Who Hid My Eggs?

Easter 3Easter is not like Christmas: there is no unattainable fanfare hype; no fears of spending even a second of it alone. Like a trip to the candy store for a sugar fix: Easter will never disappoint. My only expectations of Easter involve me, dozens of hot cross buns, and copious amounts of chocolate. I’m not sure I even want anyone to share it with!

As the long weekend approaches, I am not dreading it the way I dread being single over Christmas. Instead of having a boyfriend give me dirty looks at my desire to quaff down an entire box of mallow eggs, I’m already planning a solo rendezvous with some seasonal culinary delights. If I don’t have a man in my life to eat my furry Easter Bunny, I’ll just have to find my own to eat; the chocolate variety of course…

 
P.O.A.: hit the shops early. (Try avoiding the grocery store downstairs from your gym. If they don’t actually see your decadent shopping habits, you can at least pretend that those extra centimeters hugging your thighs through your gym tights don’t exist.) If the shelves are already bare, be willing to tackle small children and or desperate mothers to get what you want. Stock up on hot cross buns; packets of speckled eggs; a jumbo box of mallow eggs (the 4-piece strips are for sissies); various novelty eggs with little prizes inside; Lindor balls; Lindt bunnies; Lindt eggs; Lindt chickens; Lindt flying saucers; Lindt bloody-whatever shapes Lindt has molded chocolate into this Easter. Next stop: the dvd store for some Romance movies to accompany your solo chocolate feast: it’ll help make you feel less cynical about love as you comfort-eat your way through the weekend. The guys at the dvd store already think you’re a sad old spinster renting movies late at night over weekends, so who cares?!

The Big Day: Breakfast: hot cross buns, toasted and drowned in butter. Mid-morning snack: some novelty eggs and Lindor balls. Lunch: hot cross buns, toasted. If you don’t feel like using butter this time, melt some chocolate bunnies over them. Afternoon snack: time to crack open the jumbo box of mallow eggs. Allow for one third now and the rest to be rationed throughout the rest of the day. I use the word “rationed” lightly. If you finish the whole box before sunset, move on to the Lindt flying saucer-looking things. They may actually be little chicks in baskets, but the blinding sugar crash you’re experiencing is preventing you from seeing straight. Pre-dinner snack: Hello Kitty eggs. Wait, that’s the Hello Kitty novelty toy from your mid-morning snack; you can’t actually eat that. Dinner: more hot cross buns. Screw toasting them: no time. You need to stabilise your sugar levels ASAP. Attempt to start watching first romance DVD. Dessert: the remainder of the box of mallow eggs & speckled eggs (Did they even make the ride home? I think you may have pulled over at some point to fish them out the boot).

Through your sugar haze you see Josh Radnor from one of the movies you were watching come through your door. He’s even hotter in real life and is carrying an over-sized chocolate hamper. He seduces you into polishing off the whole lot with him, sending your sugar levels over the edge. You feel like a slumped out Bugs Bunny with a pot belly. With dark chocolate smears at the corners of your mouth, you ask him to be your boyfriend, and stay with you forever. He declines, saying that, just like Santa Claus, he has many other single women to attend to on this holiday. You beg him not to go. He fades into a mirage, leaving you at a physical & emotional all-time low. Next thing Jesus appears in a glowing orb with stigmata on his hands and feet. He’s carrying an iv drip to stabilise your hypoglycemia. Once homeostasis has been re-established, he warns you against overly good-looking men bearing gifts of chocolate hampers, and points out that if you’re going to spend your weekends indoors watching movies and scoffing chocolate, the only eggs you’ll be hunting for are the ones that were once in your aging ovaries.

Oh how vulnerable us single ladies are to the seductions of modern-day commercialized Easter. I’m like a crack whore at a meth-cooking convention. Perhaps hiding chocolate eggs around the house and garden would be a good way to curb my sugar intake this weekend. If you see a girl passed out on the pavement next to a shiny pile of foil wrappers with melted chocolate smeared all over her hands and face, don’t judge her: just know that she’s taken a break from the hunt for the perfect man to pursue a challenge way more simple and achievable: a hunt to find the perfect Easter egg.
Happy Easter everyone!

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Rock on Romeo

It was with a wary heart that I signed up to an internet dating site for the 4th time in as many years.
Each time the same story: I would dip my toe into the icy and murky waters of the online dating pool for a couple of weeks, and swiftly withdraw it; always vowing never to do it again. Hope can be so blind… and forgetful. Breaking my vow, I decided to give it a(nother) chance; thinking that this time might be different.
As in the past, I sifted through the slim pickings; discarding 99% of what was available, and ended up chatting to just one man; ignoring the messages from “Notsingle” (who was in an openly open relationship) and “007 this ” and “007 that” (all of whom promised excitement and intrigue; I think what lurks undercover in my bathroom drains is more exciting) and  “thelastdecentguy”, who swore he was the answer to all my prayers.
I stopped on a guy about my age who rated himself as “attractive” and with an “average” figure. He didn’t have any pictures, but had a way with words and an impressive knowledge of music that immediately piqued my interest. We began chatting.
When I asked him if he had any photos of himself, he said he was a very “private” person, and wanted to get to know me a bit better first, before revealing what he looked like. The dreamer in me imagined him to be someone rich and famous looking for love; not wanting me to fall for his public persona; wanting me to rather get to know ‘the real’ him first.

We exchanged long messages once a day. I shared pictures of myself; both flattering & unflattering. It was my worst nightmare to give a guy one impression of how I looked, and have him be disappointed when he met me. He still wasn’t budging on his “no photos” stance. After much persuasion, he eventually came back saying if I wanted a good idea of what he looked like, I should check out the folk singer Ray Lamontagne. Not being familiar with him, I Google’d the name. Not really my type, but stylish & clearly creative. I had specifically said I was looking for “a man who keeps in tune with trends in fashion and music but who chooses to dance to the beat of his own drum”. This Ray Lamontagne fellow looked like he might fit the bill.

Ray Lamontagne

Ray Lamontagne

After chatting for just over a week, we agreed to meet for coffee. I was nervous, but had gotten so far in my career of being single, that part of me didn’t care.

I arrived at the restaurant before him; aching to get a glass of wine down my throat to calm my nerves; but not wanting to look like a lush, I chose to wait. With every man who walked through the door, I got more anxious: wondering if they were him; summing each one up and mentally compromising on what I’d hoped he’d look like. I must have looked like a stray dog in a cage at the animal shelter, anxiously awaiting a human to come and claim me. What eventually walked through the door was not quite as close to humanoid as I was expecting.

Hair longer; beard much shorter; hair colour much more blonde; glasses much MUCH thicker, but otherwise a pretty close likeness.

Hair longer; beard much shorter; hair colour much more blonde; glasses much MUCH thicker, but otherwise a pretty close likeness.

A tall beast of a man waddled in hurriedly in a flurry of sweat & sticky polyester. He came up to the table, towering over me; staring through his thick, bottle-rimmed glasses, and said my name as if in a question. He replied, saying his name in the same way.
Like a sudden case of a debilitating motor neural disease, I could feel my entire face sink into a look of complete horror and disapproval. There’s a saying: “a face like a dropped pie”. Mine was chicken and mushroom all over the floor. This was NOT Ray Lamontagne.

 

His version of himself in his online profile:-

Looks: attractive
Figure: average
Hair colour: light brown
Eye sight: I have 20/20 vision
Dress sense: I like my trusty pair of jeans
Reality:-
Looks: Mordor extradited me because my face was scaring the Mordorian children, and the little hunch backs couldn’t run away from me fast enough.
Figure: The circumference of my belly is comparable to that of an old redwood tree. I choose not to mask it, but rather sport it proudly under shirts that are too tight and that I tuck into my high-waisted jeans.
Hair colour: light ginger. One might be able to get away with calling it strawberry blonde.(Let me say here catagorically, that I have nothing against gingers, OR men carrying a little extra weight; it was more the whole package and the shock & anger at having been lied to that had me finding fault with the sum of the parts.)

Eye sight: I’m as blind as a bat and need to wear bottle rim glasses that I clearly have an insecurity about because I choose to deny the fact that I even own them. I keep removing them in the company of unsuspecting women cos I can’t bear to see the look of disgust on their faces. (Nor do I have anything against men wearing glasses; I actually think it can be quite sexy.)

Dress sense: I love to wear white polyester school shirts that my mother buys for me. She also insists that I carry around a hankerchief in my pocket. These she irons for me after she washes them. This is often, as I sweat profusely as I gaze rapey-eyed at vulnerable women while mopping my sweaty brow.

Why I didn’t get up then and there and leave, I don’t know. I kept wanting to say: “I’m sorry. I can’t do this.” and just walk out. Part of me felt guilty for judging him, but most of me felt furious at having been so mislead. A lot of me just felt hugely embarrassed by the whole thing.
I ordered a large glass of wine which I glugged at regular intervals like a self-medicating morphine drip. But it wasn’t enough to numb the pain.

His personality was about as bland as his sweaty white polyester shirt. A blob of cold mashed potatoes was more enticing. His conversation skills were sorely lacking, and I found myself staring blankly at the cricket being broadcast on the screen on the wall behind him.

While we’d been chatting online, he’d mentioned that he was writing something, but was again “too private” to show his work to anyone.
To fill an awkward silence I asked him what he was writing about. His response almost made me bite the glass containing my self-medicating wine.
“A romance novel; a love story”, he said.
“Are you for real?!” ,I thought, but all that came out my mouth was an: “Hmm. That’s nice!”
“But it’s got a bit of adventure in it as well”, he said.
What, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame? I thought. Or King Kong? Hairy beast lures naive maiden and takes her captive.
What on earth could this guy possibly know about Romance? It made me feel dirty just thinking about it. I’d need ten kinds of sheep dip to wash off the sordid feeling of this whole experience!

“What do you do for fun?” He asked,  “Because you seem very serious”. I must’ve been doing a bad job hiding how unimpressed I was.

He had been tediously sprouting Greek philosophers. I thought I’d throw some Modern Psychology back at him.
“Have you ever heard of something called ‘the fundamental attribution error’?” I asked.
He mouthed the words over to himself; arrogantly.
“No”, he replied. Surprised by his own answer.
“Well”, I said. “The fundamental attribution error is this: if, for example, you see a woman in the grocery store at the till shouting at the teller, you’d immediately assume she’s not a very nice person. Meanwhile, her husband may have just died and she’s having a hard time; or she’s lost her job and her credit card’s been declined & she feels really embarrassed; or she’s just having a really bad day. The fundamental attribution error is attributing someone’s behavior to their personality, rather than the situation they are in.”

In other words, fella, I am NOT a very serious person. If I seem this way, it is because of YOU; because you told me you looked like Ray Lamontagne, when who you more accurately resemble is Quasimodo; with a persona to match. So if I come across as serious it’s because all I want to do right now is be as far away from you as possible, but I’m trying my hardest to be polite!

I think he got the message because he mumbled something about me being disappointed because he didn’t look the way I thought he would. I didn’t hear quite clearly as my ears were starting to ring from the sudden intake of wine!
I muttered something in response along the lines of: “it’s not just that; it’s LOTS of things!” Because it wasn’t just his looks. His mashed potato personality was also really hard to be around. And his lies and deception had my skin crawling like a cobra.

He nursed his draught beer as if he never wanted it to end. So without any suggestion from his side of ever leaving, once I’d finished chugging down my wine, I firmly said I had to get going.
We said our goodbyes.
“Drive safe!” I told him. I didn’t know what else to say! It was NOT nice to have met him? And I did NOT hope to see him again anytime soon; in this lifetime OR any other?
What I SHOULD’VE said with a smile and a wave was: “You drive safe back to Mordor now you hear!”

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Merry Christmas To Me

ImageOkay, enough with the serious and sentimental stuff. After playing nurse maid to a broken heart and a new career the past few months, I think the real me is finally ready to come out and write about the sorta stuff that made my friends encourage me to start this blog in the first place: the silly stuff. And what better time than the silly season.

This is the real me: the girl who has cows chase her while she’s working. The girl who successfully jumps in her car & pulls the handbrake up while it’s rolling down a hill into 2 lanes of oncoming rush hour traffic. The girl who rips up lavender bushes while drunk and gives them to random men. The girl who gives her old stilettos & cocktail dresses away to street prostitutes. And the girl who’s sitting alone on Christmas eve writing this. Thank God after years of having such a micro family and no boyfriend to celebrate with, I’ve become incredibly un-sentimental. If not this story would have a far more somber tone.

As usual, I have no decorations up this year. Visual cues only serve as painful remainders over sentimental occasions such as Christmas. I reckon if I treat it like any other day, the likelihood of feeling depressed and lonely will be minimized. No tree. No decorations. No Christmas carols. No media. But, as usual, I went a little overboard on the presents. A typical co-dependent: leave my own nest sparse, and line those of others with luxury. This thought kept ticking over in my head as I got into my old cronky car while my phone kept receiving sms notifications updating me on my latest credit card purchases. As I closed my boot filled to the brim with shopping bags, I was painfully reminded of the recently acquired massive dent from yet another sad faulty handbrake story. I mentallt calculated that I could’ve used the money I’d just spent on presents to fix it.

Christmas is a tricky time for us co-dependents. It’s like the chocoholic’s version of Easter; or the alcoholic’s version of New Year. I had to stop myself from emptying my wallet to the 2 beggars at the traffic lights this afternoon in honor of festive spirit. I did manage to fulfill my giving addiction by having a very timeous Spring clean these past few days.  The many trips to the dump and various charity shops were most satisfying. One of the oddest items I found in my clear out, was among my old yarn and knitting needles. It was an ancient pouch of tobacco: full. Now I can say with all honesty that I’ve never really been a smoker. I smoked a few cigarettes over the years in my late teens, and that was about it. Which meant that this had to be at least 15 years old. I figured someone would be very happy to have it: cigarettes  are not cheap nowadays.  Instead of making the long trip to the dump, I popped down to the local recycling depot with my small load of paper and glass. The container was all closed up when I got there, but one of the car guards tried his luck masquerading as a recycling person. He was not shy to remind me what time of year it was, & boldly suggested I should be generous and give him something. I handed him the pouch of tobacco. He grabbed it and quickly put it in his pocket (this is something I’ve noticed street people do when you give them something of value; that is if it’s pocket-size of course. I’d like to have seen what he’d have done with a large roast turkey. Or that very fancy men’s blazer I’d given to the mumbling dread-locked clay-caked guy earlier that day). I drove off and felt all warm and fuzzy inside imagining how much money he’d be able to save with the tobacco I’d given him.  I imagined the Christmas joy he would feel getting his nicotine fix.

Later that afternoon I made a trip to my friends’ house to drop off an old painting of mine from the Spring clean. As they were smoking, I asked them: “Out of interest, how long does tobacco last?” I wanted my old pouch to be truly enjoyed. “A few months. Maybe 2 months. “ I told them my story. They laughed. The words “tinderbox”, “whoosh”, and various explosive noises were flung back and forth. If I see a car guard with a sooty face, no eyelashes, and burnt eyebrows, I should apparently run and hide.

Games to play on single Christmas eve: 2 weeks ago I went to a friend’s Christmas party. We all did secret Santa. I ended up getting a jar of dry Christmas brownie mix, which included flour, sugar, cocoa, raisins and chocolate chips. The raisins were in a sealed packet in the jar. The chocolate chips mostly sat on top, but were also mixed in with the other ingredients. What fun it’s been these past couple of weeks playing “sift the chocolate chips out the sugar”.  I finished the top sugar layer, and this evening moved onto the next flour/cocoa layer. The game has gotten more challenging with cocoa in the mix. At times I thought I’d stumbled across large mutant choc chips, only to be disappointed to realize they were just clumps of cocoa.

Other games to play solo on Christmas eve: eat other people’s presents for the phantom Christmas party. And no, that’s not “The Ghost of Christmas Past”. I said: “the phantom Christmas party”. A large portion of my present shopping  this year has been for presents for my extended family who I THOUGHT I would be seeing tomorrow for Christmas lunch. After multiple messages with no reply, I am going to assume that the initial invitation has now dissolved. It’s okay: I just ate one of the chocolate Christmas lollipops for one of the phantom children in protest for the time and money I’ve wasted. Next I’ll be moving on to the chocolate Lindt balls for the phantom adults. It’s kinda like dinner for one without the booze.  How sad. I’m too proud to start ringing up friends and asking them if I can now take them up on their Christmas day offers. I’ll survive. I can stick it out for one day; even if it is Christmas day. And besides: chocolates for phantom people carry phantom calories, so I can munch away all I like! (God help me if my cousin rings up tomorrow and asks where I am…)

Merry Christmas all!

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From LPs to MP3s

MOURNING THE LOSS OF TANGIBLE SOUND STORAGE

On my one of my usual jaunts to Cavendish Square yesterday, I caught a glimpse of the now closed Look ‘n Listen store buried in the corner as I nipped past to Stuttafords. It was like seeing an atrocity committed to nature, like the burning of the rain forests with monkeys still stranded in the trees. Or coming across a shImageared video on Facebook about the ugly journey that meat takes to get onto your plate. I had to look away, but the image stuck in my head and haunted me when I woke up this morning. I’d seen this coming earlier this year when they were refusing to take orders for CDs and DVDs. I knew then, from their increasingly empty shelves what was happening. Given their polite and proud approach, I thought it best to not ask questions. In truth, I avoided going there for fear of them not having what I wanted and having to be reminded again, politely and ambiguously, about their looming close of business.

So, out of necessity, after many years of resisting, I finally started the process of learning to access music online. I felt like I was being unfaithful : not only to tangible music storage, but to the artists I loved so dearly, and indeed to myself and my own personal past relationship with the art and the medium that sustained it.

When I was little I purchased LPs for as long as I possibly could. Given my age and the rise in technology, that didn’t make for much time, but still I formed a small but much-loved collection that I treasure to this day. When I started out growing the Noddy, Famous Five, Carike Keuzenkamp Sings Children’s Songs, and Beatrix Potter (although the magical sounds of Mrs Tiggy Winkle being read out loud & accompanied by an even more magical xylophone each time she appeared, charmed me into my pre-teen years; long after it should have) records that my mom had lovingly bought me, I began spending my pocket money on my own music. Rick Astley, Roxette, Kylie Minogue, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Soundtrack, Fuzzbox (eat your heart out Lady Gaga. Have a look on You Tube if you don’t believe me)…. My sister and I had more music to our collective name, but because I had the orange and beige Fisher Price record player in my room, while she bought tapes, my acquisitions were always vinyl. I even had a black velvet record cleaner in matching orange case. Like petting a black cat, that black velvet had to be the softest thing my little fingers knew. I always had to resist my desire to stroke it with my dirty fingers. From an early age I was taught great respect for the material my favourite audio material was stored on.

When I started high school my mom bought me a stereo: 2 tape decks topped with a record player. If we’d had a man in the house I suspect we’d have advanced to a CD player as soon as they hit the market, but as a house filled with women, we had little desire for complex modern technology.  (Figuring out remote controls, microwaves, and how to program video recorders was bad enough.)

When I’d outgrown Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue (who I had also listened to for perhaps a bit longer than was age-appropriate), I found myself hitting Green Market square and bee-lining for the second hand record stand. The owner of the stand always had a dark, pimp-like quality to him. Searching through the records was like going through discarded love letters. Were these albums no longer good enough for their listeners? And if not, why not? Purchasing them and listening to them I let them into my heart and made them feel loved once more. Their covers were tattered and torn, their vinyl was scratched in places, but their beauty was still distinguishable through their aging outer packaging.

The Cure… The Sugar Cubes… Albums that came out when I was far too young for their complex sound and their now even more complex past. But I opened my mind, often bought on a whim, and embarked on various unexpected love affairs.

When CDs became the next best thing in the early 90’s, I resisted buying them for as long as I could, often spending more than the price of the CD, to order the same album on cassette. I remember waiting eagerly for weeks after ordering The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siamese Dream” on tape. Pearl Jam. Nirvana. Soundgarden. Dinosaur Junior. Alice in Chains. Most of these weren’t available in South Africa at the time (period), let alone on cassette. I was lucky enough to have a best friend with a shared love of music whose father travelled a lot, and was eager to please his young daughter. He must’ve looked very hip in his suit and middle age asking for such a thorough range of Grunge music. He must’ve also looked a bit backward & outa place I guess, asking for it on cassette instead of CD!

When ordering tapes stopped becoming an option, and my sister moved back home for a while after dropping out of varsity with a portable CD player in tow, I eventually and reluctantly switched to the new silver medium. I’d spent years and years of nursing emotionally wounded cassettes, getting to know the workings of their inner psyche; knowing when to spank them gently or hard (anyone who’s owned tapes knows what I’m talking about); how to clean them; knowing the noise they make when you’ve pushed them too far and their hearts just can’t go on; when their black ribbons explode out of their chests, even knowing how to do the surgery necessary to put them back together. It’s a skill I’ll probably never use again, but one I’m proud to have in my past.

When CDs came out, they offered the promise of an endless love: a technology so advanced, that they would last for decades. They wouldn’t scratch like vinyl (ahem) and they wouldn’t stretch like tapes. They were the way of the future. Their unfamiliar silvery appearance warranted respect and care.  Although they were supposedly indestructible, and visually far more simple than what had come before, we instinctively treated them like mini deities. It seemed that we had met our perfect match: one so strong & reliable that we would share a bond well into the future. What we did not expect, as humans don’t, is that the present would become the past: that technology would advance even further, and that our tastes in music would change once more. What once seemed like infatuation, would become yet another short-lived marriage to be tossed out amongst the love letters and mix tapes and ticket stubs and worn out band t-shirts and curly-edged posters. There would be no more holding, no more caressing, no more carefully opening dog-eared album covers to read song lyrics or check up on band members’ names. No more (sometimes cheesy) 3 dimensional storage solutions for lovingly housing our collections. The multi-sensory experience of not just listening to music, but touching it, smelling it, looking at it, was all about to change.

When TOP CD opened its doors in the basement of Cavendish Square and the upper level of The V&A Waterfront, their stores looked and felt like the inside of a spaceship. The hi-tech lighting and  silver, red & black finishes all reminded one of the advanced technology for sale. I remember sitting on stools that, at the time, looked like miniature aliens, and pouring over albums and albums of music before deciding what to buy. I like to imagine I was one of their best customers. I often spent all my money there. I was also probably one of their most demanding: placing many complicated orders for artists their staff had never heard of. (Nowadays if you walk into Musica and ask for something obscure, they look at you blankly and say “Sorry, but it’s not on our system.” So much for modern technology…) Perhaps their willingness to supply obscurity didn’t make for good business in a society whose ears were governed by the Top 40. Eventually, in the late 90’s, TOP CD closed its shiny spaceship doors. They had a massive closing-down sale, and auctioned off everything that was left- including their shop fittings. The alien listening chairs actually ended up being bought by my cousin. I lived with him for a bit while studying. They lost their futuristic status and were relegated to the wooden floor alongside our kitchen counter. They carried many a conversation. At parties, they were used for drunken bouncing and rocking rather than sanctified listening.

When Terminator II: Judgment Day was released in 1991, us girls drooled over Edward Furlong playing John Connor. The boys… well I guess they drooled over the cool motorbike, guns, and ground-breaking special effects. And we all had “You Could Be Mine” on repeat (rewind-play of course) The movie spoke of a time in the future where evil cyborgs would rule the world. Our fleshy, fragile humanity was to be destroyed by cold, hard metal. There would be massive, hot explosions and the robots would rise up. The threat to our humanity was the physicality of technology. Today, as I was downloading my music purchases instead of unwrapping their packaging, taking them out their cases, and leafing through their album covers, putting visual association to their sound, I realised that glass and steel and plastic and chrome were not the enemy: it was the increasing loss of physical contact; the numbing of multi-sensory experience.

We often use the word “clinical” to describe the aesthetics of modern functional design. Cold. Smooth. Hard. Inorganic. Symmetrical. All these words appeal to our sensory responses to them: temperature; texture; visual balance. Just because they are further removed from the essence of our being than natural-based products, it does not mean that they cannot still connect with us on a sensory level. As I pressed the flat button on my laptop to agree to the terms and conditions of my online musical purchase, I felt robbed: robbed of the joy of holding the sound in my hands; robbed of being able to add another piece to my collection; robbed of the experience that gathering music has always been for me. I felt sad; and a bit scared. I realised that we had far greater things to fear than the death of albums and the rise of MP3s; than the consumption of the natural by the man made.

When I log onto the internet, I get prompted to “connect”, and when I want to log off, I need to select “disconnect”. An interesting choice of words, when in human terms, in each case we are doing the exact opposite. In living through our computers and cell phones, we are beginning to eliminate contact; eliminate real connection. I think we’re all aware of this to some extent. I don’t know which is scarier, the looming threat of overpopulation, and the obliteration of our earth, or the potential of physical and sensory isolation/ deprivation. Perhaps considering a combination of the two is the scariest thing of all: a world overrun with drones of humans, all in such close proximity to one another, but each unaware of how to truly “connect” with the next. Living vicariously through our cell phones and tablets and laptops, we are becoming the cyborgs, and we are doing it so effortlessly. Or perhaps it is being done to us with so little resistance. Believing that we know someone by spending hours talking to them online, rather than getting to know the lines on their face. Telling someone you love them by typing it onto a keyboard rather than whispering it in their ear. Or worse still, reading those words in standard font and feeling them warm your heart. Are we going to forget what it’s like to truly feel, smell, hear, touch, taste? We’ve already separated ourselves from nature with our reliance on technology. How much further will we go?  At what point will we just plug our brains in and stimulate the pleasure centres and believe that we are happy and fulfilled?

Of all the science fiction celluloid images that stand out in my mind, the one that scares me the most, is a scene from Part II of The Matrix Trilogy, where we are shown machines harvesting foetuses. Acres and acres of warm-looking translucent artificial wombs are connected to a system of wires, both feeding them and feeding off them. The glowing red foetuses stand out amongst their dark trellises and huge metal machine “farmers” like tiny poppies in a dusty field.

“The human body generates more bio-electricity than a 120 volt battery, and over 25 000 BTUs of body heat. Combined with a form of fusion, the Machines had found all the energy they would ever need. There are fields of you; endless fields where human beings are no longer born; we are grown.”       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEHoU0lWyx8

Photo courtesy of http://www.alquemyenterprises.com.mx/

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Contemporary Coffee Culture

COMPROMISE OR DESIRE? THE HIPSTER WAY TO SERVE COFFEE
coffee shopIt seems that the current trend in coffee shops is heading into the dangerous realms of conceptualism. They are becoming the installations of epicure; the Dada of the dining world.
Squeeze a few people in a broom cupboard and label it a cafe. Serve food and drink in proportionately tiny helpings and charge a ridiculously disproportionate price. Slap a few chairs and tables on the side of the road, and market it as ambience. Dogs sniffing at your food; drunken homeless people harassing you; chair legs awkwardly sinking into the wet grassy verge:- ambience. It ain’t easy to maintain your level of hipness when fighting off the ambience!
Create a supposedly rustic atmosphere with a bunch of doped-up hippy barristers, who clearly grow, harvest, roast and grind their own beans in the time that it takes them to get you your cuppa, and label yourself as “slow”. Since when did the word “slow” become so cool? Since when was it something restaurants actually used as a draw card? It makes absolutely no business sense whichever way you look at it! It’s also not a good idea to warp time while seating clientele on child-sized furniture of awkward proportions. Not only is it uncomfortable, grumpy-making and QUITE undignified (a man should not be expected to sit on anything that resembles Barbie patio ware, and a woman should never be asked to sit on a squatty wooden thing that is clearly nothing more than an old tree trunk. The lumberjack look may be in for shirts, but that’s about as it should go for ladies), it is quite dangerous to withhold caffeine from those waiting for a fix at the best of times. Add the through-the-rabbit-hole dimension of quirky out of proportion chairs and tables, and you could quickly have a few troubled minds on your hands.

It is rather disturbing to watch a naked emperor parading down the street and to be the only one cheering him on. It is equally disconcerting to be in an art gallery and to really not like the dirty knickers with the ridiculously expensive price tag. Perhaps this present trend in quirky, inefficient eateries speaks of a current desire to find depth and/or charm in the mundane-ness of daily life. Perhaps it speaks volumes for the natural charm being so quickly swallowed up by technology. A single weed in a concrete jungle can be a beautiful thing. Perhaps it’s a sign of man’s coming to terms with giving up. Give us this day our daily moldy bread. Very soon that tiny grassy verge and broom cupboard coffee shop could be replaced with high rise apartments and a parking lot. The last piece of space is a beautiful thing.
I am not a coffee drinker myself, so perhaps I should not knock the lengths that people go to, to have a pleasant drinking experience. I do know that I would happily stand on one leg, or perch myself on a pin to get a taste of a generous portion of a high quality hot chocolate. Perhaps these purveyors of slow service, cramped, uncomfortable, low cost settings, and yes, apparently delicious coffee, know exactly the need they’re fulfilling: not just in the form of a caffeine fix, but a need for something “different”; something to take you away from the realms of everyday mass-produced shopping mall uniformity.
And THAT, my friend, is good business sense whichever way you look at it!

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I Carried You in my Heart

LISTENING TO THE SONG IN YOUR HEART RATHER THAN THE BABBLE IN YOUR HEAD
gold Heart1When I met you I did not think about you. Most men, I put in my head. I try to fathom them out. In my mind, I map out my potential path with them. I imagine what “could be”, and the positive imaginings bring me a strange sense of comfort. But the imaginings are always just that: imaginings. Reality is usually quite different.

I’d always known this was unhealthy, but it somehow made me feel good, so it was something I battled to stop myself from doing. My head would play the game, my body would follow, but my heart would always be in conflict. I would try to think myself into believing the men I met were right for me, even if my heart did not feel it. I would fight with my heart and question it. There must be something wrong with it. My heart would have to learn to keep3 quiet and make do with what my mind decided.

So for many years, my head tried to control my heart. It was a constant battle. When relationships would fail, my head would eventually give in, admit that it was wrong, and surrender to the rhythm of my heart. In between all the wrong decisions it made, it’d dance to the lonely beat, and in those moments, ironically, my head was most at peace.  My heart would sing, and my legs would usually run to carry me as far away as possible from where my head had brought me.

Then, in a whirlwind, I met you. Your presence was so strong, that my head was gobsmacked. Its unhealthy babble was silenced. It had no thoughts to feed me; no old, controlling patterns to try act out. I didn’t think about you in the way I used to think about other men I met. I didn’t try to fathom you out. I didn’t try to imagine the various possibilities of puzzle pieces fitting into place. It just WAS. And you just WERE. My head was clear, and it was so refreshing. You were not in my head, but I carried you in my heart. My heart sang with joy at this chance encounter. It didn’t worry about the “what if’s” the way my head did. My heart moved my legs: not to run away, but to dance. With no head to question, there was no past or future, there was only now. All the heart knows is the present. Its beats can only follow one after the other, and with each beat, my heart felt fuller.
To be continued…

Photo courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com/pin/450571137690908834/

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The List

THE SHOPPING LIST FOR MY PERFECT MAN
I gave God a shopping list. I wrote it in my heart and I kept it in my prayers.

The years wore on and it felt like God had forgotten my request. He was taking an awfully long time at the shops. I became distracted waiting, and other things not on the list drifted in and out of my life. But, although the heart may misplace, it never forgets. When my heart was lonely it would go back to that list: crossing things off; replacing them with other things. Maybe my list was asking too much? Maybe a simpler list would send a faster response to my prayers? I would shout at God in the darkness of my thoughts. Demand that he hurry up. Threaten to forget about the list all together if he didn’t.

the list 1aMore time wore on and I learnt how to make do without the list. I learnt how to love myself. I learnt that distractions were more dangerous than they seemed. I learnt how to not get distracted. I learnt how to love myself despite my mistakes. And eventually I learnt that I shouldn’t change a single item on the list. I learnt that I had to learn how to be patient; that God’s time was not always on my time. (Besides, I had little right to make demands when my own ears were so slow to respond to His calls.)

Eventually I tied one end of the list to a navigational star, and wrapped the other around my heart. It became aligned to my inner compass. I stopped trying to map a route myself, and allowed the cosmic winds to do with me as they chose. I began thinking less and trusting more. I began to find peace. Peace bred faith. In the loneliness, faith would come and tap me on the shoulder and remind me of its presence. When one lives in faith, one expects little.

Then one day, God returned to me with the list; unannounced. There were no bugle calls; no stately parades. The was no messenger foretelling His arrival. There was no time for me to prepare, and there was no moment for me to feel unprepared. For in truth, I was always prepared. I had forged each item on the list with my own mind; penned each one with my own hand. I had created the list with my thoughts, and had given it to The Creator to make real. And when he returned it, completed, I understood why he had taken so long: I knew in full what I had only known in part. Forces of nature cannot be rushed. They do not act on our command. They are wise beyond our comprehension. Their harmony and silent strength are always true.

I had many things of beauty on my list. Many dreams that some may say were absurd. Ideas that were just too big for the grasp of reality. But I had to allow a voice for my vast heart.

I had had faith in God’s omnipotence to grant me the items on my list in the blink of an eye. When he returned my completed list, I was reminded that even He laboured lovingly for millions of years shaping the perfect universe. And now I saw how he had laboured just as lovingly over my list. I understood the sort of quality that can only come with time.

Hair as soft as an afternoon breeze sweeping across the grasslands of The Great Plains. Eyes as bright as the first stars in the evening sky, and as deep as the cosmos. Lips like dew on velvety petals. A jaw to fit perfectly in my cupped hands and to cradle like a dove. Arms as strong as majestic stone and an embrace as warm as embers. A smile soft enough to both sooth my heart and make it skip a beat. A mind like the libraries of Alexandria with the power to endlessly intrigue and delight. The presence of a majestic tree offering me comfort in its branches. And, like a tree, had seen its seasons. The painful fall of weeping Autumn leaves. The harsh vulnerability of an icy winter. And now, my list stood before me, in all its glorious springtime blossom, its beautiful flowers unfamiliar to itself. As I took it all in, I was overwhelmed. And I understood the wait.
To be continued…

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