I don’t want to adult

Today, I am 29 years old and will be for the next 7 months and 5 days and 11 hours.
Ticking biological clock? Nay, my clock is losing battery power after having been ticking aggressively for a while now. 30 is a big freakin’ deal. Really. And it’s 7 months, 5 days, 10 hours and 59 minutes away from being my reality.

Am I ready? No. Hells no. This just does not fit in with the great plan I had for my life. And yeah, I get the lesson – things don’t always go as planned, life is meant to be lived, etc, etc.. yatta yatta what what. Still, it’s happening and I have no kids to speak of… except for the cutest little bunny rabbit, Hip Hop (should we get another, he will be called Dennis Hopper), who is my substitute kid for all intents and purposes… Marc and I are in the process of buying our own place … to live in sin, as the old folk say… and I am still driving a shitty car that has me risking my life each time I get behind the wheel.

I do adult things – I have debit orders. I make grocery shopping lists. I no longer get asked for my ID – ANYWHERE. That last one kills my spirit. But, if I could go back to being a blissfully unaware kid or a rebellious teen who believed that she was completely invincible – then great. I could be that girl for a few more years. This, though – this leaving my 20s thing? Nope. Can’t do it. I joke about how I’ve been 24 for 5 years now and everyone laughs – their smiles laced with a bit of pity. “Shame. She’s delusional.” Probably. Most likely. But, it helps me hold on to my elusive “youth” a little while longer. Because 30 is scary and old and responsible and I don’t feel it.

I’m also in that difficult age where I’m a bit too old to be clubbing every weekend with the young’uns and very much too young to be going to a “bring your own platter and XYZ” party at a hall. I also detest family gatherings where the unmarried cousins have to go through a barrage of questions about our hopefully soon-to-be pending nuptials and our uterus. Specifically, why is no baby coming out of it? And of course, we work too much, travel too much – why haven’t we settled down? There are a ton of placatory responses… we use them to sate their curiosity and appease our own fears.. but what I really want to say is “BACK OFF!”

Oh well.

So, yes, good people. This is my countdown…7 months, 5 days 10 hours and 45 minutes. And then what? I experience a very anticlimactic 30th birthday… a watered down farewell ceremony to my 20s? Perhaps. Still… I must honour that spirit within me. The one that still responds in song or interpretive dance when the mood strikes… who can absolutely go crazy in a toy store, who begged and pleaded with Marc to take her to the circus a couple weeks ago and that sometimes, when she forgets that people may be watching, lives freely in the moment.

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Hello? Epiphany are you there? It’s me, Lauren

I stood alone on a secluded beach in Port Edward – myself, a ten-pack of stuyvie blue and my thoughts and I felt like I was waiting for something.

Surely these moments are what most epiphanies are made of? I had seen so many characters in movies … read of so many characters in books who had stood in this same position and suddenly the answers were given to them as if from the sea itself.

But as I looked out at the supposedly (probably) shark-infested waters of the wild coast … I got nothing. Well, except for a Bond-like action scenario involving a speed boat, a Russian villain and Halle Berry a la Swordfish. I was Bond.

Anyway…

I decided to walk, hoping that the now murky waters of my mind would reveal something. Some propagation of an idiosyncrasy that I could ponder about … Instead,  I was thinking about the soundtrack of my Bond scenario and thought maybe Lorde and Florence Welch could get together and make magic. Maybe even an Amy Winehouse hologram would do the trick – technology what what.

Then that joke – A dell rolling in the deep – made me laugh out loud and I looked around, embarrassed at how my guffaw was grabbed by the wind and maybe travelled to other beach-goers. But, no, I was alone.

On a SECLUDED beach.

On a cold, overcast day.

Suddenly, the sea was not the only intimidating factor. I also remembered that I was hopeless at running in sand. I could also just be hopeless at running. But that’s not the point.

My romantic idea of standing on a beach, by myself, gazing out at a wild and powerful ocean and thinking that I’d find answers to the questions that plague me… that if I allow myself this moment of solace I’d be able to reckon with a few of my demons.

Alas, my demons and I got shit scared, regrouped and legged it for the exit.

Not very Bond like. At all.

I’ve hit the “We’ve been together for a year now” mark

Yes, … a whole year has gone by and I still have my man. You know what this means?

I don’t have to shave/ wax my legs as often?
No, well yes, but whatever. Focus.

It holds no significant or profound meaning other than that it’s a wonderful occasion to celebrate. More importantly, though, it’s the opportunity to celebrate me and how I have allowed myself to be vulnerable with the person that I love … and he loves me even more for it.

It’s the freedom of being completely myself … with “all your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections”. The honeymoon phase, aka putting my best foot forward phase, has come and gone and in it’s place is a warm and fuzzy state of bliss and a promise of more and more. What’s not to love?

I must admit that having reached this particular milestone has warranted an audible sigh of relief from my side because knowing it’s legit and KNOWING it’s legit are actually two very different things. You may agree. I could also just be crazy. Ahem.

Anyway, I do feel more excited about what’s next… there’s no comfort zone on the horizon. It still feels phenomenal and magical and sunshine-y and great. Hallmark also want to sue me for pulling rank on the soppy and romantic cheese, but I’m dealing with that in my own special way. I’ve also slipped in some hardcore rap tracks into my playlist. The risk that my pimp card may be revoked is becoming more and more imminent the more I profess my unconditional and growing love in ways that would have normal people cringing. Well, so what? Build a bridge.

I’m lucky that there’s this man who thinks I’m the bees knees. Actually, he thinks that I’m more than that, to the point that he gave me his heart in exchange for mine, and left me feeling like I got the sweeter end of the deal – he’d argue this, I’m sure.

But, I’m happy. He’s happy. If he got me that chocolate labrador puppy that he said he’d get me, I’d be happier. But still, I’m smiling.

Stop it! For real. Stop.

If we have evolved as a society, as a nation … if we have histories that are inundated with lessons from which to learn … and if we encourage a culture of critical thinking, then why is it that our newspapers read like horror stories?

Why is that people are dying at the hands of others in the most cruel ways? Why is it that young children lack respect and integrity? Why is it that our governments fail us and wars are initiated at the expense of the innocent?

Why are we led to believe that we live in a free, democratic state yet gross violation of our constitutional rights occurs each day? Blatant corruption taints the very fibre of society and the man on the street is still hungry and still unemployed.

What about the young boy who was murdered by his peers at school? Who steps in to advocate for his life? And what of the 7-month old baby – brutally raped and left for dead? Up flies the hash tag on Twitter – pledge your support or express your disgust and your shock in 140 characters – you’ve done your bit. Tomorrow something else will be trending and you will be ready, smartphone in hand, ‘contributing’.

And while all of this is going on, right outside your door, you are busy signing online petitions for Palestine and Syria … hoping that North Korea does not in fact commence with their nuclear warfare operations … and are turning your nose up, incredulous, that Mugabe has successfully managed to rig an election once more.

Around the dinner table, you engage in these debates, chardonnay in hand, and your eyes well with tears when you remember the picture you saw on Facebook of 4 siblings, lying together, bloodied and dead and you ask yourself “What is wrong with the World?!”

What is wrong with us … with you … with me, if we feel talking about it and reeling at the dreadfulness of it, is enough? What’s scarier is that sometimes we cannot even feign shock. We read a story of a minister who raked up a budget of a couple of million in personal travel and accommodation – “Ho, hum – typical” and our eyes briefly take in the image of young children sitting outside because they have no classrooms in which to learn and then we are reminded that at some stage this year, Limpopo schools were meant to get textbooks. Oh well.

Oh, what’s this? Oscar Pistorius had to appear in court? And before you can say “Get me a YOU magazine at the shop”, the entire world is focusing on this story, and wondering, again, if the next OJ is in fact from South African shores.

So, again, what is wrong with us … with you … with me, if sensationalism and scandal holds greater significance in our lives as opposed to the social ills that plague our country? If we lament and moan and wonder about how it is that people became so ruthless and cruel … calculating and cold… that we are forced to live in fear of our lives being as valuable as our cellphones, and whether Australia or Canada is the better option, without actually attempting to do something about this … then what is the point, really?

We forget the power we have when we stand as a united front for or against something. We forget the significance of mobilising an entire community to drive the change that they want to see. Why are we so scared?

Wait… here’s the question. What can we do about this?

We can stop accepting it. How about that for a start, huh?

#TwitPicYourKuku

#TwitipickYourKuku was trending on Twitter last week. Yes, trending. For a few hours, young women were taking snapshots of their nakedness and uploading it to twitter for the WORLD to see.

To say that I was shocked is a severe understatement, and I am surprised that it did not have any more people standing up in arms over this. Perhaps we were too busy reeling from Max and Montle’s audacity.

Instead, people seem to have accepted that this is the degenerative state of our society whereby we tolerate whatever bullshit we are exposed to. But, no. Because just the week before, we were out on a public lynching mission with FHM’s Max and Montle being our desired victims and they jumped on the “Open Letter to South Africa bus” and we turned our back on them after spitting on their ‘apology’ and carried on with our merry lives.

Meanwhile, your daughter could have been instagram-ing her vajayjay and uploading it to Twitter while you sat in your comfy chair by the fire, reading your paper and wondering if Kate was going to drop this royal baby yet. Well, she did. Kate, not your daughter.

So, yes, there it was, a number of illicit photographs being uploaded to the Twittersphere while we sipped our tea and complained about the weather. Ye gads, some girl has managed to give us a shot of her boobs in the same picture. Is this the free and easy porn that they speak of? No, man. Put that shit away.I certainly do not need to see your coochie in the various filters Twitpic now offers us. No thank you.

More importantly, though, what does this say about us as people? Is this really freedom of expression? Yes, you may have the option to take naked pictures of yourself, and yes, you may share them with whomever you want, and fine, go ahead, upload them to Twitter and Facebook – no problem. But do you actually want to be that person?

Your private parts are private for a damn reason. It’s not meant to be splashed across Twitter timelines along with blatant coaxing to your followers to come and ‘have a go’ and/ or descriptors that belong in hardcore pornos. No. Stop it.

How about you Twitpic your integrity? Oh wait, you’ve lost that along with your self-respect.

My brief obsession with Gossip Girl

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The title of this blog post shocks me. Honestly. But I don’t really mind. I have had a very intense relationship with Gossip Girl these past 3 months.

It all started when I finally laid my grubby paws on the full 6th season. What joy! I had been waiting patiently to watch the culmination of the lives and stories of the rich and scheming Upper East siders that we love to hate… and love to love… as well as the not-so-rich but equally scheming Brooklynites. Finally, the big reveal – who is Gossip Girl?

If you are anything like me, you cannot begin watching a series if you have missed the first episode or the first season, so I jumped onto the Gossip Girl bandwagon pretty late – July 2010 to be specific. I was on a come-down after the Fifa World Cup and I found myself in London, on holiday, in the middle of a warm, tourist season where the days and nights are long and bright! This affected my sleeping pattern severely … and I started watching the series online. I was hooked. Here I was in bustling London town – a tube ride away from some of my favourite spots – Leicester Square, Soho, Oxford Street, Camden Market and more and here I was, spending the early hours being appalled and equally enthralled by New York’s elite. My love for the city spurred me on, I am sure, and when I eventually made it to NYC, I was looking for that Gossip Girl experience. Ridiculous, right? But, yes, I ate yoghurt on the Met steps – whatever.

As series go, our loyalty becomes quite fickle. We finish one and feel like we have lost a family, a group of friends that we have grown so close to. The last episode is coupled with this very dramatic sense of loss and we wonder what it is we’re supposed to do now. These moments are fleeting though, because like crows who spot something shiny, we move onto the next series, the next plot, the next cast to love and hate, the next wardrobe to envy.

Speaking of wardrobe envy – Blair Waldorf’s closet is an island paradise to me. I want to revel in it! I digress.

So, over the years, I watched Seasons 3, 4 and 5 and waited patiently for Season 6. And there it was. At last, I could finish this chapter … properly.

I was at home, didn’t have much to do… so I started watching it right from the beginning and for the next 2 or 3 months, I would watch an episode or 2 each night… readying myself for the big reveal. And it took over my life! I had episodes on my cellphone just in case I had an opportunity during the day to watch. The anticipation was building in me. My references to Gossip Girl were abundant in conversations with friends. I was turning into a groupie – the kind of fan who almost believes that these characters are real… that I would find Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald in the Penthouse Suite of the Empire hotel. I would move to Brooklyn and live in a loft. I would read the NY Spectator and find Serena on set in LA working on a film. I would wear a Waldorf design and avoid confrontation with Georgina Sparks. I may even be tempted to send a tip to Gossip Girl!

It was INSANE. And then – the horror – my hard drive wouldn’t work and I was halfway through Season 5. It was devastating. I did not know what to do with myself. I went cold turkey – weaning myself off Gossip Girl and started watching Spartacus again (love me some gore and Gladiator). Still, there was this restlessness within me. I NEEDED to know what happened. Dad came to my rescue, fixing my hard drive and I was back on track. Within 2 nights I had finished the season and now could finally reach the end.

My disappointment at a measly 10 episodes tainted the whole experience. How dare they try to end this series with this half-ass attempt? But I watched. And it was ridiculous and even more far-fetched than usual, but I had committed myself to this and had to see it through – painfully so. No spoiler alerts here for those who have not watched the last season, but eventually Gossip Girl was revealed and I was just “Hm, ok” and the explanation of it was maybe a little clever, but to reveal it within the last 5 minutes of the last episode is just so anti-climatic actually. I felt it was so rushed and then BOOM, this bomb is dropped on us, and it’s more fizzle than BOOM, to be honest.

I closed my laptop. I walked to my mirror and looked at myself, hard and disapprovingly. I wanted to laugh, actually. I had spent so much time and energy on this? I did feel that sense of loss, though, but not on the scale that makes me spend the next day in a compulsory state of mourning. I am over it. I still love New York City, but am I going to eat yoghurt on the Met steps, again? Probably not. Am I hoping to run into Ed Westwick one day? Hells yes. Finally, I said goodbye to Gossip Girl and was looking forward to a new series.

So, I continued watching Spartacus, almost immediately. 3 seasons later, I am an honourary gladiator – a god of the arena – a free man, and the Romans will fall beneath my sword!

For now, at least.

 

I was lost … but found you walking in the same direction

2013 has been, and continues to be, quite an interesting year for me…

I was fortunate to see the year in, in the arms of the love of my life – no delusion there. He absolutely is the LOVE of my life. It’s enlarged like that, not only to draw attention to how significant a love it is or how powerful a love it is, but because I opened myself up to experiencing it no matter the risks… and what did I find? I found a very genuine love – one that emerged so readily and spontaneously. The kind of love that seems to whack you up side the head, you shocked at its force, and yet solidifies itself within you – real and profound.

And do you know what is even greater about that love? He felt it in precisely the same way and caution, it was thrown to the wind, as we accepted this feeling for exactly what it is – the unbreakable connection between two people who have found common delights in each other and a strong desire to build a future together.

My good fortune continued as the group of girls I had so quickly come to rely on, strengthened in the bond and love we shared. These girls, my friends, my chosen sisters … stood by my side through the initial joys of new love – where you feel like a Disney princess singing in the forest, through the precarious state of my employment, through the challenges we face as families, and through the battles we have with ourselves.

My relationship with myself, however, was troubled at times. Most of the time. I was grappling with making  a commitment to me – to my development – to my happiness. How could I be struggling with this? I had so much to be thankful for. A love, a group of friends, a family who supports me. Losing my job at the end of February felt like the downward spiral of the roller-coaster ride I had been on – a sheer drop into the oblivion – in my case, a severe melancholy. To feel so unstable … the uncertainty about my future more real with each day that passed that did not bring news of a plan or an opportunity, was a very difficult emotion to experience. I tried my best to feel positive about my situation – here was an opportunity to re-do me, to start something new, to do something for myself, to make a choice for myself. Instead, I was depressed by the situation and the supposed, yet very real to me, lack of opportunity.

Debit orders! How was I going to honour my commitment to them? My financial priorities plagued me and I considered the option of being tied up in a personal loan and it didn’t sit well with me at all. I needed to find a better way. While this was all happening, my car decided to give up on me. It threw its proverbial toys, or pistons, out of the cot and decided to stage a sit-in … in my driveway. I immediately felt less independent, less mobile, with this sudden stripping of a convenience I had so enjoyed.

But, Lauren, my dear – life is not all that bad. It was this constant reminder of other people, some I admire greatly, who experience and had overcome greater adversity, bigger struggles. Why was I feeling so down on my luck? So, despite me throwing the most lavish pity-party for one, I continued to fight through the heavy emotions that were making me look past the blessings in my life… I persevered, and it was difficult. A part of me still wanted to maintain the luxuries I had enjoyed and not because I needed them or wanted to, but I feel that perhaps subconsciously, I was trying to paint a picture, for others, to show that it actually wasn’t that bad! So I went out for dinner with the girls once or twice… I contributed to big birthday parties and gifts for my loved ones… all the while stressing about how I was going to make it to that dreaded debit order date. Not once, did I pause, and think about this support system that I am so lucky to have – a group of people who would completely understand if I all I could put out on the table was lots of tea and maybe a few biscuits… who would completely understand that I was not able to go out, but would happily hang out with me at home … who would help me if I needed it.

So I asked. I asked for the understanding… the support… the help. Things I absolutely had access to and maybe it was my pride that held me back … this overwhelming need to do things for myself – a self-sabotaging need for uninhibited independence. Suddenly, things started to look up. My inbox was inundated with job notices that were emailed to me each morning… without fail. There were calls made to friends and colleagues that resulted in requests for my CV. There were people who were suddenly thinking and connecting with me in mind… and it was beautiful and overwhelming. This support. This love! And it was all for me. How blessed am I?

The opportunities started rolling in – I started doing some temporary work as I waited for that big break. I now looked forward to that dreaded debit order date because I knew I was covered. My car was being fixed… her sit-in finally over. I was working hard and long and it was healthy for me. I was starting to ‘find’ myself again. Here was that person who had spark and ambition and purpose. I was finding the balance. My relationship was strong, my friendships and family relationships equally so. Yet, there was still that “me” bit that I needed to take care of. Because, while I was able to get back into the swing of things and start building a career for myself, there was the problem of my passions that were still not being addressed. I feel that it is really important to have something that you do or have just for you … and I was missing that. Don’t get me wrong – I was definitely not ungrateful for the incredible support and opportunities that came my way. I acknowledge and am extremely thankful for them. However, the effort I put into my relationships with others, and in doing things for others, completely surpassed and overshadowed the effort I put into me. I was still craving that ownership and implementation of something completely Lauren.

It made me look deeper within myself … to look at the things I felt passionate about and how I could incorporate that into my work, and if not my work, then definitely my life. I opened myself up to more opportunities. There was something about the age-old “put your desires out there and the universe will provide” adage that really resonated with me. I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, again because it has always motivated me to really see what is in front of me and within me and then I stumbled across a novel that surprised me in how much I took from it – Rayda Jacobs’ Masquerade.

That novel turned a light on in my head and aimed it towards the dark corner where I had placed all my other hopes and dreams – illuminating them, drawing my attention to them, the glare a harsh reminder that I had been neglecting this dark corner for a while. Here it was. I want to be a writer – so, I am going to be a writer. Simple as that. Whether what I write is even any good, is not the point. It’s something I enjoy, that I love, that someday, I will do on a full-time basis. Because it is something that burns from within me … that brings me an immense amount of joy to do and that I feel is absolutely my calling. If it’s just myself that I am writing for, then I shall be my greatest audience, and a happy one at that.

There I was, completely lost and in the distance saw myself walking forward… and I followed.