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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

2015 – Can you dig?

This little last stretch to the end of the year is always a time of reflection and contemplation for me. While things start to wind down at work and my search engine history fills with holiday recipes, Pin-spiration pics and TED talks I’m already day dreaming about all the projects and goals I am going to set in motion next year. You might be thinking NERD ALERT, and a part of me doesn’t blame you – what’s life without a little spontaneity, surprise and serendipity? But in my experience if you can plot a few points on the map and let yourself detour and dance as you pass through them, you’ll be able to stay focused on what it is you really want from the year ahead. We sometimes forget about those things and then wham, its November and you haven’t even started on that novel/renovation project/ fitness plan/ meditation course.

Here’s how I think you can – as Bob Marley puts it – Lively Up Yourself for an epic 2015, you dig?

 1. That rush of enthusiasm you feel at the start of the New Year is going to make you feel bullet-proof and unstoppable which is both a good and bad thing. Good because it lights a spark under your bum to make you take that initial acknowledgement of a dream or goal but bad because that same spark can jet set you off into an unrealistic universe where you are doomed for failure. Keep Calm and wait a moment before you sign yourself up for a giant let-down. Take the time to really think about what it is you want and realise you are not superman/woman – you can’t do it all in one whiz.

2. Sometimes when you are climbing what feels like the Everest of accomplishments, you need lots of praise and encouragement to help you along the way. Lots of affirmation and pats on the back will help to propel you forward, so among those challenging goals that require a lot of your time, energy, skill, blood, sweat, tears, mental strength and focus; chuck in a few that are fun, silly and easy. You’ll look forward to doing them and once you’ve achieved them you’ll be super amped to nail another one. This goal stuff doesn’t always have to be boring and serious. For example, one of my goals in 2012 was to do something that scared me. Another one was to hang up all the pictures in my flat. This year I wanted to challenge myself by baking something intermediate (because I’m not a baker). They are the kind of things that you can do and feel proud of but also, not get too caught up about. 

3. I think when you put energy and creativity into something it becomes more alive and real to you. Maybe your resolutions are on a board on Pinterest? Maybe they are scrap-booked with magazine clippings? Maybe they are painted on a canvass or woven into lyrics of a song? Whatever inspires you, give your list it some no-rules no-holds-barred creativity and you’ll up the ante on your motivation and follow through. 

4. Denial is a sneaky and ugly thing – so don’t give it a slither of opportunity to throw you off course. Put that list somewhere where you’ll see it every day. Look at it, go over it, tick things off as you go. Don’t let it get dusty and forgotten, stashed somewhere in that multipurpose drawer each one of us has. 

5. You are your worst enemy and your harshest critic. So maybe you don’t execute something exactly how you wanted to. Maybe you don’t get through every little thing in one year (it’s actually a really short space of time if you think about it?). Maybe you reach your goals but not exactly in the way you expect. Cut yourself some slack, don’t fight the flow and allow yourself to be a normal person. Spontaneity, surprise and serendipity remember?

6. Find yourself an anthem to blast in the car on the way to work/ set as your alarm or ringtone/ put onto all of your iTunes playlists. Something that reminds you why you are doing what you are doing. Whether it’s of the Britney variety (You better work bitch!), something old school and cheery (Jimmy Cliff - You Can Get It If You Really Want) or something that inspires middle-finger motivation (NIN – Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me), a tune can ignite those can-do-emotions like nothing else. 

7. My last point is inspired by a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love which I think speaks for itself:

“There's a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, "Dear saint-please, please, please...give me the grace to win the lottery." This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, "My son-please, please, a ticket."

So for all of my readers: I wish you a crazy, marvelous 2015 and I urge you all to go out and courageously buy lottery tickets so you can start cashing in on your dreams.

Monday, 24 November 2014

How’d we get here?

I started this blog close to four years ago (I can’t believe) as a 20-something trapezing between parties, romantic misadventures and coping mechanisms for life, sex, love, friendships and what it means to have this lame thing called a job. From where I stand now, only months away from the big three zero, my definition of Heelz and Hangovers has gone from being very literal to much more metaphorical. Instead of cocktail recipes and the best Martini offerings, I find myself reflecting on the things that lift me up in life, what it means to be Drunk in Love as Queen B puts it, and peaks that blip on my life flowchart. Headlines which used to centre around babalas, heartbreak and my insights into what men don’t get about us gals have now shifted to things that make me hammock in the dips of that very same graph. Things that make me go “hmm” or “have you ever!” Who would have thought I’d be chatting to you, my readers, about things like politics and our economy! Goodness gracious, I think I might have grown up just a smidgen.

I’m going to add to that list of grown up things today by sharing my thoughts on something I’m surprised I don’t see and read about more often. It’s been tweaking my melon for ages, and leaking into my relationships and friendships for quite some time.

I never realised what a feminist I was until this year I think – and when I say feminist, please don’t get the wrong idea. I’m no man-hater – I’m a man loverrrr. I’m no hardcore iron lady burning my bra – what silly girl would do that? Bras are downright pricey, and way too pretty for pyrotechnics. Of course the symbolic act had its place all those years ago when woman were seriously underestimated and undervalued as human beings. All you need to do is have a look at one of those 1960’s advertising memes (much like the one at the top of this post) which encourages wife beating or vacuum cleaners as a perfect birthday gift idea to know that the times they have a-changed. Woman, I feel, are no longer seen as subordinate in the workplace or in any other realm. You might argue that we still earn less, have fewer managerial positions and struggle with how the media portrays our complexities (or the lack thereof according to shows like The Real Housewives) but I think it’s become common knowledge that we are capable of most things that a man is, and this is good news.

But while we are celebrating our newly attained power and respect, there’s a kind of backlash that’s happening - a sketchy gear change in this monumental transition which is making a lot of people very uncomfortable. While we are conquering the world, heading our households, raising children and more easily climbing the ladder to our own personal dreams and goals, our boyfriends, husbands and brothers are quietly wondering where they fit in. For a species that notoriously needs to feel needed, like they have a purpose and an equally important role to play in the family unit, these are tricky times.

Looking around at my female peers (many of whom support their partners financially), this identity crisis has rippled into many aspects of a man’s va-va-voom. How’s a guy supposed to push you up against a wall, rip your clothes of and take you like Hercules if he’s feeling as strong and powerful as a wilted sunflower? How does he look after you, like his father and his father’s father most likely did for his mother, when you are more than capable of looking after yourself? How does he parade like a peacock, when your feathers have become brighter and far more beautiful? Well, any girl reading this will want to list a hundred ways in which she needs her man, and another hundred for all the things she appreciates about him. Any girl will tell you she would never think less of a man who was a househusband, as long as he was able to pull his weight in the running of the family, much like her mother, and her mother’s mother did for her father. But these same girls are all single, sitting in an upmarket bar in power suits and Christian Louboutins, hoping like hell they don’t scare off any potential partners. Or they are in relationships feeling helplessly torn between the confident, proud and powerful woman they are and the one which makes their male counterpart feel better about his own self-esteem and self-worth.

I so wish that perceptions shifted as quickly as we’d like, that adaptation and evolution was programmed to roll out seamlessly in our society and that we were all brave enough to have these conversations with each other and ourselves. Something tells me that there would be a resounding sigh of relief echoing from across the sexes. Alas, we are a far cry from any kind of closure and a long way from truly understanding and appreciating this totem pole shuffle.

I don’t have the answers I’m afraid, I’m still trying to get my head around unisex bathrooms and saunas - some things just shouldn’t change! But they do, and they will forever and ever. It’s about how we embrace that change, how we absorb the sometimes hard compromises, how we allow ourselves to be defined by different things without maximum resistance and how we drive out double-standards. For me it all comes down to empathy and the willingness to walk tall in someone else’s Heelz, or perhaps suffer simultaneously in another person’s Hangover.  


Monday, 20 October 2014

Lessons from a pot of curry

In my previous blog about the benefits of struggle, I referenced the tumultuous relationship I have had with making curry. It’s been a particularly sore point for me, because in a past life I was an Indian goddess with 10 doting husbands and a multi-coloured pet elephant (a girl can dream can’t she?). My real-life travels to India in 2012 awakened my spirit and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t draw some inspiration, wisdom or reflection from that life-changing journey.

When I returned home, one of the things I was most excited about – besides my Hindi chanting CD which is still gathering dust somewhere in my cupboard, and pile of fabric I’ve since turned into scatter cushions - was reliving those special moments through cooking some of the unbelievable Indian food I had indulged in. Melt-in-your-mouth dahl, creamy kidney bean curry, oooh-my-gosh mushroom rogan josh, tikka tofu, paneer koftas, pickled peaches, chapatti’s… my heart swoons just thinking about it!

I tried – a little aloo matter here, a little pistachio korma there – but nothing. It all just tasted like a cheap impression of something else. The Kim K of culinary – one dimensional and quite unspectacular. So I gave up, and went back to a plethora of mac n cheese, soups and salads.

Almost 3 years later, I returned to the mortar and pestle, mostly out of necessity. Sitting on my kitchen windowsill were all the spices a curry cook could ask for. Mementoes of my past failed attempts that glared down on me as I had reached for the oregano and Italian spice mix. Curry is a cuisine that stretches – budgets and plates. The prospect of relatively cheap ingredients (especially for a veggie like me) that feed for days had lured me back to face my nom-nom nemesis.

This time, when I got stuck in my intentions were different and as if whispered to me by the Himalyan mountains (in the voice of my part-time guru Mr. Prakesh obviously), the curry spoke to me.

It said:

  • Do not rush, for patience is part of the process. Each ingredient, each grain of spice, must have its moment to temper and mature.
  • Work from a place of love – love each chopped onion bit, allow each shard of cinnamon to warm your heart, watch the cumin seeds dance in the pan like children playing in a sprinkler, taste, savour and allow to simmer in your soul.
  • Listen to your gut, even if the recipe calls for no more or no less, rebel. Take your own strides forward, let instinct guide you and listen to the flavours when they speak.
  • Seek out fear and challenge it. Try new things, fail at them, and try them again. Learn, improve and adapt.
  • When things get crazy, close your eyes and find your centre again. After all – it’s just a pot of curry!

With these learnings in mind I churned out an out of this world mushroom pilaf with pastry crust, a chana must-have-more masala, delightful dahl and some cracking chapatti’s! I realised curry making was my meditation and my new favourite thing to do on a Saturday night. Yeah I said it.

As I crunched on my last poppadum I got to thinking about timing, and the cosmos and how learning to make a good curry was actually a way for me to embrace the unmet challenges I had deemed as disappointments. So often in life we seek immediate resolve and instant achievement, and when that doesn’t happen we assume we suck (well I do). We then revert to a new goal, adjust our bearings and veer away from what we perceive to be failure. Now I’m not saying this is always a bad thing, sometimes we need a nudge in a new direction and often it’s our failings that push us thereto. But I think a lot of the time we are unable to push through obstacles because we are not yet armed with the tools needed to do so. Our skills haven’t tempered, our hearts aren’t boiling over with love, we feel the need to stick strictly to a tried and tested recipe, we’re too scared to face up to real challenges and fail, we want to fast forward experiences and when things get a little crazy we fall apart. And then we’re super bummed when the end product is a decidedly average bowl of goop.

It goes back to a profound albeit cliché philosophy that I sometimes forget: everything happens exactly as it should. So if, like me, you have moments where you feel you’ve missed the mark or have lost sight of your dreams just think of it as a few more years you need to spend in culinary school. Honing your skills, clearing the path for opportunity, extracting all you can from experience and leaving some space for serendipity. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Starry Starry Night

I’m not often moved by art - I much prefer unusual photographs, an honest performance or hearing someone’s story, these things move me. A canvass of paint… meh. But on two occasions I’ve found myself struck (quite off guard) by emotion while looking through a progression of paintings. The first time was at an exhibition titled Fragmentation in a small gallery in Melville by an artist who had lost her son to suicide. After a long sabbatical, she returned to the canvass to express her loss. Her paintings were dark. Between sloshes of paint were scribbled poems to her son, who took his life while she stood, in sight, painting, holding a wet paintbrush. In a moment her craft was tainted, her world destroyed, her heart broken. And yet she’d found a way back to it again, her pain seeping from every brushstroke. It was beautifully cathartic.

The second time I was in Amsterdam with Ed and we decided to veer off the coffee shop trail to take a wander around the Van Gogh Museum. Again I say, art, museums, history… doesn’t really ignite much in me. It’s the kind of thing I do because I should, but really I’d rather be taking pictures, drinking wine, journaling my thoughts or shopping. Nonetheless there we were like two typical tourists plugged in to the English version of an audio tour, traversing three stories of Van Gogh.

I do like Van Gogh’s art, and even more so I kind of love that he was a little mad, drank too much, smoked too much and was known to sometimes eat his paint, which some historians think might have caused his seizures and ultimately his death, though its widely regarded that he committed suicide. What a loon!

At one stage Ed and I were at separate sides of the museum, and I couldn’t pull myself away from one particular painting - Almond Blossom. In a time of terrible darkness and despair, (I mean, cutting your ear off and having to hang out in an Asylum ain’t no picnic) this painting represents the beginning of something and new life. Van Gogh painted it when his brother had a son, which he named after him, and it not only represented new life, but a sense that things were getting better. I think it’s my favourite painting of his and I’ll never forget standing there for some time, amazed at how something so captivating could come from something so soury and sad. Three months after painting the Almond Tree, Vincent made his worldly exit.

It’s all very depressing… on the one hand. On the other hand I find it utterly invigorating.

We all go through our own struggles, each unique and with a different weight. And those struggles can bear down on us; give us crampy necks, bitter hearts, grinded down teeth, fear and mistrust. Why me? We ask. This is unfair, we say. Yet we know that struggle is inevitable and as strange as it sounds, I’d like to go beyond that and say it is in fact beneficial, maybe even a gift – if we let it be.

My poverty – please take that statement as it is meant, a massive exaggeration of my current circumstances and a sarcastic jab at this very inconvenient symptom I have of being completely broke come mid-month – has been a common thread in my writing over the last year or so. I write what I feel and what I learn and I’m sometimes slow on the uptake. So if this bores you, you’ll have to go back to the scintillating feeds on Facebook, but if you’ve ever been in a pickle yourself you’ll want to read on a bit.

It’s been tough, and though I may make light of it here, taking on real world responsibilities has been a challenge for me. Have there been hopeless moments, yes. Have I felt like selling out or giving up, daily. Have I succumbed to bitterness, jealousy and blame, vary rarely but yes. It’s been a struggle.

But the other day I realised something while cooking up the most scrumptious and delicious pot of dahl – you see when you don’t have money to swing passed Woolies every night for dinner, your supper becomes a Masterchef invention test, using only what you have in your cupboard. I’ve tried making dahl before, it’s my favourite dish, but I suck at curries… correction, sucked at curries. Being forced to get creative in the kitchen and try something new, or in a different way worked out wonderfully. I sat shlurping up my golden orange curry with a home-made roti (I hate to brag – no I don’t, I’m still beaming with pride), sitting next to My Guy with my knitting basket at my feet and a finished pair of knitted gloves on top of it (ehem, self-taught, ehem). I glanced out the window at our DIY vertical gardens, our creatively framed wall plants and our small but welcoming fire pit. Our home is probably a little different from most peoples, scattered with lyrics, and guitar tabs from nights of singing (just him and I) and playing songs. There’s so much more time for that kind of thing, when you’re forced to make do with staying at home on a Friday night.

The thing about struggle is that it’s really just a breeder of creativity and innovation, if you can stand to not whinge and moan for too long. When life throws you lemons? Exactly. Thinking about all the things I’ve found which fulfill me and feed my soul, the time I have to really have conversations, be silly and cuddle on the couch, the malleable way in which I’ve bent to see things differently, gives me a toothy smile.

It’s made me realise that maybe we’re not meant to always walk in the light and that maybe sometimes we need darkness to appreciate the stars. Maybe it’s only when we swim in sorrow, or dig our heels down deep that we can really appreciate the palette of opportunity and imagination we constantly have at our disposal, but very rarely use unless forced.

“At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”

- Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Time for a new T Shirt

Every one of us walks around wearing a T shirt which bears a slogan in invisible ink. Each slogan is different, but all of them spell out, in just a few words, our inner most de-motivational force. Perhaps yours says “Can’t Finish Anything” or “Care too Much About What People Think” or “Uber Control Freak.” Maybe it’s more like “I Come with Baggage” or “No One Gets Close to Me” or maybe it’s just one word: “Superficial.”

What do you think yours says? And who gets to see through your invisible ink? Can you?

Well, I have a few T shirts. Some I’ve given away because they are of no use to me anymore, while some are worn as thin as my favourite pair of pyjama pants. The one I wear most often has become so comfortable and shmooly, I’m worried the words have sunk through the fabric and permanently marked my skin. They read: “Not Good Enough.”

But there was a time when all of us didn’t own even one of these shirts. Before we branded ourselves with criticism and correction, we freely expressed ourselves and openly recognised our greatness. We were unbridled by fear and rejection. We were 5.

I know this because I stumbled upon my old Montessori report a few weeks ago, and flipped through it expecting to gain some perspective on how far I’d come since those carefree days of scrambling in the sandpit. Perhaps I would find an affirmation that I was on the right path, if there is one. Perhaps it could offer me some kind of comforting insight. Instead, I found myself in the midst of a 3 day emotional melt down after discovering that I might have peaked in Nursery School. Ah Crap.

The front page of my report showed two pictures of this awesome kid with no inhibitions and a complete disregard for what was stereotypically accepted as “fashionable.” Fuck Barbie and bobby socks, I wore a polka dot sweater under a lace flapper dress with my hair in a messy side ponytail.

The detailed report went on to say how I would lose interest in things once I understood them and how I would only partake in exercises that offered me a new challenge. In my mind all I could hear were the words of a palm reader I met in India just 3 years ago: “You are curious. You will always be curious in life, don’t feel bad about it. It’s a good thing to be.”

I read further… Carly often requests that we mark her work as if she were in “Big School” and sometimes cuts a star out of gum paper to stick on her forehead when she’s done a good job. Remember when you didn’t need someone else to tell you what your worth was, at the office, in a relationship or otherwise? Recognising that I once possessed such confidence and belief in my capabilities, made me sad and angry. Why can’t I do that now? Why do I need to hear these things from other people in order for them to be true?

Carly has been the clear leader of the class this year. She has very good manners and will often correct the other students if they do not say Please or Thank You. Once upon a time I didn’t have a filter that sifted through what I believed in my gut in order to output a response which was acceptable and comfortable for everyone else. I said what I meant and I meant what I said, with no apologies or sugar coatings. I stood up for what I knew was right. No second guessing. No self-scrutinizing.

I don’t really know what I expected to feel when I opened those yellowy creased pages but what was presented to me shook me to the core and made me vastly aware of a deficit in my soul - part of myself that I had boarded up for everyone else’s convenience.

Everyone uses the phrase “It’s time to grow up,” well you know what I think? I think it’s time to un-grow up. Undo all those things that quieten our voices, scrunch up all those nasty reviews that make me, and maybe you, believe that I am “Not Good Enough.”

I came out of the darkness and stumbled on the thought that maybe I could be good enough. Maybe I always was. But it didn’t sit right. It felt cumbersome and awkward. How could I be? I needed something else to say, a mantra to convince myself of this revelation. And I found one.

I watched a show on Maya Angelou, a famous poet and a personal heroine of mine, and in it she quoted the Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer who said: “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto” which translates to: I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.

As soon as I heard it my body tingled and twanged with truth. I suddenly thought, why not? Why can’t I be as successful as Obama, as gracious as Mother Theresa, as marvellous as Marilyn Munroe? They are all human, we’re all made of blood and guts aren’t we? If they can reach greatness, scientifically there’s no reason why I can’t.

And just like that, I started wearing a new shirt. Not every day and not all day. I get the feeling it’s one of those shirts that grows on you. The kind people are always complimenting you on because it looks good on you. Because it matches what you have on underneath it all, under the material and under the skin, under all the stuff you protect yourself with. A shirt that reads: “I Can Do Anything”

My old shirt is lying at the bottom of a pile of laundry. Maybe someday it will get lost or maybe I’ll wear this one so much, I’ll forget all about it. Either way, I’m so grateful to that little 5 year old for teaching me how to unlearn, how to be unmeasurably authentic and how to know when it’s time for a new T shirt.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Falling off the Bant-wagon

As the last slice of pizza disappears down the rabbit hole that is my oesophagus, I wipe the trickle of oil land sliding down my chin on my sleeve with slothenly delight. There are a number of fucks I don’t give right now and carbohydrate consequences just happen to be on the top of my hit list.

I must be the only curious vegetarian, correction - flexitarian, to venture down the Banting by-way but I like to give every diet its day. The high-fat, high-protein food plan banishes sugar and carbs from your refrigerator and the results are, for some, pretty epic. A lot of people have lost tons of weight on this diet and lurrrrve its allowances for cream, cheese, butter and beautiful bacon. I get it, I do. That’s why I gave it a whirl, hands up whose diet doesn’t need a bit of a revamp from time to time? Yep, thought so.

Here’s the thing… it’s not that I find this way of eating impossible, restricting as it may be for your average non-meat eater, it’s just too extreme (not to mention expensive) for me. I’m not sure why I keep running from the delicate and harmonious see-saw that moderates my enjoyment in life, but time and time again I find myself forgetting how important it is to master the art of balance.

Miyagi: "Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up go home. Understand?"

The old dude has a point but it’s easy to lose perspective if you are an all-or-nothing gal such as myself. When it comes to relationships, shopping sprees, blowing off steam or blazing the trail of a new career, I always go all in. My theory is that this actually stems from a deep-seated mistrust in the world, and it’s free-willed inhabitants. If it’s all on me, well then I guess I can control the outcome. Fat chance. Pun intended.

I’ve often used the metaphor of a wildebeest clambering up the sides of a muddy river bank to describe my current state – forging and fighting with all the strength I possess only to find that I haven’t moved forward but a centimetre. This is what happens when you reject the notion of surrender, hard-work’s opposing benefactor. I’m sorry blokes but I’m going Oprah, I gave you Karate Kid after all.

Oprah: “When you’ve worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and pled and bargained and hoped…surrender. When you have done all that you can do, and there’s nothing left for you to do, give it up. Give it up to that thing that is greater than yourself, and let it then become a part of the flow.”

It’s an idea I clearly haven’t completely come to grips with, but one that will force your hand when it has to. This weekend I added a chunk of debt to my quivering credit card. Instead of going to my unpaid fine fund, the bounty paid for two can’t-live-without-em pairs of cowboy boots. My plans to catch up on work this Sunday, spiralled into 6 hours of frustrated writer’s block, which lifted only after I consumed a pint sized glass of box wine, had a mini-cry on My Guy’s shoulder and threw an impromptu pity party. One for which this blog, is the foot note to.

So I guess I’m trying to say that Banting or any extreme behaviour is never going to work in the long term for me, or maybe you. I have to believe that anyone can have it all – happiness and fulfilment – if we learn not to fight the flow, or try to control that delicate balance that holds us all together.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Rekindling an Old Flame

I have to admit that these days, I’m defining true friendship by how able my nearests and dearests are to excuse me of all the things good friends should do. This includes everything from regular emotional stock takes, showing up for those important events (birthdays, dream project launches, career milestones), liking them pages on Facebook, being available for impromptu coffees and giving 100% of my sparkling self when we see each other.

It’s because of a lot of things. God, it’ll be the most boring blog ever if I have to name them all so here’s a quick summary: Work, blah blah, more work, blah blah, no time to myself, yaddah yaddah, exhaustion, blah blah, I’m selfish, blah blah etc etc.

With all this just swimming around my head like a bunch of goldfish with absolutely no purpose, I give My Man that please-just-do-me-this-one-favour version 7.1 puppy face as we make our way to Gold Reef City to go on the Johannesburg sightseeing bus. For work. On a Sunday. On. FOOTBALL. Sunday. And because he is literally the kindest human being on the planet, he says yes and doesn’t even make me feel bad about it.

Huh. Fancy that.

We get on the bus, it’s hot and my enthusiasm is lacking. I live here dude, like forever. I know my city and this is supposed to be a day of rest isn’t it? Oh well, what’s a gal gonna do, I think, and put the headphones in as we pull off towards the CBD.

It’s a really clear day and as we come up onto the crest of a highway bypass, the city in its entirety is in plain sight. Unassuming, a little jambled in a kind of cut and pasted together aesthetic, grey but for some colourful splotches of commercialism - Jozi is just chillin’ on a Sunday. Just takin’ it easy.

I can’t help but smile, realizing that this beast of an African city somehow manages to stay the same even though you can’t walk a block twice without noticing something new that wasn’t there before. In so many ways it’s just like me – hard on the hustle, but quietly dependable in nature.

I can’t remember how many times My Man and I high fived but within the first 10 minutes of our tour, we were pretty chuffed to be Jo’burgers. Our city wasn’t even supposed to exist, yet it does. Our city always gets a bad rap, yet it’s accomplished so much despite so many challenges. Aw Joeys, you little gem you!

For us suburbians, Johannesburg CBD ain’t exactly where you wanna find yourself unless there’s some cool party happening, a new trendy bar has opened in one of the few face lifted districts or you’re safely caged in an office with a view during working hours. Yet as we pass City Hall, a bunch of teenagers scramble around a courtyard, filming their latest skateboarding tricks. Braamfontein is littered with these cutesy little markets ( *Rant Warning*I’m not talking about the larney Neighbourgoods market, that is not a market. That is where pretentious people go to feel ‘street’ and pay more than what they would at designer shops in Sandton City for a thrift shop sweater. Sorry Neighbourgoods, power to you - but the age of Ye Olde Flea Market is no longer. Let’s call a spade a spade) trendy coffee shops, and neat public art installations.

As always the inner city is a crazy mess. There’s this mad symbiosis going on between the concrete wonderland that is Johannesburg and the mixed masala of folk who weave in, out and around it. I don’t know why I find this so charming, but I do. Maybe it’s because anyone walking in this city is stripped of any preconceptions upon entering its chaotic ecosystem, maybe it’s because no matter where you go people are friendly and down-to-earth, maybe it’s because the flaws of anything just make it that much more unique and beautiful.

We hopped off the bus and, feeling all warm n fuzzy after our tour, instead of going straight home we stopped at another iconic Jozi spot, the good ol’ Bowls Club, for a pizza and beer. I knew I had mounds of work waiting for me at home. I knew that Monday would bring with it another truckload to worry about and plan for but just for that moment, it was the perfect afternoon with the coolest of boyfriends and my best mate, JHB.

I guess the beautiful thing about longstanding friends is that even if they are only a feature in the background for a time in your life, they get the paradoxical madness that makes you glisten like gold, even when it’s hard to see, buried under a dusty mine dump. They get that you have a few boarded up, broken down bits that you’re planning on fixing. They get that sometimes, you’re closed for renovation. They get that even though you can be pretty average on the surface, perhaps even grey with a few colourful splotches of commercialism, you’re a wonderful complicated mess underneath. And they like that mess because it gives you character and it makes you a more interesting human being.