Sunday, 26 February 2012

A 30 Year Love Affair

It has suddenly occurred to me how long it has been since I blogged last.   My only excuse is a major - and very sudden - turn-around in my life-plan (more on that later in the week) as well as limited internet access.   Pathetic reasons I know, and I apologise profusely!

Now that that’s out of the way, there is a very special occasion that I absolutely have to mention.   On 20 February 2012, my wonderful parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.   It amazes me to think that my Mom had only just turned 21 (that’s two years younger than I am now), when she exchanged vows with my Dad.   I know that it was another age, and that living in Zimbabwe meant that circumstances were very different to how they are now, but I still admire her for having the courage to marry a man and leave her home at such a young age.   Although they had no money, and no idea what the hell they were doing, they emigrated to South Africa and are still here and happily married 30 years later.

When I think about my parents’ marriage, I often wonder why it is that people of my generation have such a problem with commitment.   Is it because we have been conditioned to look out for the best of everything, and are afraid that the person who we choose will not be good enough?   Or perhaps we are too selfish and the thought of having to make compromises for another person is really not that appealing.   I know that for me, the mere idea of having to make such a life-altering decision makes me weak at the knees.   I have trouble deciding on what outfit to wear, let alone whether or not I want to spend the rest of my life with another person!  

Having said that, I – being the hopeless romantic that I am - am eternally hopeful that all this will change once I have met Mr Right.   And who could blame me?   When you are brought up by two people who are completely and utterly committed and devoted to each other, it’s difficult not to think that this is how love and marriage should be.   So when people ask me why I am such a love-sick sap, I simply smile and ask them if they have met my parents.  

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Love Actually Is All Around

Today is Valentine’s Day!   A day of love, a day of romance, and the one day out of the year when shops can charge three times as much for a bunch of roses and people will actually buy them.   This is the day that has teenage girls giggling with excitement and grown men weeping with frustration.   Single or married, man or woman, young or old, this day affects us all... whether we like it or not.  

When I was in High school, we used to send Valentine’s Day cards to our friends in different classes.   Instead of going the conventional route and buying the generic hearts made by the Grade 9s, I would spend hours making personalized cards for a great number of people.   On Valentine’s Day itself, I remember sitting in base-class, waiting with anticipation to see how many cards I got and from whom.   I, being the hopeless romantic that I am, always had the faintest hope that that big bunch of roses sitting at the front of the class was for me.   After a while I learned that big romantic gestures only happened in movies and that any secret admirer that existed was more likely to be a creepy pervert than my prince charming.

Thinking back, I was always disappointed about the cards that I didn’t receive, instead of appreciative of the ones that I did.   I didn’t realise back then that although I didn’t have that special someone, I was still surrounded by people who loved me.   And that is what I think Valentine’s Day should really be about.   Instead of getting sucked into the hype and believing that today should solely revolve around your one true love, why not celebrate those people who are important to you, regardless of who they may be.   For me, nothing sums up this thought quite as well as the opening dialogue of one of my favourite movies of all time, "Love Actually":  

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport.   General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.   Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.   When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love.   If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around.  

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A Weighty Issue

Today I saw something that made me very angry.   I was flipping through a brochure advertising merchandise for dreaded Valentine’s Day, when I came across a page promoting lingerie.   Standing in some flimsy black garment that looked as though it was held together by dental floss, was one of the thinnest models I have ever seen.   She looked as though she had just spent a few months in some war-torn country where there was limited food and water.   If she were standing in front of me right now, I would have to physically restrain myself from shoving a pie down her throat, whilst yelling “Eat something!”.      

Perhaps the reason why this advertisement bothered me so much is because I myself have spent my entire life battling with my self-image.   I have always found it incredibly difficult to accept myself and my flaws, especially when I am surrounded by this idealised representation of beauty that is present in much of today’s media.   Our society claims to be embracing the “curvier” woman, with beauties such as Queen Latifah and Adele being praised for their fuller figures, and yet certain fashion houses still insist on using malnourished-looking models to sell their garments.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully support the notion that a person should try and look as good as they possibly can.   Exercise, a healthy diet, and great products can go a long way to help boost a person’s self esteem.   But I am also realistic.   Unlike the afore-mentioned Glamazon, I am never going to have legs that reach my armpits; any excess weight will always go to my thighs; and, short of plastic surgery, my boobs will always be just a bit unimpressive.   These are facts that I have to accept and having a picture of some lace-covered stick-insect thrust under my nose is not going to change that.    All that I can do is get angry, recognise that our society needs to change, and feel sorry for the poor starving girl as I pop a chocolate into my mouth and turn the page.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Pet Hates

Pet hates.   Everybody has them.   Those trivial things that have the ability to immediately put you in a bad mood.   Maybe it’s the way that creepy Uncle Jeffrey licks his lips before giving you a kiss?   Or perhaps you hate it when strangers in the bank queue randomly start talking to you in an attempt to pass the time?   Often it is something so small that other people don’t even notice, but regardless of what it is, a pet-hate is a guaranteed way of rubbing a person up the wrong way.

Personally, I have a number of pet-hates.   I can’t stand it when people use apostrophes in the wrong places, I get irked when my name is mispronounced, and don’t even get me started on women who insist on wearing hair scrunchies!   But there is one thing that annoys me above all others: baby-on-board signs.   What is their purpose exactly?   Why should we drive more carefully because a baby is in the car?   Does the owner of said sign believe that their child’s life is more important than anyone else’s?   And why is it that 9 times out of 10, a person who is driving like a moron has a baby-on-board sign stuck on their back windscreen?   Needless to say, every time I see a car pronouncing that “Little Tyler Is On Board!”, I immediately feel irritable and subject whatever poor, unsuspecting passengers are in my car at the time, to a rant pretty similar to the contents of this paragraph.

I realise that this hatred of mine probably seems irrational to you, but that in itself is the true nature of a pet-hate.   Everybody who knows me well is very familiar with how I feel about these signs – thus making me a prime target for a practical joke.   My sister, who lives in Johannesburg, flew down for the weekend to surprise my mom (and to torment me).   She, being well aware of my little pet-hate, decided it would be funny to stick a “Baby In Car!” sign on my back windscreen without telling me.   So oblivious Karen gets into her car, looks into the rear-view mirror as she prepares to reverse, sees said sign and yells “What the hell is THAT!?!!!”, bolts from car, grabs the offending sign, and shoves it into her cubby-hole...where it has been ever since!               

So although baby-on-board signs are still my number one pet-hate, at least now I can have a quiet chuckle to myself whenever I see one.   And I have a great story to tell whenever someone opens my cubby-hole and asks me why I have a “Baby In Car!” sign inside.