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A Good White Shirt

Is there anything more chic? I scrub mine. I watch as the water swirls round and round the bucket, sloshing down the drain.

Whirlpools of dirt pulled from the fabric.

I love a good white shirt with nearly everything – black pants, blue jeans, light weather, dark moods. The ironing time is always worth it. Steam hisses as I fight with white.

Streams of heat as I pull and smooth.

At last count I have – let me actually count for accuracy’s sake – six! More than pairs of shoes or jeans. Unrivalled. I feel like nobility when I wear one, or like I’m wearing the “white privilege uniform”. You know the one – slack shorts, shirt (sleeves rolled up) dark sunglasses and leather sandals/ sockless loafers.

A good white shirt is enough to hide insecurities beneath a blazer, contain an undershirt and layers of regret masquerading as fat. Yet not enough to betray with the help of some sweat. It shan’t conceal what you aren’t willing to.

Oh, and make no mistake, do not confuse it with a bad one. One with yellow sweat stains around the armpits and a dark line cordoning off the collar. No. A good white shirt will be faithful, and hang in your cupboard for just long enough, tempting you. “Wear me”, but never “pick me”. Never desperate. A command, not a plea. Never fighting for your attention.

Whether a mindless uniform, or carefully considered, a good white shirt will never be a bad choice.

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

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R.I.P Sense8

Fans and wannabe clusters were outraged last week at the cancellation of Sense8. The Netflix show proved just too expensive and logistically unsound to continue. With two seasons under its belt, the show is no more.

My friend Theo said it best: “This show deserved better”. For an analysis of the first season, check his blog here.

Sense8 was both product and victim of its time. It was meant to be consumed as it was conceived – together. Although part of the binge revolution brought on by streaming service Netflix, the show was not capable of being satisfactorily digested in one sitting. There were too many issues and complexities for us mere sapiens, unfortunately.

Part of the problem was simply explaining what it was about. Eight people from around the world are telepathically connected and are in turn, hunted for this unique ability? Yes, sure. But also, No! It was so much more, are the echoes from the many (we assume) who watched it.

How would I describe it? Stay with me here. Dom krag. Sometimes called blinde krag. For those of you not familiar with Afrikaans slang, those would translate directly as dumb strength and blind strength respectively. They are used to describe how, when confronted, someone goes into a rage and will fight with strength seemingly beyond their capabilities – going dumb or blind and not able to explain how they fought the way they did. Or maybe when you seduce someone, and you instinctively “become” someone else as you have to transform to complete this task. Getting into character, like method acting, but with the character there to help you. That’s how I thought of it. These people, when in need, would take over for each other and assume the role of the other person in need. You see, for cynics and detractors, confusing!

The show unfortunately suffered from the Wachowskis usual blend of philosophically pensive and verbose monologues, and kick ass action. Simultaneously at odds with itself and its pace, while setting a new standard for “television”, it was The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, V for Vendetta and other Wachowski vehicles, but in multiple hours long stretches. Apparently too much for too many of its viewers

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“I fall in love with the person, not their genitals”.

If there’s one line that sums up how I feel about this show, it is this. Zakia, a Kenyan woman speaking to her male love interest, Capheus. Beyond the organisational conspiracy, action, intertwined plots, there was a kernel of unconditional love and being yourself that made this show so special to its core audience.

What else? Hope, strength in unity, finding your own voice. Finding others and fighting for each other and what you believe in. Survival. Regrets. Righting your wrongs. Atonement.

Another classic rant was transgender character Nomi Marks, played by trans actress Jamie Clayton, in the first season.

“For a long time, I was afraid to be who I am because I was taught by my parents that there’s something wrong with someone like me. Something offensive, something you would avoid, maybe even pity. Something that you could never love. I was afraid of this parade because I wanted so badly to be a part of it. So today, I’m marching for that part of me that was once too afraid to march. And for all the people who can’t march… the people living lives like I did. Today, I march to remember that I’m not just a me. I’m also a we. And we march with pride.” —Nomi

Read here for more awesome quotes from the show.

But could there be hope? Fan outrage saved HBO’s gay show ‘Looking’. Also cancelled after two seasons, Patrick and co got a wrap-up film to tie up loose ends and give fans closure. Maybe with enough noise, and working as one, fans and follower and sensates will get the ending they crave.

Alas, Netflix has said that there will not be any reprisal for the show.

Rest in pieces, and peace, Sense8.

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The cast. A family, fam. 

Image: The Hollywood Reporter

 

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

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“Save Water. Save the World” by Moestaqeem Esau

As the heavens open up on the still-drought stricken Western Cape, there is no better time to remind people to still save water. Don’t let your guard down just because the floodgates are open. That is when the enemy prospers.

Days-long rains remind me of my childhood. Twas a cold night a long time ago… No wait, wrong time.

At crèche we would stand at the door, rain pouring down, shouting, “Rain rain, go away. Come again another day”. Our rhyming skills were rudimentary at best and creativity as weak as water. I wish I could go back in time, go up to that little 6-year old me, stroke his pale face, look him in the eye and then punch him. Just once. Square in the gut. Serves him right for not appreciating rain.

Another classic tune went “It’s raining its pouring, the old man is snoring”. Cue a few decades later and I’m wondering, what’s the matter with this man and how on earth is he sleeping through this storm? Somebody wake him and tell him to help us get some buckets to catch the water. I would later sing this part from the Supertramp classic, “It’s Raining Again” and marvel at how I am now a super tramp. Thanks for the inspiration, ST!

Something else my ignorant self remembers from childhood is when it rained, we said it was because God gave Jesus a hiding and now he’s crying. Haha, so ignorant and irreverent. The 90s was a different time when father could beat son without interference from the law and labels like “corporal punishment”. We did not know any better. Sorry God.

Anyway, here’s a cheeky bit on saving water from my friend, Moestaqeem:

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The common saying “desperate times calls for desperate measures” has echoed throughout the ages. However, water, a precious resource and commodity has sustained life long before we could talk, write, flirt and blog.

People tend to often overlook the importance of water, thus encouraging the pollution and wasting thereof. Not too long from now, I dreamt of our planet, scarce of water and this is how it went… “Sun kissed skin so hot it’ll melt your Popsicle” [k Perry. California Girls]. Though seasonal rainfall occurred water remarkably evaporates before its hits the sizzling surface of the earth. Yes, twas that bad. There were  water burglars, water zombies and an establishment of a new elite force the H2O.B.I a branch of the FBI.

Locally, South Africa incorporated the death penalty to decrease the theft on water and water related murders. The scarcity of water motivated me to suggest possibilities in which we can save water during those desperate times. Hope you find this resourceful.

1)      The shower

People generally enjoy singing in the shower, like myself. It starts with one song and you end up singing five songs. Songs have length. Five songs could keep you for over 15 minutes in the shower!!! A shower running for 15 minutes? That’s a lot of WASTED water! Only one song should be sung. It should have a length of max 3 minutes. You should be done showering by the end of the song. Practice the same song in the shower everyday, this will prepare you for when you do audition for idols. No shower radios are allowed. Talk shows, comedy minutes, news, gossip on the radio will keep you longer in the shower. When your water budget becomes really tight, you should call a plumber and ask him to switch off the warm water. Shower in cold water. A cold shower will scare and scar you from showering the next day thus making showering no longer pleasurable. Before you know it you will shower once a month and eventually replace showering with wet wipes.

2)      Plants

Plants are lovely creatures that embellish our homes. BUT. They need water too. The plants you have should be replaced with succulents, plants that require water every once a month or once every three months. Be very careful how you go about replacing those plants. You would not want to hurt them nor make them feel homeless. Tell them that you are moving to the Middle East and that it’s risky for them to be there. Be sincere. When your water budget is strained it’s time for you to replace the succulents as well. Use your own discretion. I’ve had sleepless nights. Try playing rock music all the time. Don’t let sunlight into your home. Tell them you are now a vampire. Succulents are naïve. Thereafter you are able to welcome artificial plants into your home. They don’t need water.

3)      Laundry

You will not want to ever use a washing machine. They are water loving machines that uses tons of water you need. The best way to wash your clothes will be in rivers and ponds. Greatly recommended rivers to do your washing in are: the Liesbeek, Kuilsriver and the Eersterivier. If you have a large amount of clothing that needs washing consider the Bree River and the Orange river. When you do wash your clothing in ponds make sure to use MAQ washing powder. This will not offend the ducks.

TIP! Stubborn stains can be removed by simple beating with a rock. Do not use angular rocks for they will tear your clothing.

4)      Animals

Animals are common in households. They use a significant percentage of water that you need. That is why we have to let go of them. Animals survive perfectly in the wild. They are capable of fending for themselves. Good bye FeeFee. No fish tanks. Leave the fish in the ocean. There is a way to still have animals in your home. i.e.  paste fish in your fish tank or get fake fish. There are also cat and dog teddy bears. If this doesn’t satisfy you, buy a Tamagotchi or alternatively download a virtual pet onto your mobile phone. in this way you can still have your animals without feeding them water. Parents should teach their kids at a tender age that animals are mythical creatures.

Other ways to save water:

Don’t brush your teeth with water. Use miswaak

Swallow medication without water.

More suggestions:

Cry less.

Drink water because you’re dehydrated, not for fun.

Wash your car and windows when its rains.

No swimming pools are allowed.

Come on guys, stand up and do a rain dance!

 

M.E thanks you for reading.

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

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Rewind: Ladismith Drought (2015)

I came across this while looking through old emails. This was the first story I wrote with my then mentor. We travelled to Ladismith in the Western Cape to cover the devastating drought, and water shortage there.

Because the Western Cape is going through this current drought, despite occasional rain, I thought the parallels were interesting. Only a few lines were used from my original story, that is copied below in its entirety.

 

The lifeblood of a Karoo town is at stake as administrative bungling could cost Ladismith its water supply. The small town in the Kannaland municipality is used to droughts and dry spells as the concentric circles of the near-dry dams show a dwindling water supply.

However, in-fighting and political manoeuvring could cost the locals their most precious commodity.

Leon Blignault, the technical manager for the municipality, said the town was not out of danger yet. “At this stage we only have 22 days of water left. We have to keep moving the water pump to adjust to the water level”.

In the dam, a sizable pond is visible, however when Blignault points out the markers for how high the water level is allowed to be, the situation becomes clear.  White stones mark a ring around the top of the dam, with the actual water far down below.

Municipal manager Morne Hoogbaard said at present, the town has experienced a water problem for years.

Hoogbaard, the longest serving municipal manager said the time is right for change, as there is “managerial and political stability”.

A new dam is currently under review, and is expected to be completed by December 2016.

“Water Affairs will fund the biggest portion of the R100-million cost, which will subsidise the percentage of poor people, who get free water. We are submitting in March for the final plan,” he said.

“We have equipped two boreholes that will take care of 30% of our needs. We plan on equipping ten boreholes, that will provide 70% of our water,” he said. The cost of the two boreholes is R2-million, but R10-million is needed for all ten, plus an additional R5-million for further exploration in Zoar. He said the situation in Zoar is “equally serious”.

“It is similar in size to households in Ladismith. It is a coloured community with very little industry,  he said.”

He said meetings take place every week as part of a drought management team, with disaster management, water affairs and the municipality.

“It’s not a problem. That’s something that can be solved”

These were the scathing words of principal of Dankoord VGK Primary, Isaac Hartman.

“The pipe starts up there,” he points to the nearby mountain, “so why does it not reach us down here?” he said.

Hartman alleges that the farmers have siphoned off water before it reaches the community below.

“The problem is that the farmers use the water for their households, not just for farming. Those two tanks can’t run dry in one day. They need to investigate it,” he said.

The health of the learners is a major concern. “We have 144 kids. If that many kids use the bathroom with water, you can imagine”

In the sprawling community of Zoar, 10 kilometres fromLadismith, the situation is dire.

“Mense se magies is in hulle moer,” (People’s stomachs are messed up) said resident Cindy Fortuin. Many in the community have complained of diarrhea.

“The dam is like slime. We don’t have money to buy water,” she said.

Ella Ambros, a mother of three, said she has to buy water for her children, aged 2, 5 and 14.

“We have to cook all our water, and sometimes we have to buy. They don’t tell us what the problem is. There is no notice. We had no water at Christmas. You can’t even wash your white laundry. The old people are also getting sick,” she said.

Councillor Hyren Ruiters from the ICOSA party, who has lived in Zoar all his life, said the solutions are coming, but they’re too slow.

“This is an old system. The pipes are too old. There is some work being done on the main line, but its not enough, and borehole water is expensive. There is also the problem of water theft,” he said, referring to tampering of water meters.

“In December, families come home from Cape Town, then water use increases. Another problem is the bucket system. It uses twice the number of water. Over summer, there is a greater demand for water, but our system is never fixed”.

“The provincial government is not as supportive. They’re just there to make promises, and nothing happens on all levels. All support comes from national. ICOSA and the ANC work well together here.”

He warned of the impending danger of further shortages. “The farmers were affected, and that means our people on farms will be layed off too,” he said.

“Oom” Len Hauptfleisch, with his shock of blonde hair, stands in his dilapidated house that he is trying to fix after it was ravaged by a fire. The dribble of water that he could muster was not enough when the fire broke out in is home.

“I got two buckets and threw it on the bed. That little I got from the bathroom didn’t help”

He jokes that sometimes the water goes from drip system to “no system”.

“Sometimes there isn’t even a drop,” he said. Newly painted walls surround the mess of the fire in his living room, where his daughter sits, as he tries to rebuild his life.

“I can’t count how many times I got water from the neighbours on the main water line. Not for drinking though” he said.

“People are very unhappy here. Administration is the problem. I don’t think the reservoir was ever full,” he said.

Back in Ladismith, local farmer, and chairperson of the Klein SwartbergRivier Water Forum, Hennie Kotze said beyond the actual water crisis, there has been a dire lack of communication between key players.

The forum was established in 2012 to deal with the recurring water crisis.

“The farmers have to share the source with the municipality. With all due respect, we get very little co-operation from the municipality. They want the water, but don’t want to discuss it with us”

He conceded to the conditions of the water act, but emphasised that it should be “only for human consumption”.

He was disgruntled about the lack of cohesion in the forum, which, in theory, includes businesses and representatives of the municipality.

“Provincial does nothing. Last week provincial and Water Affairs were here. We heard nothing. We weren’t involved or recognised.”

“If they’re not willing to talk to us, we’ll take it (the water) back,” he said.

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

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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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About love and conquering, from @thaabzeniko

Sometimes you stumble on something so pretty you have to share it. That’s how I felt about a thread of tweets I read yesterday. I followed and asked permission to share. @thaabzeniko’s twitter bio reads: “gay. they/ them. mostly in black. guzzling wine somewhere. this be ma corner on the interwebs”

Gotta love that. They (the pronoun the bio states to use) sent me this to add:

“I don’t consider myself a writer but I tend to write occasionally, at times through experience, but mostly through observation. I never knew I could write until I went through some things and I just couldn’t relate to anything out there so I started writing/ facilitating my own lived experiences and fantasies, and it’s been gravy ever since.”

Below are the tweets I’ve typed out, and used the full words in place of abbreviations.

 

One day, you’ll be in bed with your partner when your bodies stick to each other under the sweltering heat and your sighs are soft keys to a song.

They’ll be sleeping but you’ll be restless, trying to catch every speeding thought, thanking God you’re in love and alive through it all.

You’ve lost track of how many times it took you both to get here. But you’re here and there’s no more lies, bullshit and half-assing things.

You’ll stop wondering how much simpler things would be if feelings were easily altered, whether we’d bother to love at all. You’ve made it.

Silent moans of relief as you feel so close to them and the only way you can get closer is by letting them hold you even closer. Tighter even.

Caressing every part of you; existing peacefully between each other. Like Pablo Neruda they’ll catch glimpses of the moon alive under your skin.

Your skin will smell like sleep. Things will begin to make sense. Loving each other will feel like being heard after a lifetime of silence.

You’ll remember the times you spent your early 20s freaking out, believing you’re a mess when really you were always iridescent from the start.

You’ll forget about the exes that were into music/ poetry and wrote songs about everyone they fucked except you.

You’ll forget about the exes that made you feel so used to being second best – only inviting you over when they’re lonely and horny.

You’ll touch your lips, tasting the tendrils of the escaped Disney fairy tale you spent your early life searching for with exes that weren’t for you.

You’ll build a life with a love books don’t talk about. The one found in the spines of everything you’ve been taught to run away from.

You’re a hero with claws. It’s how you climbed out of darkness when you believed everything was disappearing and made of smoke.

It’s going to be the small moments here and there, however they arrive, look for them. Happiness will walk in and I hope it works out for you.

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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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Same old story

Then you wonder, is this not supposed to get easier with age? Is experience not doing its job if this is the effect? Is it arrogant to take this as a failure?

Oh its nothing new. You’ve heard it a million times. A little ‘like’ and some love slowly morphs into something unrecognisable until where you thought the shooting star would have landed, turns into a blob of longing.

A seething blob, that whimpers at the gentlest prod.

We met online – Twitter – January 2015, when I thought I saw someone that looked like him while jogging at UCT.

“I don’t go there,” he said. And that was that.

Cue 10 months later when he told me someone else messaged him to say they saw him on the train. We were dealing with a doppelganger. It was our story. It was whimsical and whenever I told it I would come alive.

My face lit up and people smirked at how cute I felt, and they laughed at how animated I told the beginnings of our tale.

As my current relationship wound down to its natural end, this burgeoning friendship took off. It was purely direct messages on Twitter. It was exciting and fun and innocent.

“Hey youre somewhat of a language expert, right?” he asked while I was out on an assignment.

“Whats a bottle job wanker?” he asked.

Another of our jokes.

I replied between glasses of water and walks around the block, upon waking and well into the night. I couldn’t wait for the messages. They became frequent and inquisitive – “hey” and “hey you!” were commonplace. I would light up when the chat conversation was initiated.

I was not pushing, nor was I hoping. This was new territory for me. Did I mention he is a scientist? Swoon! Later when we met he would tell me about his research and I thought how exciting that’s going to be when completed. He came alive as he explained his thesis topic and I loved it. But that was only much later.

Between October and December this was the routine. It wasn’t all perfect – there was the time I called him the Hitler of something. He didn’t take that analogy well. Granted. We got over it pretty quickly.

He offered to donate books for a charity drive I was helping out with. It turned out it was an excuse to meet and buy me a coffee. It worked, but never happened. Not just yet.

We spoke about movies all the time. He was a nerd. I thought I was one too.

“Say something in nerd,” he challenged.

“I think I’m more nerd lite,” I conceded.

He was competitive. We played thumb wars and he always won. We were the dream 30 Seconds team. Every team Ive played on has won. I looked forward to winning with him.

But before we got there, I passed the audition and went from direct message to WhatsApp. It was a triumph – a logical outcome for these things, but a triumph none the less. It felt well-earned and the next step.

We met at the theatre – nerds! – to watch Singin’ in the Rain at the Artscape. It was one night, and many chat conversations, where the courtship went completely over my head.

For someone who gets told that they’re smart, my brain would shut down and be completely oblivious to signals being thrown my way.

I was throwing myself at you, he would later say.

I look back and the lightbulbs pop all over my mind like a faulty fuse box.

“Its not as easy as you… me…date” I texted one day in the last week of December. We were talking about dating and how hard it is to find a decent man.

“Hey Jerome. You.. me… date,” he said.

I LOL’d. I was not used to forthright, candid and cute. I was used to being dealt assumptions and then next steps. Direct messages were direct!

“You could have just said no,” he said.

An awkward tug-and-pull set the tone for things to come, as I said “don’t go, come back, I misunderstood”.

The situation was placated.

That same night I got invited to the house he was house sitting. There was a hot tub. I had already started a process of spontaneity and better living. This “say yes” mantra coincided with my leaving my house at 11pm at his invitation, with work the next day and a half-hour drive to see him. It was worth it.

I met his brother, his cousin and her boyfriend. They seemed to like me.

“Oh you’re the journalist?!” was what greeted me by his slightly drunk cousin. “And you must look after him,” she said between getting to know me.

Yes, yes I will, I thought. He spoke about me! He must like me! She must sense something that I don’t yet! She was being maternal. They grew up together and this was a good sign! The exclamations were aplenty that night.

“Don’t laugh at my body,” I said.

“Don’t be silly,” he said.

I still thought I was a little too doughy and pale next to him. He had swum 70 laps that morning. I had sat at my desk and read tweets and made phone calls.

“Would you really not date me?!” he asked again in the pool.

This one is persistent, I thought.

But it paid off. After some jostling, and with my 1am curfew approaching, I left. But not before another “say yes” moment.

“I’m going now,” I said, half inside my car.

“Ok.”

“No really, I’m going now! I said. I have work in a few hours”

“Okaay,” he said unconvincingly.

I walked up to him and we kissed. Tentatively at first. Weary. Soft. Eyes closed. I was still speaking. The words escape me as they escaped me.

“You talk a lot,” he said, smiling, teasing more kisses from my lips.

I pushed him against the wall and I stopped talking.

“Where is he?” we heard his brother ask.

He jumped onto the wall and said, “I’m still here”. And the jostling continued until I forced myself to leave.

New years eve was the next night – “I want to see you.”

I jumped.

Work took forever. All I could think about was the impending night and seeing him. No expectations. I survived the dreaded new year’s shift and rushed home to shower.

“What should I bring?” I asked.

Condoms and vodka, he said.

Ok, I thought, not over thinking – my default setting.

It was a joke, made worse by the slow cellphone reception.

But the night was perfect, punctuated by hand holding, movie watching, talk of being serious and exclusive (he asked, I said yes) and drinking games. Getting-to-know-you games as we called them that night. There was truth and dare and skinny dipping. Say yes, remember?

Then the descent. Surely you didn’t think there was no descent?

Act three and the energy shifts. Messages take longer to be replied to. Time is negotiated. Jokes are taken out of context. Other jokes are made.

“I make myself too available to you,” I texted. “Im going to friend zone you, just to keep things fresh”.

“Are you serious?” (of course I wasn’t!)

“Of course not!”

“Don’t joke like that. That kind of thing will make me put up walls,” he said.

It was a shock. He was the one who said 90% of what he said shouldn’t be taken seriously.

“I’m the funny one. You’re the serious one,” he said.

I happen to think I am mildly amusing at best. At least! Hmph.

Dates were still fun, but the lightness had gone. We teased each other. Sometimes it went too far.

He rubber-necked when a hot guy would walk past. I humoured it. We all stare, I thought. But that much? In my presence? Surely I should be enough. It was not a question.

“You ARE enough,” said a friend. I doubted it.

Cue to more dates being planned, but with a weariness that proved waning interest.

“You cant dump me until after Valentine’s Day. Any time after that will be ok,” I joked. It was to be preemptively prophetic. 19 days after the new year had started, more misunderstandings and miscommunications.

“Are you comfortable with your sexuality?” was the message I received that got the ball rolling.

Of course I am, I thought.

“Yes,” I said.

I didn’t kiss him when I took him home. I didn’t get a kiss the previous time, so I went with what I knew and thought “Go with that. Read the signs. Respect the space and be content with boundaries”. His granny was sassy, and I didn’t want to cause any offence (even though that night it was dark and we were outside in my car), but I considered her and people who might have been around, instead of claiming my kiss.

It translated to an insult. I had offended the ego and it wrecked havoc with his self esteem.

I wasn’t affectionate enough. I didn’t place him on the pedestal, like his ex did. He later regretted comparing me to the ex, but it was out there.

The wistful mentions of said ex went over my head at the time, but the tentacles of doubt took hold. I never made a big deal, but they were there, hanging on. As was I.

As the conversation – THAT conversation – flexed and contorted down the rabbit hole like a falling cat, the clearer it became that it was over.

But we have a date in three days, I thought. What about V-day?! You cant break the binding clause of St Valentine!

But it was broken. As were we. It became clear later in the night, with my usual insomnia now in full lucidity, that while I was asking “Are we ok?” an d even “Are you awake?” despite that glaring “Online” sign, he was avoiding the issue at hand.

“But he could have fallen asleep while still online,” is the rationale of the desperate. I am not 19, I thought. I am not supposed to be feeling this way. But it was over.

“I am sorry” was one message.

“Didn’t mean for this to happen” was another.

I made my usual appeasing jokes and blocked him on all social media platforms. I was not taking any chances. My eyes were puffy and I still had work in the morning. I got up and prepared lunch, at 2am. Sleep was not coming anytime soon. More tears.

I thought I was special. A whole 19 days. Surely a world record. Do we even count the online time?

“Pen your thoughts down. Write,” was a text from my mother. It was her birthday. I was supposed to wish her, instead I was up and wondering where it all went (goes) wrong.

Everyone thinks they’re special when we collide into a wall. But as you approach, open your eyes. There are skid marks and dents where others have been before. Its just another love story with an aborted end. Others have been here. You may be alone, but you’re not the only one who was here. Its just the same old story.

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

Gallery

Good Blood

Anyone who knows me knows when I’m onto something, I never let it go. Like a dog yanking on a piece of steak, I am reminded why I go years being single. I’m a sucker for bleeding a good revelation to its shriveling end, and with not much good out there in this treacherous world, we often have to look within to see the good.

Who knew that my silver lining is red and here to save the world? Ok, save the world may be a bit of a reach. I am here to ameliorate this planet with my life-giving juice. That’s more like it.

This plasma-drenched revelation came hot on the heels of a Facebook notification of 1 year of Facebook friendship (as opposed to real-life friendship which does not deserve recognition). A week prior, I was on a walk with my 1-year friendship recipient (who is a jealous female lover to whom I make no love. She’s also crazy, so no names for fear of retribution) and we decided to donate blood at our previously unnoticed blood donation center. It does not exactly stand out among the always soon-to-be-replaced Cape Town eateries. But their work is almost as important.

Ever the gloater, I delighted in the fact that my person had low blood pressure *mwuhahahaha evil grin, strokes goatee while lightning flashes in the background* and I pumped my fist like a restrained and dignified party boy, while she stared on wistfully at the flowing red river from my arm.

Those feeders should be commended. They made me feel so special. They fed me liquids and sweet treats and almost made me forget that they were literally draining the life from me. At least they were forthright about it, unlike the rest of the world.

After patching me up and sending me on my way with a muffin and a pat on the back, I hop, skipped and jumped down the road like Dorothy down a dirty and windy piss-stained yellow tarred road.

If I thought that that feeling of satisfaction could not be rivaled by anything, I thought wrong. Because when I went back to find out what my blood type was, I saw faces light up like meth labs gone awry.

I swear I told those bloodthirsty tyrants that they had won the lotto. And in a sense, they had.

And the winning power ball number is… O NEGATIVE!

This was probably the second most excited I’ve been upon hearing the word negative around my blood. I can’t remember the first time.

So there it is – I am a universal donor. A part of me wants to be classy about it and walk around knowing that I am the key to keeping you all alive. The rest of me is all “Fuck it, I am a god among men” while running around in a Cupid costume squirting all of me all over all of you. I’m still deciding on the best course of action for that routine.

Of course this gave me a Sookie Stackhouse/ Bella from-that-sparkly-vampire-film complex, but I am no different from the rest of you.

Now that you know I am better than you, please do not treat me differently. It’s just blood.

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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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