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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Written all over your Face

Fulgurite: natural hollow glass tubes formed in quartzose sand, silica, or soil by lightning strikes
My Dad has a few phrases that come up often in conversation. My sisters and I always giggle at the “You know, just down the road there are people starving….” speech that used to repeat every night at the dinner table. One that I have fallen in love with is “Life is about short queues and long stories.” – Just love that. And another one I’m a big fan of is the “you’re a student at the University of Life” line, as nothing could be more relevant to me right now.
In the short space of a few weeks, this little actress/award-winning-writer-in-the-making has been schooled. Working in a PR position, I’ve been channelling my inner Samantha Jones like it’s no one’s business, well except mine obviously. My mouth has been swirling with words I only have a basic understanding of while my mind secretly plays catch up – advertorials and loading databases onto Everlytic and WTF is a CONTRA? Street pole ads and street posters, huge difference apparently. At times I find myself nodding, smiling and having a dialogue inside my head that goes something like Thank fuck for Google or I’m a goner. According to Wikipedia - Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public. So in short, I am responsible for churning facts into poetry, making marketing magically transform into engaging conversations, giving my peeps a voice, a stance and a relatable personality. Queue uplifting superhero music, queue fan blowing cape in the air. Annnnd, cut!
Now one thing I know for sure is that everything happens exactly as it should and that there are reasons that I will only understand in retrospect for why I am at this place, taking this little detour, on my path to greatness. One of these reasons is most definitely Akanich, the little sprite that sits diagonally from my cubicle. In a place where I sometimes feel like an illegal alien, a newbie who knows nothing – she is a kindred spirit. This morning, before I had even taken a sip of my compulsory cappuccino (or as I like to call it, personality juice), we had a conversation about public perception and the walking adverts that we inevitably have become.
Carly: I feel really guilty when I have nothing to do at work. I can’t even go on Facebook because I feel like I should be doing something more constructive.
Akanich: Facebook? Don’t you mean Boastbook? There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel a little smaller in my skin after checking my Facebook. I’m a glass half empty kind of person.
Carly: Me too!
Akanich: There’s too much ambition in me for my own good.
Carly: Shut-up me too.
Akanich: It’s a curse.
Carly: It REALLY is.
Akanich: I always feel I should be doing more…
Carly: Being more…
Akanich: Pushing more…
Carly: And when you see a status that goes something like: “My life is perfect, in EVERY way” you kind of want to kill yourself.
Akanich: That’s if the wedding albums and party pictures don’t get you first.
Carly: And the stupid thing is that I’m actually proud of my life
Akanich: I’ve done so much to be proud of, and yet I can’t appreciate it.
Carly: Always looking forward, never in the moment
Akanich: Exactly!
 Even as I type these words, I wonder how many people would say that I had it all going on – if only they knew what a disaster I am most of the time. A beautiful disaster;  kinda like when lightning strikes the sand and makes glass… like a weird, awkward, accidentally beautiful, fragile disaster. You can put that in my obituary. And my funeral song will be something awesome and indie like The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition, or just totally out there like Flo Rider ft Sia – Wild One.
As I scroll through my newsfeed, I start to wonder about where the responsibility lies for our own PR. Who puts forward the best of us and pretty’s up the worst? Who decides what we show to the world or to a targeted demographic on our friends list, and what we conceal underneath smiles and retweeted Simon and Garfunkel lyrics? How do we find the balance between our synthetic selves and the realness that lies just underneath that? Balance is a bitch.
I’d like to think that we are all in charge of a metaphorical profile picture, that the world has unlimited access to – but that’s just the problem. The world. The world has a whole shpeel to say about where we should be in our Timeline, what our profile should read and how we should think and feel about EVERYTHING. And sometimes, well it’s just super hard to stand out and be a revolutionary leader who says: Screw the world. This, is me. Faulty, fabulous and sometimes fucked up, me.
Almost 1 month into my new job and I’ve learnt a valuable lesson about the representation we give ourselves on any platform – online, in line, to our friends, to our foes, reporting on our extraordinary achievements and our most dismal failures. Ask yourself; do you want to be sold as a Verimark Advert? A flawless, no fail, one dimensional pitch that finds itself lost at the back of a throw away cupboard or junk mailbox? Or do you want to people to read your press release and think; damn, I wish I could be so bold, so brave, so outstanding to say that I am a human being, not impermeable to hurt or error but withstanding all of life’s challenges, doing my very best.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

Dr. Seuss

Friday, 25 January 2013

One of The Boys

There are just some things that are so infuriating to a woman that they can quite easily bring on sporadic and early on-set PMS. The sales lady who recommends a bigger size or that (even worse) won’t let you even TRY on something because she’s afraid you’ll damage or stretch it – I believe they save a special place in hell for this particular parasite. Or the eedjut who shakes his glass when it’s empty expecting that, because you have boobs, you should jump up and refill his drink like a 1950’s housewife hosting a cocktail party for her husband’s business associates.  It’s 2013 blokes, are you serious?
I’m not really too concerned with these twats, why? Because they are just that – big, ignorant twats. And there’s not a whole lot to debate on the topic. What has really been tweaking my melon, is a topic that gets tempers flaring at dinner tables around the world, and you needn’t go much further than your driveway to play subject in this war of the sexes. Man vs Woman on the road is an ongoing argument that can get more heated than a World Summit on climate change.
Firstly I’d like to open the floor with my very biased female opinion. The way I see things is that woman and men are very different sensory creatures, cavorting on completely different wavelengths at times. I’m no behavioural expert but from what I’ve read in countless books and experienced in real life, men tend to see a more direct bigger picture while woman take their time colouring in the details and immersing themselves in the process. Obviously I’m generalising. While I think men are far more gung ho, making them reckless and impulsive on our roads, I think woman can be equally measured in their tendency for careless and indecisive driving behaviour. While way more men wrap their cars around poles and end up with ridiculous speeding fines, a woman’s car is inevitably scratched and dinged with half her wardrobe in the boot. See? We’re just different. Not better or worse, just plain old different.
We also VIEW things differently. My car is but an extension of my closet that plays nice music and gets my where I need to be. I don’t care about how fast it can go or what mags (Is that even the right word? Case in point) it’s got on. I couldn’t care less… I care about it fulfilling its function and complimenting my image. A man’s car is an extension of his autonomy, it’s his beast and it’s a fast and powerful representation of his testosterone levels. 
In my research for this article I noticed a parallelled opinion with what I’ve always thought. In terms of major traffic offences and fines, men take the cake. But in terms of fender benders and minor offences – woman are more to blame. Woman are far more emotional in their driving, taking a passive aggressive stance to road conflict whereas men deal more directly with these kinds of problems. What does this mean? It means us woman slam on our hooters and scream profanities behind the safety of our wind shields, a lot. Which let’s face it, is not conducive to healthy road behaviour. Nor is the amount of people testing positive for alcohol at road blocks - women representing 42% compared to 58% among men according to the SADD (South Africans Against Drunk Driving) website.
I can only find one thing that we all have in common across the board - everyone thinks that they (their race, their gender, their age) are the best category of drivers on our roads and that they can tell you countless stories to prove their argument. In my opinion, there are only two categories – not male vs female, boer vs blackie, toppie vs lightie or BMW vs Merc… There are just drivers vs KAK drivers, and really that could be anyone. It could even be you, dare I say.
So instead of talking about how shit woman are behind the wheel or shooting off statistics about how insurance companies have the highest premium for men… go to your iTunes, compile a driving playlist that you can sing along to (Something with some Billy Joel, Alanis Morrisette and Jack Johnston), burn it onto a CD, wind your window down and GET OVER IT. In our life times we are ALL going to be the dumbass who reversed into a tree or the boitjie who thought it was real clever to start a car chase with the metro cops - in the bigger scheme of things I’d like to think it depends more on the person behind the wheel than the X and Y chromosomes in his/her DNA.
On a lighter note:
Ah, there’s the rub
It’s January and if you’re not starting a new job you’re going back to an old one (what’s worse?). The decadence of December is long gone and in its place are those buggers you run away from at the start of the festive season, the worst culprit being: Stress. I found this great step by step guide on giving a sensational foot massage on the web. Never mind prezzies, the thing to give your girl in Jan is a KILLER foot massage after a long day at the office.
Keeping it low key
It’s happened again. You’re entire January entertainment budget was blown entering 2013, your liver literally quivers at the very thought of going on a bender and you’ve only JUST gotten your head around the idea of being in a routine again. So I have the perfect couple outing solution! Every Wednesday at The Bioscope is Mystery Movie night where they screen old classics. Tickets? There are no tickets. Buy anything from Chalkboard, the spot next door, and get free access into the film. Reserve your space by buying a pizza online via the ticketing system. How cool? I’ve gotta try this out.
Between the Sheets in Jan
DO something new. Anything. If you’ve never blindfolded your betty, give it a bash. If you’re dying to talk dirty, make it happen. Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself in the bedroom! It’s a new year dammit!
DON’T lose your holiday spontaneity, remember a few weeks ago when you were at it like rabbits? No one expects things to stay the same, routine is inevitable... but you don't have to bring it into to the bedroom.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

All That Glitters is New

I’d had the idea in my head since months ago when  I’d seen a pair on sale at one of my favourite shops in Melville. I’d been looking for some kind of accolade to celebrate the end of a year of massive changes and I couldn’t think of a better way than to strut into 2013 in a new pair of Vivienne Westwood’s. After all, no one is going to throw you a “Congrats on your Career Change” party but you.  I walked into one of the only stockist shops in Jozi and immediately smelt the scent of these cute bright plastic shoes – I can only really compare it to that of My Little Ponies, candyfloss, sugar, spice and all things nice. As I slipped my foot into the first heart shaped heel, I couldn’t help but feel a little Cinderella-ish… this is why I just had to take two pairs.

Earlier that week I’d gotten a job offer, the first with any real appeal since my rigorous search had begun, 4 months ago. Initially I had applied for a journalist position at a film trade publication, but was offered a contract as a PR manager instead. It was time for me to jump in and start swimming, even if I wasn’t sure of what kind of water I was in and where it would take me. So I said, yes – please and thank you.
I’ve always approached anything new the way a cat would interact with a swimming pool. Nose cautiously turned up, paw outstretched for the testing and then a shake and shimmy away and back to the comfort of what is known and safe. And to be completely honest, I’m still not sold on this whole concept of unchartered territory. Change is a good thing – oh yeah? You go first.
In my mind I’d had enough brand spanking newness to cause a severe headspin – starting with a move from my city apartment to a quaint lofty townhouse. My new digs is delightful, let’s not kid ourselves, but the dying herbs on my windowsill continuously remind me that change is indeed a process and that I’m not entirely as acclimatized as I would like to be. My little house is still a way away from becoming a home.
What is that again? I guess it’s comfortable normality, it’s routine, it’s your toothbrush, it’s where you go to just be you and walk around barefoot or bare arsed at your own leisure. And home, for me, has become wherever he is.
Just over 7 months ago I found myself standing on the platform of a new adventure – my hands trembling and my heart pounding. I jumped off the edge and plummeted into a new wonderful world where I find myself constantly smiling. And somehow, what started as giddy excitement and girlish intrigue has become a soft place for me to fall. A home for all the love I have been holding so close to me. While the swarms of butterflies have pretty much taken on permanent residential status in my solar plexus, the buzz of newness in a relationship has quietened and I can’t help but get excited about all the new things to come… all the new chapters in our story.
For the first time, in what feels like a lifetime, my alarm went off at 06:45 this morning. I lay in bed thinking about all the things I have to replan and repurpose. A new gym schedule, a new way to dress every day, a new route through traffic, a new collection of people in my creative workspace. Just as I pressed “dismiss” and prepared to get out of bed, I was pulled back deep under the covers for 5 more minutes of eyelash kisses and warm assurance.
My Guy: Everything is going to be ok, I’m proud of you CTB.
And I believe him.
You may be thinking: Girl, are you fo’ real? And think it’s impossible to have a relationship that feels like a constant romantic comedy montage sequence. But I am. And I do.
I put on my pink and ruby Viv Wests and watched as they glistened in the natural sunlight coming in through my bedroom window.  Even though they feel comfortable – I’m no high heel rookie. Though I’m sporting jelly soft plastic and a half height heel, in time I know I will have to endure blisters, heel ache and tired soles. I’ll have to break em in like a wild horse until they remember the shape of my foot and how to case it. But today, on the grown up equivalent to a 1st day of school, I’ve made the decision to do it all despite the risk.
Leaving the house, I felt a sudden ca-thump right in my stomach – the kind that makes you want to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. I wanted to retreat and resign myself to the life of a cocktail waitress, but just before I did he gave me one last kiss on the head and said “You’re going to be wonderful”. And in that moment I looked at the best risk I ever took and decided I had all the bravery in the world. I guess if you want to rise above where you are, you’ll pay the price – but who wants to play safe with your heart? Or anything else for that matter.