There are some sick, weird fucks out there – and 4 other things blogging has taught me

Today as I looked at my site stats I noticed, by chance, that to date I have written 99 blogs which means that this one you are reading marks 100. And, while I was going to write about something else entirely, it feels like I should commemorate this round number in some way. And I think the best way would be to reflect on what those 99 blogs were like to write, and what they’ve taught me about people and about myself. So, here goes:

1. They are some sick, weird fucks out there parading as normal people

Sometimes I find myself in the queue at Checkers looking at somebody who appears to have it together and is just out buying rolls and wondering if it was them who wrote me that spewy, venom-filled missive about how much they hate me and my blog and that I should go away and die forever and also that I come from hell. There are some people walking among us who seriously need a hug and a therapist, in that order, because they are so sad and angry that they hardly know how to contain it. And illogical. And harbouring more bitterness than an aloe on the Swartberg Pass. And I try to remember that it’s nothing to do with me and all about them, but sometimes I can’t help being shocked that human beings can have gotten so damaged along the way. I mean, were they kept in a cardboard box and fed ants when they were children? And I think about how bad their lives must be, and I try to understand what drove them to this point, but honestly, I can’t. And then I decide to feel sorry for them and the people who have to live with them and move on.

2. …but many more awesome ones, so who even cares about the freaks?

Over and above the vast majority of people who like the blog and write nice things and tell me their own stories, a handful have contacted me personally and I can honestly say, over the past year or so, that they have become friends. Not just ‘friends’, but friends – people I would (and will) meet with next time we’re in the same city (I’m talking primarily to you, Mark, Tanya, Johan, Jennie). Good people, kindred spirits with warm hearts and happy energy. Who knew that would happen?

3. You’ll only ever please 80% of your audience

I can write the sweetest, most heartfelt and uncontroversial piece in existence and I’ll always have that one person who cannot resist being a schmuck and posting a snarky comment. At first it surprised me and made me question myself and what I was doing. Now I expect it and am even a little disappointed when I don’t get to spam at least one person a week. So come on, Trolls, don’t let me down!

4. Only ever write from the heart because people know the difference

Sometimes I’ll write something, the honesty and revelatory nature of which makes me shudder at my own out-thereness, and I press the ‘publish’ button with trepidation and worriedly wait for feedback, and then the reactions I’ll get will be so heartfelt and sharey as people seem grateful to have their own lives/feelings affirmed and that I’ve made it okay to speak the truth about situations they know all too well. Your audience has a sixth sense for BS, so don’t insult people. Having integrity as a writer means telling it like it is even when that notion is scary.

5. We are (much) more the same than different
Underneath it all – the cost of our handbag, the texture of our hair, the kind of school our parents could afford to send us to – we are like one person with minor, pretty irrelevant details. That’s my experience, anyway. I have 70-year-old white men and 18-year-old black girls reading and relating to my blog. Which is pretty surprising, but true. We all want the same things: to be happy, to be loved, to sometimes make sense of this life we find ourselves navigating without a compass. And if we could remember that more it would help us to be kinder and more forgiving of one another, and of ourselves.

Thank you for the amazing lessons you, my readers, have taught me xxxx

Café Mischu in Sea Point

cafe mischu sign

It’s harder than you might think, living in this cool city, coming up with cool places to go for coffee which you’ll also want to blog about, so when my friend, Craig, suggested Mischu in Sea Point, I thought, hurrah, yes. Mischu is opposite the Spar, and the reason he likes going there – other than the great coffee – is that he says it’s funny watching women have conversations when their faces don’t move. And while on the day we were there I didn’t spot any of those and I really liked the way they’ve done it up and it’s the kind of place you can definitely hang out with your Americano and watch the world go by, it got me thinking about this whole botox thing and why I have such a problem with it.

And it’s not because I’m not vain or don’t care about getting old and ugly. I care about it much, and I spend ages in the mirror worrying that my teeth aren’t white enough and that my sun spots will eventually take over my entire face and I’ll look like an alien and I hate when I gain weight and my clothes cling. And in the interests of vanity I bleach said teeth and I eat salad when I want pasta and wear BB cream every single day while pretending I’m au natural, but there is just something about the botox thing that makes my toes curl.

It’s like I have these two opposing forces where the one is super invested in looking good at any cost, while the other – I guess you can call her my inner dyke, though I suspect that’s deeply offensive – says ‘fuck that for a lark. I’m a woman, not a girl. I’m amazing just as I am, and I don’t have to buy into that twisted conception of what female adults are supposed to look like. I don’t have to be skinny and hairless to be accepted, and I certainly don’t have to look like I’m 25 in order to have value in this world.’

And while I’m incredibly fond of the vacuous, shallow version of myself and have the bags and shoes to prove it, it’s the other voice that I pay attention to because she feels closer to the real me. Because I am more than the sum of my parts, and I can hold my own intellectually and in spaces that would have scared the daylights out of me when I was in my twenties. I might have had fewer crow’s feet, but I was also rather dof and uninteresting by virtue of not having done very much. Your average 20-year-old has a lot of living to do before they make interesting dinner companions and, honestly, I value having seen some things in my life and having an opinion very much more than I do looking perfect in the mirror.

And fuck knows, when you get to 40 you’ve seen some things. I’ve had my heart smashed more times than I care to count; I’ve given birth twice without so much as an aspirin to help a girl through (what was I thinking, right?); I’ve held sick, feverish babies through the night and got up at the same time the next morning to do the other things that needed to be done. I’ve made a life for myself in a far away, cold country and endured the relentless heartache of being away from my home and my tribe. I’ve written things that have made people laugh out loud, and things that have made people so furious they wanted to lynch me on the spot. I’ve made good choices and terrible choices, and I’m not more special than anyone else, I’m just alive in the world, as we all are, and getting on with this journey I’ve picked out for myself.

And to deny my face the lessons I’ve learned – to pay somebody money to inject poison into my head so that when I’m really, really happy or really, really sad you’d never know – feels like the biggest travesty. Worse, it feels like betrayal to myself, because I have earned these lines, every single one. These lines are living. These lines are what I have lived and the things I have seen and done. They are drinking wine late into the night and talking with my husband about what matters. They are shouting in rage when he doesn’t get a thing about me and I can’t believe how hard it is being married. They are the terror that he won’t get off the plane and I’ll lose the love of my life because he is the coolest human being I have ever known, and they are shrieking with laughter when my maddest friend picks up her phone and talks in the same funny voice that used to have me sent outside the classroom in Std 7 for my uncontrollable hysteria.

They are worrying that my children are safe; sadness that my dad doesn’t feel good about his life; hoping my mom gets home safely when she works late at night. They are consoling our daughters when their daddy goes overseas every month for work, the angst that I might have offended a friend and the secret 3am fear that I’ll never write that book. Maybe it isn’t as ‘beautiful’ as the smooth, blank faces you see on younger women, but to me its beauty lies in something else – in its naturalness and its grace and the message it sends to my daughters about what really matters in life. And it’s not whether their mother has a wrinkle-free forehead. It’s not the hope that people look at me and go, ‘wow, she looks great! How does she do it?’ And I never think that, anyway, when I see someone who’s had work. I feel pity and a kind of sadness for what she thinks she has to be to be loved and to feel okay in the world.

And maybe I’ll change my mind in 10 years when the passage of time really starts marching across my face, but honestly I don’t think so. I think that other me will nip that thought right in the bud. Because the kind of beauty that comes of knowing who you are and what you have to offer doesn’t exist at the end of a needle. Anyhow. I think I got off track. Café Mischu does kiff coffee. My wrinkles and I will be back.

The service is warm and friendly, and the coffee is goo-ood.
The service is warm and friendly, and the coffee is goo-ood.