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The Diarrhea Diary – A lesson in bargaining

Yip, it’s back to the bowels for ol’ JAW. Gather round, this is going to be super classy.

I recently told a colleague how I had been holding my fart in all day (she was asking why I seemed so uncomfortable) and at that point her face lit up and she said, “Me too!” It was such a, you know, relief, to share that moment with someone and that we all go through holding things in, whether that’s physical or emotional. Just remember, it has to come out somewhere.

But this is the point, and not that I had to use my impending explosive bowels as a segue, but my pain is your pleasure.

We all bargain with ourselves.

What are you holding in?

If it came to it, would your internal dialogue lead you to the right path? Mine usually goes like this: “But can I?”, “Should I?”, “I don’t know if it’s the right thing…”, “I think I do…” In other words, a mess of insecure ramblings that usually sort themselves out amongst themselves and usually lead me down the right path.

For this example, it came as I was driving home from Edenvale. Home is, of course, Johannesburg. And Edenvale, as I came to discover as a new Joburger, is not exactly around the corner.

I went to a friend’s place and ate some curry. He had warned me that he used habanero (chillis) and me being The Brave, I accepted this challenge wholeheartedly as I do all chillis and other chilli-shaped objects. I’ve never been scared of a good burn.

The food was lovely, conversation delightful. So then why did I cut it short and head home? I did not, surprisingly dine ‘n dash, but rather the chilli had caught up with me.

And here’s where the bargaining comes in -because I was not a stone’s throw away from home, and it would be terribly uncouth to use the rest room of someone I had recently met. So I’m driving home and at one point, even turned the music down, with the greatest of respect to Lady Gaga, and started praying, not to Gaga, but with myself. It went something like this:

“Look JAW, it might come to this. We’ve been anticipating this all our life. It couldn’t be smooth sailing forever.”

“But I cant pull over. I don’t even do that to pee!”

“So what then? This is not the time for your pretentious farts and graces. Get it together, man. You can always wash your pants when you get home. It’s not the end of the world!”

“But… but… I just… I don’t… I cant…” I said as my eyes went crossed and my bowels got cross and the world became a blur and when I came to I was still driving.

“Ok, you’re still good. Hang in there.”

And then I gave myself a hug.

At this point I slapped myself and realised I was still on the highway and that other motorists do not take too kindly to wild monologues on busy roads.

When I got to a red light, I couldn’t care anymore and my usual vigilance for hijackers, muggers and smash and grabbers went out the window, as I laid over onto the passenger seat and said another prayer for how grateful I am (for once) that I’m single. Imagine what a test of love that would have been. Not to mention awkward fare for a honeymooner.

That’s when I actually hoped that one of those smash and grabbers would come over, break some glass , get in my car, hold me and say “It’s going to be ok, you brave brave man”

Green light.

Now I entered the squirming phase. I passed Steers and cursed the Indian heritage of my host. I should have stuck with a burger. Veggie, of course.

I am happy to say that the squirming, uncomfortably so, was just that. I got home, crawled inside and crisis was successfully averted.

My ego and I have since recovered from that near-disaster and I’ve come to acknowledge that in times of need, I bargain a lot more than thought I ever would – not to mention what the dialogue would be in a work situation, or love life.

Remember, we all have our conversations with ourselves. But make sure that once the mire has settled, you come out better and stronger out the other side, and with at least a little dignity intact.

Author Jerome Cornelius

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My White Voice, and that thing called networking

This is something that a colleague at my previous job noted about me. I had to call a client and enquire about something. My voice, even while the phone was ringing, was one way and as soon as the client answered, it become another.

He probably thought it was an exceptional observation, but it was something I’ve been aware of for many years.

This point was brought to my attention again recently when I was chatting online to someone from America. He asked me if I have an accent, and I found it hard to answer. Do I have an accent? I know the way I speak is unique to the part of South Africa where I’m from,   but is there a particularly South African accent? Even Nelson Mandela, our most famous citizen, sounded completely unique. This friend of mine said I “sounded British” and compared me to James Bond (he was being way too kind). Later, he said that it seemed like the more I got comfortable speaking to him, the stronger my accent became. This was an interesting contrast to his story, in which he, as an African American, gets told that he doesn’t sound “black enough”.

Speaking, as a part of our identity, has always interested me. I wrote about the particular problems associated with being “coloured” in South Africa. I experienced a similar issue to my American friend when i was growing up. I was accused of being “sturvy” (stuck up) and “acting white”. Read about that here.

I find it strange that the way in which we speak is so important to others. We are so inclined to form an opinion of someone based on past experiences, and what we think we know for sure. This results in prejudice, which has this way of being unfair towards others. Last year in Cape Town, it became clear that there were quite a few racist (or just cautious, as they might put it) property owners, discriminating against others based on who they thought they were.  Read that unshocking expose here.

——

Being in the city of Jozi is strange. Speaking to a few people, I found the things I was saying rather interesting. I am often asked about where I intend to go – which publications I want to work for and what field of journalism interests me. I am not sure yet, but my rhetoric has become particularly ambitious, and I like it. At my first Joburg party (three, in fact, in one night. That is evidently the way it’s done here) I met so many people. I really enjoyed speaking to them, and before i knew it, I was asked what I do, and other such probing questions. I really enjoyed it – the questions, not the probing – and realised that I was networking.

What I don’t like, however, is something else I’ve seen. Networking is a skill I believe I have yet to master. I know of someone who readily says, in melodiously lingering affectations, that he IS a networkeeer. I have an issue with this type of person because what happens is that the people with whom they interact are reduced to a type. No one wants to be viewed as simply what they can do for you. Often these relationships are symbiotic, but we are still people. This is why Joburg gets such a bad rap as a city of people always working. Even when they are partying, it is still an exercise in forging contacts.

What it boils down to is people knowing people, becomes a case of “knowing”. Do these people going into networking sessions (the idea of which I find bizarre) know that they are speaking to people, speaking to people but not treating them like people? This is a part of business, which I understand, but all I want, as usual, is a little consciousness. We are not brands, and this is a big issue with celebrities. Every (inevitable, it seems) meltdown, from Amanda Bynes to Justin Bieber, seems to happen at, or after, moments of success. These people were also reduced to blank slates, types not to be deviated from. We lose perspective on life when we realise that others want us for what we can offer, rather than who we are. Whether it’s money, our business or even our bodies, we are more than what we can give to others.  What’s worse is when people do not realise that they are giving of themselves in this way, or even because it is all that they think they can offer.

While I settle into a city of people who always seem to be working, I hope I can remember to give more than what they think I can give. It’s ok to change who you are to suit an environment. The people who point fingers and judge are often those who are most insecure about their own shortcomings. Remember where you came from, but don’t forget that we are not stagnant beings. And of course, when I was unwittingly thrust into the gyre of networking, what made a deceptive reappearance… none other than, my white voice!

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

JAW does Jozi

Just a quick post to inform all 5 of my loyal readers that I am still alive.

And yes, still alive. For those wondering.

I am in Jozi. Some of you might be asking who that is. No, calm down , girlfriend. That’s Egoli to some of you, or the place of gold (like the soap opera for those South Africans feeling nostalgic for the 90s) and Johannesburg for the rest of you. JAW has taken this writing thing seriously and is now a trainee journalist, and has survived the first week.

So a few details from my time to Cape Town to here. I am told that I am insane. The 13 hour drive was done in one day. Apparently most people stop over on the way to Jozi, but the feeling of accomplishing such a feat in one go inspired me. I did not feel tired, nor did I get a headache or feel in any way demotivated. Every province I drove through (four in total) made me cheer when I saw the sign announcing each one. A note on that – Northern Cape, your sign says “Welcome to NOTHEN Cape Province”. I see you. I am judging you.

My only regret thus far is not taking photos. I do not know how this escaped me, but I get the feeling it’s because I have driven through all these places before over many years and have seen a lot of this country. Don’t get me wrong, it is still the most beautiful country in the world, but at hour ten and sweating like crazy through the Free State, photos of the scenery is the last thing on one’s mind.

Joburg itself was quite a trip. One is told lots of things about the city. Cape Town, often referred to as Slaap Stad (the sleepy city), is often just that – very chilled and laid back. Having never lived in another city in South Africa in this way, I had nothing to compare it to. So Cape Town to me was just that.

One thing that stood out was the highways. At one point my GPS deceived me and I was still in the Free State, whereas I could have been at my destination much sooner. (I was trying to avoid the toll gates. I still ended up going through many of them. Dammit Janet). On many roads in the city of Cape Town, there are bridges where you can turn around on the highway. Not so on my time in the Free State when I ended up on a fuel-consuming deviation. It was good prep for my entry into the Big City. So back to those Joburg perceptions – big and bad, like I said, but also rude, dangerous, fast, materialistic and business-driven.

All of these are probably true, but it sounds like a lot of the world. Think about it; it’s not exactly a unique description. These perceptions have actually now, after my first week, annoyed me, because I’ve realised that it is not that bad. People just want places to be  a certain type. The roads were, in all fairness, very busy for a Saturday night. That was new to me. But after the fifth car lets you pass, you realise that people are still people, and kindness is never far away.

So that’s that, for now. I’m looking forward to many adventures in Jozi.

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

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JHB Pride. Need I say more?

Has Pride lost its meaning? After the recent Joburg pride debacle, I’m starting to wonder.

For those who missed it, a group of (Black) feminists blocked the procession and demanded a minute of silence for Black lesbians and transgendered victims of hate crimes.

I’ve written about my own experience at Cape Town Pride (check out the “Gender and Sexuality” category and go way down to earlier this year) and I am starting to worry about the community.

Being part of the LESBIAN GAY BISEXUAL TRANSGENDERED INTER SEXED QUESTIONING ASEXUAL (LGBTIQA) acronym makes you an activist whether you like it or not. It is my opinion that, as long as you are alive, you should be standing up in your own way.
Is it possible to separate the personal from the political? I think not.

Last year I met someone from a University in Johannesburg who told me that they try to balance it out by hosting parties and signing members up at the events. This is a good idea, however, if the members actually come back for the not-so-fun bits is the question. They usually don’t, not en masse at least.

I believe that one must never care what others think, however, is the image of the gyrating man on a float, oiled up and in thong the only image we want of a community comprised of so much more?

Have we lost the message? Is there even a message anymore? Did CT Pride have a message?Is it even possible to balance the political and serious aspects of this world with the partying and celebration?

Many people I know who despise Pride still attend bars and clubs and live this side of their LGBTIQA selves. Does this make them hypocrites or do they then just not have Gay Pride per se? Like I always say, to each their own.
To me there is still great untapped potential in the idea of a celebration and herding everyone together to show that we are here. However when it becomes a cattle call of the hottest and fittest of the herd, then we start losing the plot.

Whatever happened to unity?

Some of us are living great lives, far from the hate crimes that others experience, so why bother? That is the exact sentiment that I get from people who claim to be out and proud. But what happens when it happens in your backyard? When a friend or family member gets hurt or killed for being what they are, does it become your problem then?
This was the issue that many feel the JHB Pride committee is still not getting.  Until we are all free and equal, there will always be a struggle.

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

For a more comprehensive view on the event, check out this link:

http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/1450#

And furthermore, for writers and bloggers, here’s a lesson. Always do it before others get the chance to. As I wrote this post this past week, the Director of the Unit where I volunteer posted this quote. I don’t mind though.  You can see where I earned my wings! This is the quote via FaceBook:

Gender Equity 3:34pm Oct 9
Gender Equity Unit director, Mary Hames:”It is with deep shock that I have read and heard about the Johannesburg Pride (?). Pride has always been a political movement. When Bev Ditsie and Simon Nkoli organised the first Johannesburg Pride it was done out strong political belief and when Theresa Raizenberg and Midi Achmat organised the Cape Town Pride march it was because they were influenced by the Johannesburg one. The personal is political. I applaud the bravery of the 1 in 9 Campaign. There is indeed a consistency in the demands of the campaign. Aluta Continua. Stop the neoliberal behaviour.”

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