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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.

Monday, 3 March 2014

My 2 cents

South Africa has officially put all of its citizens on a financial starvation diet.
Now I know I’m a “struggling artist” of sorts which means I’ve put my own arse in whatever the opposite of butter is, but looking around (in the cubicle next to me, in the queue at Checkers, on my Facebook news feed), everyone is feeling the squeeze.

I got a lot of attention from a Facebook status I posted last week when I was clawing my way towards the 27th, which is when my salary has a short stopover in my bank account before it makes an unruly departure to the various creditors I am at the mercy of:

This is the kind of stuff that can fast track an arrested financial consciousness into an awakened state of fight or… fucked. It’s scary as hell, especially for those of us who aren’t grappling with whether to downgrade from an Aston to an Audi but rather from Medical Aid to hoping-like-hell-I-don’t-get-sick-this-winter.

 It comes at a time of economic adolescence for me (and so many of my peers), as a woman in my twenties trying to accurately define the trajectory of a successful career. So what does that look like? For me, it’s all about making a living doing something that effortlessly ignites my work- your-ass off switch. It’s what will get me out of bed before my alarm even goes off. It’s what makes me smile, what makes me feel chuffed, what stimulates and feeds my curiosity and what allows the best parts of me to twinkle. It’s also something that may take a lot of consideration and foundation building, before it allows me to be completely self-sustaining.
 I believe I will get there, perhaps not as soon as I had hoped – no thanks to the maladministration (putting it lightly) of our government and what feels like the second tsunami wave of The Recession. Can’t we skip all this kak and just get straight to the part where international economies boom, my house is worth double what I paid for it, and my salary comfortably covers all my expenses, a yearly vacay to Tuscany and a new pair of stilettoes from Nine West every month? Am I reaching for the stars? I haven’t even gotten to the paying for another little life bit which will someday mean school fees (just puked in my mouth), sports uniforms, doctors’ bills… AY KARAMBE!
This way of thinking stirs and spreads a kind of whinge-and-moan bubonic plague. Can you believe petrol is going up AGAIN? Did you hear about the rates increase, do they think we’re made of money? Ja well, with this government the whole country’s going to shit. And you can’t even have a blady drink and forget about it because of this stupid sin tax increase. R4.80 extra for a bottle of whiskey boet! Do me a favour…
It’s a pity party, and we’re all attending by default.
I hear you, and a lot of the time, I join in – thinking that somehow, my grumbling grievances will release some of the frustration and helplessness I feel inside and that the 10 minutes of mass moaning will bring about a sense of relief that I’m not the only one sukkling my way through the last 10 days of every month.
Unfortunately, woe-is-me’s aren’t going to miraculously undo mess’s, mistakes or misappropriations. Not for you, not for South Africa, not even for Zuma or the kingpins on Wall Street.
Lately I’ve taken another approach to my dilemma, and the keyword here is MY. This is my life, my money and my responsibility. The outcome of my financial destiny is in my hands.
I started by getting real, like Dr Phil real. It was a self-imposed intervention with steps and everything:
Step 1: You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge
Denial is as delicious as a shmooly jersey that hides all the fat you’ve put on in winter… until someone asks when your due date is. Look at your bank statements, read your sms notifications, file your slips (if you’re a real goodie two shoes) and get real about where your money goes every month. When I did this I realized I was spending over R2000 at petrol station convenience stores (which are notorious for over charging) popping in to get a few odd groceries on my way home from work.
Step 2: Have a very honest conversation with yourself
Yes yes, we all want to be mega rich ka-jillionaires – or do we? News flash: unless you are a Trust-a-farian, you will have to work your ass off to get wealthy. Harder than anyone else. Be realistic – what are you prepared to splash out on? Does your job afford you the opportunity to earn a 10 figure salary? Are you working towards that? What do you want your bank balance to reflect in a year’s time? Set yourself some financial goals and then you can start strategizing how to make them happen – yes, even in the midst of a commercial crisis.
Step 3: Planning makes perfect
Draw up a budget and give yourself some time to ease into this new dispersion of your funds. Motivate yourself by thinking about all the things you can do with the money you save on excess spending and believe me – you will find a lot of this. Each month try to move closer towards your goal budget and with each step you take you’ll find you are more resourceful and confident.
Step 4: If you don’t like the world you see, change the way you see the world

There will be sacrifices, oh yes. There will be some hard truths to face, of this I’m sure. Hey, I’m only an actress turned writer, trying to find my place in this world. Trying to afford myself more time, more fulfilment and more opportunity for greatness. I’m no accountant, nor lawyer or doctor. But I believe that being conscious in my life, taking ownership of my choices, being accountable for my accounting and staying focused on a desired future which I have clearly defined in my mind, no matter how unknown or patchy the path towards it may be, is how I will free myself from the tightening clutches of my current circumstances.