bite, chew, chew, swallow

People used to say, (and they probably still do) “don’t bite off more than you can chew.” My genuine response to that for six years was, “don’t worry, I have a really big mouth.”

My mom had a way of teaching me to chew with my mouth closed: she’d tell me in a singsong way to “chew, chew; swallow, swallow.” I tried to sing the song while I ate. The food went everywhere and it was gross.

In high school, I wanted to take French and biology as extra subjects. They’d cost quite a bit of money to do outside of school, and my grade tutor warned me not to overwhelm myself. I wanted to tell her about this gif:

So far, this post has been full of stories of me trying to do the absolute most, and forgetting about the tiny human defect I have: being a human being. I forget that I am a person who is more than the number of things she couldn’t get done that day. I forget that forgetting to eat for two days isn’t really a good start to a semester. I forget that I get to take a step back and chew, then step down and swallow before I get back up again.

If I’m talking to you when I say what I’m about to say – and I am talking to you- listen. Take time to chew. If you’ve bitten off too much, chew slowly. Sing a song and let the food fall out of your mouth. Take care of yourself.

Keep eating. Drink some water.

I’m proud of you so far! (Spoiler alert: I always will be proud of you.)

Love and light,
shalom xo


New Year

It’s almost midnight, and I am reporting live from my bed thanks to an obnoxiously strong wifi connection. Did you know that wifi stands for wireless fidelity? I learned that in 10th grade.

I just made my lunch for tomorrow – read: I just put all leftovers from last week into a container to microwave at school tomorrow because I am done spending money the way I have been because I am broke – and I’m thinking about how this week could go.

I was at home for New Year’s Eve for the first time in more than 10 years this year (last year?) We usually go to a church service (which I have mostly always objected to because FRIENDS. HELLO MOM MY CHURCH FRIENDS ARE NOT EVEN HERE.) but there was some tension and strangeness, so I got to watch Guardians of the Galaxy and Home with my sisters, and then climb up to our rooftop to watch the fireworks.

I listened to this song on repeat for many reasons: (1) It was so perfect. So cliche. Living the dream. (2) I love Layla. Mostly because I can sing most of her songs well. And because her lyrics make me remember things I thought I couldn’t. (3) It gave me a lot of hope, and said what I needed to hear.

The sentence, “Yeah, you’re gonna be somebody” is repeated fourteen times in the song. At the beginning of 2016, I wanted nothing more than that reassurance. I was waiting on Canadian universities to give me a chance, and for my father to do the same. I was ready to go and be somebody across the ocean. I was so deeply in love, and I couldn’t shake myself from wanting to be somebody the exact way I thought I would be.

Fast forward to May 2016, and we see that I am heartbroken. The Canadian universities did give me the chance I wanted. I got in. I did my part. My dad didn’t. He flaked at the last minute, and I am somewhat stuck in a law degree for at least the next three years of my life at my current university. I cried a lot. (Thank you, UBC. It means a lot that you wanted me.)

The year so far really has been an understanding of what there is to lose. I’ve lost lots. Not nearly as much as I could have lost, for which I’m eternally grateful, but still lots. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that things can go tits up no matter how hard you work. Beyonce was right.

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It’s not the first day of a new year anymore, but I am still feeling broken (if not more) and I still want the same: I want to be somebody. I want to make something, leave something, be something. Having anxiety over leaving a legacy and creating that very legacy is a spectacularly painful and exhausting chunk of my psyche.

All this aside, I have an audition tomorrow. (Today?) It’s for a community theatre group. I’m nervous out of my mind. I don’t know what that has to do with anything about me being somebody, but I hope it makes my head a little less foggy. I don’t know. Perhaps this week will be more reflective than I’d thought it would. In all honesty, I should go to bed and stop researching portable chargers and earphones to buy online. It’s after midnight and I’ve got to be out of the house before 6 AM.

hi lovers lost behind us
hi lessons we failed to learn
hi those that tried to mould us
and tried to change us for the worse

can’t flee from bygones
no shaking off the truth
just a first understanding
of what we have to lose

you can’t cover over holes
you can’t burrow deeper down
yeah, you’re gonna be somebody

to being somebody.

love and light,
shalom xo


featured image from my-sweet-love-addiction.tumblr.com

Maybe, May.

“Well, let it pass, he thought; April is over, April is over. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.”

We are already a week into May, and I am shell shocked and amazed and terrified because of it.

April brought the biggest heartbreak I have ever felt. I learned that I could actually cry for three straight days. I managed to not fail my first law test, and just pass my first English essay.  My best friend is moving 13,330 km away from me. She lives 20 km away from me now, and I last saw her at the beginning of April. My head is heavy and my body just aches. Things have been a lot.

 

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how perfectly angsty of me

The freshman fifteen has very quickly turned into the freshman “I am bad at spending money efficiently and also am constantly buying other people food so now I barely recognise my body”. Yes. I did join a gym, though. I joined an on-campus gym that’s going to have fourteen treadmills and hot showers. It’s opening in July, but I am very very excited. I’m also very lucky and #blessed to be able to have that to look forward to.
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It’s concerning that many teenagers drink to forget. 18 years is so little time in the grand scheme of things, but when it’s all you know, it’s the longest time. Why would you want to forget by means of ethanol based products?  Why not? Why am I thinking about this?

My headphones have been stolen. Again. Along with my cellphone charger. What is going on with me and losing stuff?

I went for a good two weeks without taking my medication because I was too anxious/busy to go pick it up at the pharmacy. I felt like an idiot. I’m doing better now, though. I’ve got my Wellbutrin and a big headache.

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One of my favourite people on the internet – Michelle from Piece of Caustic – wrote: “I think too much of my life has consisted of me eyeing the gap between me and others and wondering what to do with it.” I wish I would stop wondering. I wish I could hit myself in the face enough times for me to realise that I need to get my shit together and stop spending money like I have it. I need to realise that I can’t fill that gap with the utter bullshit my drunk heart spouts. It doesn’t tell the truth. It tells lies and hurts me, and everyone around. I need to find out what to do with that gap, or to get in it.

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Will May be the month I find out what the hell is going on? Probably not. I’m writing my first set of uni exams this month, and coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to be in Johannesburg for the next three years of my life. Being grounded is hard when you just want to go.

Maybe I’ll make sense of myself a little bit more this month.

Maybe May.

love and light
shalom xo


featured image from paper-leaf.com

Bravado

This week has been something.

I went from crying for seven straight hours to not crying at all. It may not seem like a world altering change, but when your eyes are suddenly unpuffy and nobody’s asking you what you’ve been drinking for the whole week, it makes a bit of a difference.

I was stuck with an English essay that provoked procrastination from every crevice of my being. The essay topic was alright, but one of the short stories that we were working on just…ah, it did nothing for me. It was (a) more of a novella than a short story, (b) had a rapist as the narrator on moral authority. I just got very tired reading it. It’s an excellently written story, though. I think that everything happening in my country about rape culture at the moment made me a little apprehensive.

I just submitted my essay a whole 12 hours before it’s due. I’m feeling quite accomplished. (This is a lie. I am not.)

I’ve got a little bit of time tonight because I am neglecting my law & philosophy readings. I feel as though my room is conspiring against me: My doorknob sliced my finger when I entered, and now it won’t stop showing me that in less time than I can adequately comprehend, I will have been alive for eighteen years.

Eighteen doesn’t seem like a long time, and birthdays don’t seem like a big deal, but if you’ve been around this little corner of the internet, you’ll know that I don’t do well with birthdays. The ABEC (Annual Birthday Existential Crisis) comes to town a month before my birthday, usually. Being the Americanest American to ever American, my birthday is on July 4th. (The bitch is early this year.)

I think this has all started because I’m listening to my favourite music from 2013. I loved Lorde in 2013. Everything she sang made sense to me. In 2013, I was a 15 year old in 10th grade struggling with physics dating a twin boy. I wanted to dance more than anything, I wanted to sit on tennis courts with my then-boyfriend and his brother, my then-best friend and our little clan, drinking out of paper cups. I wanted to be able to describe my year as the feeling of wind on your hand when you stick your arm out of the car window on a roadtrip.

Today, in 2016, I’m still faking glory. I’m trying to convince myself that when the lights come on, I’ll be ready. I have been ready, for the most part. I’ve fooled everyone into thinking I have been, at least. Every day is a pill tipped back, every day a brand new story. Everything is for the applause, in the most selfish way possible. Does that make any sense?

I’m walking to 18 slowly, and it’s running at me. I’m trying to find my own bravado before it crashes into me.

I’m also going to move to New York in 3-ish years.

Love and light,
shalom xo


featured image from this 8tracks mix

Old, Old Literature in a Brave New World

My new English tutor is interesting. Granted, there are several other words I could use to describe him more accurately, but I’m going with interesting because of the way he’s made me think about things that I hadn’t had previously.

I met him on Friday, after arriving late to the first tutorial our group had with him. As a bit of an icebreaker activity, we were told to introduce another person in the group to him, and they us. (to him. Is this good English? Yikes.)

My introduction (thanks Tory) let slip that I was (a) in love with, and posthumously married to John Keats, (b) that I adored the Romantic poets (but mostly Keats srsly he’s my guy), and (c) that this blog existed. I helped with the last bit.

The point of all this rubbish background info is to let you know why the fresh hell I’m writing about this, and what the actual heck I’m writing about. What the tutor, whose name I was fortunate enough to miss (but I think it’s Ian?), said was that he’s of the opinion that poetry pre-1900 should be ignored as it’s irrelevant now. Or something. The Romantics (stab to the heart), Victorian poets – the lot. His reasoning was sound (and valid) (#IntroToPhilosophy FLEX) though: can Wordsworth and his bridge musings seriously teach us more than a Palestinian woman’s commentary on the situation in Gaza can?

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, while lovely, really doesn’t do much for us in 2016. Unlike Wordsworth’s “calm so deep”, The Palestinian situation isn’t going away any time soon, and it only makes sense for us to focus on issues like that, right?

I’ve been having a think about this over the weekend. I’m reeling from a week that consisted of an average 5 hours spent on crying a day, and believe it or not, questioning the relevance of poetry periods has helped a lot.

The title of this post was a pun, but only to me – I’m starting Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World tomorrow. That’s it. I chuckled.

love and light,
shalom xo

featured image from http://e2ua.com/group/london-wallpapers/

Passions & Pageants (and other rambly thoughts)

Hi friends! (Exclamation points make everything look super cheery. It’s disgusting.)

This week has been a little bit of a crazy time, no different from any other weeks. I’ve been battling with the ever expected ‘”DID I SCREW UP BY CHOOSING THE WRONG MAJOR” crisis-at-midnight’ since Wednesday, listening to nothing but two musicals by the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda. He’s the guy that wrote Hamilton & In The Heights & 21 Chump Street. (You should listen to all of them.) There’s probably a post about Hamilton coming soon.

I’m a law major. I don’t know if I want to become a lawyer, or if I want to become a law lecturer, or if I want to be Harvey Specter. Or Jessica Pearson. (Definitely Jessica Pearson. She’s the only one whose name has been on the door from the beginning.) Enough Suits talk – I’ve been having a big think about passion & purpose, whether the two actually exist, or whether they should have as much emphasis placed on them as they do.

This Humans of New York post & comment has fueled a lot of my internal monologue:

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Everyone talks about their “passion” as if it’s some pre-determined thing that’s somewhere out there waiting for you. Like a soulmate, if you believe that there is literally someone in the world you were “meant” to be with.

I don’t believe there are careers or hobbies you were meant to have any more than there are people you were “destined” to be with. I’ve been in enough relationships to understand that, yes, you can fit really well with someone, that fate can appear to have aligned perfectly for your getting together, but the success of the relationship is still dependent on your own decisions and how hard you’re willing to work for it.

The same is true about your “passion”. I study neuroscience; I want to go into research. I could have just as easily (if not more easily) become a writer, simply because I absolutely love writing. In college, I often enjoyed my writing classes more than my science classes. In fact, if money wasn’t an issue, I might have chosen to become a writer instead.

Does that mean I’m not following my passion by choosing a career in science over writing? No. Because I could never give up science. I could never give up my curiosity and desire to learn about the world, and the opportunity to actually be on the forefront of that discovery.

Your passion is what you put your energy into. It’s what you decide, consciously or not (but sometimes it has to be consciously!), to care about, to strive towards, to give your life to. It is a reflection of you and not of whatever the actual subject of your interest is. It can change.

People forget that “passion” doesn’t describe the object of your devotion; it describes the energy and emotion you invest in that object. People who jump from career to career, actively searching for something they can enjoy doing, can very well be exhibiting just as much passion as someone who’s stayed in the same career all their lives and loved every day of it.

Huh. Isn’t that something? I have crazy passion for theatre. Like, if you had to ask me what my ideal career would be, I’d probably have to give you the hodge podge that is “a lawyer librettist performer teacher”. Quite something, right?

Passion is specific. (Here’s a very smooth segue to pageants.) My friend, Errin, is probably one of the most crazy determined people I know. I struggled through math in grade 10 with her, planned THE BEST prom the school had seen with her in 11th, and now have the pleasure of calling her my friend & fellow law student. Errin has been doing pageants for a while, and apart from the fact that she is crazy good at them, she defies stereotypes while she kicks ass.

She’s just won Miss Wits (my university’s internal pageant), and is now competing for the title of Miss Varsity Shield. If you’d be keen to drop her a vote, you can click right here. The public vote counts 33%, and she deserves it. Love you, gal.

Things have been crazy. I work 12 hours a week, and I’m trying to be really good at school. I’m trying to save enough to buy my phone back (it got stolen here)& replace my laptop. Gertrude is having a rough year, like me. At least one of the banks I’m battling with got back to me today.

Here’s to an easier weekend.

Love & light,
shalom xo

4 a.m. sunrise

Being up for the sunrise is different to getting up to see the sunrise. See, it’s 5:11 A.M where I live, and I’m yet to find sleep. This is a usual occurrence for me. It’s a pity; the sunrise seems to lose its brilliance when the only thing you have to offer to the awakening earth is your exhausted, eye-bagged self.SAM_2241.JPG

The sunrise is always changing. It starts as it does: a little dark and highlighted by the little lights and houses that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, but everything to those that dwell in them. The orange gives this crazy kind of hope – dare I say misconception? – that the sun will come up, and the brilliant blue sky will present itself, and the day to come will unfold with the same kind of magic.

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The early bird catches the worm, and somebody zooms past the house front in an attempt to get to the train station before it’s crowded, or to get away from everything else that is crowded. The sky starts to brighten, and more people stir. The joggers come out, and the birds make more noise than they were making ten minutes ago.

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It’s an every day thing, the sunrise. I suppose our tininess is too. Every day, all of us – inconsequential people – wake up in our inconsequential houses to run our inconsequential errands until we die. Inconsequentially.

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I didn’t get to see the sunrise. There was no sunrise today. More than a sunrise, there was an overwhelming period of cloud cover with a dormant sun threatening ever so slightly to peek through. The cloud cover seemed to almost exactly mirror my mental state. 2015 has been a lot of grey.

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I feel quite strange today. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep over the last six months, maybe it’s the lack of medication, the weather, the hyper-awareness – I don’t know what this is. I know that I have three very distinct lines of feeling, though. One: I am terrified of everything and I want it all to stop, I want to stop being afraid, I want to be alone and at the same time, not. Two: I am more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. If you’re not scared of me, you should be. There is nothing that the world could throw at me that my brain hasn’t already. Not even death. Three: Nothing. I feel nothing. I am apathetic under a stained white shirt and jeans that used to make me feel something.

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I am not the teenage girl who gets up at 4 AM to see the sunrise. I am the girl who stands on a rooftop at 4 AM after being awake for longer than she can remember and sifts through the surrounding sounds while wrapped in her friend’s blanket.

It is not ideal. But, there have been, and will continue to be worse things that can and will happen at 4 A.M.

there are worse things than being awake at 4 am. another day will come, and the sunrise will come. eventually.

And all the kids cried out,
“Please stop, you’re scaring me”
I can’t help this awful energy
Goddamn right, you should be scared of me
Who is in control?

Control – HALSEY

Love and light,
shalom

 

this is what days off look like

I’m feeling very lowercase today. I’m probably going to change my theme. Again.

I’m currently writing my matric final exams (similar grading system as the IB, if that helps?) and tomorrow is one of my demons: maths. Mathematics. Why is it even a thing? As if a day could be more anxiety ridden. (Ask me again the day before maths paper 2, physics, chemistry, results day..) I feel strange, and I did when I woke up this morning, so this post is just snippets from my day of never-ending stress, in short sentences. That’s all.

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I enjoy philosophy.

And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way.
Maya Hornbacher

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After tomorrow’s exam, I will have a massive blister on this finger.

You’re growing, but you’re raising yourself.

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I’m quite overwhelmed.

If you need to get over yourself, you’ll know. Get over yourself.

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I loved taking this picture.

Things are possible.

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Things are currently not.

love and light,
shalom

Never Let [Ophelia] Go

So. Hamlet.

“There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.”

Well, isn’t that cheery? Ophelia, singing to her death, oblivious to the danger of drowning.

I’m the proud owner of two CDs: Brett Newski and The Corruption’s Tiny Victories and Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials. Tonight, I have masses of homework and prep to do for my exams. Tonight, I have been organising my room (shock horror) and crying (expected) and listening to Never Let Me Go on repeat for the last 2 hours.

In any case, the song usually sends me back into the waves of grade eight and ten and eleven, and I wonder how I managed to get to the point where there are people I’ve known for ten years. How did that happen? Reflections still look the same to me as before I went under. How did everything just move so quickly, and how did I manage to see it all and do nothing about it?

The crashes are heaven for a sinner like me. Perhaps I’m condemned to relive moments past, or maybe I’ll just become a part of the scenery and never leave. Maybe I won’t find out. Maybe she will. In any case:

The arms of the ocean are carrying me.

Love and light,
Shalom


How Big How Blue How Beautiful is out today! You can download it here.

an open letter to primary school

trigger warning: depression, anxiety, eating disorders

dear primary school

dear age five to twelve

dear risidale and emmarentia and everything in between


primary school, you were not fun. In grade one my shoes got stolen and I wanted to cry but I thought I’d be yelled at if I did. So I didn’t. When I was eight I started noticing that I was detached from everyone else in the class. I used to sit and box them all, and tried desperately to squeeze into a box, and I never could. In grade four, I learned about depression, and I had a teacher who was phenomenal at the time – Ms V. She cried a lot and had body image issues and skipped a lot of school days. I remember thinking that I understood what she was going through, that we could be friends because we were going through the same thing, I thought. I didn’t say anything though. She was a teacher. I was nine. I was a girl who could spell anything, except library. I When I was ten I started resenting the fact that I was black more than I had previously. I got teased and made fun of because I was darker than the other girls. Then, I learned about depression from a much harsher teacher: experience. I started feeling things I couldn’t understand – like not wanting to come to school. I loved learning, but I didn’t feel anything except lethargy. I know- “at age ten? really?” Yes really, I was in grade six at the time. In grade seven I started to resent my intelligence, tried to join any and every group that would have me, gave my homework away, cried more than I thought I could, and then got told to “see someone”. My dad got mad when he found out that he had a crazy daughter. My mom got – I don’t really know how she felt – when she discovered that her once shining girl who was supposed to be a prodigy spent the better parts of her day crying, lying or intentionally hurting herself to “feel anything that didn’t mean I was nothing” (quote from grade seven diary). I saw my marks plummet and my opinion of myself recede into nothing – I went for three days, that I remember clearly, convinced that it was’;t my fault I didn’t have friends like the other girls, it was just because people couldn’t see me. When I was eleven teachers started thinking it was smart to talk the eating disorders section of the Life Orientation textbook rather than teach it, leaving me, and possibly (probably) others trying to tell people that I needed help, that I identified with Mary who struggles to eat in front of people but binges at night, that I related to Sue who never ate and was convinced that she was fat and would not fit through doors despite her flat chest and sharp bones, that I was Shalom who had such a strange relationship with something that shouldn’t have a hold over me the way it did. Does. Do disorders go away?


Dear Primary School,

You taught me that things are not always kind. And that honesty can get you into trouble. And that people won’t always appreciate your intelligence.

You taught me how to sit alone and how to think. You taught me how to speak to adults. You taught me how to make people listen. You taught me how different people are. Thank you.

Thanks. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. It’s not a wonderful place, but it’s where I am and things are happening and things are possible so thank you.


these things about me are not pretty or lovely or a wonder to behold. they are parts of me that have, for so long, attacked me from the inside. secrets that i’ve had to keep alone and i won’t anymore.

these parts of me are not easy to love, but i’m going to try anyway. and maybe you will too. but the truth is that whether you do or you don’t, it’s beyond my control and i’m going to have to let things like that go.

love and light
Shalom