Happy New Year and all that…

Happy New Year and all that…

My account might be empty but my heart is bursting and I am thankful.

As a new decade unfolds I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in the cupboards and overall good health. My heart is full full full because I also have loving friends, supportive sisters, and my children are well and happy. I spoke to the little one yesterday and she told me in no uncertain terms to ‘go outside and find money’ because she really, really wants a tablet. Fam, feel free to contribute to that fund. I have PayPal 😁

Today I had a long chat with FirstBorn, child of my youth, and we agreed on things like schedules and curfews for the new year. Then we called his sister who is visiting her aunties, and my heart almost burst when she asked if she could speak to him, no prompting necessary. If nothing else, at least my children know and love each other, and long may that hold. Amen.

I’m tempted to go into how shitty 2019 was but I won’t because I’m looking forward, not back. Yeah sure, lessons learned and all that, but I’ve done a lot of reviewing over the last couple of weeks and I’m ready – I’ve been ready – to lay that decade to rest.

Here’s to actioning all the things FirstBorn and I put down, and more besides. Here’s to all that abundance and growth and joy. Here’s to #20Plenty to you and yours ❤️

So you don’t believe in new year resolutions. What do you want, a medal?

So you don’t believe in new year resolutions. What do you want, a medal?

What follows that dark night of the soul should you be lucky enough to hang on till morning?
Sure it’s a brand new day and all that jazz (and hip-hop and afro soul), but you’re a broken-down raggedy-ass version of yourself, you’re tired and worn out. How bright is that new day looking, really?

That dark night was no joke and some recovery and reconstituting of the self is necessary.
What does that look like? What does it require? What more can life ask of you after what you’ve just been through? What is there left to give when you been rung and squeezed dry, and you just want to be left alone, at least till you’ve caught your breath and you’re firmly back on your feet? And that’s the question, isn’t it? How to breathe again, stand again, get out of survival mode and thrive?

These are the questions I’m asking on the cusp of a fresh decade. I don’t care that the calendar is arbitrary. No, I didn’t ‘wait for the new year to make changes’ but that’s how the cookie is crumbling. I don’t care who’s rolling their eyes right now because fuck it, new year, new me.

Everybody doesn’t need a whole new beginning right goddamn now, everybody isn’t in the space for that. We’re not all at the same place in our journeys and that is ok.

However.

Stop crapping on those who are making a big deal about the new year, who do need a fresh start RIGHT NOW, right around the start of a new year. Clichéd, much? Yeah. And?

Ignoring us new year resoluters 👀 takes nothing away from you but mocking us is hurtful and damaging. And no, we’re not all strong enough to ignore you in return, especially those of you whom we love and respect, and those we look up to, to teach and to lead. Imagine trying to turn your whole life around and feeling alone with that gargantuan task because your friends and your therapist and your life coach mock new year’s resolutions (if your therapist and/or life coach mock you please replace them). Seriously though, imagine being the reason someone is lonely on that journey? Or, even worse, being the reason why they don’t make the commitments they need to, to make vital shifts? I know we’re not to blame for the choices others make, but there’s a reason we need to be compassionate with one another. That shit matters. If you can’t be there that’s one thing, but don’t be the darkness when we’re only trying to get to the light. I didn’t ask for a dark year. I didn’t ask for some kinda breakthough now, at the end of it. Don’t make a hard thing – getting back up – even harder, or something I need to hide, or something for which you shame me. Please.

So yeah. New year, new me. I said that. Yes, I’ve said it before and maybe it didn’t stick but so what? I’m still trying and as far as this goes, I’m going to continue trying. And if I fall, shut the fuck up if you’re not helping me get up. Thanks.

New year, new me. New decade, new me. I will say it for myself and for those who do want to make this season a time of change, healing and recovery, but hesitate to say so because of the cliché. If that’s not you, just roll your eyes internally, keep your jaded opinions on resolutions to yourself, and move on. Be kind in that regard. It really won’t kill you.

Having said that, it’s important for my reputation to point out that I’m not some special snowflake. I’m still going to laugh at myself with my friends who WILL roll their eyes – but that’s because my friends are savage and unfiltered and, importantly, they will chase the unfiltered savagery with a whole bunch of love and support. Do the same (the love part, not the savagery part) for your friends and others. Show them and maybe even tell them (insert eyeroll here) that even though you don’t go in for that new year = new start vibe, you respect and understand why they might need to. Be a good friend, hold space when needed. When in doubt, do the loving thing. It’s really not that hard if you think about it first.

Correct Me If I’m Wrong: On Veganism

Correct Me If I’m Wrong: On Veganism
*NB: I have vegan friends whom I love dearly and whose personal principles and ethics I respect. Otherwise we wouldn’t be friends. This is not about individuals, it’s about informed decision-making and staying off high horses.

So I know several vegans who keep cats and dogs. And I’ve always thought to myself… 🤔

Because generally, vegans love to rant about meat-eating, meanwhile… 🤔

And then there’s the fact that I know (because I asked) that vets know that cats will often die prematurely from sustained attempts to turn them vegan, and that vegans will pay for every consultation until then…

Here’s where I get confused: vegans wanna harass Bab’ uMkhize, a communal farmer, for taking his grass-fed free-range cattle to the abattoir, and then harass and judge me for buying the meat meanwhile they finna pay premium rand for imported plant-based GMO-free cat-food and still talk to me about carbon emissions? Make me understand, please.

Also…

Another question I have: local vegans and Beyond Burgers. Beyond Meat is a US-based company that produces plant-based GMO-free meat-substitutes. Beyond Meat products are available locally and the Beyond Burger is especially popular ever since it was first introduced in SA around 2017/2018. Beyond Meat is produced in the US and distributed in Africa by Infinite Foods. Where are your ethics, vegan, your principles, your concern about the environment and dedication to reducing your carbon footprint when you buy a Beyond Burger? I know I’d do a lot for the perfect, juicy burger, but aren’t vegans better than all of us? I mean, to hear some of them talk…

So how does it make any kind of sense for these warriors for the environment to import burgers? Not medication, not books to educate the rest of us troglodytes and philistines, not technology for sustainable food production practises, but burgers?

My conclusion is that just because someone is vegan doesn’t mean they adhere to any or all of the principles generally associated with veganism as a movement. Correct me if I’m wrong, but vegans are human too and as imperfect as the rest of us. Right? Although to hear some of them tell it…

If I was a vegan and spouting all the stuff vegans spout (thank Goddess none of my vegan friends ever spout), I wouldn’t keep a cat. I would never encourage the incarceration of a living creature just so I have a carnivorous warm&fuzzy to keep me company. Because that would be wrong. And weird. But unless your pet is a guard-dog I probably think you’re weird anyway so, yeah.

If I was a vegan and also an activist for the environment as most claim to be, I would boycott not just animal products but also all imported goods except the absolutely essential, because hello, principles that I don’t forget when it’s convenient (or delicious) to do so.

If I was a vegan I’d also make a whole lot more noise about why Woolies (which I would love because you know, it’s Woolies) sells packaged avocados. Avocados. In styrofoam and plastic. I’m not even vegan and I posted on the Woolies fb page about this. Someone told me to cut them some slack because they’re trying. Really??? How hard is it to not wrap avos?

How much do you really care if you’re buying Woolies avos? I love avos as much as the next person (unless that person is my son who says avo tastes like Vaseline), but I will never buy packaged avo.

Fam, if I was a vegan I’d put my money where my mouth is. I would buy local, support cottage industry, and eat only what my environment can sustainably produce, even if that means possibly dying without ever tasting a Beyond Burger. The Beyond Burger thing bugs me even more than the cat thing because if you had a cat and then went vegan what could you do? But importing vegan burgers? The same people who judge the rest of us for eating meat even when we try to buy responsibly??? How, Sway?

Vegans eat exotic foods (if it’s imported it’s exotic, even if it’s ‘only’ a Kenyan avo) and then they wanna get on their high horses and look down on the rest of us because we – supposedly unlike them – don’t care about the environment.

I don’t know where, when or how vegans lost their common sense. Might be a side-effect of all the amino-acid deficiencies (I kid, I kid), but if they really cared about the environment surely they’d agree it’s better to buy chops in Heidelberg than a burger flown in from the US?

And don’t even get me started on almond milk. Litre for litre and everything being equal, cow’s milk costs the environment more than almond milk. But factor in that almond farms use pesticides that are causing irreversible damage to the soil and impacting water supply, and that the milk is flown to you most likely from California – suddenly it’s not so straight-forward anymore. Correct me of I’m wrong but the vegan choice isn’t always better.

And vegan skin products? I will respect a vegan who gets her soap, shampoo, makeup or whatever from local suppliers who use locally available ingredients. Especially if those suppliers also use sustainable production methods. But if you make a trip to FreshEarth every month to get that Europe or US-produced lipbalm and face cream – I’m judging you. Hard. And you will never convince me about veganism while you’re making all of these hypocritical decisions about what to eat and put on your skin and etc etc. How’s that dissonance feel, hmm?

And as for buying bottled water? As for buying imported bottled water?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against vegans or veganism, I just get confused when talk doesn’t match walk. I’ve toyed with the idea myself a couple of times but out of respect for my ancestors it’s unlikely that I’ll give up meat completely and forever. Cut down consumption, yes. Buy/farm responsibly, yes. Eliminate totally? Not without divine intervention.

And then there’s an issue I’ve pondered often but am yet to address directly, even with vegans in my circles: I have NEVER seen or heard any vegan ever talk about the rights and welfare of farm workers. Not once. Not ever. So I wanna know: do vegans really not give a damn about people?

On Writing Joy

On Writing Joy

The first post I wrote for #boty2019 came from some deep place I have not accessed since. That’s because I wrote it ‘stream-of-consciousness-ly’ which is how I write when I write for myself and from my heart, when I’m not trying to stay on-topic or to adhere to some unspoken-yet-agreed-upon rules. It’s how I write when I write for the joy of unburdening my heart, which is both the easiest and the hardest way to write. Easiest because I’m my only critic and I’m on my side, and hardest because it leaves nothing unexamined and it is draining, in much the same way that good sex is about vulnerability and leaves you exhausted, to use a metaphor everyone understands. So the very first post was the equivalent of phenomenal sex with someone you love, and all the others were like meh sex with someone you once loved that you’re hoping still has that thing.

I’ve read some of the other blogs in the challenge and honestly, hayi kabi, but a lot of the posts read like the writer wanted to get the topic of the day over and done with, to tick the box marked done and keep it moving. Decidedly unexciting I must say, and I understood and sympathised because I felt the same way about my own #boty posts, all two or three of them. However, I did not start this blog for it to be unexciting, mediocre and mundane. I started it to write what I like. Which begs the question – why bother with the challenge at all? Because I was uninspired and because I have a lot to say about a lot of things and I thought the challenge of writing to a prompt every day would get me out of the funk I’d been in. I was very, very wrong.

2019 was such a crap year that looking for ‘best of’ things actually hurt because it was proof that I didn’t really live 2019. Oh I survived it barely, but I didn’t thrive at all and trying to remember my favourite things of the year brought that into too-sharp focus.

If I had a gun pointed at me to complete the challenge or else I probably could, but for the love of words, I did not start this blog or take up the #boty challenge for either to be joyless – and the exercise was decidedly joyless. Even expanding the timeline from one year to encompass the entire decade didn’t help. I mean, I could write reams and reams for each topic and write them well, but I don’t get off on doing things just because I can or should – unless there’s money involved of course, and this blog isn’t exactly a money-maker. I’m simply not the girl who thrives in those circumstances. I’m at my best when I do things because I want to or because I’m inspired or led to, which was the case with the very first post. And if I can’t do that on this blog, where can I???

It took me a week to come to grips with what was bugging me about the challenge, to figure out why I was so lethargic about it from jump. I also didn’t want to quit without introspecting about why. See, it’s not that I’m quitting, I’m just changing direction but if you think I’m quitting that’s OK too. Semantics? Perhaps.

So what am I saying?
In short: Eff 2019. Throw it away already.
I’m not going to torture myself with ‘best of the year/decade’ because this was a crap year all round and I refuse to mine the past for moments of joy when I can put that energy to good use creating joy today and tomorrow. I’d probably feel differently if I’d had a great year but I didn’t, so here we are. Adaptability, see?

I’d rather look to the future. I’d rather not spend 30 days or 25 days or however long the challenge was supposed to be, searching for things of note in an awful year. I’d rather spend this time fantasing about my beautiful, sexy, free future thus creating it, than tryna find things to love and praise about a dying year and the decade it’s closing.

Oh, and eff 2019. Did I say that already?

I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Reading, especially. Our home had many, many books, less as the years went by because my brother started lending them to his friends and not getting them back. My mother’s Pacesetter collection disappeared that way.

In addition to the books at home, I read books from the school library and from Bulawayo Public Library. My reading was never censored except when my brother was home first from boarding school and then from college but even then, all I had to do was stay out of his way. Right along with Enid Blyton and E. M. Brent-Dyer and Louisa M. Alcott I was reading Ian Fleming, Leslie Charteris, Harold Robbins, Sydney Sheldon, Shirley Conran (Lace! I was what, 12?!), Jilly Cooper and the Crawford sister whose first name I can’t remember. I read them all. Yes, I probably read things I was too young to be reading but hey, I turned out OK. Mostly.

By the end of primary school I knew Mills&Boon were all the same and that the Silhouette books had better sex scenes and that Barbara Cartland had a lot of swooning but nothing really exciting. The really exciting books were the historical romances, the ones featuring characters with names like Al-Sheik or Bruce the Black, and the lily-white maidens they kidnapped who promptly fell in love with their captors leading to all sorts of high jinks…

Of all the books I’ve read, in all the genres, in all the age groups, Fantasy remains my firm favourite genre. From The Faraway Tree to Carbonel&Calidor to Tales of The Norse Gods and everything in between, if it had a hint of magic in it I loved it. Not horror though. Never horror. Yes I’ve read a few Stephen Kings – Firestarter, The Stand – and more than a few Dean R. Koontz – the un-scary ones like One Door Away From Heaven and Twilight Eyes – but I neither read nor watch scary horror. I’m a wimp like that. I read for fun and escapism, not trauma.

It saddens me that my childhood had so little by way of African fiction. Almost none, in fact. And although we had isiNdebele novele at home I found them really hard going. Little known fact: I’m the girl that tried to drop isiNdebele in Form 3. I’d be ashamed of that if I didn’t understand that I was only a product of my time and my environment and anyway, I can read and write in my language now, maybe not as fluently as I should because Joburg Zulu has messed me up but okusalayo isiNguni yisiNguni, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I realise that I’m taking the scenic route to get to today’s #BOTY2019 topic which is Best Fiction. You know your girl doesn’t usually plan posts ahead of time so the above was my way of trying to bring to mind the books I’ve loved best this year/decade. Instead, I sank way deep into the books of my childhood which isn’t really helpful ‘cos I’m still drawing a blank regarding this year’s/this decade’s best fiction.

Sure Ngozi Adichie made a huge impact (Purple Hibiscus especially; I loathe Americana), as did Akwaeke Emezi and a couple of others who don’t spring to mind, but the books I’ve re-read over and over? That accolade is shared by Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb and Sarah J. Maas. I know, I know. I’m still a product of my time and my environment, let’s leave at that. Let’s just say those are the ones I remember today. A week from now I’ll probably name another author as the most impactful of my decade but for today, these will have to do.

The Discworld

The Discworld, a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’tuin

There are 41 novels in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, and I’ve read most of them several times. Can you say comfort food? They’re the books that never disappoint, never fail to make me laugh – I’ll be forever grateful to MJ (not of Neverland fame) who introduced me to them. These novels are not for everyone, not even for every fantasy reader. But if you like pure escapism and distinctly British humour and parodies of Tolkien and giving the finger to modernity, well, you can’t go wrong.

The Realm of The Elderlings

Robin Hobb’s Realm of The Elderlings spans 16 novels, all of them amazing. As one does with things one enjoys, I’ve re-read all the books multiple times, except for The Rainwilder Chronicles The Liveship Traders – I’ve only read those twice each. Like Pratchett, Robin Hobb’s series is my comfort food, my blankie, the world I return to when I feel like I’ve already read all the good books ever written. Which is often.

The Throne of Glass

I didn’t expect much when I started Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series but Celaena Sardothien, King’s Assasin, kinda grew on me. The last book is incredible, the world-building magnificent and the way Maas tells her story is truly, truly incredible. The real reason I’ve re-read any of these books is to have a reason to read the last one again…

Listen, I’ve read many books, many, many books. I’m mad I didn’t do what I said I would do which is update my Goodreads list…that sucks.

As we bring this decade to close, here’s to a new one of more words and especially more fantasy.

Special mention: (books that I actually read for the first time in 2019)

The Theory of Flight by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu

Beautiful writing from Zimbabwe’s own. Highly recommend.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

We forgive her for Committed. This is an incredible piece of work.

I’ve watched a lot of TV over the past decade, and I mean a lot. I’ve binge-watched more serieses (yes that’s the plural, doncha know?) than I remember because listen, sometimes I just don’t feel like reading but I do want to run away from the world, so TV shows it is.
In no particular order, these are the serieses that I think deserve more accolades and viewers. I’ll probably remember a truly epic series that I should have included as soon as I click publish, but I’ve been blogging long enough to know that sometimes them’s the breaks. So here goes.

survivors-remorse2
*Strictly adults only because language.

Black people on TV playing multi-dimensional characters is my favourite thing. Don’t sleep on Survivor’s Remorse. Be warned though, this show is not for the faint of ear. There’s a lot of swearing. Like, a lot. But there’s also amazing depictions of black manhood (hey, Reggie!) and Lord knows that’s rare enough.
If you can get past the swearing and the first episode you’ll discover a TV series that shows off black women’s diversity and stunts on anybody who thinks black femininity is a monolith. We are more than the self-sacrificing martyrs and angry caricatures of womanhood that often tell our stories (I’m looking at you, Tyler Perry). This show serves an unusual blend of blackness, all of it real, gritty and complex, none of it typical.

insecure
Speaking of black TV that is multi-dimensional, relatable and positive, of course I have to mention Issa Rae. I’ve been her fan since Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl was a webseries. Insecure is the TV series based on Misadventures…, and I’m here for it. The script is funny, real and irreverent – it’s great.
Luvvie Ajayi (whom I love) writes Insecure recaps so basically it’s like I’m hanging out with friends over the thing we love most: words. Both Luvvie and Issa Rae are authors and I’ve read both their books. I feel like I’ve been with them as they rose to their current success and yes, they inspire me. Note to self: Stay on that grind boo, pick your lane and werk! As for Yvonne Orji – man let me tell you, if don’t listen to Jesus&Jollof, you are missing out.

intelligence
One random night I picked this on Netflix and… I’d say more but I simply CANNOT do this series justice. What I can say though is that this is what Power wants to be when it grows up. Intelligence is simply brilliant TV. Don’t let the fact that I’m writing this twelve years after its launch deter you. The series won multiple awards and was unfortunately cancelled after two seasons amid rumours that it got too real for the Canadian administration of the time. THAT’S how good it is. Watch it, tell me what you think.

being mary jane
I first watched Being Mary Jane because a friend recommended it. I kept watching because I identified with Mary Jane like it was my job. I loved Mary Jane for keeping it real, for being open about her struggles with relationships and family and a career and all the rest of it. I’m nowhere near celeb status (duh) but I saw myself in her story. I admit I fell off and I’m yet to watch the final season but yeah, this series makes my list.

avatar
If you’ve never watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, what are you even doing with your life? No really, what? You better get on it right quick. I’ve watched this again and again since 2009, so much so that the sequel, The Legend of Korra, failed to hold my attention. NB: The movie never happened. There is no Last Airbender movie.

Special mention to:


Bones – so much for love for Temperance and Seelie Booth. I’ve watched every episode, every season, at least three or four times.
House – what’s not to love? How many times have I repeated it? Who’s counting?
Chicago Fire – Severide and Casey, my gawd! Then I got to a point where I could not stand Gabby so I stopped watching.
Suits – Jessica! Harvey! Then Katherine Heigl happened and Mike was off mourning Duchess Meghan and I stopped watching.
The Office – love this so, so much but only until the wedding. After that, meh.

Boston Legal & The West Wing – These two will be forever watchable. No, they’re not dated. These two are the equivalent of comfort food.
Based on this write-up, what would you recommend for me?

Best of the Worst Movies

Best of the Worst Movies

Lemme tell you about the best worst movies I watched this year. In other words, movies that win at being awful: I Am Not An Easy Man and The Lion King.

I Am Not An Easy Man

Released in 2018, watched by me in 2019, I Am Not An Easy Man is my best worst movie of 2019.
Someone recommended it for me on the grounds of my alleged feminism. ‘You’ll enjoy it,’ they said. ‘It’s your kind of thing.’ For the record, I identify as Africana womanist (or simply womanist) but I often don’t care enough to make the distinction between feminism and womanism because I think, based on how they live their lives, most so-called black feminists are womanists in denial – but that’s another story. Back to the movie.

The premise was compelling. Of course I wanted to watch a movie about a man who wakes up in a world where women are in charge. Not only do I love “switch” movies but this promised to be epic. I mean, think about it. A world where patriarchy isn’t the all-mighty?! A matriarchal utopia?
Press play already!

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. This is not a movie about a man who wakes up in a world run by women.
This is a movie about a man who wakes up in a world run by women who want to be men.
A world where women pee standing (wtf) and keep tampons on their desks. Because THAT’S what we would do if we didn’t have those pesky men oppressing us at every turn, right? *insert eyeroll*

As a woman who doesn’t aspire to manliness/manhood (I wouldn’t mind giving up periods though, like at all) I found this movie quite frightening. Is that what womanhood aspires to? Surely not. And I found it uninspired. Trite. Unfunny. Vapid, really.

Real women don’t want to be men (penis envy, where?!). We definitely don’t want to pee standing. We do want the freedom to live our lives and just be. There is much to us than dreams of doing everything men do except better, bleeding, and with boobies. Living as a fulfilled, self-actualised woman is exactly that: fulfilment and self-actualization. It is not women trying to be men.

There’s so much more to women’s empowerment than a desire to wear dark colours and watch a football game while hubby serves crumpets and muffins, which is what this movie seems to suggest. Yes, not having to hide tampons would be nice (ask any menstruating woman who’s ever worked in an open-plan office) but seriously, we are complex and our dreams and aspirations far, far loftier than mere manhood. At least, I hope so.
I imagine a woman whose ultimate wet dream is to be a man but with a vagina and boobies would find this movie hilarious, but for women who want to be women even while running the world?- Fail.

This movie’s only redeeming quality is that it might make us all question commonly-held mores about how the sexes relate, even though it really shouldn’t take a 2018 movie to underline what women have been saying for decades.

Maybe it gets better though. Maybe in the second half there’s some nuance about the feminine experience and how the feminine desires to move through the world. I doubt it. Since I’m not in the habit of martyring myself I’ll never know, because I didn’t even make it to the halfway mark. That’s how awful this movie was.

And yet, I still have things to say about it. Keep reading.

This movie is white men’s fears about a woman-run world realised onscreen. Unimaginative af and unrelated to any reality sane women actually want. Imagine then my *shock! horror!* upon discovering it was written and directed by a woman! 😱 I eventually concluded that (some) white women really do want to be men and that that’s why their feminism doesn’t work for women of colour. But, you know, that’s another story.

I can’t help but wonder if the director wasn’t just paid to put her name on it because I honestly don’t understand how a woman cosigned this crap. Then again… wypipo…😵

The Lion King, 2019 remake

Voice actors for this dumpster fire of a movie. I feel bad for them.

The second most awful movie of 2019 is The Lion King.
I wasn’t going to watch it because I knew Mufasa’s death would be a whole thing, but then a man suggested taking the kids…

I still wasn’t going to go but listen, I love the cinema and it was The Lion King after all, a movie that’s one of my family’s favourites, one we watched – in isiZulu – over and over until we knew most of the dialogue and the songs by heart.

When it came down to it I couldn’t say no so even though I’d planned to write, I ended up joining the man and the kids to watch it.

The 2019 remake of The Lion King is trash. That is all I have to say about it. It hurt my feelings with how awful it was. So much so that I really don’t want to talk about it.

I need a nap now. That’s what that abomination of a movie does to me.

Throw Lion King 2019 far, far away just like this