wide-eyed and so damn caught in the middle

excuse me for a while, while i’m wide eyed and so damn caught in the middle of ending what was the biggest year of my life so far.

2017 taught me so much. i don’t know where to start except by saying that on new year’s eve last year, i was in the ivory coast, taking awkward photos with my sisters. we were at some event that we didn’t fit in at, but it was okay because (corny as it is) we were together. if you put that shalom in front of december 31st, 2017 shalom, she wouldn’t recognize me. i look different; i cut off all my hair, i sound different and have this weird english / south african accent going on, and i feel different.

apart from the awful respiratory infection i seem to have managed to contract thanks to the new england phenomenon of snow and frozen everything forever, 2018 is the first year i will be starting off as an unbroken person. for once, my brain is in check and my life is something i’d imagined – i am alright. 2016 shalom would not have recognized that, but she sure would be happy to see it.

i am wide-eyed and taking in everything for the first time in a long time. i wrote about this previously, but my eyes are open wide enough and it’s such a change from the usual brain fog i’d become accustomed to. i can’t begin to say how grateful i am for the help i’ve gotten while i’ve been here. i’d like to think my existence is a testament to it.

in any case, this year i: completed the monthly me series for 2017, started the currently series, wrote so much prose for music that i adore, moved countries, started making peace with my body, started to understand what i want to do, went to the beach in winter, saw more live music than i have in all nineteen years of my life, became the manager of a band, got over my ex, threw up more than i have in a while, saw snow, got hit in the face with said snow, taken a road trip and then some.

excuse me for a while. see you in twenty eighteen.

love and light,
shalom xo

of resolutions and old new years

Hi, gang. I’m working on a better salutation that doesn’t only have it’s desired effect when I say it out loud because this is a blog. And you’re reading, rather than hearing. Anyway, I’m working on that.

New year’s resolutions (see how I placed that apostrophe correctly? Huh? Huuuuh?) are weird for me. Not because I don’t make them, though, because I make the hell out of them. I usually do pretty well when it comes to accomplishing them too. For example, my 2016 resolutions – or, as I wrote down in my purple planner, “for 2016” – included the following:

  • more acceptance
  • big moves
  • dedication
  • take care
  • more water
  • save $$$
  • keep learning

…and more of the sort. While super vague, they all made sense to me because I wanted them to be a little cryptic so that I wouldn’t expose myself if someone found my planner and called me out on not being dedicated enough. The dedication could have been dedication to eating more pizza rolls…if I’d ever had a pizza roll. But you’re catching what I’m throwing, yes? My resolutions have been big on a small scale that only I understand. I usually make them on the first day of the year and have a page in my planner and it’s all really lovely. Can you sense what’s about to happen? How I’m about to tell you how that’s not happening right now? Good.

This year, for starters, I don’t have a planner yet. It’s almost the middle of January, and I am yet to create a January spread. The new year is old! It has lost the sparkle that makes people believe in hope and change and all the good January first things. I have three events in the next week and I’m freaking out about each of them on a really high level because I haven’t written them in the 2017 book because Shalom’s “get a planner before the year ends” ass was too busy getting and fighting off malaria in the Ivory Coast.

(It’s dawning on me presently that I would have much better made this a video. I feel like the way I’m hearing this in my head is a lot better than the way you’re hearing it in yours. Do you hear what you’re reading in your head? For real, that’s a question I’d like to know the answer to.)

I’ve decided to share my resolutions with you. I feel a little strange about typing them because they don’t yet exist in another format. So, here we go:

for 2017:

  • Acquire (because I didn’t feel like saying “get via self purchase or gift from parental party) a phone (an iPhone, maybe?) that will not be stolen four months after purchase (or at all). (2016 had a bad track record for phones and me.)
  • Stop (or do my very best) cancelling plans (or not following through with them) to sleep or eat or cry or *insert Shalom activity*. I am the worst. I will straight up ask you what time you’d like me to be there when I know I’ll be in bed. Anxiety and depression suck, but I’d like to stop saying  “yeah I’ll come” then not, in favour of saying that I’m having a hard day and I won’t be coming. Start doing that, future Shalom.
  • More girls loving girls! More seeing girls as people and not objects & influencing the worldview of girls! More girls that don’t interpret other girls as competition! Girl love! (!!)
  • Move back to the US. Is my timing off on this one? Yeah. Yeah, I know. I’m scared too. I am, however, moving continents, and that’s exciting all on it’s own.
  • Work a full-time job (it’s that simple. I need a job. I’ve gotta get one.) and save meaningful money from it (for next travel adventure or for life. We’ll see.).
  • Get into college. No, I’m not in high school. Yes, I have done a year of university already. Yes, I’m still playing the game of hanging in the great continental education system divide. (Note: Apply ED or EA if you can. It makes the waiting less painful.)
  • Take better care of my body and be healthier (without letting intrusive eating disorder thoughts back in)This is a hard one because the balance is so, so delicate and I really don’t know if I can handle it? We’ll find out though. I’m an oversharer.
  • Make some friends. That’s it. It’s that simple (it’s not simple). I’m just trying to make some friends outchea pls help
  • Get my driver’s license. I really didn’t want to do this until I drove a quad bike on the beach on Christmas and I think that maybe I can do this.
  • Tell more people that I love them (because I think just not being kind to everyone I can is having a backfiring effect on me? Like, I have too much feeling and I am suffering.) and practise intentional kindness more often.
  • Don’t break my glasses! 
  • Create more, unashamedly. For real. Being afraid is a thing, and anxiety and consequences and dealing with them are all things that I need to just handle. I need to say what I need to say. I need to make stuff.
  • Be more perspective of my mom and her feelings. I’m not explaining this. I love you, mom.
  • Become fluent in (at the very least) one of the languages I’m half fluent in! I feel like I’m more willing to take on Portuguese than French. But either way, I’m doing it!
  • Learn to cook a good pasta sauce. I’ve learned to cook a lot more than I thought I would have, but I’m lacking in the pasta sauce department. It needs to be stocked.
  • Perhaps, just…give less damns? (I was going to use a better choice word but I realised I haven’t sworn this whole post and it is EXCITING.) If you add the handy cocktail of neurotransmitters I get at the pharmacy because my brain doesn’t make them, the effort I put in on a daily basis to do the life thing, and the being a pretty okay person, I think I’m working really hard. I think I’m doing okay. I think people who want to jump on my back for existing can enjoy the ride (especially the part where I fall over. Several times.).  I’m gonna be a better human if I can, and I’ve written things down so now I’ve got a plan.

Thanks for being part of my old new year so far. I appreciate you. Years years bears.

love and light,
shalom xo

love is out there | 2016

i spent the post shower hour (that weird space where you’re clean and naked and have more than enough time to think) watching the google zeitgeists from 2016 all the way back to 2010 & had a good cry. more than the average 5’8 girl, I am ready for 2016 to end. i am ready to be done. so, gang; a look back.

in 2016 we were made aware of how cruel time can be. we saw wars go ignored, we lost heroes, we witnessed bigotry on a 1945 scale, and tweeted for peace in berlin, baltimore, aleppo, lebanon, and so many more because we couldnt pray faster than our thumbs move.

2016 decimated my morale. 2016 completely broke my heart time and time again, and gave me no chance to put it back together before it crushed me again. 2016 & it’s robber friends ended up stealing 18 000 rands (!!!eighteen!!!) worth of stuff from me – not to mention my health: i came down with my 6th & worst case of malaria on christmas day and i’m trying to get my body to repair itself. i have beem exhausted from the fight against sexual violence & the fight for human rights every single day. i have sang and shouted and cried that black lives matter. i have put all i have to put on the line for equality. i have hit, and 2016 hit back. it’s been a trying year.

“And it has been
one hell
of a year.
I have worn
the seasons
under my sleeves,
on my thighs,
running down my cheeks.
This is what
surviving
looks like, my dear.”

– Michelle K., It Has Been One Hell of a Year.

despite this all, hope has prevailed in the strangest way. i wouldn’t say that 2016 was a fiery beacon of hope that restored all of us, but i think it ,forced us to hope simply because of how dark it became. 2016 was an incredible year for music, and an amazingly powerful year for the arts. (suicide squad was trash. don’t @ me.)

in 2016, i must have tumbled out of a plane, because i freefell all year (walk the moon, quesadilla). i went on some pretty cool dates. starbucks came to south africa! i went to university in a weird fluke of events and met incredible people who turned my world upside down every which way (thanks ashvini). i had a lot of arguments that tested my character & my faith, learned from the coolest philosophy lecturers to ever exist (shout out to shaun stanley & philosophy of religion [but no shout outs to st. anselm who confused the hell (heaven?) out of me]), hosted students who changed my life (bekah, cid & laura – thank you so much for everything), got into trouble for standing my ground on some ‘controversial’ issues (they’re not controversial so much as they are issues of human rights but anyway) and felt so proud of myself for not betraying my heart.

i introduced SO MANY people to Hamilton: An American Musical (maybe the best thing since november 2015), bought okayshalom.com, ran from police officers & rubber bullets, took being party mom to a new level by ubering people everywhere on my own account, realised when i’m being manipulated  (and as such, no longer uber people everywhere), i touched the atlantic ocean,  i told people i loved them, I got a new nickname (it’s panda, thanks phil), and i loved. this year, i loved so much.

i spent 2016 mostly crying over the astounding amount of hurt that there is in the world – over hate crimes and a lack of humanity, the cruelty of death and heartbreak and the terror of tomorrow.

reasonably speaking, 2017 won’t change much. the world will not stop freaking out because we changed the last digit of the year. bad people will not all stop being bad. those who crush hearts without remorse will continue to have stained hands. it’s a pity that a new year doesn’t provide a fix, but it is a joy that our being part of it does provide love.

over and above anything, commit to love. do not betray your heart. keep your word. believe in people.

believing in people has an unprecedented power. love is out there, somewhere, and joy comes in the morning. search for it. if you can’t find it, make it. celebrate every tiny victory. every one.

i hope the holidays have been peaceful for you. i hope that if you’re waiting for admissions decisions, like me, you’re a little bit calmer than i am. i hope you believe in people, in yourself, in hope, dreams, and love. keep your head up & your heart strong.

thanks for coming along with me this year. let’s grow.

love and light,
shalom xo