Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quarter of a century...

I turned 25 just recently.

Assuming I live to 100, I'm past the quarter of a century mark! Age is just a number and all that, and yet it's caused a fair amount of introspection over the last few weeks.

Have I achieved all that I set out to, by this age?

Am I the woman I always wanted to be? If not, am I becoming 'her'?

What do I want my life to look like in another 25 years? What do I want to be known for?

I wrote this in my new, red journal..."I want to be known as a woman who lives and speaks out the grace, the tenacious love and truth that has been shown to me. I want to call out oppression in all its forms - that as long as I am alive, I will be a voice for those who have none, who have no advocate.....someone who 'proclaims freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord's favour', just like Jesus did. He has called me to no less. To call out systemic and ingrained abuse, hatred, bigotry, and all that stands in opposition to his way of love and powerful grace."

My greatest fear is not becoming her, and slowly turning into a small version of this woman, a closed, fearful and insecure version of who I was meant to be.

There is so much more I wanted to post about. I had a whole blog post ready to go, but I feel it needs more thought. Too often I simply 'vent' and don't shape my writing; this one is about piling high the stones on the altar that testifies to love winning out in the end, about holding tight to moments that proclaim the triumph of good over evil.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rosie the Riveter-inspired

I got lots of comments on this outfit today, so I wanted to post it up :) I haven't posted up outfit pics in a long time, which is ironic considering this blog had its beginnings as a 'fashion' blog.
I'm sure that most people thought I looked ridiculous, but I don't dress for them so that's okay by me!
I know I should be flexing the muscle, ala Rosie the Riveter, but did a salute instead? Don't know what the deal is with that.....

Pants; Salvos
Headscarf; Salvos
Top; Cotton On
Shoes; Payless

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So many conflicting beliefs, ideas, theories....and then....

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

– Rowan Williams

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thoughts on marriage...from an inexperienced perspective

My siblings and I threw my parents a party on Saturday night. They've been married 25years, and we thought that was worthy of a celebration, so we booked a place, put down deposits, blew up balloons and danced and ate and laughed with them to say "thank you". Their marriage has weathered many a storm, beginning with their escape from Romania and subsequent separation from all that they had held dear. I can't imagine leaving my entire life behind, to begin a new one in a strange land with a husband I'd married 3 months earlier. You can imagine the amount of 'adjusting' that would have had to happen! But it got me thinking.....

I myself have only been married just over 3 years, so please, take all these 'thoughts' with a pinch....nay, a bowl of salt and know that I simply want to share some little lessons I've elarn along the way. (I fully acknowledge that this will make me face-palm and cringe with emabarassment in about 6 months time)

Yes, that's us - deliriously happy :)

I've learnt a few things about the reality of marriage that would have shocked and surprised that 21 year old in the picture. No doubt the 23 year old groom has had his fair share of shocks too!

1. It's only as fun as you make it.

Bear with me, each point might sound ridiculously cliched, but they're only cliches because they're true! I could have the most boring, draining, restrictive and repetitive marriage ever, if I wanted to. And without conscious effort, I have a sneaking suspicion that that's exactly what I will experience. Now, in saying that, it doesn't mean that everyday has to include expensive dinners or over-the-top displays of 'romance', new and improved 'surprises' or getaways, but it does mean making an effort to recast the mundane in a different light. Seeing a bike ride to the local shops as an excuse to race each other, winner takes all ('all' being whatever the winner wants), or blasting the music in the car nice and loud and singing along (getting the lyrics wrong and guitar solo included). If that isn't your idea of fun......then you're boring. No, just joking!! :) But do whatever it takes to make being with your husband/wife the funnest part of your day.

2. Prescribed notions of 'roles' don't always work.

We've all been exposed ad nauseam to the same tired, over-used ideas of men and women's roles in a marriage or family. To be honest, I am sick of it. Sick and tired of the restrictions and limits placed on both men and women, when I've chosen to live in freedom, a freedom given to me by Someone else. (More of that in another post)
Now, I know that roles and functions for men and women can be different, and for good reason, and these work because they point to our inherent "different-ness", but the problem arises when we or society dictate that any slight deviation from these roles is worthy of condemnation and the one failing to live up them is a poor excuse for a husband/wife. This can be manifested in the smallest ways and words; the joke made, the comment on the lack of Tupperware and baking utensils. Can you tell I'm not much of a cook? I wish I was, only to enjoy the fruits of my labors, but alas, I get stressed out in the kitchen and my husband is rather gifted at making food taste great! So, he is the cook and I will happily stick to doing the washing and reading lots of books. These roles work for us. I can only imagine the havoc I could wreak by insisting that I cook and he wash, a task he finds more odious than anything else....it would pointless and cause unnecessary drama!

3. Take forgiveness at face value.

I hate to generalise, but like cliches - they have that kernel of truth that makes them irresistible. I have found, with 2 sisters and numerous girlfriends, that taking forgiveness at face value is a challenge for some women. Not all, but enough to warrant that generalisation :) And yet with my husband, he will gladly offer it, outstretch the olive branch and happily move on once it is accepted. It has taken me almost 3 years to realise that he is not hiding a machine gun under the olive branch and that yes, he really, truly, does forgive me and wants to be done with the whole episode/argument. Astonishing! Such a relief and such a lesson to be learnt, for someone like me. Knowing that it's condition-free and offered with no strings attached doesn't always make it easy to accept, but my thick skull sometimes does remember in the nick of time. Forgiveness spurned is a hard thing to call back, so I say....embrace it!

4. Money problems will always exist - learn the different ways you 'see' money and make peace with it. Oh, and a budget.

5. No-one finds wife-insulting, husband-mocking jokes funny.

It's so tempting as a newlywed, and a middleywed to jump head first into the diving pool of marriage jokes. More specifically, the 'husband is an idiot' and 'wife is a controlling b***h' jokes.
I want to use this platform, out in cyberspace, to categorically and vehemently declare my red-hot hatred for any and all references to wives/husbands as...ball and chain, old lady, old man and anything that describes it as a "jail cell". I am all for a good joke and poking fun at the idiosyncracies of marriage and the funny things that happen in and around them. But it is so lame to keep painting marriage as this joy-killing, soul-destroying force. Really, people, why get married then?! I always think that if I can't talk about my husband in a respectful way, then why should anyone else?

6. Nothing like a partner who will fill up your car with petrol, unasked. Bliss!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

25 years ago...

......you'd never guess that my parents were trapped in Communist Romania. Until my dad decided he'd had enough and escaped from behind the Iron Curtain. Here they are, months before being married. Notice the picturesque haystack in the background....a legacy of Ceausescu's refusal to modernise and develop a nation that continued under food rationing well into the 1980's.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Who told you?

“Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? …Who taught you to hate being what God made you?” - Malcolm X

I find myself asking these questions very often. Either internally musing upon their truth, or straight out discussing them with any of my close friends. Wondering who told us, who taught us, about beauty, about what is worthy of love and admiration. 'Us' meaning women, only because I feel that we have been sold more of a lie than men. Sadly, the answer often seems to be 'The Media', that all-pervasive, ubiquitous and yet undefinable entity that shapes our lives more than we care to admit. But 'The Media' has a beginning, and yet these questions seem to be eternal, timeless, and older than MTV.

Mr X sure had a point, don't you think? Moreover, he was wise in not just simply decrying our self-loathing as futile and destructive, but going further, pushing past that and questioning; WHO taught us? Not 'Where did it come from?' Not so much 'What caused it?' but rather what self-governing and sentient being instilled and planted those poisonous seeds in our souls?

Who told you that you are not enough? Who told you that you are unworthy of love? Who said that you do not deserve peace?

For whoever did, was a liar. And has been since time immemorial.

And the beautiful, the tragic part of it all is remembering that just like every action has an opposite and equal reaction, so too does that sentient, wilful being have an Opposer, a Foe, a Warrior-King, a Suffering Servant who doesn't answer the questions but destroys their source.

If we had to be told, to be taught the intricacies of self-loathing, it makes you wonder....is there a Truth that lies beneath the slick veneer of lies? Is there a Truth that says we can have peace, we are enough, we are exquisite creations?

I think so. No. I know so.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Most depressing blog award..

..goes to me! Haha. Looking back over my posts, it seems that they are super-depressing and woe-is-me and I really want to change that. And I think I'm unpleasantly surprised at how morose my inner life seems to be, at how sombre and serious it is all the time. You probably wouldn't guess it from my demeanour or my actions and behaviour; I love to laugh and I am surrounded by people who make me laugh, all. the. time. And yet behind the laughter, I seem to be churning on the inside and honestly, my brain never stops. My mind is constantly analysing and re-working and remembering and hypothesising and predicting and regretting and I wonder, is it just me?

I'm waiting for the moment, or the time when things are going so well that I don't feel the need to do all that tiresome internalising, but I have a sneaking suspicion that 'that time' will never come. I mean, how can it? I know myself well enough to know that I will inevitably find some unseen or unknown aspect of my life that I can ponder on and use as a basis for worst-case scenarios.

How do I get out of my own head? More than anything though, how do I not freak out about the very real prospects of a loved one ruining their life, and my powerlessness in the face of it? Ultimately, I know freedom comes from surrender. Surrendering any sense of control that I might get from my worrying and over-analysing will release me to truly live, live in the very real now moments of time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bursts of inspiration

The sacred, the divine, the life-force is going on about us all through our ordinary and seemingly mundane days. But don't expect it to simply overwhelm you without your first seeking it. Like the waves that lap incessantly at the shore, you will not feel the waters touch until you physically place your feet at the edge of the sand. And all the while, there are others, multitudinous others who have been frolicking and splashing there since before you were born. It laps, abounds, reverberates all about us, while we smoke and dance and pray and drink...it is there all the while. He is there all the while. Step into it.

When we desecrate or seek to be 'sacrilegious', we are actually acknowledging and extending the power of the very sacred thing you wish to defile. By trying to be offensive or taboo, you simply join the eternal orchestra that cries and points to something transcendentally beautiful and wholly Other. It would not be shocking or effective if the thing being mocked wasn't universally seen as holy or sacred.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Memoriam

I was 6 months into my new, shiny career as a high school teacher. The confusing world of policies and protocols, class rolls and room changes were still unfamiliar to me, and the tiniest change in routine threw me off, in those first 6 months. (Well, sometimes it still does, to be honest!)
Everyday, there were new faces to remember, new phrases to practice, phrases like "That behaviour was inappropriate, don't you think so?". Phrases that served to demarcate the line between teacher and students, the line between a 16 year old and a 22 year old and demonstrate the power balance. Me-teacher, you-student. You cannot treat me like a familiar acquiantance, don't blur the lines child, swearing at me and manipulating me with guilt like you would a disgruntled girlfriend. It does not work. Not on me. I think. Sometimes.

I remember being called a bitch! in class, the emphatic 'itch' end of the word ringing out across the shocked faces of the rest. I remember another girl, her face distorting and folding in on itself with the admission that yes, she was cutting with the lunchtime bell almost drowning our her words that yes, she wanted to die. That night.

Of course those moments are bookended and punctuated and blurred over by the rush of teaching, the momentary joy, the long-winded meetings, the hopeful lesson plans, the mundane and the monotonous paperwork. Yet no moment is as staccato loud as the afternoon on the couch when an email came through, an email with names and the mention of a crash.
What was I doing, emailing and working on a sunny Sunday afternoon? Ah, yes. I was only 6 months in.

The email, detailing only the bare minimum of 'students who had been involved in a tragic car crash', was ominously short and formal and sent to the school at large. Names were then sent out, a few hours later, notfiying and informing. Names that rang a hollow bell, for, hadn't my colleague just been talking about those very girls, and how they would make excellent candidates for a class play we were planning?
Oh, God. It must be them. Is it them? What class? Which homegroup? It must her kids involved, I remember hearing one of their names and wondering "How did she end up with such an exotic name?". For then, as now, the 'students' become our 'kids', we refer to them as 'ours' and we, at least I do, become truly invested and involved and IN our students lives, for better or worse.

I dialled my colleagues number, I needed to know if she knew. Her voice calm and sunny, the words lost now, but no doubt bright and welcoming. I didn't know if she knew, I didn't know if she had read the email, hoping that perhaps, yes, she knew, and yes, she was ok.

But I was to be the dreaded messenger, the cloaked and hooded harbinger of ill report. I was to be the hoarse raven, the black crow.

She didn't know, hadn't read the email and wasn't going to be ok. Not for a while at least.

I must've mumbled something about a crash, two dying, and then their names.....I remember my own face crumpling and bottom lip shaking as I spoke theithe syllables making out their names.

I'll never forget the un-self conscious, naked, raw, trembling cries of "F**k, f**k, no, God, no, f**k!" when the realisation darkened and we both understood that two of her kids, her students, two of them, in one fell swoop, were gone. The sharp edge of the knife had not yet slid in deep enough, as I remembered he saying that they were her two brightest stars.

There are always some students who shine out, who call out answers, who laugh at jokes, who find you at lunch just to say hi, who smile with genuine pleasure, that become etched in our memories. And such were these. Cliches wouldn't do them justice.

I didn't even teach them! But still. I remember them.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

I live in my head.

Sorry about all the wah-wah sooky la la posts lately....I turn to blogger to vent in those emotional moments where nothing else will do and trying to tell someone will only have me blubber and mumble something incoherent. Oh, and when my husband is sleeping. Which is pretty much always as his body clock is quite screwed - up at 2am for work, and ready for dinner by 3pm.

Lately, I've been thinking about that book I want to write, the one about my parents and my homeland and how we all got here, in this wide open red-sand land. I really do want to finish it, more than I realised. And yet, I think I might be too impatient to write, as I've heard that stories, the good ones anyway, take a long time, and a lot of tears and re-writes and I'm not sure if I am cut out for that. Surprise, surprise, the English teacher wants to write!

But who doesn't? I think I do.

Manic Thursday

Wow. I have not had a morning such as this for a while now. My days usually progress in the same manner, calm, paced evenly and well-structured. And, what's worse, the confusion and panic and mixed-messages are all my own fault. Initially, it was a case of lack of communication, no one told me where to get the exams from, which ones they are, and so some class right now might be working on a completely different exam. That was out of my control. Then, I was in the wrong room, apparently, there'd been a swap. Again, I was totally unaware. No worries, off to mark some of my own work back at my desk when I am given an 'extra' class. I check the roster; no such thing recorded, but alas, off to the 'extra' class. Upon arrival, not only do I see it is my usual bunch of students, but apparently, this is my own scheduled class, that is on my unchanging timetable! How can this be? I was meant to be on exam supervision, no? Ah, but you silly girl, the timetable does not lie and you were indeed meant to be teaching your usual load, I simply did not double-check my own timetable and have caused all this confusion on my own. To add confusion to confusion, the unit of work I was teaching? Yes, wrong. Apparently, the message was meant to have been received that we are now looking at an entirely different set of work until end of term. Aaarrrgggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh. And now to face 25 fourteen year olds who have overheard this exchange and my only thought is 'How to save face?'. I face them, explain, and yet am met with the usual complaints and whines when their structure or routine changes in the slighetest. This infuriates me unnecessarily, and yet I cannot help but allow my annoyance at the morning's events to come out in my strident voice and implacable face. Maybe not so implacable, after all, my lack of a smile and laugh speaks volumes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Why do I let it get to me so much? Why does it crawl under my skin and itch? Why am I so unexplainably bothered and embarrassed by it, and reduced to the chubby 13 year old with glasses again? I hate the bile and spit that rises up in my throat, the enflamed cheeks that accompany the forced grin and fake laugh. Even now, as I type, my body is stiff with barely restrained anger. Anger not at the words, or the ones who uttered them and laughed (okay, maybe a little anger towards them), but mostly at myself. For I cannot explain this reaction, and the fact that I cannot even explain myself makes me furious.

And the merry-go-round does not stop for a minute, for here I am again, entangled and ensnared by the self that I want to be set free from. What is there in me that cannot simply laugh it off? Give a careless toss and shrug of the shoulders and flick the words away into the air? What is there in me that can't just 'relax' and 'chill' and not be so 'dramatic.' For those are the small rocks that I pick up and place ever so carefully in my coat pockets each morning, and take out each night, the rocks that say I am too dramatic, I exaggerate, I over-react, and ultimately, how I feel is not based in reality and therefore I am simply.......hysterical.

Female hysteria; said to be caused by disturbances in the uterus. From the Greek word, hystera, meaning uterus.

Haven't we all heard some version of that? "Oh, stop being so hysterical, you're overreacting." " Here we go again, the emotional woman is crying, what a surprise"........as if this thing called 'uterus' is the origin of disease or dysfunction. As if our very womanhood is a liability in this world dominated and purported to be structured according to male 'rationality' and 'logic.' Haha. A joke.

And what a tangent I have veered off onto.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aching heart

You just don't get it! You don't get it, do you? I love you, I want nothing but your good, your growth, your joy, your forever happiness. I want it so much that I will do anything, anything for that to happen, even make myself invisible and cut you off and remove myself from your life. Because if I don't, you will never grow, you will rely on me to a degree that is unhealthy and you will be forever trapped within this self-perpatuating cycle of dependency. But this kills me. You have no idea how much it kills me.

Every time you take a step, a risk, a move forward, step into your destiny, I want to reach out and rejoice with you, celebrate it all with you. But I cannot. Because then it will start all over again, your recriminations, your accusations that I wasn't there for you, that I only what something for myself, that I don't love you, your cries of "Where WERE you?". But OH! If only you knew how close I am really am and much my heart aches for you. It aches when you doubt my love for you, when you question my intentions, my actions. If it could be any other way, I would do anything to have it any other way. But it has to be this way. The pain of it, the separation, is a necessity like a surgeon's knife that slices into the aorta to save a life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I know how it feels to sit in the same room as someone, and yet feel very alone. Does it count if they're sleeping? Yes, I think it does. Because the tears are unseen, through no fault of their own. If this post is too real for you, and it chafes at your comfort, then please, stop reading now and delete this web address from your computer. Erase it. Completely. Funnily enough, I haven't said anything that earth-shattering and yet...I want to. I really want to say earth-shattering things, but so much holds me back. I hate that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I am alive

I am alive
So space greedy alive
The wind needs to caress my arms before it can move past me
I am young
So age and time ignorant
The future but a fantasy that plays out in never ending loops
My eyes drink it all in, the footpath cracks and sky bleeding out over the telephone towers
I occupy space and time and motion, the laws all conspire to hold me tethered to this earth underfoot
But my soul surrenders to the irresistible otherworldly pull

Wednesday, March 16, 2011