For the Love of Local Music

I have had this post going around in my head for a few weeks now. You may just have to read that sentence again, but it’s ok – you may find my head a bit weird. I have not always known the difference between South African and International music. I was a naïve girl, who grew up with eclectic tastes as a kid – prompted by Jacaranda FM and whatnot(read: parents).

I didn’t even know what I really liked until I was 12. I remember as a 10 year old walking past a music shop (on our way to buy the “new” Harry Potter) and seeing the Linkin Park cd, I told my dad: ‘Don’t worry, I won’t ever listen to that.’ I then went through a phase and listened to that for 2 years. Before that I listened to Josh Groban and Evanescence (oh, the irony). I listened to the Parlotones (or however you spell it). After this I discovered the internet and MySpace, I also discovered Pure Volume. I loved Pure Volume, it gave me so many new music to listen to, even though it was not local.

Then came the most awesome thing ever. On dstv this awesome channel was launched. I didn’t have to watch crap music videos anymore that had no relevance to me. I didn’t have to sneakily watch TRL to see what the latest music was. I have to thank the Parlotones for their ‘eye opener’. I fell in love with local music from that day onward. I discovered MK89, which then changed to MK. I got to experience new music, better than 5fm ever did for me. 5fm just playlisted whatever they thought were viable for their market. I was someone who would absorb music as fast as I could.

I remember watching music videos for bands that I have never heard of again and new bands that somehow got stuck in your head. My one example for that is Jeremy Loops, I saw the music video for ‘Howling (Mission to the Sun)’ and got so excited. I was extremely excited about his music. Now, a few years later, I remember that moment I saw/heard his music for the first time and telling people about it (and no one listening to me as always), I have a cd and I have seen him live a few times. The same could be said for Cassette and their interesting videos that just get replayed over and over in your head (it sometimes happen now, while I am busy typing this – yes, that music video you guys shot in someone’s backyard in London or wherever)

I remember watching really bad music videos with good music. I also got into strange music. (All of this I blame on Jax Panik). I got my fix on aKing and Fokof. I got introduced to Ashtray Electric, whom I love so much that they were my calm down music for a while, and listened to crap music. I didn’t know who to share my music love with. I didn’t know any of my peers who liked local music. The only people who listened local were a bunch of guys in my class in high school and we never really mingled.* I was on a one woman mission to get to know good music from bad. But I also learned something valuable – how to listen to local music: without prejudice.

We are in a global community, we all share things and listen to things. But have you ever wondered about the Australian music scene? I have come across a lot of articles and people who praise their music scene. People don’t really need to make it internationally to be recognised for what they are doing. They can be supported in their own country. Which I think is fantastic. I’m not talking support where they need a day job and a million other jobs, but proper support that they can carry out what they love doing: make music. Which makes other people happy. Now and then their music gets picked up internationally and they grow – like Wolfmother – to have an international fanbase. This happens to South African music as well and I get extremely happy when it does happen. Because good music needs to be heard by everyone.

The things with local music is that they still don’t get the support and opportunity to showcase their talent. Of course there are streams like twitter, facebook and other people’s blogs. There’s also soundcloud and other streaming apps, but that doesn’t help much. I know I am missing out on great music since MK died a slow death (or might be dying a slow death). I don’t have the time to go stream their services live, I am not always in wifi zones. I don’t know of honest radio stations that make it their point to showcase music that I might like. I haven’t even listened to normal radio in more that a year and a bit. And even then it was just to listen to one show on a Thursday night (hi Jon), that 5fm culled. I loved listening to Texxed Up as they played rad music (hey Tecla) and they played local stuff.

I live in the ‘burbs. Inner city Durban is way to far for me. I have been to Live the Venue and it is magnificent but I really need to love your music that much to travel down to it. I don’t have money lying around that I can spend whenever just on music, even though I wish I could. The latest discoveries I made on twitter were Michael Lowman and Joshua Grierson, that was by chance anyhow. I followed them and then listened to their music. I have a huge respect for them as well, as they carry on trying to get out there even as out there as you can be. It is not easy at all and for the love of local music I am sad that I am missing so much. I want to support local, because local is lekker. It truly is, there is so much to be heard. I want to hear it all but where is a platform that will showcase it?

I want opportunities where I can listen to local music and get excited again. I want my friends to listen local and not just international. That bugs me a lot, that people just want to listen international and refuses to see the talent there is locally. There are great musicians, who write fantastic lyrics and not repeat the word ‘baby’ a million times. Yes, there are those bands/musicians as well, but you can refuse to listen to them if you want to. Or if it is your thing – go ahead listen. Last note, I really love music, I love local and I wish more people could listen to it.

*Saw those guys a few weeks ago and they were more surprised to see me than I was seeing them.

“… he cried.”

This morning I got up early to write. Which is an odd thing in itself as I try to put off writing until any other time that I can get. I would rather write at 2 am before going to sleep, than getting up at 2 am to write. I wrote one sentence. That’s how far I got, one sentence. It just said: “… he cried.”

Over all the years of reading as a kid, teenager and now as a faux adult, I can count on one hand that I’ve ever read of a male character crying. Is it so shameful to cry? Do males get told to not cry? I have to confess, I don’t like crying. I hate crying. Also, I don’t cry that often; but that’s me. I have a big family, 1 real brother and 3 step brothers, which makes me the eldest and the middle child at the same time. I’ve seen them all cry. Some of them cry easier than I do, some of them even prefer crying. I’ve seen by dad cry, uncles and male cousins cry. I’ve seen men cry that I don’t even know.

Why is it shameful for writers to write about crying, isn’t it what people do? Aren’t we all just human? Crying is also part of your body doing a bit of a cleanser. By telling people that ‘we don’t cry’ also means that we don’t get to show any other emotions associated with crying, like sadness or hurt or whatever else the crying is linked to? Are my male characters only allowed to show fury and stoic manliness, not allowed to crumble when people die?

Dear writers, I’m just asking you one thing. Just one thing, use free reign when it comes to emotions. I’m not saying that each and every character should show it, sure there are people who wants to come off as strong, then let them. I’m also not saying that everyone feels the same way. Flip, my emotions don’t range the same way each and every time something happens. The same happy I feel today about something, if experienced at another time won’t be the same type of happiness.

I’m glad I wrote: “… he cried.” One day I hope to read even more.

On that note: Suicide

I started writing this two days ago. Breathe in and close your eyes. Smile, genuinely smile. On a scale from extremely happy to excruciating was that? For some of us, every now and then it’s not even possible to do.

I was happy over the last week. Extremely happy. I smiled and giggled at things, I was ecstatic. Some days it is a pretty obvious indicator that I’m going to be in a pretty foul mood soon. A tweet sparked off a million ideas that’s just sitting in the back of my mind, not daily but weekly mostly. Suicide.

I tried googling statistics but they’re not conclusive at all. More men commit suicide than women, it’s more likely for people between the ages of 15-35 to commit suicide than any other age group. But approximately a million people go through with the act while millions have suicidal thoughts. This is life.

Have you ever thought of that person that you work with may be part of those millions who have suicidal thoughts? How would you feel if there’s someone you know who attempted?

I still squirms when self harm gets mentioned. I hate it when suicide is laughed at or told it is a coward’s way out. What do you know? I’m sure there are cases where people do it just to spite someone – now that is lame in the end. They never get to see what they’ve done afterwards. But who am I to judge? I have always had a plan to end my life. I know exactly what to do, logical plan for an illogical moment.

How do you treat the people around you if you know they tried to commit suicide? Have you ever wondered why people never ever mention it, even when you’ve been best friends for years. That’s because people get shamed for how they feel. People cannot mention things like: “I am sad” without being frowned upon.

To take your own life you are usually at wits end. Nothing makes sense and from the outside it seems irrational. But to the person it is all rational, it makes sense. This is just like impulse control. I sometimes have the urge to walk into traffic just to see what happens but I know it’s mental, I know exactly what will happens when I do that. People who are in such a depression won’t always have that control and actually do something.

If someone actually goes on about killing themselves – listen. That’s sometimes all they need. The whole:”snap out of it” just makes the person more angry and pushes them closer. Don’t challenge the person. Talk to them like you would as normal. That usually helps me. Just make time.

Suicide is not for cowards. It’s not funny, joking that someone has a choice between x and suicide is horrible. Never wish someone to kill themselves. Make time for people you know are lonely. Take people serious when they talk about it. One last thing, mind your words, if you don’t want the words aimed at you – don’t aim them at someone else. Suicide is real.

I am not for sale

You might be confused with the title. Sure you may not know what is going on and no, I have not been put up for sale on some black web market. But I’ve been looking around and there are approximately 50 000 people sold into marriage. That is around the world, not that I’m going to point fingers to the East, because it does happen in the West. For the last three years a male relative keeps on telling me that he wants to sell me. Today, I say: Enough is enough.

There are young girls who are being sold to a man up to three times her age or older. These girls have no say or they get shamed by their family, they have no way to escape from this. These are not girls who can fight off a grown man. These girls are not even mature enough to express their feeling or what is going on inside their heads. The men are their be all and end all. Yes, we should focus on these girls and even young women who get forced into marriage, or in these cases they get treated as sex object. But we should start shaming their families who do absolutely nothing to stop it. For them it is a tradition, for them it is just the normal way of life. The families should not get out of this scot-free. Why should we just blame the disgusting men, when we do nothing to the families. Maybe like that we can stop this disgusting practice.

To the male family member: Just because I am female does not mean I cannot get someone for myself. Just because I am single, does not mean that I am always on the lookout for a significant other. It is as if people forgot that I do own my body, it does not belong to anyone else. I am not there to fill your pockets with money and listen to your every command. Just like I am responsible for my own actions, I am responsible for the rest of my life as well. You cannot impose your viewpoint of people onto everyone around you. It is a sick mentality thinking that you have the right to own anyone. While everyone else laughs at this ‘joke’ you make, I know you’re serious. I will never be for sale. In a way I am glad that you do not have children, because your viewpoint would not change. You won’t sell your daughter, you say –  but what gives you the right to sell someone else then?

There’s no race for us to populate the earth. There’s no need for anyone to be forced into pleasing anyone’s desires. Everyone has the right to have a choice, no one else owns anyone. We are not slaves, we are our own selves. Treat us like that not just once, but always.

Are we information obsessed?

I checked my twitter about 10 minutes ago. I was just on Facebook. I updated the news site about 20 minutes ago. I love the random button on Wikipedia. This is just the internet.

I tumblr, wordpress, stumbleupon and Pinterest too. I read blogs, click links, check Instagram when I don’t know what to do. I watch the news, QI and anything in that category, listen to podcasts on absolutely anything. I read factual books or biographies. I talk to people only about things I want to know sometimes. I cram my head full of things.

I don’t switch off.

It’s 2am in the morning and I’ve had enough of not sleeping so I grab my phone. I read news that scares me. Am I just too obsessed with information?

We all have a need to know things. This is why we question everything, if we want to. Are we afraid to not know things?
I was in a car the other day with a friend, I was doing my normal thing of yapping about something only I knew about. I stopped talking immediately and a few seconds later asked: “am I boring you?” I waited for an eye roll and a typical sarcastic “no”. That wasn’t the answer, “I like it. I learn a lot.” Was the answer back. I wasn’t expecting that. I thought people would be to bored to hear that. Are we that disparate for information?

Should we as information addicts ween ourselves for a bit? I honestly think we need to. We rely too much on it. Maybe we’ll stop freaking out every time we see a bad news headline. It might just give us that reboot that upgrades our software. Information overload poisoning is real, we do it every day without noticing. It’s a slow process but one day it will be worth it.

I can honestly say, we are addicted to information. It drives our days and sometimes our lives. Some of us thrive on it an sometimes it depresses us. Too much on anything is bad. Maybe one day we’ll read one sentence too much and crash our hardware.

Life between home and hospital

Can you remember the last 5 weeks? In detail that is. I can, it’s been a hard 5 weeks.

My mornings start at 7:30. I wake up, this usually does not mean I get up. Some mornings I do get up at 8 and go exercise. I read, listen to podcasts this time of the morning. This has been a normal routine for me for quite a while now. I love it, I usually can survive the day like this.

But 5 weeks ago my gran landed up in hospital. Some of you may not know this, but even though I moved out of my parent’s place – I moved in with family. For two different reasons, I hate driving (I daydream a lot in a car) and I am a sissy when it comes to living alone. My gran lives with us and it’s quite a big deal for me.

When my gran landed up in hospital my life changed again. This happened last year, but last year I was fully employed. I didn’t spend time with her 24/7. I went from work directly to the hospital, the doctor gave her a 5% survival rate. She pulled through. This time around things are a bit different.

I am trying two new things in my life. I am a newbie writer, which is difficult and I am stubborn, so I will make sure I will get published one day. I am also trying out a new business venture which will hopefully take off, when I finally sit down and do it. I need to make money somehow for now. But neither has been possible so far.

My gran went into hospital for a week. I sat next to her bedside with my aunt for hours. I had headphones and writing pads that kept me busy, but every now and then I had to talk to my gran through all the nonsense she was talking. This is difficult, it drains you emotionally. Every day I try writing but it is too much. Every day I try working out business things but I’m lost.

My last five weeks were: wake up, do something for two hours, go to the hospital, go home, go to the hospital again, and go home for the evening. You’d think that I could work in the evenings. I tried but all you can think of is Mr Barnes (not real name) who passed away in ICU, the young lady who was a few years older than myself, who never woke up. A young bright spark who broke his neck. The sounds of beeping and ventilators. That’s all you think of only when you go home. I can zone out at the hospital, I sit there writing for hours or plan on my writing. But in the end I still go around in circles.

Week 6 has dawned, maybe this time it will be different.

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‘No, I’m going to be 16… wait, I mean 45′

My grandmother has dementia.

This is not a state secret, but I wish it was. This morning when I said: “I love you.” She just kept on talking about how everyone’s surnames were going to change. This kind of broke my heart. This afternoon however, right before she fell asleep she whispered “I love you” back to me.

This all began last year. My grandmother, who then was 78, was a vibrant old woman. She was the life of anything that happened at home. You could have asked her anything and she would have given back a very intelligent answer, because she was an intelligent woman. A year before that we started a blog, which she wrote diligently, all about her past and how things were in the 30s and 40s. Things that I never knew. She got sick and this stopped. One day she started writing again, which was fantastic to us. We read her stories and spoke about it until it all changed. She started writing funnier, she couldn’t answer the crossword puzzles as well as she used to.

One February evening, after I came home from a dinner. My gran was sitting in front of the tv, waiting for my cousin and I to go out. She wanted me to meet a guy, which is kind of heart warming but not really. At 11 o’clock that night – she did not budge from her couch, she was still waiting for us to go out. This meant that I had to dress as if I was going out, get my cousin to play along and ‘out we went’ to bed that is. That was a horrible week, time meant nothing to her and we finally persuaded her that we were going out but first we needed to go to the hospital. Now that week, she spent money like it was water, she told everyone these long elaborate stories that made sense. Of course they meant nothing, but we did not know that she was sick.

She was sick, too old to have her hernia fixed, old that her ‘fever dreams’ were reality. Turns out, she had an infection but scans confirmed that her frontal lobe shrunk. They (the doctors) said it was because of the calcification of the main brain vein and a few other veins that lead to this. She was in hospital for months and when she finally got out, which was a miracle in itself as she had septicemia and a survival rate of 5%, she was put in a home. She could not walk, made absolutely no sense and made us teary quite often. I was sure that she was not going to survive this.

From September to December she was in a home. Complaining that there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with her and that she needed to go home. She couldn’t even walk for the first few months. Her 79 birthday in October was quite something, we bought her home for the day. This was something special. December we bought her home to stay. She was better, she talked a lot and did things she wasn’t even interested in. The crossword puzzles were filled in, she was crocheting blankets again, talking normally.

Then May of this year arrived.

May was a difficult month, she was not well. We honestly thought it was another infection, not dementia. How could it be dementia if she was behaving so well over the last few months? In less than a week she was someone who could laugh and talk, to someone who was mumbling nonsense at anyone who would listen to her. She totally forgot how to walk – which was a blow to us. She would call out to anyone who was willing to be with her. Now, everyone is far away from each other except two bedrooms. Thus whatever my gran says, I can sometimes hear – especially if it is extremely loud or if it in the dead quiet of the night. This lasted for a few days, which all-in-all tired me out.

This is emotionally tiring, we finally took her to hospital. They thankfully said it was asymptomatic pneumonia. We thought that this time when she got home, she would finally be speaking coherently. This is not the case. You can see that this is dementia. She has totally lost reality with the now. It saddens me to see a strong woman, who has helped each and everyone in my household + my friends, to fall to pieces. She doesn’t realise this. Sometimes she says something that gives the indication that she knows that something is wrong. This like: “You know I can’t remember anything.” or “There’s something not right.” But these lapses are few and far between.

Now all we have is patience. This is all we have left, the waiting game. She might get better or she might get worse. She might have moments of clarity or she could go further down the rabbit hole. All I can do is quietly laugh, because that’s the only way I can cope.