Monday, October 25, 2010

Dangerous Obsessions

Hurrying along the streets she clutches her bag close, head held high with false bravado, her mistress rests under her arm. She hustles to her car, careful that she doesn’t harm her precious cargo. She debates on when she will indulge in the comfort of her secret friend. Just one glass she promises herself; before or after dinner. When she wakes up in the wee hours of the morning, her empty bottles surrounding her, evidence at attempts of eating upended on her carpet, she vows; tomorrow, it’ll be just one glass.

Tip-toeing to the fridge, she has practised the dance of avoiding the creaking floorboards over time; given her girth, it is amazing she makes no noise. With cat-like stealth, she swings open her cave of comfort, her eyes scanning its contents. She selects and creeps back to the safety of her bathroom, where she will stand watching herself in the mirror; all the better to watch her shame. As the tears collect between her double chins, self-hatred welling in her ever-fattening body, she’ll promise herself; tomorrow, I’ll begin my diet.

I need to pick up some cosmetics tomorrow, she thinks idly while he plunges insistently inside her, groaning her name, lost in his lust. Her hips move in the practised old waltz of coupling, her mind adrift. She drags her thoughts away from the nearly depleted shower gel, and watches him. She ekes out a measure of comfort from watching his abandoned state; at least right now, he belonged to her. As he reaches his climax she prepares her act, the gift she gives him for the gifts he gives her. He is happy, triumphant and sated. A beautiful girl gives herself to him, whenever he wants her; without asking much in return. As he leaves, the night still long, silent and lonely ahead of her.

She moves with assurance among the men in the high-ceilinged boardrooms of corporate conglomerates. Her womanly curves smothered by straight suits and severe hair. She hides behind her notebook, clutched protectively to her chest, she’s tough as nails, she’s the office bitch, and she’s one of the boys. Sacrificing her femininity for her career; she’s made it. Until she goes home and takes off the war paint, and in the flimsy material of her nightwear, she remembers she is a woman. She craves to laugh and be ditzy at work because that is what girls do! She wishes her guard was not such armour; an unfriendly barrier keeping both the good and the bad at bay.

We all know these women, we have either been them, or we have seen them. They are our friends; refusing to believe that they become monsters after a few drinks, holding on to the excuse that they need to unwind while they slowly unravel. They are without direction, lonely and smothering a world of hurt with a bottle.

They are our sisters; sleeping with married men, afraid they will never find someone to call their own. They hate themselves and use their bodies for comfort from the unworthy, never believing they deserve so much more than they settle for.

The binge-eater could be you; weary of judgemental glances from your work colleagues as you pull out your take-away lunch, tired of the pitying looks from the sales women who shake their heads sadly at you when you ask for a plus size on a skirt you liked. It’s the tactless taxi drivers who shout irritably, “no fat people in the front seat!” that drive you to jump off at your stop and head home to you Twinkies. It’s the feeling of failure and lack of self-discipline that leads you to fill your mouth bulging with food as you watch yourself with loathing in the bathroom mirror. You want to hide it, hide from others, hide from yourself, but you cannot.

I have no words of wisdom for these women, as salvation comes in different formse3 for everyone; but I have the promise that if you want to be saved, you will be.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Miracle we Almost Missed

Like the putrid smell from a stagnant bog; a blackened piece of meat being feasted upon by maggots in a darkened corner. Like the discovery of a colony of cockroaches feeding on the dead of their own, or seeing the remains of a dog that was halved by a careless wheel; seeing her pregnant turned my stomach.

Jumping into my mind with so much noise I was afraid it was tattooed in my eyes, the first thought was how the hell were we going to rid of it? The thoughts that followed would, months later, serve to make me question my character. Like a neat line, as if at the back of my mind they had been squatting, waiting their turn the thoughts marched through my mind;

·         Was it too later for an abortion?
·         Who would raise the child? Surely not me!
·         What would people THINK?
·         How could we have been so stupid?
·         Was it too late for an abortion?

Crowding my mind; clouding my judgment and rendering me irrational and dangerous I began my inquisition. How could she, someone with near-acute Down’s syndrome, have got pregnant? With already a predilection for lying, I knew I would never find out the truth. Uppermost in my mind was getting a termination of pregnancy; I was ready to even go to the courts to declare her unfit to parent. It was enough that she was a dependent, she would not subject us to taking care of a child whose chances of having Down’s syndrome were high that a whore on crack. I set about with my plans, regardless of the fact that years earlier I had found a letter, scrawled in her childish writing, she had written to a man, asking him for a baby. What she wanted was immaterial to me.

Until her protector and guardian stopped me in my murderous tracks.

Whatever shame the family would face, the protector said, she would bear the brunt of it. It had been her who had been taking care of my Down’s Syndrome-afflicted cousin. It had been her who had let slide the stringent contraceptive regime I had had my cousin on. She would shoulder the responsibility of the humiliation and take care of the coming baby, “mongoloid” or not. I stayed angry until my cousin gave birth to her baby daughter, convinced she would present us all with a child so deformed we would have to make some hard decisions.

Today she toddles like any perfect angel; a childrso beautiful I suspect God was taking the piss at me. She gurgles, she laughs and she is a joy to everyone in the family. I was the first to take photos of her, when she was only a few hours old. I fell in love with that little angel moments after meeting her. I was wrong, and I have never been so glad to be.

Women choose abortions for flimsier reasons than what I believed. I was afraid that a woman who cannot take care of herself (at 34) would be a danger to a child, I was afraid that I would have to step up to the plate and I knew I didn’t want to. The universe further slapped me in the face when my cousin turned out to be the best mother I have ever seen. Her daughter loves her mother so much, it is amazing to watch.

I am not anti-abortion, I am completely pro-choice. But as I watch women who are my friends continue to choose to terminate pregnancies, I am reminded of my little second-cousin, (so perfect it was like she had a point to prove), I wonder, how many world changers were consigned to the abortionists bin?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lessons in Life: A Series - The Unemployed

They sit beneath an old oak tree, its branches a cocoon from the newly awakened sun. They look at each other, each wondering who will break first and fish into his or her tattered pockets to for whatever monies happened to land there. The single quart of Black Label beer that has been circulating around the five of them stands empty in front of them. The smokers fidget uneasily, the craving for nicotine making them unsettled. If push came to shove, they will sacrifice what they have for a loose cigarette than contribute to the liquor kitty.

Finally, neither of them can take it anymore;

“I only have R3 guys,” says the tall woman who holds a teacher’s diploma but has never had a job. On her tired face there remains a vestige of beauty and her now emaciated figure reveals that she was once robust.

“Chaps I have R2.10,” her car mechanic live-in lover claims, his calloused hands, blackened by his work, revealing the coins from the depths of his dirty work overalls. He’s a smoker; you can be assured he has another R2 hidden to buy his loose cig. You would think he would have more money but his work sporadic and he drinks most of what he makes.

“Okay that makes it R5.10, we need another R5 guy, I’ll go buy,” the apparent simpleton of the group offers. While the man is in full possession of his faculties he seems to allow the others to treat him like a child. His live-in-lover and the mother of his various children doesn’t drink and therefore he looks cleaner and more cared for. He has the money but will only contribute in private, not wanting the others to know how much he has.

“I have nothing! Yesterday I managed to get two beers from that guy at the pub but I don’t even remember spending it!” says the young woman who has been chewing her nails nervously. If this were the city I would bet she is the resident crack head but I know she just wants a drink and a cigarette.

The last member of the five sits quietly. Nobody expects him to fork out any money although he is the only one who is employed. He often buys alcohol for them and they would never dream of offending him by asking.

Eventually, the young woman throws her hands up in the air theatrically and cries, “Well I was going to buy for your guys later!” She pulls out crisp R10 note and a cheer goes up around the group. Hooray. Smiling, the Simpleton picks up the empty bottle and looks for another one. He will now buy two beers.

By mid-afternoon the five is merrily tipsy, the kitty exercise having being repeated numerous times. There have been comings and goings but the core has remained. They all live in the same yard, where they rent the dingy rooms from an ornery landlord who collects the rent in beer sometimes. By nighttime the will be well and truly drunk, fighting among themselves. Someone will be beaten and most of them will sleep without having put anything besides beer into their stomachs.

These are the unemployed of a little rural town. They have nothing better to do but drink all day. They see no other choice. But however idle their days are, the conversations are awe-inspiring. In each of them you realize an intelligence that is denied by the dirty clothes, the drunkenness and the lack of motivation. Their conversations are what constantly bring me back to them, to sit listening, rarely participating. Once I tried to introduce to them the concept of taking time out to eat, bringing bread and sausages but they begged me to bring them liquor, if I want to spend money on them.

They discuss politics; they don’t ramble like uneducated people but have decided views on matters. They may use unsophisticated language but they understand the nuance. They discuss social issues ranging from wife-beating (even though all are in abusive relationships), to rape, to the impact of corporal punishment in schools. They discuss religion, world wars, in fact conversation you would most likely witness in a newsroom. They’re vivacious in their debates; they stand up to defend a point, sometimes accidentally kicking a beer in their excitement.

And yet they are unemployed drunks living off each other and spending their days wondering where the next beer is going to come from. They are the legacy of wrong turns and bad decision compounded with socio-economic conditions. They have no dreams; I’ve yet to hear any of them wish for a greener pastures (except perhaps a pasture with some whiskey). They accept their circumstances as the norm. Someone with dreams is a fool to them; they know dreams don’t come true.

And yet in each of them I have found something worth learning.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Too Fat to be Loved?

Nina van Horn of Just Shoot Me says that the purpose of magazines is to sell food from supermarkets. She says that magazines set up impossible standards for women (e.g. how to have multiple orgasms) and when these women do not have these multiple orgasms they feel inadequate. This results in:

Inadequacy = Loneliness/Sadness = Hunger = Buying Food = Richer Supermarkets

It’s a simple enough concept; expect that after “richer supermarkets”, comes “women gain weight”.

Women are burdened; they’re pained and suffer at the hands of expectations. The minute a woman gains weight she must worry about her sex life or more correctly, the impeding absence of a sex life.

But fat men the world over get laid up and the down in various made-for-the-obese sex positions. To add insult to injury these men have SKINNY women to fulfill their sexual needs while fat women cry into their double chins, watching Singleton TV and eating ridiculously expensive ice cream.

While out with some friends a while ago, I sat observing the goings on of bar pulling. Two girls sat nursing two overlarge exotic-looking drunks, chatting amiably. I was part of a group of both girls and boys and so I was safe from any unwanted scrutiny. Anyway, one girl was big, the other skinny - as it always is with friends. The big one was beautiful and very well dressed, the skinny one wasn’t much to write home about but dressed well and nicely turned out. They didn’t seem to be looking for anything more than just a drink together.

A guy approached the skinny girl and asked for her name and number. She gave him her name but not the number. He said if she wanted to get to know him better then she should join him and his friends and gestured over to a table of three guys and a girl. The skinny girl, to her credit, declined again and said she just wanted to have a drink with her friend, (I should point out at this point the big girl had the look of a long-suffering friend of a skinny person, she even offered to leave so her friend could join the guys if she wanted and my heart broke.) The skinny friend (obviously a decent person) pooh-poohed the idea and told guy no thanks. The guy, sensing that he was losing, turned nasty (what else?), “Oh, you wanna package usdudla?”*

I wanted to stand up and throw my drink at him but it seemed more prudent to mind my own business. The skinny woman didn’t bother to answer him and after a few more taunts the jerk left them alone. Perhaps feeling my eyes on them, the fat girl looked up and caught me staring; I smiled at her and winked. I don’t know why I winked because she probably thought I was a big les and gave me a very stern stare. I was suitably chastised although my smile lingered until she just ignore me.

This scene exhibited to me with great clarity, the plight of big women in the dating world. While a woman may be self-assured, confident and strong (albeit with an inability to control what she eats) some men will only see the rolls of fat and gigantic thighs straining against the supposedly slimming black pants.

They won’t give the hearty laugh a chance to envelope them in contagious merriment, preferring instead to know their laugh as the chortle of the heavy-gutted. Instead of exploring the personality they will worry about the possibility of needing a GPS to explore the generous curves. They won’t realize that every dismissal chirps away at her heart and sends her further and further into Comfort Eating Zone.

It’s all good and well to claim women don’t need men and vice versa but that’s just a bunch of bollocks happy people tell unhappy ones in order to give them hope. Of course the opposite sexes need each other and not just for procreation either!

So to the fellow big gals out there, I’m going to be honest with you, you need to be lucky; lucky enough to find a guy who loves you; just as you are. You will like many who won’t give you a second glance because of your weight. I’m not going to say try and lose the weight, if you could you would have by now, but then you would discover you have to sift through a lot of skinny-girl-loving jerks to find your man. This way, the jerks stay away because of your weight and you’re left with a, significantly smaller yes, decent pond.

Happy fishing!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I am a writer.

I have to say this to myself because I once let someone tell me I am not a writer. That I was not favored with the gift of stringing words together to form a poetic stream that bounces around a mind long after the eyes have feasted upon it. Ha!

I may not be a GREAT writer yet but with patience and nurturing I could become an important one, whether in my own life or for the world remains to be seen. I have so many unfinished works, languishing on my computer, waiting to be done. I have stories living in my head; characters that come visit me and whisper their stories into my subconscious.

I have been ignoring them and in doing so, ignoring my purpose, to write; for myself, for others, to heal, to learn, to experience, to create space for other characters to be born. I ache to retell the stories of my neigbours, if only to document their lives, so the future knows that So-and-So lived, and they struggled. I grieve for the untold tales of the man who was set upon by five teenagers, intent on murder, of how in a few years time no one will remember that they dragged his disemboweled body across the field of his rural village, to a “witch” who removed his liver for her muti. My heart bleeds to think these boys walk around among the innocent of this village, murder in their eyes, their brutality unquenched, stalking their next prey. If I had written their story, would they have paid?

I want to commit to paper, thereby immortalizing the cruelty of the father who asked his young daughter to disrobe for him, taking her virginity as surely as if it belonged to him. Should he not be exposed to the masses? Removed from the shadows of anonymity to face his actions and be judged? As a writer, I could have fought the little girl’s fight.

I once let somebody once take my power, they broke me, they changed me and when I lay shattered, a mere remnant of what I had believed myself to be, they opened the door and shoved me outside. I left behind my confidence and my love for myself.

Today I reclaim myself.

I am a writer.

And I’m not embarrassed to say so.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Breasts

My breasts are large; a size “E” cup. They’re mountainous. When I am seated, I cannot see my tummy, nor can I really see it when I am standing. I am always afforded with the stunning view of my cleavage, straining against my Cross Your Heart bra, the unsexy penance of large-breasted women. I have sexy bras too, but I have to wear them for a few hours because the strain of asking my hills of womanhood not to sag through the thin lace I have scooped them into is too much for my back.

My breasts are pendulous. When I get home, the first thing I want to do, and often do do, is to remove my bra. It will have been cutting into me, not because it doesn't fit, but because it has been working really hard. I joke, “Calypso! I release you from your human bonds!”

I dream of reconstructive surgery to return them to their former glory before my breasts were sustenance. I watch them as they cascade over my chest, spreading, unruly in their freedom. Sometimes while I jump around exercising, my breasts rush to my face, despite the restrictions of a sports bra. I often worry I will one day bruise myself or one will fall off because I jumped when I wasn’t wearing a bra. After I bath I dry beneath my breasts and use talcum powder to minimise the friction between my breasts and chest.

My breasts are Calypso, a mythical goddess who has bestowed favours to some before she finally trapped her Odysseus. When my babies were hurt, they lay sobbing on my heaving bosom while I comforted them. My lover rests on them as he listens to my fears, joys, gossip, nagging and he hears my heart beat. They fed my children; they make me feel like a woman, gigantic though they may be.

My breasts are rude, they demand the attentions of young boys and lascivious old men alike, they invite lewd looks from the uncouth and gain me compliments from straight and gay women alike. They refuse to respect the confines of a v-neck and make a mockery of the square neck. If they had their way, I would only ever wear turtle necks.

My breasts do not make me a woman. Each woman is so much more than her physical attributes. But as I lie back on the bed (they, rushing back and threatening to suffocate me) and feel each one in turn for the feared lumps I know I do not want to lose them.

Be wise, and be breast cancer aware.

The Awesome Dream

Well last night I had the most AWESUM dream EVER! It’s been a long time since I had a dream I woke up from laughing so much I had tears in my eyes and my stomach and cheeks were sore. I’ll tell it like it happened.

For reasons unknown to me RubyLetters and AngelsMind decided to visit me at the farm I am living on, bringing with them The Twitter Hunk.

Boyfriend of mine whom I love dearly should probably stop reading at this point but I should point out I am not responsible for my dreams.

The three had somehow managed to arrive at this obscure little village in a TAXI! I was called to our gate to find three grinning faces looking at me! WTF?
“We haven’t seen you in forever, and Ruby and Hunk haven’t even MET you! So we thought we should visit!!” Angel chirruped.
I was flabbergasted. And very excited, the Hunk was a HUNK. It seems to be the same hunk I had been ogling at the beach that boyfriend had told me off about in yet another dream. If I were Boyfriend, I wouldn’t be happy about the presence of Hunk in my subconscious; but Boyfriend in not a crazy jealous moron but rather a confident sex god who’ll roll his eyes and think, “Yeah, but you’re in love with ME!”

Anyhoodle. I took the three visiting Twitter lovelies on a tour of the villages pointing out places of interest, most of which were MY PUBS! I swear there were about five pubs and they all belonged to me. It was Ruby who decided we should play a drinking game that saw us trawling the five pubs ending back at the farm for a braai. WTF???? We began and by bar three we were a spectacle in the entire village. Angel had managed to twist her ankle but was somehow dragging the thing behind her with the greatest of ease! The hunk was the only one left standing but by now he had become incredibly SHORT!


The Hunk was a MIDGET.

Now I know for a fact the Hunk is incredibly tall and lithe. So this was ridiculous to me. And I laughed so hard I peed myself. This set off Angel but Ruby couldn’t see that the Hunk was now tiny and thought we were both quite daft. The Hunk was oblivious to his shrinkage and flirted outrageously with all of us.

A group of kids were trailing us and taking bets on which of us would fall in to the dam first. Ruby suggested I jump into the dam because I stank! (Because I’d peed myself laughing). While she was trying to shove me in to the dam she lost her footing and fell in! Angel was finished by this and it took quite a while to realize that Ruby was in fact shrinking in the dam! The Hunk, now a midget, jumped in and tried to save her!


Angel and I sort of died with laughter and I woke up!

I woke up and TWEETED and Facebook that I’d had this awesome dream and then planned to continue it when I sleep. I have often picked up a dream where I’d left it off.

True enough, five minutes later I was out like a light and dreaming again.

Ruby and the Hunk were back to their normal sizes and we were hanging around a braai, having a lekker dorp, none of us truly drunk anymore. Te conversations we had lasted till I woke up. I should mention that the conversations comprised of mostly everything I’ve seen these three Tweet about. Addicted much?

On the surface, this dream is not as awesome as the one you dream owning a stretch limo but what I loved about this one was it was the kind of dream I woke up from feeling good. The limo one you wake up and think, “FML, I don’t have a limo.” With this dream I woke up saying, “Finally, something light and carefree to blog about!”*

* I have written six very serious posts I decided not to publish since my last post.