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The Deal with Depression

Well, come on then. We’re not gonna make it all the way up there if we sit here moping. Oh, don’t you start with me. It’s the same 12 floors we always take. I’ll have none of your complaining. I even wore sneakers. What do you mean you’re too tired?! What about me? I have to carry you all the way up, and down, and out! No. No, we’re not doing this. Not here. You promised!

Here’s the thing about depression. Sure, we’ve heard it all – the devastating effects, the often horrific consequences and the triggers that we think cause it. Something I talk about often is the use of language and how lucky we are to have the knowledge we do.
Despite pervasive stigma, we get to look back at years of experience and research to assist in understanding our problems. Often it’s a look back, to pin point what went wrong. And sometimes it’s too late. It might go like this: “Ooooh, so that’s why I was so listless on that vacation”; “I get it now. That’s why that relationship didn’t work out”; “No wonder I was so shitty at that job, despite giving my all”.
But is it ever enough?

I’m not having any of it. Look, 8th floor. I bet you didn’t even notice how far we’ve come, huh? Told ya so!
You think I like this?! You think I enjoy these one-way conversations? Screaming at you? I don’t see you motivating me to get up in the morning.

So what did I do? I made a deal. No, not with the devil. Although it might seem, or feel that way. No, I made a deal with depression. I listened to advice to personify the problem and then address it as such. Talk to it. Negotiate. Sometimes it’s coddling, other times it’s a furious spurt of anger.
Never the silent treatment. Not anymore. Ask any couple, that shit will go on far longer than you had intended! Most of the time, because it’s never leaving, you just take it by the hand and say, “Let’s go”.
It’s the child you never asked for. It’s the forlorn dog following you home that just won’t take a hint. It’s not cute, but you feel pity for it. Kicking it might make it cower and hide around the corner, but inevitably, it comes back, nipping at your ankles and following dutifully.

I don’t enjoy this any more than you do. I’m with you through all of this. I’ve been here the whole time. Come on, man, you’re wearing me out. No wait, please don’t start crying. What did I say this time?! I’m too tired for this. Here, give me your hand. Stand up. There you go. Want me to carry you again? No, I don’t mind. But please give me a break now and then.
So, what’s it gonna be? Oh, don’t give me lip. Chin up, we’re almost there.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Letter to my former (bitchy) self

Sometimes I forget you’re there. But you come back. You remind me that you’re still around.

Bile comes rising up and froths at my trembling lips. It’s hard to imagine you used to consume most of me and that I thought it was normal to walk alongside you, pointing, laughing and making others feel small.

You take over and I watch you insult others. You hurt with your ego-drenched vitriol. Some call you the ego, but you’re a lot worse than that to me.

I don’t want to confront you, but it is necessary. I need to grow and for that you must not; you cannot be allowed any strength. I know that facing you is hard, but necessary, like when I wrote letters to my heartbroken self and younger self.

Those set me free in some way. They began my healing. To know who I am, I must know who you are and where you came from. Why you wont leave me alone.

I was talking to a group of people who told me that its so hard trying to remember you are, because we are so conditioned to be someone else.  We are all trying to be different – better, bigger, whiter, cleaner, harder. They were talking about what it means to be black in a world so predominantly white, that while trying to fit in, they forget who they really are. We all want to fit in and be accepted as we are.

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I am just trying to be my self.

You come back as patronising words and condescension, and then I am reminded how far I’ve come, but also how much more work there is to be done. I am reminded of you and I laugh when I think how I called people with glasses “four eyes”, or “bompie” (fatty) for people bigger than you. And then I get spectacles and I gain weight, and the universe laughs and points. But I am fine with it. I know this is my journey. A friend on Twitter tells me how she was teased for wearing spectacles as a child and being heavy, and you’re grateful to have met her when you (former bitchy self) were not at your peak.

You’ve shrunk. You’re ashamed to come out. You should be.

I reprimand you and put you in your place. I could use harsher words and even violence, but I know that we are one. You might always be there, just in different forms.

I’m glad you’re smaller. I am glad you’re shirked in the corner. I know I have to live with you. I don’t hate you, but I do thank you.

 

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<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

 

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The endings of dreams

“Gay kids can be selfish too, and should have more patience and empathy with parents, because what the parents are dealing with is the end of a dream”.

A friend said this a few years ago and I never forgot it. It was so counter to what we’re expected to believe.

Dreams might not always be realistic, but we still have them. The strangers we meet when we sleep might be manifestations of people we know and have seen, but that does not mean we have control over them . Likewise dreaming while awake also takes over and we get caught up in what we think we know.

Expectations may not be fair, but they are expected. Unfortunately we’re human and we tend to hope that things will go a certain way. Stick to the script.

Normal, yes; but detrimental to happiness? Possibly… definitely.

As I deal with a breakup and wonder why I am still upset (or just disappointed?) I realise that some dreams are meant to end.

How does a dream end? We don’t know, and never will. Ever think about that? There will never be a conclusion. This is not Inception.

I relate to this from an article on Salon – Why we cant remember dreams:

When we sleep, wrote English psychiatrist Havelock Ellis over a hundred years ago, we enter a ‘dim and ancient house of shadow’. We wander through its rooms, climb staircases, linger on a landing. Towards morning we leave the house again. In the doorway we look over our shoulders briefly and with the morning light flooding in we can still catch a glimpse of the rooms where we spent the night. Then the door closes behind us and a few hours later even those fragmentary memories we had when we woke have been wiped away.

And that’s what happens when dreams bleed over into the real world. We are opened up to a realm of possibility and endless hope. Then there’s the pain.

This reminded me of anecdotal experiences from people who’ve said that physical pain is a sensation we can’t remember. I raised this point in a conference, and I got shouted down, but the more I think about it, I realised that I don’t remember the sensation of physical pain. Think about it. Come on, science, prove me right!

That time I stepped on a rusty nail and shrieked in pain; post wisdom teeth removal surgery; the time I fell on my face; my fall on a recent hike (Ok, I may have been drunk, but it still counts. Drunk hiking is a real thing, get on board). As my knee heals from that hike, I can feel the itch as my scab gets knitted from below and gets pushed off, its job nearly complete. And then it will be over.

Our bodies understand pain. Whether its pus or a scab, we get cloaked in a protective blanket for as long as we need, and then healing happens and we move on with our lives.

Emotionally and mentally we have not evolved as far yet.

Despite the dream being perfect and according to script, a feeling of dread can still set in. Fear is an enemy that never lets go. And it often leads a mark.

“Yes, we are left with (fear). Scarring can do that. Wounds heal. Scars don’t,” said my friend Glynn.

Ever the biologist, I tried justifying scarring as leaving us tougher and stronger.

He politely shut me down and said: “[A] scar indicates a weak spot. A specific vulnerability. That’s the biological fact, not the metaphorical myth. But we can live with scars. And move. Maybe not even while “moving on” or “moving ahead”. Maybe we just move. Scars have little sensory tissue. So it feels rougher. The nerves don’t grow back. Maybe that could be a metaphor for trust”

I’ve always told you that I have smart friends.

So does a dream ever end?

One of my favourite stories, again dealing with pain and dreams, is the one where I am falling. Apparently this is an indicator of losing control. Ya think?!

Well I was a teenager and my bed was pushed against the wall. In the dream, in which I was free falling mid air, I got closer to the ground, arms flailing and panic setting in. I woke up, but as I was supposed to land, I jerked forward and knocked my head against the wall. Hard.

I fell and bruised, but I lived. I survived.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Stop trying to make fetch happen

As a journalist for a Sunday paper, I often have to work the Saturday late shift. That requires sitting in the office from 18:00 to midnight and making crime and emergency calls. Of course this is also the time in which I practise my choreography and stuff my face with an assembly line of food.

All I’ve ever wanted was for someone at head office in Johannesburg to send me an email asking if everything is ok, to which I would reply: “All quiet on the Western front”

But this has never happened.

I keep hoping and praying, but fetch is not going to happen.

Ok, let me just take a step back. So, it’s funny because I am in the Western Cape and things are usually quiet and then we would laugh and laugh about our shared interest in German literature. But no, it never happens.

This is the problem with the world today. Everywhere I look everyone is trying to make fetch happen and they just need to give it up. Ok ok, I see you staring again.

*sigh*

http://allthingslinguistic.com/post/84461693971/making-fetch-happen-what-makes-new-words-catch

So fetch!

If you didn’t get the other reference, then you should be ashamed of how uncultured you are. “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen” refers to a scene in the iconic film “Mean Girls” in which Gretchen Wiener tries to coin the word “fetch” as an exclamation, while bitchy group leader Regina George lashes out at her in frustration for her attempts.

Trying to make fetch happen occurs more than we care to admit. This light bulb went off while watching a movie. The new Fantastic Four film has been galactically slated for how terrible it is, yet the origin film is set to remain a Hollywood standard. Why don’t they just give it up and admit that they’ve run out of ideas?

I’ll tell you why, because we encourage it.

There are enough people going to watch ghastly films and supporting terrible music for it to continue.  Yes, I am blaming you.

There are times when blame can be adequately doled out and this is that time. For the love of all that is good in this world – rape jokes are not funny; all lives do NOT matter because the black ones are disrespected the most by far; meninism is a figment of fragile male minds; hashtagging on Facebook should never be allowed ever AND WHATSAPP CALLS ARE NOT A REAL THING. THEY ARE NOT A THING, WHTSAPP, SO STOP TRYING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN, OK! Also, while we’re at it, if a relationship is not working, just stop. Stop yourself; save yourself. Don’t make me call Toni Morrison on you. [also, insert endless solecisms and “edgy” fashion choices. You look and sound ridiculous]

Wow, I didn’t realise I had that inside of me. So much rage.  And those are just the few examples that bungeed off the top of my brain. But this is what happens when we try to force a triangle into a square. It does not work. You got that? Stop trying to make fetch happen!

Just stop.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Rude waiter

Is there anything better than a rude waiter? Oh golly, I clasp my hands together and oscillate with closed eyes at the thought of it.

Waiting is such a strange profession. I’ve been a cater waiter and I take my hat off to anyone who does this for a living. It is hard work. Writer Jani Allan, who moved to the USA and is now a waiter, said it best:

One of the most challenging lessons I am learning is that I am now a downstairs person.

Downstairs people live to serve upstairs people. The Americans who come to the restaurant believe that they are upstairs people.

This may sound counter intuitive, but I am here to defend rude waiters. This is, of course, no excuse for bad service. I recently went for a dinner with Marco and our waiter was Ryan.

He never smiled and spoke in an aggressive tone.

“Anything to drink?” he said as he marched to our corner table and leaned in, his biceps bulging; his brow furrowed.

At one point I thought he was going to point and say, “You lookin’ at me? ARE YOU… lookin at ME?” while pulling me up by the lapels and shaking me around.

The food was great and it arrived promptly.

When I asked for the menu to look at the desserts, his face seemed to say, “The fuck you think this is? A restaurant? What I look like? A waiter?”

My heart leaped with joy because it was so entertaining. I don’t take anyone seriously enough to be upset with them. I reserve all my energy and anger to hadouken racists, or to channel it into a kamehameha wave into sexists.

One of my favourite memories was going to Spur with my family when I was younger. If you’re not from South Africa, Spur is a beloved family chain restaurant that served the best meals that your taste buds could handle before they actually developed into functioning cells. Until then every birthday was spent at Spur and we were so oblivious to the cultural appropriation of Native American Indian culture to sell burgers.

I don’t remember the exact age, or who exactly was there, or even what I ate, but I remember Louis. And there my soul goes whirring like a firework into the night sky of happiness. He was white and this was soon after democracy, so he was probably bitter. But to me, that just adds to the character.

He rolled his eyes, his stiff upper lip never moved more than it needed to and he walked like we had asked him to kill the cow and peel the potatoes and manufacture the Coca-Cola himself. Now that I think about, maybe he did. I think about Louis occasionally, and hope that wherever he is, he is still as spicy, fabulous and deliciously bitchy as he was when he served us.

Sure you can go to a fine dining establishment and have a warm host float you over to your table on an air of pretentiousness, while a French snob gargles the expensive fare waiting to burn a hole in your pocket. But who wants that? I’m here for an experience. My name is JAW and I love rude waiters! What, you came here for the food?

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Nebula skate boarding – change on wheels

With the scourge of stories in the media that hog our attention, two young men are trying to make a difference in the lives of others using their love of skate boarding as their vehicle for change.

I met them in Gugulethu where they conduct their program, and wrote this article about the experience.

Click the link below to read:

http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2015/03/30/hope-ramped-up-at-skateboard-school

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

My addiction to television

I moved to Johannesburg in February 2014 for an internship. I got the job and have since moved home to Cape Town. I have a television set in my room, yet I’ve only turned the dastardly thing on once to try and connect the dvd player to it. I failed.

And I’ve had no desire since to use it otherwise.

My name is Jerome Cornelius, also known as JAW, and I’ve been clean for fourteen months. Well, mostly.

When I moved I had been watching many tv shows. Many. American Horror Story: Coven, Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead, among others and endless hours of news channels and their related shows. I was a consumer, and eventual addict.

This was nothing new. I had been watching tv for as long as I could remember.

These days, my consumption is limited to the tv set at work, to my right with a slight turn of the head (always tuned to a news channel or sport, because men) and an Indian telenovella, because that’s a real thing.

I suppose it is not as inspirational as other addictions (insert facetious inverted commas at your own sarcastic discretion, you bitches. Urgh, I hate you all) but I felt like I kicked a veritable habit.

And cold turkey, no less.

But here’s the difference: I had no choice. I had not quite hit rock bottom, as is the parlance, but I had no other way to go. The one time I watched tv was when I slept over at a friend’s place. I don’t always do well with sleep, so while the boys did that, I pigged out on Oprah and Friends.

My problem before was that I would zone out and watch for hours on end, with nary a thought about what I was doing. I always thought I was quite conscious, even before I knew what consciousness was. I remember a lot of what I watched and tried my best to balance out the fluff with news and educational programmes.

Do I miss it? Sometimes. Had you asked me a year ago I would have curled up into a ball, naked and held myself for hours on end, shivering.

But now I have more time for books and other wordy things. I have more time to think and to annoy all of you with blog posts. I can chat on my phone without keeping an eye on what’s playing in front of me. But mostly it made me aware of exactly how much time I had been keeping an eye on that screen in front of me.

The lesson? And this is not a sub-blog to my drinking friends, although maybe it should be, but whatever you do, do it with a focused mind.

I miss the mindlessness. I miss the entertainment. I miss logging out of life and leaving it all at the door, along with my pants and forgetting the world. But at least I know I don’t need it anymore.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Those three words

One of my favourite lines from a song is that overplayed classic Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. It goes:

Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough

Now, I’m not referring to THOSE three words (gotcha) but they are related, so stay with me here.

I was a little late to the party with the genius film by an amateur director known as Christopher Nolan called Interstellar. Apparently it did well.

Many thoughts shot through my head as I watched it. The plot according to me: Earth is aging, and with aging comes dilapidation and impending death.

The film is about space travel, while challenging notions of spaces. Yes, the NASA of the film which was forced underground as American got weary of space exploration when dust clouds invade their food crops, goes into outer space, but where the film really excels is when it goes into inner space.

Now, those three words…

Yes, they are “I love you”, because Matthew McConaughey, proving that no mater what you go through in life, always perservere – How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, anyone?

He literally proves to literally be the biggest cock blocker in literally the universe. Literally. But eventually love conquers all and there was peace in all the world.

Now to get to the actual three words to which I was referring… “I don’t know.”

That’s it. The film explores those three words as I’ve never seen before. From beginning, climax, surprise cameo, gasp moment, neat ending and ambiguous conclusion.

One of my favourite books that also features those words is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Yes, we all know the film will never be as good as the book. Calm down. The film was not bad at all, but what it lacked was the silences in the book. And of course, the honesty of a father who is facing something of which he is uncertain.

When his son badgers him about the next step in their post-apocalyptic journey, all he can muster is “I dont know”. When I read this six years ago, it resonated with me then, and it still does as loudly as it did then.

As I get older, dilapidated and more post-apocalyptic myself, I’ve learned that there are many many moments when those three words are not only appropriate, but the only answer there is at the time. Recently a colleague who is a bit older older than I, said that those words are rather rude. It implies that one does not care and that such vagueness implies uncaring.

But we live in a world that is so groomed to knowing who you are and where you are going, that when things fall apart, we have no idea where to go, even with a plan B.

As this film still lingers in my mind, and as I finally begin to like Anne Hathaway again, I am content with being content with not knowing where the road always leads.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Keeping it fresh

I suppose I could start with an anecdote about how I’ve been gone for so long, but for all of my 2.5 readers (for whom I’m eternally grateful), I figure we’d jump right on it.

Recently I joked with someone that after having seen him a few times, that I will now ignore him for a few months to, you know, keep things fresh.

I got a little jolt because I had a dramatic flashback to a few months ago when I made the same joke with a friend who I had not seen in a few weeks. We had a great time – talking, laughing, pontificating. And I have not seen him since.

I thought about this a lot, and all answers led me back to our old friend, Fear. Why are we afraid of something good? Why do we think we do not deserve good things? By that I do not mean the superficial (material), but the things that seem unattainable.

This blog is an example of one of those moments of fear. Again, I had a jolt when I felt the clammy hands of Fear caressing me, telling me how great I am. Fear is a hypocrite, and so am I. I even wrote about it here, yet here I am a few months later, consumed by my day job and letting down a responsibility. Yes, responsibility. A friend actually dropped his usually humorous side and told me that I took on writing as a responsibility and that by not being committed to it, I am letting down my readers. Sooo seriiiiooous!

The other slap in the face was a tweet by a dear friend who asked, “When last did you update your website/blog?” Damn you, intelligent and unintentionally well-meaning friend!

This is, of course, not to say that one should commit to something – blog, friendship, or otherwise – with the expectation of freshness. I mean, we’re not bread.

Life is as fresh as we want it to be, and that is my wish for you. Seeing as I did not do a new year’s wish, I hope that you, dear readers, appreciate every moment and keep it as fresh as you want it.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Don’t be a naai/ Life is trash

This mystical incantation washed all the way from Mother Germany – don’t be a naai. And you will all take care to listen.

Translated, it means don’t be a fucker.

One of my favourite tweeters is Beyonka Fierce. She says things that would get you shunned by society for admitting that it made you laugh. She would probably be fired from her job if her employers knew that she was tweeting the things she does. Last year she killed herself and rose up from the ashes to bless us with her quality tweets. Check it out, if you dare – @beyonka_fierce

Maybe I should explain before I go on. My dear friend Meryem, from Germany (so she speaks German) was in South Africa last year and went away for an end of year camp. She came back filled with energy and wisdom, as one of the rules for the group was, put simply, “don’t be a naai”.

Ok, back to Beyonka. She’s the most offensive person I follow on Twitter, and with good reason. I mentioned her previously here, but “life is trash” need particular attention. In 2013 she staged her own death and then came back to Twitter a week or so later (This is the level of sanity I am dealing with here).

Her adage “Life is trash” resonates over generations to remind us to never get our hopes up. This is such an inspirational saying that I carry it around in my heart wherever I go. Yes, you read right – never get our hopes up.

My body has recently descended to the depths of pudginess. It’s quite painful to live through as I am a former skinny bitch (the scientific term) and now that I am in that rare breed known as “the curvaceous male”, I feel the pressure from society to conform. And boy have I conformed to these pants! A friend, in a moment of brilliant obviousness, told me that I should gym. Because of course that never crossed my mind. She said that I might meet a sexy trainer. I told her with my luck, I’d probably convert him to the “life is trash” movement, fall in love and we’d just end up getting fat together. Happily ever fatter.

There is so much happening in the world – people are literally being killed daily. So why make it worse by being an asshole? Why be a naai? Sometimes when things go bad, I’ll look up at the sky and say to God, “Hey G, whats your problem? Why wont you work with me here and allow me to be great?” Then I remember that life is trash and that I shouldn’t be surprised. Also, the guy fixing the light fixture above me in the office usually looks down from his ladder and says, “Please stop calling me God or I’ll have to report you to HR… again”

Life is trash reminds us to always stay grounded – that as good as things may be, there might always be a turn, a switch, a spanner in your works. In which case, if you had been flying the “life is trash” motto, you would never be surprised when something happens.

So yes, you might think life is trash, but it’s really great if you choose to see it that way. But there’s no exception on the other rule – don’t ever be a naai.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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