Now Oscar’s just somebody that we used to know

17 Feb

Reeva

Reeva

I found myself crying about Reeva Steenkamp this morning. It happened when I saw a picture of her cat. “Reeva had a cat,” I thought, “She had something in common with me. And now she’s dead.”

It is none of my business to know what Reeva’s cat looks like. It is none of my business to know that her close friends called her “Alfi.” It is none of my business to know that she loved horses and was excited about Valentine’s Day.

Yet I know. We all know.

Bizarrely, Reeva’s death feels like the death of someone every South African knew and adored. Perhaps because we all felt like we knew her murderer, we had to get to know her, too.

(In case someone reading this has not seen, well, any newspaper in the world this week: Reeva Steenkamp was found dead in her boyfriend’s home on Valentine’s Day. She was shot 4 times. Her boyfriend happened to be South Africa’s golden boy – the internationally renowned athlete, Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius was the world’s first disabled runner to compete in both the Paralympics and Olympics last year. He was widely regarded as an inspiration and hero – after having his lower legs amputated as an infant, he overcame tremendous odds to become the world famous “Blade Runner”. The State is charging him with premeditated murder under schedule 6 of the Criminal Procedures Act. Crimes like this usually carry a life sentence, and it will be difficult even for bail to be granted as Pistorius awaits trial. Reeva was only 29.)

We all knew Oscar. Or at least, we thought we did. He was, I think it’s safe to say, a national hero. The boy who overcame so much, and whose handsome face has been everywhere since the Olympics. We felt like we knew him because we saw him every day. Perfect, inspirational Oscar smiling at us from another billboard. Playful Oscar jokingly advertising “Oscar month” in the run-up to the Academy Awards. Oscar and his little sister on the cover of Sarie. Oscar on the cover of GQ. It goes on and on.

The Oscar we used to know

The Oscar we used to know

The Oscar we knew is no murderer – it simply could not be.

When the news of Reeva’s death broke, I doubt that single South African did not believe that the story was a tragic accident. That she sneaked in to surprise him for Valentine’s Day, and was mistaken for an intruder before being killed. It’s plausible here – many of us sleep with firearms next to our beds because the possibility of violent criminals entering the home is very real. Without exception, I think we felt sorry for him.

Sadly, the developing story makes fools of us all. The Oscar we all thought we knew and were so very proud of is being exposed – bit by bit – as an egotistic narcissist with a history of aggression. The Oscar we all thought we knew now seems like an illusion. A personality created in order to cash in on athletic fame.

Oscar leaving the court. Bail proceedings have been postponed to Tuesday.

Oscar leaving the court. Bail proceedings have been postponed to Tuesday.

Sure – the papers are trying to fuel the controversy. This story has gripped the nation to a point of obsession, and that sells even better than sex. Be that as it may, I don’t get the sense that the media is grasping at straws to make Oscar look like the bad guy. On the contrary – the media started out on his side. It was practically assumed that he was without blame. Shamefully, we felt that he was even more of a victim than Reeva was. As one observer on Twitter noted – we were more concerned for poor Oscar and his career than we were about Reeva’s death and family.

By now, you all know the details that have emerged. All seem to point to cold blooded murder. Seems we didn’t know Oscar at all.

***

Reeva was never that well known. Now she’ll never have the chance.

Distastefully, the producers of a silly “treasure seeking” reality show she was part of has decided to air the drivel “especially for us to get to know the real Reeva”. That we’ll learn much watching her do obstacle courses and drink Tropica is doubtful.

All we really have are the memories of her friends and family, and the words and photographs of Reeva herself.

Today, the Sunday Times dedicated half a page to Reeva’s last Instagram pictures:

Reeva and Oscar on the beach. Reeva posing playfully in an animal suit. Reeva blowing out a birthday candle.

Reeva’s sleeping cat.

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Why it’s okay to snub the Oscar buzz and go romcom

12 Feb

With Oscar season well underway, I should be positively ashamed of my choice of film this past weekend. Did I go for Les Mis? No. Lincoln? No. Beasts of the Southern Wild? Hell, no. I ignored every single “worth-it” film, and bought tickets for Klein Karoo instead.

Screw that - I'm watching the romcom

Screw that – I’m watching the romcom

And you know what? I’m glad.

(To my foreign readers: The exotic sounding Klein Karoo is not the sort of artsy African film trying too hard to be too edgy. It’s not the sort of thing that will be mentioned in the same sentence as the word Cannes. It does not deal with the usual slit-my-wrist themes of poverty, oppression and hope symbolised by the rising African sun. It does not feature quotes by Nelson Mandela, though it does feature many smiling little black children. It’s a fun, formulaic Romantic comedy about two people who start out mildly annoyed with one another and end up falling in love. Films from Africa can be innocent and fun, too.)

I felt like going to the movies, but I did not feel like chomping down on an extra large popcorn combo while watching Anne Hathaway starve. I needed a feel-good chick flick, and Klein Karoo promised exactly that.

Not a face to enjoy your popcorn to...

Not a face to enjoy your popcorn to…

Plus, I loooove 7de Laan (foregin readers’ note: The greatest soapie of all time), and just had to see good old Annelie and San-Marie in action on the big screen. That girl who used to do work in the pet shop with the nerdy outfits and thick glasses is also in the movie – she looks equally freaky this time, but in a good way.

The plot is pretty predictable, but the movie is as good as any American romcom – if you like your fluff, you’ll like this.

The difference between Klein Karoo and your typical Yank romcom is the fact that the plot succeeds without having a character even show as much as cleavage. That’s right – a romcom that actually acknowledges that Love and Romance is not about sex and “looking hot”. Take ANY American romcom, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some first date sex and hear some tasteless sex jokes. If you’re watching a “more conservative” film, you’ll no doubt hear reference to that bizarre American belief that sex is due on date number three.

(Huh? Where does that belief come from? Is it really applied, or is it a Hollywood land thing? I’d appreciate if someone could answer…)

Scene from your typical American romcom. Shameful, I tell ya!

Scene from your typical American romcom. Shameful, I tell ya! 😛

Klein Karoo does not contain a single sex scene. The kisses are not of the bedroom-eyed, suggestive type. The outfits are stylish, but proper. As my gran would have said – dis nou ‘n mooi, skoon storie. (Translation: Now that’s a nice, clean story.)

I found it a refreshing movie – the sort of thing you can watch with your mother and not get uncomfortable.

Though the characters are without exception one dimensional, the film nonetheless succeeds in making the audience care about them. Plus, there’s plenty of (fully clothed) eye candy. The number one romcom rule is, after all, that the fall-in-lovers must be sexy.

Some eye candy for the ladies

Some eye candy for the ladies

It’s impossible to write even a sentence about the plot without giving it away, but no-one watches a movie like this to be intrigued. You watch it to smile. So, in a nutshell:

Boy gets dumped. Girl is engaged to an asshole. Boy meets girl. Girl dumps asshole. You know the rest…

Highly recommended viewing for women looking for something lighthearted. Remember to take your guy with – no better payback than a chick flick to get him back for dragging you to the latest, tasteless Leon Schuster fart comedy…

Now showing at a cinema near you :)

Now showing at a cinema near you 🙂

One day in the life of a Sandton housewife type

7 Feb

In a society of consumerist capitalists who define themselves by what they “do”, I did the unthinkable today – no work. In a way then, I guess I did nothing.

It was great.

As a small business owner, my days usually start with my Blackberry. I awaken from a fitful sleep, and start sorting through whatever nonsense landed in my inbox between 17:00 and 07:00. After a shower, I’m off to a day filled with contracts, emails, phone calls, interviews, issues and too much coffee. I usually don’t have breakfast, never take lunch breaks – why does anyone – you’re perfectly capable of having a sandwich in one hand and type with the other? – and rarely know what is happening in the news.

So, despite the big plans and the everyday obligations, I got to a point this morning that I needed to recharge. After the usual early morning Blackberry session, I just had my final in a long line of “fed up” moments, and decided to have a “Me-day”.

My life right now :(

My life right now 😦

This morning, I got to experience what life must be like as a Sandton housewife – I had a lengthy appointment at the hair salon, popped through to have some waxing done, and then read an up-my-own-ass eco-living magazine as I had my nails done.

It was great.

And man, was it needed! I didn’t realise just how run down I looked until my mother sat me down and sombrely told me that I had better stop wearing ponytails every day. She also said that I should get a bloody manicure, and that I shouldn’t be surprised if Andrew went to work and saw a younger, groomier girl whose roots don’t show and who walks comfortably in stilettos…

Apparently, I had allowed myself to look so shit that I was basically inviting my guy to cheat.

(In complete contrast to my mother’s theory, Andrew told me I looked beautiful despite my Carrie Bradshaw roots and unruly eyebrows. He’s amazing, and I am the luckiest woman alive. If I had to date me, I’d have left a long time ago.)

Awww - thanks, Andrew!

Awww – thanks, Andrew!

But anyway – being obsessed with work during the day and dog tired over weekends and evenings had a baaaad effect. I had left my hair to just grow out its natural, dull, mousey colour, and simply tied it in a bun (or the style my mother so despises, the humble ponytail) for way too long. My nails really did need a manicure. And working alone and from home on days where I don’t see clients and team members, I had developed a tendency to dress way too casually.

I needed my Sandton housewife day BADLY.

Though it was refreshing, and actually did succeed in clearing my head of all the trouble I’ve had of late, it reminded me of just how unfair it is to be female in this consumerist culture we live in.

Andrew went for a haircut the other day, and it was less than R200. I go, and it’s over a Grand. Andrew’s nails are considered ‘well groomed’ if he bites them regularly. Mine, if I get artificial who-knows-what bonded to them, and return for maintenance at least twice a month.

Then there’s the issue of wardrobe – men can wear T’s and jeans every day; women can’t. Men can have two pairs of shoes; women can’t. Men don’t need handbags, earrings, bangles, shawls, scarves, hair ribbons or rings; women do.

Shoe normality: Female mind

Shoe normality: Female mind

Shoe normality: Male mind

Shoe normality: Male mind

They also get by with a two-in-one shampoo and a bar of soap, while we need that amount of product times 22 for each and every body part.

Sucks, I tell you.

Still – despite the price of my day – so worth it :D.

If the mob had me on speed dial, I’d also say I made it all up…

6 Feb

Last Saturday night was one of those that party people like my ex-self would find categorically ‘sad’. I stayed in and read. In fact, except for sulking my way through some shopping, I stayed in and read pretty much the whole day. Book lovers would know the feeling – you find a novel that is both so long and so good that you have no choice but to put life on hold.

In this case, it was Gregory David Roberts’s Shantaram, recommended to me by my friend and fellow bibliophile, Jana. At almost a 1000 pages, I think it’s the longest novel I’ve ever finished (unless Harry Potter was longer? I’ve never been able to get into Tolkien, so embarrassingly Lord of the Rings doesn’t feature on my list).

Anyway – the book is bloody brilliant and I would recommend it to anyone who:

• Is obsessed with reading books about India (that’s me);

Likes their love stories to be complicated, messy and not have one dimensional happily-ever-afters;

• Likes their adventure stories to be layered and rich and just plain hardcore;

• Has a morbid fascination with the mob (if this is ever made into a movie, they better pick someone hot for the mobster called Abdullah); and

If you like your messed-up bad boys, you've just found your favourite character

If you like your messed-up bad boys, you’ve just found your favourite character

• Lives a humdrum desklife and uses such cheats as books and movies for some
vicarious excitement (that’s me again).

Also – to anyone who would like to know what life is like as a gun smuggler / heroin addict / slum dweller / mobster / prisoner / too many characters to fathom for one lifetime. Because the writer’s life is friggin CRAZY.

For those of you who don’t know – the book is Roberts’s semi-autobiographical account of a decade of living in India after escaping from an Australian prison. I’m not going to write a review – there are literally hundreds on goodreads.com – but suffice it to say that I cannot think of another book that combines such a rich plot with writing that brims with such descriptive poignancy and wisdoms.

The setting of our tale

The setting of our tale

What I wish to write about is my disappointment at realising that the book is semi-autobiographical (and then to leave you with some quotes that made me think).

You see, I spent the whole way through under the impression that the novel was pretty much the truth. Sure, us writers all like to edit and embellish our tales as we go along, but for the most part the truth stays intact.

Not so here. I suppose it shouldn’t matter – the book is amazing regardless of whether it is true – but it lost some of the magic it held for me after I found out that the characters were made up.

According to the writer, the events are based in truth, but the characters – so well written and so damn real – are not. Despite the events being pretty darn exciting, the heart of this book is its characters. Also – the events are so closely interlinked with the people involved that I am still finding it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that the two can be separated.

I’m especially disappointed that Karla is imaginary. Without giving anything away, she is Roberts’s love interest and the biggest reason I kept reading – like a typical girl, I wanted the guy to get out of jail / get off heroin / not get gangrenous frostbite in Afghanistan just so he could finally get back to friggin Karla. And now I find out Karla doesn’t even exist?? It sucks, I tell you.

Kind of what Karla is supposed to look like

Kind of what Karla is supposed to look like

(Karla is also the wisest and wittiest imaginary woman you’ll ever know – to realise that her words were actually made up by a male writer sucks ass.)

What Roberts claims her to be...

What Roberts claims her to be…

My personal theory is that Roberts is lying to us. I may just be in denial (or I may have become like those deluded old tannies who cannot separate fact and fiction, hobbling up to hapless soap actors to kick them in the shins when their character did something sucky on last night’s episode), but hear me out.

The characters MUST have been based in fact. There is simply too much woven into them not to be. If Roberts wanted to write fiction, why choose his own life as a template? More importantly, why link his own story squarely to the wills, worlds and intentions of other characters? A major theme in the book is that of fate and predetermination – of being connected to plans and people and purpose. Yet we are expected to believe that the events were real, but the people were not…

Our life stories are written by the people in our lives and how we interact with them – without the people described in the narrative, Roberts’s personal life events (the true part, he says), would never have come about.

Again – he may just be one helluva creator of characters, but I just don’t buy it.

I’m going to choose to believe that he never thought his text would take off and sell like it has, and was then forced to make a statement to protect the people he wrote about. They’re not exactly Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh – even Karla killed a guy, and the rest of them did worse.

All I’m saying is – if the mafia had my number on speed dail, I’d lie to protect them, too…

If this guy tells you to lie, you damn well do it

If this guy tells you to lie, you damn well do it

***
Now read these quotes slowly and let them sink in. There is SO much more – but I think this post is long enough already…

“There’s a truth deeper than experience. It’s beyond what we see, or even what we feel. It’s an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and the reality from the perception. We’re helpless, usually, in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it, like the cost of knowing love, is sometimes greater than any heart would willingly pay. It doesn’t always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart, just as Prabhakar told it to me, just as I’m telling it to you now.”

“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart. Amore or Pyar makes every man a poet, a princess of peasant girl if only for second eyes of man and woman meets.” (I love this!)

“If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you don’t get the joke.”

“The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men,’ he said, ‘It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds and there are bad deeds. Men are just men —it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good or evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone —the noblest of man alive or the most wicked— has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward God.”

“Luck is what happens to you when fate gets tired of waiting.”

“The truth is a bully we all pretend to like.”

“Some of the worst wrongs, were caused by people who tried to change things.”

***
Absolutely friggin brilliant book.

Screw that – I’ll take the steak

28 Jan

I am rather ashamed to admit that I have failed at being a vegetarian no less than 4 times. I also lasted a full 12 hours as a vegan.

The reasons for my rather pathetic attempts at meatless living (and one day of eggless, honeyless, milkless hell) are not original at all. I felt uncomfortable and vaguely guilty for eating something that used to be someone.

This annoyed my family in general, but especially my father, to no end. I grew up on a beef farm, you see, and thus this attempted lifestyle change was like a betrayal.

It began with the reading of some book that was no doubt written by a PETA-type, telling me that all farm animals live a life of torture and disgrace and are put to death in much the same way. Bizarrely, I believed the book rather than my own eyes – I could clearly see the herds of fat and happy cows grazing about in the greenery, and they looked just fine. Sure, I have never seen the inside of a slaughterhouse, but had my father’s irate insistence that things weren’t too bad there, either.

Still, I believed the book and stopped eating meat for a couple of weeks or so at a time.

Yay... (Groan)

Yay… (Groan)

The issue kept gnawing at me for years, and so I attended a Vegan Awareness / Animal Rights Day of sorts this weekend.

I half-expected it to spark off another three weeks or so of stubborn baked beans and spinach eating, but it did the opposite: It finally made me realise that my dad was right all along – these people are quacks, and there is no problem eating meat and eggs.

Don’t get me wrong – I am still fervently opposed to cruelty to animals and try to buy products not tested on them – but I refuse to ever again feel guilty for eating them.

Among the bizarre arguments against eating meat (or any other animal products) were the following:

1. The Bible says so!

The Bible states that Thou Shalt Not Kill and to treat others like you would like yourself to be treated. This is obviously true. What’s a load of hogwash, though, is the next point: That there is nothing at the bottom of the page saying unless the object of your killing or injustice has hooves, fur, feathers or scales.

Um… Then why does the Bible prescribe sacrificial offerings of animals, and give detailed lists of what the jews could and could not eat, meatwise?

Point is, using the Bible as a starting point for veganism is pretty much retarded.

2. We were all born vegan, and only eat meat/eggs/milk/cheese because we have been forced to get used to it.

Proof: Put a toddler in a cot with an apple and rabbit. See if the toddler eats the apple or kills and eats the rabbit. (???)

This picture proves that we are herbivores

This picture proves that we are herbivores

Further proof: True omnivores and carnivores like their meat raw and rough. Given the choice, would you eat some veggies or a whole dead squirrel, fur and bones and blood and claws included? Ha! See! You only eat cooked meat because you have been unnaturally forced to do so.

3. Nope – you’re not an omnivore

We have sheep-like teeth. Our canines are only present to eat hard fruits like apples and pears. We chew sideways. Our intestines are too long to digest rotting meat. Therefore, we are not omnivores or carnivores – we are herbivores.

Um – so why did my friend Caroline start eating meat after she studied human metabolism in medical school? And why does every other source in the WORLD declare us omnivores?

4. There is no such thing as humane slaughter.

Believing that is like believing in humane rape or humane torture. The holocaust is not over – it has simply been redirected. The victims are our animal brothers and sisters.

Imagine – they say – how it must feel to know that you are but a pawn in the evil human slave master’s wicked death plan. That every day is a living torture, and that all you get at the end of it is a painful death. That, they say, is what is like to be a farm animal.

A life of depravation and sheer torture

A life of depravation and sheer torture

To that, I call BULLSHIT. As mentioned, I grew up on one of these “concentration camps”, and the reality is that farmers – at least here in South Africa – take a lot of pride in taking care of their animals.

They do NOT live in in little pens in which they can’t turn around, festering in their own faeces and being beaten at random; they live in the veld. They know space. They know sunshine. They look great.

(I am talking sheep and cattle here – I did not have daily exposure to other animals, but I doubt that it is much different).

As for their deaths, I have not personally been present, but have a hard time believing that these farmers – and animal rights laws in general – would ever allow for the sort of thing that vegans insist happen.

According to the vegans, animals are pretty much butchered alive, hung upside down and hacked to death.

According to my dad and various other sources (thanks, Roy!): Animals are stunned unconscious, and then killed via a bolt to the head. I do not doubt that the slaughterhouse must be a terrifying place, but at least here in South Africa, it sounds like it is as painless and humane as possible.

5. Animal eaters don’t think about what they are truly eating.

Some examples:

a) An egg, being the unfertilised content of the hen’s “womb”, is in fact the hen’s period. Eww. Gross. (To me, it’s the thing that makes cake dough yummy and squishy)

b) Honey, being regurgitated from a bee’s stomach, is in fact vomit. (If dogs eat their own vomit, I guess I can enjoy an insect’s vomit on my crumpets)

c) Milk is full of pus. You see, cows often get disgusting infections in their udders, and the milking machine violently yanking at their titties doesn’t know the difference between pus and milk, so every time you drink a glass of milk, please know that about a 20th of it is actually pus.

If you're drinking milk, you may as well be sucking on this toe

If you’re drinking milk, you may as well be sucking on this toe

Again – BULLSHIT. We have dairy cows as well, and though these infections do occur from time to time (in my experience, about 1 in 70 cows will have it at any one time), the cow is treated for it and NOT milked along with the rest of the cows. Newsflash: The milking machine does not automatically select cows for milking – the PEOPLE who work with the herd every day do this. Also – though I have obviously never personally tested it, the machine looks slightly uncomfortable at worst. The cows look pretty darn chilled when they get milked.

6. You can still have bacon!

Seems EVERYTHING can be artificailly soy-made. EVERYTHING – bacon, burgers, chicken wings, turkey – any meat you can think of can be made of soy . Again – ????.

7. Veganism can solve World Hunger!

Yup – apparently, a full 65% of cultivated crops are used to feed the millions of slaughter animals the world over. We should stop “filtering our food” through animals, and just eat the damn grains. If we do, there will be enough left over for the starving people in Sudan.

Um – I may be wrong, but as far as I know, the plant parts used for animal feeds are not the same ones fit for human consumption. Do you want to eat the leaves of a mealie plant? I didn’t think so…

**

Other than the speech giving the above reasons, a woman spoke about her experience as a “sea shepard”, working as an “animal rights activist” at the infamous Japanese cove where dolphins are captured and trained to perform, as well as slaughtered for meat.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen footage of what happens there and the slaughter is cruel and horrific. I do not deny that.

What annoys me, though, is that these “sea shepards” actually think they make a difference. In a boring presentation showing us pictures of their hotel and various lookout points, the woman told us how they “put pressure on the Japanese government” by basically just WATCHING the slaughter every day. They don’t actually DO anything, except “create awareness”. Please – save yourself the airfare and tell people to watch The Cove on DVD.

(To be fair – some other sea shepards did try free a dolphin or two from the training pens, and then got arrested. I have a lot of respect for these guys – they DID something. But don’t think that simply being self-righteous makes any difference.)

If I go to Japan for two weeks, does it mean I make a difference or that I'm simply self-righteous?

If I go to Japan for two weeks, does it mean I make a difference or that I’m simply self-righteous?

***

Time to rip into a juicy beef burger, and get ripped apart by vegan commentators…

15 Jan

“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”

3 reasons you should watch Pocahontas again

12 Jan

paint

Image 

 One thing I love about our movie channels’ repeat-repeat schedule is that they’ve made room for some good, old-fashioned Disney.

The current pick is Pocahontas. Here are 3 reasons to catch it pretty much any time on channels 103 through 107.

1. Oh my soul – the songs!

Not to sound like an old woman, but they really don’t make kids’ films the way they used to. Nemo may be cute – and now he’s cute in 3D! – but don’t tell me he taught you any life lessons worth singing about.  Having a mildly retarded character repeatedly bob around telling you to just keep swimming cannot possibly compare to the songs in Pocahontas.

Instead of simply telling kids to blindly just keep on keeping on, the old school Disney is about so much more. They’re about bravery, integrity, love. To boot, the songs are well-written and always sung by a character you want to admire rather than own a soft toy of.

Assuming you haven’t watched Pocahontas recently – again, it’s on repeat all the time – a short recap of the most inspiring life-lesson lyrics:

You think the only people who are people, are people who look and think like you.

But we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends

Life lessons: Tolerance / anti-arrogance / acceptance / open mindedness / That tree in Avatar meets the Rainbow nation!

You can own the earth, but still

All you’ll own is earth until you can paint with all the colours of the wind

Something us rat-racers need to take careful note of… Accumulating Stuff can never replace the miracle of appreciating the vast richness that God has freely given us in Nature, and in our own souls.  Pity how our workaholic, status-hungry and show-offy culture makes it almost impossible to (make time to) see value in the small things.

2. Best pet characters ever

Percy the pug: Probably the gayest dog ever drawn to life, Percy wears shower caps in the bath and eats treats wrapped in perfect purple bows. If real life pugs weren’t so gross, I’d get one and make it gay like Percy.

Image

Meiko the racoon: I love fat animals. Especially when they stuff their cheeks with biscuits and wave at people.

Percy meets Meiko: Slapstick hilarity that the Aristocats and Lady and Tramp are just too dignified for. Gay Percy chases fat Meiko. Fat Meiko runs into a hollow log. Gay Percy follows. Log becomes forest monster with head of racoon and legs of dog. (I admit – my sense of humour can be childish).

 

3. Remember your kid self

Pocahontas has been my second favourite Disney princess since I can remember. I could never stand Snow White or Cinderella. The only one I prefered to Pocahontas is Beauty and the Beast’s Belle.

The princesses that Little Kid Me admired were the independent ones who sang about travel and adventure – and happened to find a man to love instead. 

Almost prophetic how that’s exactly where I’d find myself 2 decades on – happily coupled up instead of being the single-girl jet setter I thought I’d be.

Though life seems to have a tendency to turn out different yet somehow better, revisiting those stories that inspired and validated you as a child brings back parts of your  psyche that real-world worries and mundanity have quashed.

It reminds you to find a way to stop simply digging for gold when you (and your man – yay!) should be – excuse this lame ending – painting with the colours of the wind.