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Monday, 17 February 2014

La Vie en Rose


Ah Valentine’s Day. For some it invokes a gush of romanticism, hopefulness and a sputtering of expectations, usually doomed for failure. For others it brings back emotions and memories as bitter as bile, catalysing a surge of “Love sucks” playlists and booze laced singles get-togethers. And then I guess there are a handful of people who will get exactly what they’d hoped for, be it an engagement ring or a single rose.
The rose is a funny thing, I feel like it’s a kind of double agent in some ways. More often than not a rose says: I love you. It can also say: I’m sorry, Congratulations or Thank You.
In my case, no matter what is inscribed below the Valentine’s Day wording stamped in red glitter glue, the subtext has told quite a different tale. At times it was “I’m about to break up with you. Yes, today.” Other times it was: “Man give girl rose. Girl must now put out.” And one time it was: “I found this in the dustbin – hard to believe right? (not hard to believe) and before you realized that I’d completely forgotten to acknowledge you today, I picked it up, wiped off the Wimpy sauce and ta-dah! Also, you should see a shrink about this pattern you have of dating losers.”
 Since those tumultuous teen terrorist attacks on my heart, some less like teen and more like twenties, I have grown some protective thorns of my own and made it quite clear that my preference is the Gerbera.
Gerberas don’t have a colour chart which defines the status of a relationship – don’t we have facebook for that now? Can you imagine the look on some poor unassuming (or very assuming, depending on how you see it) girls face when, 2 months into what she believes is a relationship (believing like an idiot who has never made her way to the self-help isle in Exclusive Books that exclusive dinners, intimate conversations, kisses – not to mention some pretty heavy over the bra action – define the title) receives a bunch of huh? White roses?! What the flora? Yes, it appears you and that douche… I mean, guy, are “just friends” by popular translation.
A couple of days ago, Penny and I were nursing a glass or 5 of Whatever’s-open-in-the-fridge – I want to say in the build-up to Vday but in all fairness, we don’t need a reason. Roommate Code.
For the first time in a long time I was being told a story which featured the infamous rose as its lead character, doing exactly what roses are intended to do. It made my heart bloom.
It was the story of a young girl having to deal with the loss of her mother and best friend, in the middle of her Matric exams. Instead of opting out of writing, which under the circumstances would have been perfectly understandable, Penny had set out to get a Matric certificate, something neither her late mother nor father had possessed.
Each day she would summon up what strength she had left in the creases of her deflated soul to get up and face a wad of unsympathetic paper. Each day she would force the lump in her throat down a few notches to where it couldn’t erupt in tears. Some days were more successful than others. And each day, a single rose lay on her desk reminding her that somewhere in the world, someone recognised her insurmountable courage. Someone understood that no words or poetry could bring peace to such a struggle, but that the simple gesture of a rose could at least bring a sense of comfort and reassurance that someday she would feel warmth and safety again.
Penny passed Matric with a University exemption and to this day, that someone is still unknown.
Her story equated to about 5 minutes and yet it has stained my heart. Passing by the red tack which erupts in florists and newsfeeds the week of Valentine’s Day I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the bouquet’s and bounties would carry as much “love” as one single rose was able to deliver all those years ago. I wondered if all secret admirers were as true and thoughtful as the anonymous saint who extended some kindness to an 18-year-old in need.
Am I questioning Saint Valentine? Maybe a little. But I’m not a hater… when My Man handed me a bunch of Gerbera’s my cup raneth over (as they say) with the feeling of being cherished and appreciated. But for those of you who may have fallen into an Eeyore slump over a rose no-show, and believe me I’ve been there gurlfriend, think about what it is that you are giving that sadness and self-esteem eroding energy to.   
A rose is just a rose. Well, most of the time…

Thursday, 6 February 2014

CAN-tastrophies of Note



Litha is shouting a panicked broken vernacular through the phone and I can’t for the life of me work out what the problem is.

“Slow down, what’s going on?”

Through her manic mumbling I hear the words “water” and “geyser”... which are just about the worst two words a person can hear unless used in this sentence:

Your geyser seems to have inexplicably filled itself with wine, and now when opening the kitchen tap, a rich red mix of magical Merlot gushes out in place of water.

To this qualm the response would be far more forgiving, dare I say enthused.

Alas, a severely crappy week has just been made horrid by my geyser bursting, the wretched event following a trial separation with my beloved car, Vegas.

Vegas has been high maintenance from the get go; thermostat something somethings, filter thingy-ma-jig replacements, that time Virgin Active slaughtered all four tyres in what I can only describe as murder by spiked barrier… And I’m no angel – scrapes, scratched, swiped side mirrors and many many fast escapes fleeing the scene after embarrassing bumps. The kind of material misogynistic comedians would just eat up. We’ve both played our part in this relationship, so much so that our theme song is a mix of Lily Allen and Taylor swift:

“Screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain, it’s 2 am and I’m cursing your name… But that’s the way I loved you.”

“Fuck you, fuck you very very much.”

But this last doozy might have been the final straw. Ray at the service centre, which I am forced to send Vegas to at least twice each year, delivers the news in a sombre Dr Phil tone:

“I’ve been doing this for years and I gotta say, she’s blown a gasket.”

Yeah yeah, you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. At least we were off the highway when the engine, in girl terms, blew up.

So sans car, sans water and sans sanity I let out a desperate whimper to Litha, still in a complete tizz: “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” A desk cry and 4 Birols later I was in a sea of 1st plumber, body corporate, mechanics, roadside assists, AA, insurance consultants, service centres, 2nd plumber, furniture repairs, banker, 3rd plumber… THIS IS MY HELL.

I’ve never really had to deal with such a monumental fuck up on my own, my survival consultant, Mamma Bear, is usually on speed dial, talking me through this horrendous process. Said Mamma Bear was out of signal range in the Kalahari and so lil’ ol’ me had to buckle up and sort shit out. And as it turns out, there was a silver lining peering round the puffs this doomsday cloud…

In the middle of the madness, I had a moment.

I thought: Carly you can do this. Somehow, you’ve picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and proved that you are in fact, a very capable grown up. There’s something beautifully freeing in knowing that you can look after yourself. Well, almost…

I should mention that throughout my debacle, a man with a red flapping cape had scooped me up in his arms and was carrying me over the threshold of panic. When I felt overwhelmed, his superhero powers calmed me, reassuring me that everything would be ok. When I couldn’t stand to make another phone call, he transported at the speed of lightning to attend to the sea of sharks I felt was circling beneath me. When I grew weak, he fought my battles. When I had no way of getting anywhere, he appeared as if from nowhere with a will and a way.

I realized just then, that I’d been wearing a cape of my own so long, I’d forgotten how wonderful it felt to let someone else save the world. To let someone rescue me.

And something in My Guy (who for the purposes of this blog will be known as My Hero), changed too. With a giant “S” on his chest, he glowed. Swooping in to save me, and he truly did save me, his heart ignited.

Louis Lane looked into his eyes with faint recognition, and felt as delicate as a petal. She understood, for the first time, what it felt like to be truly cherished.

Clarke held her strong, his arms shielding her from all that was wrong with the world. He understood, for the first time, what it felt like to be truly needed.


So yes, I CAN get through stuff. I CAN understand insurance-speak. I CAN keep it together when things fall apart. I CAN survive without a car. I CAN let someone take care of me. And maybe, I CAN let them do it a little more.