this is the thing you do not know

this is the thing you do not know.
it lives, it sleeps, it plods through the snow.
but sometimes life sends us a spark.
through characters 140, there comes an arc.
you might not see it.
you may be snoozing.
but keep an eye out for it,
and you’ll never be losing.

During the year of 2013, I became aware of the existence of one Dylan. He came across to me online as funny and unafraid. I liked that, so I followed him. To my delight, he followed me back. A simple thing, yes, but one that would create a moment that’ll live with me forever.

It’s a good thing I did. I have many stories like this – where people have sprung from the screen and into the reality of my life. Heck, that’s how I know most of the people who know form a centrifugal force in my life. Some of them stick, some of them go – it’s the way of life, and friendships.

But this one has stuck. Why? Because some time in late December 2013, I noticed he tweeted lyrics of an obscure Alanis Morissette song, and that was when I slid into his DMs like a clammy-handed fan.

Soon thereafter ensued a day of emails that happened on Boxing Day – traditionally now the quietest day of my whole year, as my kid goes off to spend time with the other end of her family, and everyone else is rolling around in a food-induced daze. It was only fitting that I spend it in front of my computer, exploring a quiet world. But this day wasn’t still – it was heady and explorative, as I pummelled his inbox with my secret treasure finds of B-side Alanis tunes, and he pummelled back.

Since then though, it’s grown, as his art has grown. Dylan is an artist, but not of the conventional kind. He writes stories differently. I’ll regularly share his creations online, but I very often set them aside when he’s posted them, and wait until I have a working weekend lined up. That’s when it’s headphones on and, for all intents and purposes, I indulge in Dylan’s art while I do the work assigned to me, or that which I’ve assigned to myself. At one point, Dylan was my accompaniment on my runs – keeping me focused as I pounded the pavements. When I go grocery shopping, I pop my earphones in and he keeps me company then too. When I clean the house, those earphones go back in and I am mopping a floor while listening to a marvellous tune. Through the hard tasks and mundanities of life, I lean on his mashup tunes and kaleidoscopic magic.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 09.51.10 AM

He provides a soundtrack to the world that speaks to many aspects of my own life course, and we’ll giggle into our phones when we happen to reference similar things simultaneously. He will posit a point that’s been swarming my head for a while, and say it far more eloquently than I could. Or anyone could, really. He asks the hard questions, and outlines solutions that are sometimes the ones we don’t like to think about. He faces facts, and then puts them down into little lines of sound.

When people tell me that an online life is bad, I agree with them, on occasion. But for me, as I step back from a lot of the way I used to do things (read: live more life offline than I used to, that’s why it’s so quiet around here), I realise and remember that it remains a conduit. It’s just one conduit, but an important one nonetheless. Through it, I am able to discover and enjoy the finest minds (and sometimes the most awful ones too, but this isn’t about that). That’s how I discover artists like Dylan, and usher them into my world. The world of my head and this great big life we all share.

He knows me incredibly well, because we share a frame of reference that isn’t hindered by social pressures or niceties. He can call me on something, and it was it is. And while I may know him through lines of code and over-the-air waves, I probably know the trueness of him better than I would if I’d happened upon him at a party. He is an artist and a friend – someone who sits on my 2am call list. He would respond, too.

Here’s the thing though.

We’ve never actually met. 


Compulsion and Elation

I have a compulsion to write this evening but, you know how you get stuck on a sentence and it just won’t fit? I’m there right now. So here I am, just spitballing it, trying to find the correct word to start this machine up again.

Oh, that’s right. Elation.

Over the past week or so, I had to face a fear. I say “had to” like I’m forced into it, but – in truth – it’s me that forces me into it. I don’t it for sadistic reasons though. I do it because I have a future-thought in me that says I’d like to feel some level of assurance that I’m going to be around for quite a while yet. And I say “fear” but what I really mean is “thing that is scary enough for me to be concerned, but not scary enough for me to actually be scared of it and run away like some kind of ninny”. I am not built like that – I have to run towards that stuff, or else it just haunts me. I will run towards it every year – heck, every day, if I have to – just to know that it does not control me.

I wasn’t always like this. Call it getting older, responsibilities, parenting, life purpose, whatever… I spent many years, just gently prodding a stick at the mist in front of me and half-hoping I wouldn’t bump into anything. I’m a lot not like that nowadays. I like to have a plan, even if my abilities to make them extend only so far as the next fortnight. I like to know if there’s something about to bump into me.

But to get that reasonable sense of assurance, I had to be prepared to face an uncomfortable notion that I hold deep within me, but actively share with other people. When it comes to my health… this is probably the near healthiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I like it that way. I like everything that’s going on right now with this face and person, and it’s bloody liberating to *finally* feel that way.

Except, of course, when the alarm bells go off and you’re suddenly standing in the bathroom trying to ignore the dog barking at a bird, because you’re trying so hard to think about when last you updated your Last Will and Testament. In my situation, you would go there too. I’ve had a lot of conversations with the air around me over the last week. At one point, I genuinely, loudly, asked my mom to just “show me something because I actually can’t with this.” (Yes, I’m a bit of a woo-woo-head, so what?).


I tried very hard not to think like this, but life has thrown me a little too much evidence in loss to prevent me from taking a trip to Mopeville (Population: Me; Location: My Head; GPS Coordinates: You have your own ones) now and then. In these particular circumstances, anything that threatens to derail me on that level, is a big one I have to gulp back and push on.

Time Limits
I allowed myself one day to not feel okay with this notion. Sitting with facts and figures, statistics and the like, I wallowed. Wallowing is good for you, sometimes, because it’s a way to process stuff you don’t want to face up to – but it has to have a time limit. I played “worst case scenario” for 24 hours, didn’t sleep much, couldn’t eat and annoyed my dog by having an epic staring competition with him. He won.


Taking Control
After that though, I had to take control. By the time I met the nice man (he looked like a mashup of Leonard from Big Bang Theory and a friend of mine… like, if they had babies, this guy was it), I was ready to just get it all over with and keep moving. Heck, I even cracked five jokes while I was lying there, watching them poke needles into me. I know I cracked five. I counted. They laughed. It wasn’t pity laughter. My family tree laughs in the face of scary stuff… I was just carrying that lineage on.

The Leaning
I leant then. I just leant. I knew after I’d come home that it wasn’t really up to me anymore. It was up to science and good people who do their jobs. Which is when it really hit me – Science! I have it on my side. While I was lying in bed, pondering these wonders of science and realising how flipping great it is that I’ll actually know if there’s a problem, and it can be dealt with. But beyond science, there’s an army of people for me to lean on. So I did, like it was a wall and I had 97 pictures to hang up, but no hooks.

An interminable wait
Waiting is the hardest part. A friend had warned me that this wait would feel like I was treading molasses and that I’d jump every time the phone rang. I thank my lucky stars for her, because she got REAL with me, FAST, and I needed that. I really, really needed that. I trod, I jumped and I spent a few days feeling like a startled cat, but trying very hard to be one that purrs when its belly is rubbed.

Thing is, those results came back… they came back good. They came back so good that my doctor got a barrage of relieved noises and grunts I could only counter her conversation with. I stared out of the window as she spoke to me, feeling the extremities of my body tingle and shout with glee. Once I’d put the phone down, I felt so very, very free. I could’ve floated.

I am so intensely grateful for the past week of my life. Not because it made me wobble, but because I wobbled beyond it. For those of you who were with me through this, I cannot, ever, thank you enough. 

In Orbit

Dear Daughter,

At some point in your life, in the indeterminate and very-far-away future, you’ll be an adult. You’ll be swinging your way through whatever it is that you end up doing or being (and I don’t care what that is, as long as it makes you happy), and something will stop you.


In all likelihood, it’ll happen as someone says something to you. On the outside, you’ll be smiling at the person while they talk. Your ears will cover themselves and suddenly the sounds of the world around will muffle to some sort of weird din. It’ll sound tinny, like you’re suddenly within the confines of a space rocket and nobody can hear the inside of your brain.

It’ll feel like that space rocket has launched and as you, stratospheric, orbit around and pretend to be listening all the time, with that smile on your face… you’ll wonder – almost absentmindedly – why the earth seems to have slipped away from underneath your feet. You will feel a strange mix of liberation yet deep longing for the floor.

As you are orbiting, understand two things.

These two things:

1) You will come back down to earth again, probably with a bump and,

2) It is totally okay to be in orbit.

It happened to me, just yesterday, as the earth suddenly swam away from underneath me, and I kept clenching my toes to find a grip.


By the time I had exited the room, fathomed my way out of the building and into the bustling street, the ability to hear had returned to my ears.

It was a few minutes, I spent in orbit.

It was a strange place but, it was during my time up there that your grandmother’s words rang in my head:

Build within yourself a fortress.

That space rocket IS your fortress. As you orbit, you and you alone are experiencing it and, no matter what anyone says to you or does, you are protected, floating and fine. It is that fortress that surrounds you in your orbit, and it sinks back into you as you drift on back to earth.

Within you, deep within you, that space rocket exists. It was built by the women who came before you, and it is an immutable part of your biology. Your lineage has bestowed upon you a space rocket that’s made of pure steel, composed of a material that would fascinate and confound even the most learned scientists.

Whenever you need it, that space rocket erupts from within you, covers you and contains you, perfectly still, as the world slips on by.

Do not be afraid of it – for it was given to and created for you, by all of us who have used it before. Some of us put postcards up, some of us left letters. Some of us carved our initials into the walls of it. Some of us brought cushions and stayed longer than we should’ve. That’s also okay.

This fortress is your birthright, and one that shields you from the things you cannot counter, but also guides you through whatever it is that scares you. You are not, in any way, weak for using it to take a trip up for a bit. In fact, it is your strength that binds you to it.

And if you look really closely, you’ll see, that fortress that becomes a space rocket, is part of you. Just as your hands and toes and fingers and nose are.

Just like we laugh over how you got your dad’s legs, or your mom’s toes, or EveGranny’s hands or that smirk that you got from me, this fortress is given to you, and created from you.

Use it whenever you want to.


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.”

#GoodWeirdSA and Lenovo

The lovely folks over at Lenovo sent me this gigantic box yesterday. I love it when people get creative with their ideas around campaigns, and this is one I’ll certainly write about.

Turning My Opinion
I’ve spent a lot of time with Lenovo tablets over the last year or so, so I feel like I can comment on their approach to things. Oh, you should know – I had a less than ideal experience with a laptop from them years ago (I think, like a decade ago) and my opinion on the brand has totally turned around because I’ve been able to spend time with their newer range of equipment.

So What’s It About?
Simply put, Lenovo’s putting a spin on things with #GoodWeirdSA. Their approach has become one that puts interesting nuances on the technology they create, making things more accessible, quirky and damn useful. I mean – have you met the built-in projector, or the hang tool on the Tablet 2 Pro? See – quirkly and useful. That’s #GoodWeirdSA, indeed!

Chalkboard Time
So inside that gigantic box they sent me was a big chalkboard, and they asked us to draw something #GoodWeird. I’m no artist, so I handed it over to my kid. We’re supposed to draw a #GoodWeird idea but she went with something else entirely – there’s a lesson in that though!

She chose the person who she thinks is most #GoodWeird, one of her uncles. Granted, she has many, many uncles, but she chose the one who she thinks is the most weird, but also very good. We call him KB.

GoodWeird KB

There’s a lesson in there – people may be different, weird, a little offbeat, but that’s part of what makes them good! It was pretty cool to realise that – at the age of ten – my kid respects this, and knows it. Being weird is good and frankly, as someone who was called weird more times than she can remember, I think it’s time we celebrate weird! KB may be the weirdest of us all, but it’s that that makes him good. So very good!

What’s your GoodWeird idea?

Lenovo are running this sweet compo over at goodweird. Upload your #GoodWeirdSA idea, share it and you can win! Do it!



<Not a sponsored post. I just really like this campaign! Let’s Celebrate the GoodWeird ideas of the world!> 

Hacking My Sleep

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I have a long history with sleep. Well, more correctly, a long history with not getting enough of it. For the record, this is not a sponsored post. This one was borne out of pure desperation to, again, get enough sleep.

At first, being used to not getting enough sleep worked to my benefit. As mom to an infant, I handled the interrupted sleep that goes with growing an infant into a kid, better than I expected. It worked to my favour again when I worked full-time and kept a night job for the purposes of paying the bills and learning more about the career I wanted to head towards in the world. It worked extremely well for me when I went into freelancing, because working until late into the night and sometimes the early morning…didn’t scare me.

It did, however, mean that when I was able to get a full 8 hours’ sleep, I’d most often wake up groggy and operate at a “less than ideal” rating for the day. My biggest issue is always winding my brain down so that I can actually fall asleep. I eventually managed to solve that using Melatonin a few years ago, and I now really enjoy my sleep.

sleep blog dog
Me at three pm, most days.

But life isn’t always conducive to getting seven or more hours of sleep a night. Our family schedule is a little irregular at the moment, and it often requires that the adults in this unit skimp on the number of hours of sleep. After a while, this wore me down, so I started doing some research into getting more quality sleep in a shorter space of time, so that I wouldn’t wake up feeling like I was a reversing tortoise most days. What was really not doing me any good, is that I’d feel awfully tired in the afternoons, and then have to fight sleep when it’s family time. By the time I actually got to bed, I’d be feeling wide awake again, and that’s about as useful as a tissue in a thunderstorm.

Enter the world of sleep apps, and my mate Dave. Dave is my, for want of a better term, sleep guru. He has battled similar sleep issues for a long time and uses a variety of techniques, including audio files, apps and other tools to get the sleep he needs. He’s been incredible in sharing his wisdom with me (and many others), so if you ever want his advice, pop him a message. At the rate that people responded to my recent Facebook post about it, Dave may as well be a sleep DJ by now. Thank you, my friend. I appreciate you so much!

On to the apps
I’ve been trialling a sleep cycle app called SleepyTime. My friend Jane uses the iOS version which you can download here (tip: they’re free for Android and iOS). It’s pretty straightforward: you input the time that you would like to wake up or go to sleep, and it tells you the optimum time to go to sleep or wake up. You select what I call the “sleep spot” that you prefer and snooze. You can also ask the app to awaken you using your alarm, or tell you when you need to tuck yourself in.


How it works
The app takes the maths out of figuring out your optimum sleep cycle. That’s great news for me, because I’m about as useful at sums, as I would be with painting a cityscape of Johannesburg (read: not even mildly talented). The app estimates that you’ll take 14 minutes to fall asleep, and then tacks on the average sleep cycle of 90 minutes, but you can adjust these settings within the app if you think you need to.

What’s changed for me
I used to calculate my sleep in hours, but I’m now realising that actually, mentally, worked against me. Before, I’d be morose because I only managed to snatch four and a half hours of snooze time, but now that I’m calculating my sleep using actual cycles, I feel a little better about it. For me, knowing that I’ve actually had three cycles of full sleep in that time makes me feel better.

The result
I’ve used this app for about a week now, and I’ve been amazed by how refreshed I feel upon waking. Because I’m waking up at the end of a sleep cycle, I’m immediately more alert and aware when I get up to feed the dog, which will probably mean he won’t end up with coffee in his bowl again (he puts up with a lot, that canine). This has meant that while I’m not necessarily getting the length of sleep I need (I could sleep for twelve hours straight if I was left, nowadays) I am getting good quality sleep, and I haven’t really battled with the afternoon slump as much.

Moving on
I’m going to be trying out a few other sleep apps to help me along. On Dave’s recommendation, I’m going to check out:

On Names.

This is not the first time this has happened. You came home the other day, having shrugged off another stupid attempt to annoy you. It had centred on your name.

I’ll accept this. You don’t have what’s traditionally considered a “girl’s name”. But it is the name of a rather famous actress, and it’s a name that was chosen for you with love, long before you opened your eyes to this big wide world you were born into one stormy evening.

We’ve spoken through this topic many times, and by now, you know all of my automatic responses and answers you can pass on to the next silly buffoon who thinks he/she can take a jab at you for having an “unconventional” name.

A secret

Instead, today, I’m going to tell you a secret – I too, for a long time, did not like my name. When I was very little, I couldn’t pronounce it, so shortened it to a name that would end up being my family nickname. Nowadays, it’s something very few people call me (and heaven help someone who unauthorised attempts to use it). Now, as an adult and in a professional sense, I often use a more traditional, shortened version of my name.

But, at school, I was always internally upset at the sheer length of my name. By how many people had ‘cooler’ names than I did. By how many people I would discover that had the same name as me. I felt slightly affronted by it, because my name ended up being something common. In my teens, when the Internet became a de rigueur part of my life, it irritated me even more, because I suddenly realised how many people out there had “my” name. To this point, I even ‘rebelliously’ elected to have “another name”, something that many of my mates responded to, and a particular set of them still refer to me by that name. Nowadays I giggle at that, but it is a sweet reminder of the journey I’ve had with my own name.

As an adult, I like my name. The way it rounds in my mouth, and the way it shapes itself in the mouths of people who call out for me, who love me, and who I love. I now revere it, for its regal connotations are apparent to me, and it’s no longer something I shy away from. I’m proud of my name, chosen by my parents (thanks to some curtains) and it’s symbolic of their love for me. I feel the strength of it, and claim it for my own self.


I don’t expect you to accept this right now. Heck, I don’t even expect you to experience this journey right now. You have your own journey to traverse with your name. You have a whole lifetime to experience with this name. How you choose to define, or not define yourself in line with your name, is something only you can do. You can change it one day, if you like. You can elect another name and use it, try it on for size and then try another one if you like. I did it, and so can you.

Coming Home

I came home to my name when I was ready. Nowadays, I do define myself by my name, but that’s the very unique definition I’ve carved for myself, that’s remarkably different to the ones the world seems to have created. I’ll support you in every definition you choose, and every single one you ditch.

This is your journey, darling. Your name, your definition. Don’t worry your head about someone who can’t find anything wrong with you, so he has to pick on your name.


Shallow Breathing and Big Words

Dear Darling,

I’m scared. I know I like you to think that nothing much scares me (and truth is, not much does), but there is something that absolutely petrifies me…

It’s the times where there’s a gap in our conversation. When there’s things that get unsaid, and there’s something on your mind that you feel you can’t share. When those quiet moments hit, my motherhood flips into overdrive, as I relentlessly try to figure out what it is you’re thinking about. It was a lot easier to do this when you were a toddler or cherubic, enthusiastic preschooler. You didn’t shut up, once, during that time. You talked, nonstop, from the moment you woke up…and sometimes carried on even when your eyes were closed.


As you’ve grown up, you’ve become quieter. This isn’t a concern – it’s normal, as you create your own inner world. This is a good thing, I endorse it. The realm of words and inner thought became a safety net for me in the world, and it served me well. Your gran used to call it a fortress, and she was right.

But this letter isn’t about the gaps or the silences. It’s about the things you weigh your words down with, before you speak them to me. These things are sometimes saddled in a fear of disappointing me, or of hurting me, because I’ve upset you. I want to give you these ten rules to follow, when you think something is or should be weighed down by those thoughts or words. These can be our system – you know how we have that system where I help you study? This is a system like that, and just like we’ve totally cracked the studying system together, and by sticking to it, we get through everything? We can crack and apply this one too.  Please tell me if you have anything to add.

1. Nothing, absolutely nothing at all could lead me to be disappointed in you. Your existence on this Earth is the greatest gift of all time. You could fail at school, dance the macarena in a chicken outfit, or get arrested for shoplifting, or anything at all. Whatever it is, ever, I will be right there by your side. The circumstances of it do not matter at all to me, and never will, when your safety and the light in your eyes is in danger.

2. If it’s 3am and you think you would rather not bug me, wake me up, whatever… Wake me up. I would rather lose a night of sleep than anything else. I’ve been losing sleep for years, another night of none of it isn’t going to break me. Nothing like that can.

3. You can tell me absolutely anything, and I’m not going to judge you. You might think those are hollow words, but they’re not. You can tell me that you’d like to give up on humanity and become a swan, and I’ll support it. Wholeheartedly. Will even get you a swan outfit…I know a guy, okay?

4. If something needs to be fixed and you don’t know how to fix it, hand it all over to me. My hands are older and have fixed many screwups over time. Many. So many I can’t even count them anymore, and most of them were created by me. Let me help you fix things. Hand it to me and we’ll get on it.

5. Remember when I told you, at about the age of 4, that worrying was my job, and your job was to be a kid? This is still true. Let me worry about money, madness and whatever there is to worry about. If there’s something to worry about, put it on my to do list. I’ve got all the space in the world for that. You focus on that whole life of yours. You know how we remind each other of which team we’re on? Yep. I’m on your team, no matter what. Always.

6. Something crushingly embarrassing happened today at school. Tell me. Listen, you’re talking to the girl who used to wet her pants in class. No, not preschool. Primary school. Yes, in like maths class. Yes, it was fractions. I’ve done the embarrassing stuff. We can handle it together. I’ve got zero shame on this stuff.

7. When you think someone is better than you, you’re being shoved into a ‘comparison’ thought frame. Comparison, some say, is the thief of joy. We’re not into comparing. Why? Because your emergence into this world was a unique and presiding moment, as is every other moment in your life since then. Nobody else lives them, except you. So don’t you fret about how your moment is different/lesser/better than someone else’s. It’s not. It’s yours. If you need a reminder, I’ve got many at the ready for you.

8. Absolutely nothing – deadlines, work, meetings, the dog, domestic tasks, other people, geographical distance, anything – can get in my way when you say the words:

“I need you”.
Nothing. At. All. Say them and I will be there.

9. This is something I don’t admit to many people, but I will today. There was a time in my life (many years ago, long before your life began) when I thought it was all crap, and I didn’t really want to continue. Everything seemed absolutely insurmountable, and I thought that quitting the game would be far easier than trying to level up. But I levelled up, and have continued to level up ever since. How did I do this? I did this because someone and a particular set of circumstances forced me into opening up and sharing the things I was too scared to share, that sat in my head and weighed down all of my words. The moment I let those things go, they no longer weighed down my words. Maybe that’s the flight of them, and maybe I had to learn to let them go. Whatever you do, no matter what, remember that the things that weigh you down are not too heavy to be lifted. You are not duty bound to lift them alone. Nobody actually is – even the strongest person on the planet gets some help sometimes. There’s no shame in it, it’s just what people do.

10. You are infinitely loved. Even when you think you are unloveable. If you need a reminder, refer to point 8 and I will remind you.


For Jane, on her Birthday.

In life, we get cheerleaders. We have to be our own on the way to finding our own troop of cheerleaders, but it’s true. Those mates who stick by you, and will go in to bat for you at any moment.

I realise I’m lucky. I have a crew I can call at 2am who will be wherever I need them to be, in a heartbeat and a skip jump. It is the same for them (and you people should know this) that if they need me, I’m there.

Jane 1

One of my biggest cheerleaders is someone who’s been in my life for a while but we’ve become quite close in recent times. We laugh at the same things, love to invest in each other’s daydreams and crazy-but-totally-doable ideas and we share the same set of principles when it comes to life. I know I can say anything to her, and it stays with her. But I also know that if I need a backup army, she’s unquestionably there for me with no qualms about it. Jane keeps her cheerleader pompoms for me, right by her side, all the time.

Today is her birthday. Jane. Happy birthday you little legend. Thank you for teaching me to: Not Care About The Things That Are Not For Me; for showing me how to Ditch Guilt and for being a solid support when I’m doubting myself. You are a treasure and a giggle, all rolled into one. You are compassionate, kind and the good kinda crazy. You know the type – the one that puts passion first, and follows through, every time. You are astute yet aware at all times of other people’s feelings, and you’re never, ever one to pull someone down when they’re kicked. It’s you that lifts people up, even on their worst days. Nothing deters you when you have set your focus – it’s incredible to witness.

I am so lucky to know you, you funnywonderfulwoman.

Jane 2

Never change.

Here’s to an amazing year ahead, and may that light of yours shine brighter than ever before.

I was going to insert a bunch of terribly embarrassing photos of you here, but I think we’ve had enough of those recently so I stuck to the good ones 😛 

A Decade | Dadadadadad

A decade. The way it rounds up in my mouth as I say it, seems far too clean a manner with which to describe the sheer void that it implies. Ten whole years without you, that have seemed to flit right by, like some sort of exuberant insect with wings.

When I think about it, you’ve missed some really good stuff. The best stuff, perhaps. Not to belittle the childhood of me, but the adulthood, I’m finding… is where I think you would’ve enjoyed the most. All the parts that have been hard work and tremendous…and the sections that have been simple and sweet.

Then there’s also been the stuff that has made me mutter ‘I’m glad you’re not here to see this’. The little parts or news stories that made me burrow my chin into my chest and go ‘nobody should have to deal with this, and I’m glad you’re not here to.’


But that’s not about this. This is about what it feels like to not have had my dad for a full decade.

No annoying phone calls, no fights, no disagreements over me pushing the boundaries. No foot-stomping at each other. Nobody to fight with me over my work – and demand to edit me before I hit ‘send’. Nobody to tell me in simple terms over tea at 3am, that I’m totally full of rubbish and need to wind my neck in. I need that sometimes, and you were the best person to lay it all out for me. I have needed that level of perspective that swarmed out of love for me, so very often. It is a cruel relief that I have had to learn to do it for myself. But it wasn’t without a bunch of learning that you and I both never wanted me to have to do.

This is about how it feels to not have you to whine to, or worry with. That’s the thing about our family – we don’t worry alone. We eat, we plan and then we worry. It’s something so delicately imbued into the very nature of our life operations that… the moment there’s something to worry about, I instantly think “what should we eat?”

You’ve not met my dog. As pathetic as that sounds, you would’ve loved his exuberant yet gentle (at his convenience) nature. You would’ve had him paced in five minutes, and he’d have curled up next to you like a fluffy puppy, just waiting to be preened. You always had that way with animals, and I wonder if Pingo and all the others are with you now.

You’ve not been here to see me living in my dream homes, nor in the not so dream homes. I’ve done my tax returns without you. I’ve navigated relationships with my bank manager without you (although, to be fair, someone once helped me at the bank, because I mentioned your name and she remembered you with fondness… possibly the only time I’ve ever been able to play the ‘my dad’ card… you’d never have let me get away with it were you alive). I have drawn up and negotiated contracts and signed forms and done all these adult things… to the point where people come to me to help them with all these adult things. That used to be your job, Dad. But where does the shoemaker send her shoes to be fixed? I am that shoemaker now, and sometimes, I do just want you to fix my shoes.

Your grandchildren have grown up. To them, you are a picture on a wall, or shared over the wires. You are an actor in our storylines (and oh my word how much I just know you love that), a page in their books. You’re a listing on their family tree school projects. But the legacy of you is so much more than the Pritt-Sticked-Bio we put together. They do know that, I promise you. They know of the texture of you, and I’ve shown them where they look like you, or how your resemblance shines in an expression that passes over their faces.

But it is in my parenting that I find you, just like how I discover my mother within my own voice. The first time my kid tells a joke she thought up herself, or blurts out a rhyme…I hope you can hear that. I hope so much that you can see. She has your toes, and that funny little gap in her teeth like you too.

You left at the precipice of what I like to think was the explosion of the Internet. Almost every time I log on, think up some pithy status update, or click ‘like’ on some hilarious meme, I wonder how you would’ve responded to this gigantic online world. I’m almost certain you’d have immersed yourself in it like I have. Like you’d be there with me, and we’d tag each other in tweets. Oh my god I wish I could tag you in my tweets.

But you are no longer here. For a decade, you have not been here. I find myself yelling at people in my head to love their parents, and soak up the times where they drive them round the bend. To love every second, even the hard ones. But I know that not everyone had my Dadadadad, so it’s difficult for me to reconcile my longing for you, with his or her legitimate incapability to love the moments that will be gone too soon.

I am forever a part of you, but for ten years now, I have been apart from you. And somewhere, in the recesses of my memories, you’re stoking a winter fire in our fireplace, and doing the word puzzle with mom. You’re doing what was called pulling the drain in our house (something I just learnt how to do, yesterday, myself, on my own. Thanks to Google. I’d rather have called you, Dadadadad). You’re writing and bashing the keyboard just like I do (I learnt this from you. I cannot unlearn it). You’re asking if the kettle is broken, and you’re walking down the passageway singing.

You are still strong and building things that work, but you have to fiddle with them – Jenkin jobs (they say that women end up choosing men who are similar to their fathers. Oh how I wish you’d met P. In this respect, he is so like you, it’s frightening. There are other characteristics. Sometimes I think you sent him. I’ll never really know).

You are a light that never goes out, Dadadadad, even though you’re ten years away.

I miss you forever.