw away your ‘what if’s’, set aside your doubts. Leave behind your negativity, your sarcasm and uncertainties. Grab a Vuvuzela, put on your Makaraba. The 68 000-seat Cape Town stadium is calling your name. It’s here and Cape Town is ready. We are united and we are welcoming.

Photograph by Alistair Fyfe