I Wrote You(Him) A Letter

Dear Instagram-guy,

Or as I like to call you: Mark. However, a lot of people will know you by your handle (Instagram name). Not that I’ve called you Mark to your face in weeks, I just call you, you.

It’s been 7 weeks, I guess. (I only know because we met on a Saturday, the 26th, inside the Grootkerk in Graaff-Reinet. I still laugh at this.) The only other reason I know this, is because you’re the only man that has given me this much attention in my life.
I lie you’re the second man, no wait, the third man. My dad has given me attention in all my life, but any romantic inkling – you are the second. The other man, well he’s off limits and I will never break up a marriage, but he’s not in the picture. You are.

In these few weeks you’ve made me lose my appetite, you made me eat everything I could get my hands on – I suspect that’s why I’m craving pickles and Oreos at the same time, also I’m always stressed – and be so nervous I ate half a breakfast meal that I only wanted one bite of.

Do you know how stressed I was the first time you did not say anything? Not a word passed your lips, your messages, nothing. I actually started shaking, by the next week when you did that I was into my normal routine of: “okay, he’s not into me, slowly distance yourself.” That’s my default setting. Now you live 15 minutes away and I have yet to see you. For a quite blunt man you are quite quiet. For someone that Skyped me every evening, I rarely see you now. Sure, we still phone each other, or rather you phone me, because my schedule is “so busy”. If I tried that with you, I would be told to phone back later, just to answer your thing of “Why didn’t you phone me.” Trust me I’ve tried.

You know, I still don’t know how to love myself. I don’t. I don’t know how to fall in love with someone else. Sure, you might say things like “I like your legs”. That’s what’s part of me. They are a feature of me. They will eventually go, I suspect, when I turn 80. If, I turn 80. What about my brain? You do know I won’t hate you if you don’t know stuff. (I pretended to know something and it backfired hilariously.) I’m not known for my wit or quick thinking. I’m sometimes know for stringing words together so that they somehow make sense. I don’t want to fall into shallowness. I’m not comfortable with it. I will be one of those statistics, the one where people most likely drown in shallow ends of a swimming pool, if I do.

I know how to fight. I fought a lot as a teenager, I did a lot of things as a teenager. I don’t like fighting now. I might even suck at it. Not that I want to, because there’s nothing to fight about and I might just fall apart, because that’s where I am in life.

Also, dear Instagram-guy. I know I’m going to get a label inside your head. One day, when my depression is low and I feel suicidal, I will get a label. Because in your mind, depression only exists for other people. I wish it did, I wish it never taints your skin like it has mine. I sometimes want so scrub off all my skin, because it makes me feel dirty. Let’s not talk about the anxiety, the stress, the nightmares. The craving of your hands and the regret when I feel them on my skin. I am flawed. I have no-self esteem.

You know, I thought I was going to write a lighthearted thing. To be honest, we still don’t know where we stand. And every day that goes by, it gets harder for me. I’m sure you have other women lined up, you have that type of personality.

I wanted to write that there’s actual video evidence, the first time you made me freak out, the time we stood together to talk and when I gave you my number. I wanted to. I just couldn’t.

I still have this faint feeling that I will go through life without a first kiss. I’m okay with that. Do you know how hard it is to be okay with that? People tell you that it’s okay to be alone. Maybe. Maybe I’m just tired of it. No, guy, you’re not going to be superman and I’m not a damsel in distress. Stop telling me how I should feel about loneliness, longings and lusts. Don’t say things if you have never been there, stood alone and pretended everything is okay. I may never have dreamed of my own wedding, but going to weddings on your own isn’t as fun as they say it is.

So, dear Mark, if you ever read this (which is unlikely, seeing as you dislike reading) that’s where I stand.

All The Single Ladies… What?

Last week I lamented a bit. I did the whole “Woe is me, I’m 23 and never been on a date.” thing. I really got bummed out. It did occur to me that I don’t go out nor see other people. Basically, I’m a social recluse. Mainly because I’m still unemployed and I can’t drive. Those things will make people look down at you, hence why I don’t go out. After receiving rejection emails or complete silence you start to send less CVs out because your CV starts to look like the rejection letter. Anyhow… this post is not just about me.

I’ve always had friends who were a bit older than myself. A trend I started in gr. 3, standard one or whatever you want to call it. This why it wasn’t strange for me, as a teenager, to have adult friends. Most of these friends are now either married or extremely single. Only a few guys, but the ladies outnumber them by far. No, they scarily outnumber them about 6:1. That’s excluding myself. Let’s be honest, I’m going to become a shoe lady. Not out of choice, but because life does that.

There’s nothing wrong with these women. They are not crazy, they are all extremely smart and they are wonderful. One of my friends that I’ve know the longest is turning 37, and I am amazed that she’s still single. Not out of choice, really not out of choice. My great friend is in her 30s as well and no one has given her a chance. I find this so sad, for them. I can hear when they get too lonely in their flats, crying tears that no one sees. Falling asleep and dreaming dreams that no one knows how much it hurt. They see other people fall in love, get married, maybe have children and be happy. They see their brothers and sisters getting married, that hurts more. They drink more bottles of wine at weddings and some of them reject invitations because showing up without a +1 is cruel.

These women have become the pillars that keep others going. They are the wise sages who dole out information at a whim. They become a great aunts and “adoptive” aunts. Some of them want to have children, some don’t want children out of wedlock. They are these great human beings that wish that they could one day be that other person, but realises that they won’t. This hurts.

However, these strong women are always made fun of. They are the old maids, the rejected ones, the ugly ones, the crazy ones, the unlikeables. Just because a film or a book said so. Society has decided that they should not stand a chance, they should be ridiculed for who they are. These women are reduced to nothing, but guess what, they feel it. They feel every single stab at them. We dehumanise humanity, that we think people are cold robots. Each and every time my heart breaks over and over for them. Because they deserve more. They deserve the world twice over.

They have never had a first kiss, never had someone make them feel like a million bucks, no one to go things through. I know that they want to do all of this, because one knows their friends. They never had cuddles or any spontaneity of what a relationship brings. You might counter this with heartbreak and suffering. It might be the only blessing in disguise, but these women would like the whole package to make sure they know how it is to fit in to humanity.

I would like to blame it on never dating in high school because I was too weird. But my biggest flaw has to be not telling anyone on how I feel. I get panic attacks, so I doubt that I will ever tell someone. Also, shoes won’t eat you when you’re dead. But those ladies, the wonderful ones., the ones who make food and keep intelligent conversation will always be overlooked. They are not old maids, they are not unlikeable. Sometimes they just build hard shells around them because that is what society expects and they deliver. But this makes them so susceptible to accept any form of love, which includes people who takes advantage of them and especially their bank account.

I wish daily to see or hear from them that they have found someone. My best friend is getting married next year and I am ecstatic, no one deserves it more than her. That’s how I feel like for each and everyone of those ladies. They deserve it. They don’t deserve lonely nights, staring at the ceiling thinking that they are stupid for wanting someone or wanting to build a family. They don’t deserve a cold home, they don’t deserve meals made in the microwave for one, because it’s a waste to just make for yourself.

Sure, they are independent, but they don’t carry it around as a shield. They welcome love, they welcome change, but the world doesn’t like this. Buildings have doors, knock on it and see what happens. They might be sceptical, but trying won’t hurt or it won’t hurt for too long. 

Dear single friends. I love you in my weird way. I hope you can find that love that fills your heart. If not, well we’ll still have all the books and all the romcoms to make us feel all woozy about. We still have our weird crushes and the silence of who we really like. Embrace it, but just know that I know you deserve what you want.

“No, I heard she’s married to him…” or is she a groupie?

A very long time ago, just a while back, I was standing right next to a guy, I knew over Facebook and I heard that whispered. I knew they were talking about me. I was just reaching the end of my teenage years, approximately 18 or 19 – who knows, those years always get smooshed into one. This was not the first time I heard I was married to this particular guy, we just played it out neither acknowledging it nor denying it. Was I married to him? No! Why did people say so? He was a musician and I was that notorious fan on Facebook. I commented a lot, and I mean a lot and we just got to know each other. We even built a family of fans.*

Over the last few weeks I went stalking Facebook, Twitter and just general questions to people, who I knew of course. I just asked them straight up what they thought a groupie was. This is where everything got interesting. People I knew, best friends and just random strangers mostly said the same thing – groupies where just people who got into bed with the musician and they allowed it. I choked a bit. People made groupies sound like they were evil, conniving women/girls. Groupies had become a dirty word. Open up a website where groupies are mentioned and you would come across the worded “slut, whore” and a few more choosy words that I don’t want to dirty my blog with. 

Before they were even popularised, groupies where just fantical fantics. They were almost innocent. But over the years groupies became ‘that’ thing that no one wanted to be associated as. If you were labelled a groupie, that was it. No going back. It always implied that you slept with band members and that you don’t care about the music. Music came second in the groupie race. Or so I thought for years. The word groupie used to mean, trying to make it to as many gigs possible.

At one gig, whilst talking to a friend – waiting for a friend, there was this girl standing at the green room. It was more like a few rooms as this was an outside gig and there were available shop/back room space. aKing just came off stage and this girl was standing there, waiting for each and every band to come past her. She stopped them, and this is what got me, politely shook their hands, introduced herself, got their signatures in a small notebook. The clincher on this was that she tried to lean in and whisper something in each of the and member’s ear. None of them took the bait and you could see the disappointment in her face. She couldn’t have been younger than 15. But she tried her luck with a few bands.

At another mini-concert, a girl stood with the most uncomfortable shoes, a tight dress and tried to flag down a band. She walked into the bathroom crying, while on the phone with whoever on the other end just saying. “Pick me up, now.” That is one thing I’ve noticed, these people always have uncomfortable shoes on. High heels in mud won’t work, nor standing for 6-8 hours. Maybe it’s because I’ve been an outsider to those women that I notice this. But would have called them a groupie. 

Earlier this year, 2015, I accidentally called myself a groupie. Really, accidentally. I went to say hello to one of the guys in a certain SA band, and for some reason the words, “Hello, it’s me that annoying groupie…” spilled out of my mouth faster than I could stop myself. He was all nice and reasonable, I laughed and went all silly trying to backtrack trying to say: “no, no, I mean person.” He then said: “You are my favourite groupie.” Which got me thinking. And I’ve been thinking for a long time. How many people have a labelled groupie over the past 6 years? Do I regret it? Maybe, but to me the word can go both ways.

Sure, there are girls out there who want to sleep with the band. That is their prerogative. It has never affected me directly and I have seen girls being turned down. It’s more embarrassing for me than it’s for them – if it happens in front of me. I’ve gotten over the fact that I do sometimes get called a groupie as a slur. It now just washes over me, a few months ago I might have gotten over emotional  about it. 

I do love the music more than anything. Music is the thing that keeps me going. Music is a forever thing, a word loses meaning and gets a new one every few years. I won’t lose my love for music as fast as that. To all the girls I secretly called groupie inside my head – I am sorry.

* The family: Sabina, Zenia, Sue, Gordon, Bob, MQ, Megan

Musicians are not mentioned for personal reasons.

“Your opinion means nothing…”

What do you think about if I mention ‘The good old days’? For me, that was a time when I was oblivious to life, maybe when I was 5. That was as good as life got – sunshine, fun and just living life as a five year old. Let me introduce you to The Man, I’ll just call him that. In his mid-30s, been fired from every job he had – because if you don’t do things his way it’s wrong, living on dad’s money because he doesn’t want to work and single. Oh and he’s a white male.

To The Man “the good old days”, were a time when women worked behind a stove, raised kids and they were overall just slaves. I also know that this means apartheid to him. How do I know this? Because at least once every few months we have a fight over it. I’ve been raised to realise that as a person I matter. That I am allowed to speak my mind and that my opinions matter. I know that some bloggers think their opinion matters a bit more – maybe theirs do. As long as it is a well rounded, well thought through, and  that has been seen from both sides of the spectrum. By all means, speak your mind, I am not going to shush you, as long as it doesn’t suppress me as a human.

Today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was trying to raise a point with my grandmother on how things have changed and that’s not what men want these days: women who just stand behind a stove. All hell broke loose and this became a fighting point with The Man. To him, I don’t know what I am talking about because “You’re ten years younger and know nothing”. My life means nothing to The Man, because I am aiming to get my licence this year, because I haven’t found work (you’re not even trying dude, you’re just surfing the Internet claiming to be writing a book for the last 7 years, I cry myself to sleep at night as another rejection letter hits my inbox), because I can’t see  without my glasses – which is somehow my fault and makes me less attractive and worthy – and because I haven’t lived according to him. “Your opinions mean nothing…” was thrown in my face. I didn’t grow up comfortably, I didn’t have his support system, I had people who hated me in my family, I’ve been through things that I don’t want to talk about and thus my opinions mean nothing, just because I am ten years younger. I don’t just make up these opinions, I watch what is going on in the world, I read, I listen and sometimes I take from experience.

I won’t tell Amandla Stenberg that her opinions don’t matter, just because she’s 16. You’d be surprised how well-informed most teenagers are, yes they still need to grow, but sometimes they grow faster and more complex than you’d ever imagine. I won’t tell another woman that her opinions don’t count just because she’s a woman. I won’t tell a man what to think. But if the woman or the man’s opinion is so skewed that it’s almost on its head. Maybe, maybe then I would like to inform them. There’s nothing wrong with raising your opinion to inform people what they could change. It is sometimes needed if you only see half the picture. But The Man will never see things that way. I once asked him to describe the woman he wants to marry: “blonde, dumb, big breast and only reliant on me.” I suspects that’s just how he wants all women to be. Just a few weeks ago he said that one of his female friends were ‘a bit of a feminist’ and you could see the disgust in his face. He then proceeded to tell me that and I’m paraphrasing: she’s too independent and she doesn’t need her boyfriend for everything, this annoys the shit out of me.

The Man has been a personal inspiration for me to fight things harder, prove him wrong and I won’t laugh in his face. No, that’s too petty. He’s stopped saying that he’ll sell me, because I’ve been giving him hell about it. He’s the reason why standing on your own two feet and doing better is always worth it. It may be a personal revenge, but it’s one of the few things that keeps me alive. Making sure I will have blood pressure problems when I am older.

To all the people who have been told by a simplistic rigid man, who never has had an open mind, your opinions matter. You can be 14 or 44. No one should bring you down to their level. That’s selfish of them, however listen to what they are saying and maybe there’s a way you could get around that. Don’t wish too hard, not everyone’s eyes will open. There’s a small chance that they would, but it’s so few and far between. Don’t ever be silenced – only be silenced if it is harmful to others and extremely narrow minded. Don’t ever push your opinion down someone else’s throat that they start spitting blood, be mindful and just like I had to learn – know when to pick a fight.

The Internet may have painted a black and white portrait on how things are, there’s such a long way to go before equality for all will be realised. There’s still so much to fight against, there are people in our own homes who will go against you. It is not just older generations it’s our peers, be frightened because of that. If peers have the power to change everything and yet they don’t wield the power wisely. Afraid that they are still too young or too irrelevant. You’d be surprised what a group of people can do. And if you are just like The Man, I am sorry, I wish I could help you.

To All The Strangers I’ve Met

My grandfather could always talk with strangers. To go shopping with him was an experience, as he spoke to people in queues and just wherever he liked. It was an amazing thing to see. People either stopped what they were doing i.e. unloading their shopping or scanning the items, or they didn’t respond back at all. Mostly people felt comfortable with him and he tuned in to them. Never did I think I would start doing the same, at gigs. 

I don’t go to gigs as often anymore. Startups are expensive and mostly failing at the start – for me that’s the truth. Money usually disappear before I can even get a whiff of it. But I’ve been to a few things over the years and this year someone pointed something out – I easily chat to strangers. No matter where I am, I just talk to people I have never met and most likely – not always – never see again. To those with me it’s awkward. I am sorry. But I just think of this as Real Life Twitter, it’s almost the same concept.
It is a skill I picked up when I started working with children and the ability to talk to them and their parents. I used to be so afraid to talk to other people and especially in front of people, I still dislike speaking in front of adults though.

The one person that stands out is from a gig. I don’t get wasted, I’m just there for the music. I really am. Sometimes I have problems keeping people away, I have crushed guys fingers and I’ve hidden in bathrooms – there’s even been “water spill means let’s go” signals. There was this guy Brad, who stood behind me, became the bouncer who stood in front of me. The awkward “guy with a van” and his friends who wouldn’t leave me and my friend alone, Brad scared them off. The drunk guy who wouldn’t leave me alone, Brad became the barrier. So thank you Brad, we’ve never met again, but you really left an impression.

I have met so many interesting people at gigs, book events and just random places. However, I have been a shop assistant – I HATED IT! I need small bursts of people. No matter what, I cannot imagine doing that again. People can also be the worst. People can kill my buzz extremely quickly as well.

The last music gig I went to, I was on crutches, which proved  difficult for me and the idea of standing for a long stretch of time tired me out fast. However, the crutches were a great taking point and a lot of people actually spoke to me. I met a guy who had knee surgery a few months before. A family who were celebrating someone’s birthday or a holiday (I can’t remember). A guy who was afraid that I’ll knock him out of the earth with my crutches. I had another random bouncer – he didn’t actually speak to me, nor did I get his name.

In all these cases I had a friend with me. The most obvious reason is that I still don’t have my license. But there has been a few cases where I don’t know anyone and I stood alone like dork, looking like an angry serial killer (I am serious and very sure about this), and this usually freaks me out. So far I have made some music friends, not always, but sometimes. The worst is going to a house gig and not knowing anyone and no one really interested in talking to you. This happens in Durban quite often where people just clique together and the outsiders just feel like aliens. 

Talking to strangers is wonderful. You guys have just accepted this random woman talking to you. I do think it is an art to achieve. We have become such an isolated society that when people talk to us, it just freaks us out. I don’t have a large friend group or acquaintance with tons of people, but sometimes it’s nice to just to get to know  your neighbour or just be okay with talking to a group of stranger. Sure, I can go out and do it, not everyone can. But sometimes you don’t know how much it is needed for the other person to speak to someone. There’s websites like postsecret that shows us that speaking or just releasing an idea can make a person’s day/week/month.
You don’t have to try it, you don’t have to initiate talking, but maybe you should be able to accept a stranger talking to you.
There have been so many strangers I have met, the cashier is still a stranger, but they are a known stranger. There’s so many stories I’ve been told, so many stories that were made and so many temporary memories that can never be recreated.

This blog post goes out to the strangers that have spoken back. Who have protected. Those who made me laugh and who spoke to me first. This goes out to the strangers who became friends and to those who have become a regular thing in my life. Thank you for entertaining the small ideas, the observations, the brief connections. Thank you to those who have not creeped me out or made me feel threatened. You guys are the reason why humanity works.

The Art of Connecting on the Internet

We are all connected. We have these quaint things, like facebook, twitter, whatsapp and snapchat. Most of us send off emails daily, we double tap photos that we like on Instagram. We carry on in such a way that we know people, that we know everyone because of what they say or how they respond. The truth is, we’re just skimming at the surface or are we?

I’ve met people I “met” on the internet. These people have been in my life for years. They know more about me than some of the people in my life knows me. That’s just how it works. People tend to notice and take into context what you write more than what you say. These are people I have connected with. They are people who, somehow, through the internet think it’s a good idea to forge a friendship in any form. They are however, a small group of people who take notice. How does one connect to people you’ll never know? Not just connecting to thousands when you’re famous or writing bad jokes that people sometimes laugh at, mostly they just ‘blow air through their nose a bit louder than normal’.

I realised there’s a subtle charm in connecting with people in a way that’s vulnerable and yet so truthful to most of us. Seeing that we are not famous, telling jokes but just living a normal life with a bit of sparkle. So when one evening, one of the people I have actually met, tweeted her “#MundanePoetry” for the day, I actually saw behind these quick quipped 140 characters, there was a bit more than normal. I felt a connection, not just a tweet that I’ll brush off until the next tweet. It hit a nerve, this was the truth. Not the rage we feel or the happiness, it was just that. The rest of the day not worthwhile tweeting about.

The art of connecting the the next person seems relatively painful. You don’t want people to know you. You don’t want to admit that your weekend was boring and that you did nothing, nor that your heart is broken. I know there’s some things that should stay private and should not become public. There should be that barrier, or else why does privacy exist? However, not informing people not to tag the both of you in a tweet, seeing that you are now divorced, can prevent some awkwardness.

However, we tend to speculate a person by just reading their tweets (and blogs) or watching their vlog. Year after year, people fake having a disease, they then manipulate their followers out of money. Or they fake being suicidal and then live tweet their run up to their “death”. Just for the fun of it. Does this make us distrust the people around us? Is this why we don’t want to connect to people?

We would not have survived without connection. This is why we date, start families, make friends and whatnot. But in this digital time, we don’t seem to be making friends, we seem to be as distant as we ever can be from people.

There’s an art to connecting to people, we should maybe try it out. Who knows what an adventure it may lead to. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak our mind sometimes, or be afraid that the human behind the screen is not trying to con us out of something. Maybe dabble in a bit of #MundanePoetry, because we have the power to connect with others.

Thanks to @wordsoflizdom on twitter for the Mundane Poetry, which prompted this blogpost.

Panic Attack. Music. Love. Music.

I had a panic attack today, over something silly. It wasn’t fun but I survived it. What was it about? Music. I know it’s strange. An old friend of mine is trying to make a comeback and my head went into a dizzy spin. Then I got talking about my non-existing boyfriend to a friend. He might exist or not, I haven’t met him yet, yet. I then started panicking. Would he understand the love for music I have? Would he realise that between books and music, that they have had my heart for way longer than any person?

I know that sounds cheesy. But this worries me. I have a real bad music addiction that I cannot describe to other people. In some ways it is exactly like a drug.  I listened to one of Mumford and Sons’ new songs – The Wolf and I got anxious, what if it’s too different for people to like? I know it’s not my problem, but it becomes mine, because that’s how much I love music.  I still don’t have a comment on their new stuff, it might just grow on me. I gauge people on how they respond on how much I babble about a certain song and I especially judge a guy on how he responds to my music comments or need to see of bands. I have to say those guys have been few and far between. People don’t like hearing Kendrick and Gangs of Ballet in the same sentence.

There’s a lot of people out there who understand the commitment one has towards writing and reading, so it’s usually acceptable to allocate time spent on that. But when it comes to music, they deem it unhealthy if you are not a musician yourself. I involuntarily started crying the other day when a musician went so off key that I had to sit down at a concert. I felt sick when a sax player went one octave higher and the lead singer went in another direction at a gig. Most people feel music, I breathe it. As a child I spent every waking and asleep hour with a radio on. There was always a radio on, not because I hate silence, but because of the need to hear music.

As young teenagers most of my friends had a boyfriend. Surprise, I didn’t, I was made fun of and was told that I would marry words and have music as a lover. I laughed, thinking this is an absurd notion. Now, now it makes sort of sense. Music has been my constant companion. The right music at the right time, to lift my mood or to accompany my anger. Be it jazz, the blues, the classics and whatever else I listen to. It’s always been there, I hear music when I do something. In the background of my head there’s a song playing while I think of anything else. I do sometimes annoy my family by singing whatever is in my head, this may be the same phrase over and over again for the rest of the day. I did that the other day, I sang the first sentence of Milky Chance’s Stolen Dance.

I have certain playlists for writing, this I keep on changing, I really can’t tell you which playlist was used where. However if you repeat an album for too long you the lyrics may slip up into what you’re thinking. I once accidentally named a short story ‘In the Light of Day’, it bothered me for the whole evening until I realised it was a Jeremy Loops song. So the practice of having an album constantly rotating has gone, because it becomes the norm. I try to change up my music as often now.

If music was a real person, I would be clingy sometimes and not that interested or impressed sometimes. This comes back to the question, would he really understand? I am not sure, maybe that’s why I fall for musicians. They do get it. Do they? I remember the hours I spent on facebook talking just about music. I mean hours, not the mere 2 hours whilst Jon Savage was on air. I mean hours. Maybe it’s because I sometimes behave like a rockstar – said by a musician – or maybe it’s just for the love of music. But future person who I may be interested, please be aware that I care for music just as much as I care for you.