It Was Less Than Ideal, But Then We Found Something New

For some reason, or a million of them, this year has felt like hot molasses with no spoon. But, as we move towards the winding up of this year’s clock, I’m finding little beautiful things that make my heart happy.

A friend sent me this, and it’s reminded me of this very discovery.

So, to buck the trend of 2016, I thought I’d list the incredible things I have managed to find in a year that has been less than ideal:

  1. The Gilmore Girls Revival. I cried for the first ten minutes of the first episode. The good cry, like when you meet someone, you haven’t seen in years, at the airport arrivals area.
  2. There’s a beautiful tree outside my bedroom window. It’s lost all its leaves, for no apparent reason. A lot of trees around our neighbourhood have…which is worrying. There is, however, now a clear view to somewhere I wanted to be able to see, but never could. We get the vision we want, eventually.
  3. Today, I watched my kid be proud of something she has worked so hard for. It’s been a less than ideal year for her, for us. It’s been…there have been gaps in our days that used to be filled with something hilarious. We’ve had less to laugh at, but we have not forgotten to laugh at ourselves, so that’s okay.
  4. Rediscovering my ability to be abruptly kind. That sounds like an oxymoron, but if you ask anyone who knows me, I am good in a crisis. I am not particularly maternal, and I’ve softened over the years. Getting back to the part of me who gets to the point has been a weird revelation. I was missing the point, for a long time there.
  5. That little Rolodex of mine has grown this year, and not just been dug into. Expanding that has had to be a priority this year, and I hope it keeps growing next year.
  6. Figuring out and finding the humanity within someone who I dislike. Feels like a mean task to even write that, but it’s something I’ve had to do. Learning about agendas, understanding motives and trying to find something good in even the most awful scenarios or situations…has been hard. But I’m trying, and that has to count for something, right?
  7. I’ve turned my back on things that do not feed me, or respect me. Hard, because I always – so desperately – want to please people. Learning how to not instantly do that has been really, really onerous to navigate.
  8. The acceptance that, at some point, I will have to do that again, and it won’t be pleasant. It’s a constantly nurtured item, not a kneejerk reaction. The more you learn to draw the lines of your life, the better your pencil work gets.
  9. Flurrying around and through life’s demands, but there’s a simple home truth that I get to have in my life every day – a foundation of love, that functions as a unit. We are a trio of fluidity and focus.
  10. Noticing the creativity that gets poured into even the most seemingly simple of things. Take a little time to take notice of it, and you will find it. There’s a person’s mind and motivation beneath there.
  11. This is super lame, but I’ve always wanted to own a coatstand, since I moved out of home, which happened long before you even knew what the difference between 3G and WiFi was. I’ve never bought one, because the expense was just too much, and I always put it off to the One Day List. Today, thanks to an incredible sale, I bought one.

We need to hold these moments close to us, as we wander into the wilds of a new year, soon. Just hold them, because our moments are always gone too soon.



On Incomplete Sentences

I asked my dad once “how do you know? You know? How do you know you love someone? How do you know you want to marry them?” (Back then, I thought marriage was the only avenue to love… I’ve grown up a lot since then). I’ve been thinking about it a lot again and I’ve been working my way towards writing this for a while, but then life got in the way, I got stuck…and then the right sentence dropped itself into my head while I was in the shower this evening.




It’s this: The phrase “I love you” is an incomplete sentence.

The first time I ever said those three words to someone (obviously, outside of my family), I was told I needed my head read. He was probably right. The second time I said it to someone, their reception was a little warmer (thank goodness, or else I’d have been put right off the whole idea and probably wouldn’t be where I am today. This stuff burns people, and I wish we were all more cognisant of that).

This needs context
The thing is, “I love you”, on it’s own, is a threadbare and rather short sentence. Without any context, it stands alone like some sort of white elephant that nobody wants to talk about. It’s the context of that sentence that gives it meaning, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about recently.

It has to have a purpose
A dear friend of mine packed up her family and headed to new shores this year. I’ll miss them all so very much, but they went in pursuit of certain dreams and to create something they wanted to. They did it, with purpose. Their “I love you” directed at their life together created the context for moving forward, moving closer to something they wanted, together. So that’s my point – “I love you” has to have a purpose. And it has to be a good purpose. It is not some throwaway line you can halfheartedly chuck around and hope it maybe fixes a fight. That phrase needs a purpose, and it should be one that serves everyone who says it, and everyone it is said to.

It’s a simple phrase
The phrase, in itself, is a simple one. Broken down, it’s three short words that are imbued with a sense action. Love, really, is that simple too. Yes, love can be messy and chaotic and really difficult sometimes, but when it comes down to the nugget of it, it’s simple – you either love someone or you don’t. You’re either on their team or you’re not. Being on someone’s team doesn’t mean you live in this hallucinogenic bubble that’s all kittens and purring, but that you’re in it for the long haul. You can disagree, banter, bicker, whatever, but – when the chips are down (and life forces those chips down, trust me), you’re on their team.

What my dad said
Which leads me directly to what my dad told me in response to my question. I’m paraphrasing but, in short, he said: “It’s when someone can make you so mad, fight with you or you misunderstand each other but, when you wake up in the morning, they smell like freshly mown grass to you. They make you think of honey and sweet things, and they make the world okay because you know they’ve got you, and you’ve got them.”

quiet numbers.

I’ve been battling to write, for me, for a while now. That’s evident from the lack of regular posting here.

But then, this evening, as the twilight settled, the dog snoozed and I spun up Dylan’s latest creation and it became time to think. And write.

As an aside, as a rule, I don’t actually, usually like people called Dylan. There is one minor exception but call it a bad experience I had in primary school that involved a shittyshit of a person, who made me feel very small for many years and people called Dylan are normally not my finest. I find it internally hilarious that I can feel so incredibly close to someone who bears the name Dylan. Dylan, you’ve changed my opinion of Dylans the world over. Well done. You know how pedantic and pointed I can be about names.

I digress (as usual)…

There is a light that I see every night, from here. A million years and nine lifetimes ago, at the Shath, I used to squint out at night, out to the sea, and just in the centre of our view was this green billboard. Seeing that green light became calming for me, I suppose for its familiarity.


How funny then, as I sit here tonight on my new balcony, lifetimes away from that green billboard, I can see one here too. But it’s more triangular, slightly neon and – knowing my eyesight – quite possibly not even green. Haha. It’s probably grey, and I’m seeing  a triangle, but it could quite easily be a giant billboard that says “light” or “sale” or something.

My eyesight has become terrible, to the point where I must be wearing glasses or else things are furry and blurred. Maybe I need that sharpness around my heart too, because I feel a little furry and blurred right now.

Not in a terrible way, just in a way I didn’t expect. Metaphorically, I feel like I’ve eaten a little too much and need to not take a turn past the buffet of life for  a little. I’ll skip the dancing, to rest my feet too, thank you.

So you’ll find me, drinking my post-dinner coffee, hunting for a waferthin mint, at my table in the corner. Quiet.



The girl who did everything wrong.

A very dear friend of mine died on Sunday. Cancer. I’ve tried to write about her but I cannot, as yet. Every time I try, I well up and feel futile. So, I’m sorry, Bee, this post is not about you. There will be one, but not today. Today’s post is about me.

When I was about nine, I went with my dad to the shops one day. As was pretty normal back then, I stayed in the car and he went in to pick whatever it was we needed at home. As I was sitting there, a kid walked past, stuck his head in the window and said:

“You’re so fat. You are an ugly girl”. He then swore at me in Afrikaans and ran off.

I didn’t know the kid, I never saw him again, but I think the shock of it stuck with me. I have a good idea as to why this happened to me (considering my parents’ heightened profile in the neighbourhood, to put it diplomatically, along with the bumper stickers that adorned our car) but, it has stuck with me.

I have always believed him. I am not here to blame him, though. For all I know, he was some bored kiddo who didn’t like English girls. That’s irrelevant today.

The years of my life between the ages of 9 and 13, are blurry in my memory. So much so, that I cannot tell you about a birthday, who I sat next to in class, who my teacher was (I only know, thanks to those lovely class photos we all hoard away in photo albums) and I absolutely cannot remember any significant events from that time. I know that there were many, and I know that they happened, but I cannot tell you what they were or are. By contrast, I can remember my 13th birthday like it was yesterday. I can remember my early childhood like I can remember what I had for lunch today. There are absolutely no defining reasons that I can find for that gap in my head. When I was in therapy, years ago, my therapist tried to make me think about this time. She got absolutely nothing out of me, and I still cannot remember a thing properly. I have learnt to be okay with it. It bugged me, for most of my twenties. When I was really ill with that kidney infection that, when mentioned, makes my BFFs quiver in fright, I tried again to think about it. Still nothing. In the quiet of bedrest and fully focused on just getting better, I could not find 10 year old me, anywhere. I still cannot, but I know she’s in there somewhere.

Why am I talking about this? Two reasons, really. When I was 13, I had my first cigarette, and I remember it so damn well. When I was 13, I wrote my first poem. The two events are very, very closely linked in my head and, as a result (also because of the way my parents were, hehe), I am petrified that I cannot write without smoking. I have always been scared that I would not be able to find the words if I did not smoke.

I quit smoking once, when I was pregnant. As those 2 lines appeared on that pregnancy test, I snubbed out my smoke. I have absolutely no idea when I started again, but I do know it was on the same day my dad died. I remember getting the phonecall, putting my baby down in her cot, and walking outside onto the balcony to yell at the world, and smoke. The only thing that got me through the first five minutes of knowing my dad was dead, was that cigarette.

Cigarettes and I have had a deep and real affair. So much so that they feel ingrained into my identity. In my head, I see myself as a stereotypical keyboard basher, complete with mad hair and a billion ideas floating around the air, with cigarette in hand.

I can’t be that person, any more.

Why can’t I be this person? It’s as much a surprise to me as it is to anyone who knows me well. I have become frustrated with the process of being that person, and, through an off-beat weird thought, I’ve taken up running as a hobby.

I have never, in my life, done any sort of sport or exercise with any level of interest, spurred on by myself. In fact, as a kid, I refused to learn to swim (I have my reasons why…), I used to actively attempt to avoid school on PE days, and I just plain abhorred the idea of actually exerting myself for the purposes of anything other than getting up to turn the telly on.

But something changed in me, in that weird thought. Something changed in my head, when I started to enjoy my morning trot. Now I want to go further, not necessarily faster – I am not an animal that’s been built for speed. But I do want to go further. My smoking interferes with my ability to go further. So I want it gone.

Just like with this running-walking malarkey, I’ve adopted a measured approach. I know that this kind of perspective on it, works for me, because exactly the same approach is what got me off my bum to walk-run 500metres two months ago, and now I am averaging 2,5 kilometres on my regular little expeditions around the neighbourhood. I just made small goals, for myself, and then achieved them, and now I make more small goals.

But the thing that still frightens me the most, is the not-smoking-while-writing. It feels so foreign to me, like I’ve not done this before. It feels like algebra and calculus mixed together and, guys, I use a calculator to do basic sums. But, I challenged myself recently to write a short blog post without smoking. I did it, and it’s here. And it was HARD, because it was emotionally difficult content.

My second little challenge to myself was to write a longer blogpost and not smoke while doing it. At 1012 words so far, this is where I am. I have not smoked or stopped to smoke while typing this post. It still feels weird but, I know that if I can do this, I can start to delete the little “oh I need a smoke” moments from my day. And I want them gone, one by one. I know I’m not ready to let go of all of them but, if I can eliminate the ones where I smoke while I write, or think about writing, I can delete half of my daily smoking. Oh, and please, don’t tell me I should go work where I can’t smoke. I just end up spending less time at my desk working. Trust me, I’ve tried this.

But why is this post called “the girl who did everything wrong?”. Heh. You see, lovely readers, I have always believed negatively of myself. It didn’t matter if I was winning an award or rampaging through a nightclub at 2am. It didn’t matter if someone applauded when I said something, or if I was being dumped unceremoniously via text message. I have always, somewhere, believed I am unworthy of the good things, and deserving of the bad things. So much so, that, at one point in my life, I’d all-out refuse to do something that made me happy, because I was petrified that something bad would follow it. Even now, as I type that, I feel like I’m taunting fate. But the thing is – I’ve always believed I was the girl who got everything wrong, because she had no idea what she was doing but, did it anyway. Like I had it all backwards but was determinedly pushing forward anyway.

You might think I sound like a crazy person right now. I’m okay with that. My uniquely branded level of crazy is not something I am ashamed of anymore. I’ve discovered something, in this funny 360 kickflip of my life…nobody has it completely sewn up. No one has their life fully in control and everyone has a certain spark of madness. Sometimes it overwhelms our lives, sometimes it serves as a little spark of inspiration.

And that little spark of inspiration I had one weird morning when I decided to go for a run, is what got me here. It created within me a desire to change. Those little sparks of inspiration started long before that, I know, because I became determined to change my life a while ago. I was sad for so long, guys. So sad I didn’t even know my sad. I can see my sads now, in hindsight. I still have them, every now and then. But they don’t scare me anymore. They don’t make me feel like I have everything wrong anymore. They’re just there, every now and then, much like when you find yourself staring at the expiry date on the milk carton and think “ag, dammit, this is off”. My sads are just a part of me, just as my smile is.

My ultimate point to this post? Is that I used to be the girl who did everything wrong. Mostly towards myself. Nowadays, I want to be the girl does what she can, right. I started that process years ago, and nowadays I feel like I am doing the right thing with my life. I’m not claiming to have everything right. I definitely do not. I’ve just learnt to understand that I have to fail at certain things, I have to say no to certain things, so that I can be better at the things I want to be better at. The changes I act on right now? They’re part of this process.

All I can hope is that, somewhere, 10 year old me is smiling.

[1602 words. Not a single cigarette smoked].

i write because it’s the one thing i feel i really know how to do.

So, this is it. The precipice of change. I have a ramble again tonight. These, literally, are the thoughts…from underneath the couch.


1. Something I have truly believed in. A love that I knew, and was like home to me, has ended. Well, not the love as such, but the relationship attached to it. It makes my heart ache for the people involved. It’s life and it happens but they both do not deserve any pain. They deserve no pain whatsoever. My little heart lurches for them.


2. I had a sad day. The type of day where I want noone to come near me but, feel absolutely swallowed at the same time. I guess, in some respects, it’s okay to have sad days. Today was just a day, and it’s behind me now. I’m hoping for smiles tomorrow. I choose to see it as it is, and nothing more. This sad will pass.


3. Home. The pictures are off the walls, the packing begins in earnest. The administrative side of things rolls into motion. I feel strangely bereft. This was the home where we stood on our own, this was the home that was truly ours alone. We made it as we wanted to. For the first time, truly, I felt this was our true home. The one we created and where we started to really become the family we were always working towards. Our bubble expanded and this is where we stood, confidently. This was our home. And now, we move on. Yes, we move on to different and new things. Things for comfort, possibilities to create again. We move on, we grow up, we are propelled forward. But, I’m still heartsore. A little scared by the precipice of change before us.


4. And in that fear, I guess, there lies discovery. The possibility of new beginnings. it’s so funny, really. People look at me askew a little. Why the big deal about where you lay your head at night? The truth is, home is one of the most important things in the world to me. It wasn’t always that way. Before, I was happy to be vaguely nomadic, solaced by new experiences or whatever came my way. But, somewhere along the line, probably when I became a mom, possibly beforehand, I felt a keening need to make a home for my heart, and not just my head. Home to me is not just a place to lay that head. Home to me is akin to skin, and I think I get that from my parents. Their home was never stagnant, always busy, filled with love and piles and piles of paper. Heh. My siblings will laugh at that line. Now that I can’t ever go home again, can’t see my parents again, that need to be home, to make a home, to live within a true home, is evermore present and yearning. Maybe I’m just growing up, even  though my eternally giggling Peter Pan complex laughs at me and wonders what on earth I am up to. Maybe I just have to grow up. After the bereft feeling, I feel a sense of new beginnings.

gestating (no, not me)…

5. I feel compelled to write about how other people are feeling now. Right now, they’re feeling the same way. That same strange mixture of wonder and worry. But that’s all I’m saying right now about other people’s feelings. I just know that I’m not alone in this space. I think it’s light green and kind of like bubble wrap. This week is like suspended animation. Like it’s gestating a new beginning. I guess it is. This paragraph has more codespeak in it than only very select friends of mine will understand.

i am still i…

6. It’s not all sad or weird though. I’m still here, still strong in my fluffy slippers and hard as nails brutal attack face.

stuck in my head…

7. I have Jesse – Joshua Kadison stuck in my head.


8. That sleeping thing? The sleeping fairies seem to have gone visiting to a foreign land again. I think this will settle soon enough. It better or I’m taking the fairies’ passports away the next time I see them.

i rate it more highly than smoking…

9. Sometimes I just need to write things down to stop the internal swirling and then I get to rest again. I write, because it’s the one thing I really feel I know how to do.

now there’s an old line

10. My internet connection is sucking ridiculously right now. It’s more up and down than panties on prom night.

leaving behind…

11. Oh, I almost forgot. There is one thing I get to leave behind now. In the transition from the-home-where-we-started-and-began-again-and-started-and-began-again-and-started-and-began-again, when we moved here, I came into this home with a broken heart. I get to leave every piece of that pain behind.


12. This home is where my heart healed. This home is where I found real love. The love that sits with me on sad days, and dances with me in the sunshine. This home is where my heart healed. This home is where my heart came home.

Sunday Thoughts

It’s quiet here, at home. My Sunday routine of PostSecret, quiet tapping on this keyboard. Tea.

You left early to go and do what you have to do. I would’ve come but, you’re right, I needed to relax.

A very long, very good sleep.

I’m awoken from it with tea and a grin.

You’ll tell a funny story, I’ll interrupt it with my own.

Then it’s mad rush out the door and I sit down and i think.

I ponder the intricacies of where all of this came from, and a friend will phone and we’ll delve, teeth bared and ready, straight into the crunchy centre of the eternal ‘why are we here?’ conversation.

It could be a million things, or none of them at all.

“…could it be to make the world a better place? Or is it just a test to survive it? Where do we end up after this phase because, you know, I wouldn’t have believed you five years ago that this is where you told me I’d be…”

the big questions take a step back and sit down. i roll over and i smile.

none of the big questions plague me in the middle of the simplicity of you and i.

Pleasantville vs Paradise.

This blogpost is a ramble.

The truth is, it should be an email to someone, but, as I wrote it, I realised there’s something I needed to say. Considering that this is where I say stuff, I’m saying it, and I know they’re reading it. It stems from a conversation I had with them and whilst I think it was a good one, a necessary one, I thought I needed to clarify something. It probably stemmed within from before that, to a conversation I had with someone else a few weeks before, where they asked “do you really need me in your life?”…and I answered “no, but I do want you in my life”. Will this make any sense? Who knows. If anyone will understand it, I hope the person it’s intended for, will.

It comes down to this – needs versus wants.

I’m not shy about the things I need to survive. I’m not shy about them and nor am I shy about the fact that, on brute strength and insomnia alone, I can pretty much fulfill my own needs. Yes, there are times where I need help. Yes, there are times where the people I love (and you know who you are) need help. And I will, always, try my ultimate best to be RIGHT there.

But, there’s a subtle difference here I want to illuminate. My 2am call list is not made up of people I need to survive. I cover my own needs. It’s made up of people I want there, and they want to be there just as much.

If you look at old Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I don’t agree with it. At all. That got me into a lot of trouble at school, once upon a time. Which is probably unsurprising. You see, old Maslow placed love way above physiological needs.

And in my fourteen-year old brain, I thought, but, how would a child ever have their physiological needs covered without having love first. I mean, if you have a kid in your care, you love it. That’s the way it goes. Even children in the worst state of poverty, are fed and cared for by the people who love them – be it their guardians, parents, carers, whoever – it’s someone who loves them, even if just for a moment. People don’t just do something without a motivation. And yeah, sometimes, that motivation springs from a need. I get that much.

So, when in my questioning of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I was told to be “a good girl and stop questioning my teaching or you’ll have to go to the office…again”, I shut my book and stared back. You see, my problem is, my need for self-actualization totally outran my need for acceptance or social conformity there. I didn’t feel any need to be accepted. I felt a need to be heard.

So, when I look at my life and yeah, I think I have the physiological needs covered, and I reckon I have a good proportion of all the other levels of needs covered, when I say I don’t need someone, it does not mean I don’t want them.

To me, a need requires a dependency. Something I am inherently afraid of and yet, my life thus far, seems to show an alarming rate of them. That in relationships and friendships I have become dependent in the past. I count very few people in that list of dependencies now. That’s come from experience – years and years of experience. What’s more, it’s unashamed mutual dependency. It may not always look like it, but we both know it. So when it comes to standing in queues for each other, fighting with each other over life choices and holding each other’s hands at our parent’s funerals – we’re there. We are just there. There is never any questioning in times of crisis, there is never any wavering of this. We are just there. You are one of these people. Even though you and I both know we hate to admit it.

Perhaps it’s part of this growing up I seem to be doing. Albeit slowly and stubbornly. Heh. You see, the people I need to have in my life are in fact the people I want in my life.

Want them? What is this want thing, Cath? Let me explain…

If you knew you had a loaf of bread at home to make a sandwich, would you still have that mint chocolate you’ve had your eye on all day? The answer? Yes. Oh, and yes, you should be eating chocolate if you’re reading this. If you’re not, then I am ashamed of you 😛

So it’s a weird space for me, at this time. The people I feel the need to have in my life, are in fact the people I want in my life. Okay, not such a weird space. In hindsight, actually a really good space. And it’s not about how often they pay me attention. It’s not about how often I see them. It’s not about whether or not they know every minutiae of my life, or I of theirs. It’s about the fact that they exist. And that I exist. And that we know, without doubt, that we’re  a part of each other’s lives. Entirely. It goes beyond the social invitation and passing of sometimes lame greeting cards. It goes right into knowing how they take their tea and deep down into understanding 2am text messages that say things like “8 points” or “salad walked in” or “PWP”. It’s the random phone call to just blurt our exciting or awful news, just to be heard. It’s an inherent understanding, garnered over years of being real with each other, that goes beyond any need to be accepted. It’s the people who can come over to mine at any time and make their own tea and not have it feel weird, and I at their homes.

It’s strange. I spent many hours in my room, after being berated at school for not listening, wondering about why I had so few friends. And now, years on, I wonder how I got so lucky to have the ones I do have. The real ones. The people who get me, and who I get.

It’s the wants in our lives, our desires, that keep us surging forward. It’s like having the black and white version of life rendered by yourself, and then having the colour put in that brings it truly to life. It’s Pleasantville versus Paradise. And I choose to live in this colourful life.

Just like I needed to get some work done this evening but, I wanted to write this for you.

It means our lives would not stutter to a halt if we left this, but, it would lose all of it’s colour. And I never, ever want to live in a black and white world. Just like I chose to mix up Maslow’s perfectly layered Hierarchy of Needs, I choose to live this life of colour. And I am thankful for it. Every day. Even when it’s being downright crap to me.

I choose it, I love it and I’m grateful you’re in it.