Keeping up Tradition

It’s halfway through February, which means it’s about time for my annual blog post!

I’ve become more and more prone to online shopping, especially when things are quiet at work and I have nothing to do. One of my favourite sites to trawl through (like many people) is Takealot’s Daily Deal section.

I scroll through the 4+ pages of “today only” specials, ignoring a lot of them, scoffing at others, and opening others in new tabs. And every. single. time. I will inevitably see some kind of weightloss/workout supplement. And every. single. time. I will open up that link. Supplement shakes. Fat burner pills. “Fruit” flavoured fat burners. Lipo Fat burners. Whey. Diet fuel. Diet. Lean. Creatine. Lava. Today’s – which inspired this blog post – was CLA capsules. Powders, pills and gels. All this….stufffffffffff.

And today my mouse hovered over that CLA capsule picture as the automatic response in my brain said “Ooh those are on special, I want to check that out…” but, I stopped. My automatic response halted and another thought just kind of sidled in there. Like the eccentric character in a movie who acts crazy and no one takes seriously BUT says something that makes the protagonist reconsider everything (and makes the audience nod along in agreement).
“You always do this.”

I turned to myself and said “What do you mean?”
Myself looked back at me. Rolled her eyes.
“Every time you come here you look at these supplements.”
“And so?”
Myself blinked at me.
“And so every time you look at these supplements – that you never actually buy just BTW – but why do you look at them?”
“Well…because I want to lose weight.”
“And do you think this stuff will help?”
I pout. Look down at the ground. Roll my eyes a bit.
“AHA!”

Of course, it didn’t go exactly like this, but it kinda did. I asked myself: why do I always look at these products? What difference does it make if they’re on special or not?

I have a whole shelf of a cupboard which is devoted to weight loss/supplement shakes. Four different kinds. And some fruit flavoured fat burner powder stuff you mix into water. It doesn’t taste completely horrendous if you over-dilute it. I HAVE supplements. I almost never use them. Whenever I remember they’re there and I think I should pack some in for work or whatever – I always have to check the expiry date because I can’t remember when I bought them.

So, the eccentric, stick-wielding wise woman of my self-examining conscious has taken charge. I am no longer going to open fat loss supplement adverts. I have ridden the train of diets, and shakes, and oils, and pills since I was a kid. I have been rewarded for losing weight and – ultimately – punished for gaining any. I have been asked if I was “allowed” to eat certain things – while eating them – by well-meaning people. I have had derogatory things said to me about eating while I was eating. And I have had the thousands of hours of effort dismissed in a single instance by people who see me putting something in my mouth while being oblivious to it being the first time I’ve eaten that day.

I have had to UNLEARN so many things that are wrong about nutrition and diet. I’m trying to put my new knowledge into practice, forming new habits and breaking the old ones while fighting against what other people believe about my body. Things they’ve never had to question because they’re “healthy” (read “skinny”).

I will no longer open a new tab to check out those supplements online. I don’t want them. They don’t work for me. One more habit to break.

Instead I will keep my focus on food, giving my attention and time to cooking more, buying ready-made food less but not feeling bad on those days when I simply don’t have the time or when the only thing I really want is a milkshake. And reminding myself to eat lunch so I don’t feel like I’m starving while I’m making dinner and snack and snack and snack, inevitably leading to me being full and unable to enjoy the dinner I spent my precious time cooking. Baby steps. Small corrections as my dietitian says.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my mid-morning snack.

Magic on a Tuesday with Pertunia Msani

Something’s happening in Pmb

and no one seems to know…

Every second Tuesday there is this little event called “Music on a Tuesday” that happens in The Dive at the Hexagon Theatre at UKZN. But here’s the kicker: It is a rare occurrence for the audience to outnumber the artists.

Growing up I watched a lot of movies and shows that featured or revolved around cool little dive bars, live music venues, clubs, all kind of on the edge of society, breaking norms, providing space for people to let loose and have some fun. I used to wish we had places like that in PMB.

Enter Pertunia.

She’s a tiny powerhouse of sound. She is something utterly unique while still managing to remind me of Ella Fitzgerald, Lisa Gerard (especially her work in Dead Can Dance), Zolani Mahola of Freshly Ground and Hannah Reid of London Grammar. If you’ve ever heard Pertunia before, you’ll be well aware of how she’s probably spent a past life drawing in sailors with her songs to smash their ships on the rocks.

Music on a Tuesday is Pertunia’s baby and she’s been pulling in local artists to perform at The Dive for the past year. When it was still a fledgling, she asked me if I would come and watch and write a little something about it. I attended, I enjoyed, but – maybe through my own apathy or perhaps the overwhelming circumstances around my own life at the time – I didn’t write. I’ve felt pretty much like a tool every time I think about it.

The Hex asked if I could work Front of House for Music on a Tuesday on the 6th of Feb, and I, always in need of work, said yes! I sat at the counter outside The Dive and listened to a show that was even better than the show I had enjoyed almost a year before. It was something else. What makes me incredibly sad is that the assembled artists had one paying audience member. One. One cover payment of R30. Well, they gave that woman a show to remember. I made a note that I – especially as a musician myself – should be coming to watch these shows and should be promoting this event as much as is in my power to do.

In 2018, Music on a Tuesday is stretching its wings as a bi-monthly event, taking place twice a month possibly in the hopes that having it more often might garner more attention from the surrounding students. So off I went on the 20th of February, armed with my phone and my cash for the bar. I arrived just in time, grabbing a drink just as the show began. The premise of Music on a Tuesday is an (approximately) hour long show featuring up and coming artists in whatever capacity they perform in, from singing and rap to poetry. Pertunia and her accompanist, Jeffrey, always open and close the show, and each artist is limited to performing three items (unless ferociously hounded to perform another).

I’d originally written a whole long schpiel about the entire event but, quite frankly, these video highlights make words entirely unnecessary.

After watching a show like this, (featuring the biggest audience they’d had to date and still maybe only a third of the venue was full), I ask myself – where is everyone? Where are all the people who talk about supporting local? Where are all the people who proclaim to love live music? WHERE IS EVERYONE?

This is one of those events, those things that should grow in popularity to where there are people standing along the walls because it’s so packed inside. The place should be a fire hazard. The performers should never be in danger of outnumbering the audience with music like this. For as long as I can remember, Pietermaritzburg has been filled with people complaining that there’s nothing to do (I, admittedly, being one of them from time to time).

Well here you go. At R30 entry it’s cheaper than a movie, it’s live, the bar is reasonably priced and it’ll leave you feeling like you’re part of a super cool underground club scene.

The next Music on a Tuesday is on the 6th of March, and if you’d like to keep tabs on the comings and goings you can follow it on Instagram and Facebook.

See you next Tuesday.

Hey! Ho! Let’s go! (Who’re you calling Ho?)

Legend has it that if you say “Gym” into the mirror three times by the light of a candle that a gym instructor will come out and force you to do squats while telling you that every time you do it incorrectly your gym fees go up.

Gym can be one of the most terrifyingly daunting things for a fat person wanting to get fit. But I have been brave. I joined my local gym (Velocity Sports Lab) about 2 months ago. The last gym I joined was Body Dynamics and they worked for me while I working in the same area because I could go before work. And then I didn’t work there anymore and my commitment became more conditional on if I could justify the money I had to spend on petrol.

“But Erin, just workout at home! You don’t need a fancy gym!” I hear some well meaning person calling out on the edge of hearing. Thank you for that sage advice that I have read on so many websites, but I DO need a gym. Not necessarily a fancy one (clearly you’ve never been to Body Dynamics*). Not because I don’t have the capacity to work out at home, not because I don’t have a million workout videos and routines printed out in a special folder with super cool stuff like:

 

For some awesome workout plans like this Buffy the Vampire Slayer one and for a buttload of your favourite kick ass characters visit:

http://darebee.com/

(You can also find some of these workout plan images by searching Neila Rey which became darebee)

(Seriously, you can get workouts for Dr Who, Supernatural, Hunger Games, The 300, Prince of Persia, Arrow, Portal, Batman, Harley Quinn and looooads more)

(They’re so cool)

 

 

Back to the actual point though. I DO need a gym, even if only for the motivational factor. When I’m there I have to hold myself accountable. The trainers have seen me come in. I need to work out for an hour so they don’t think I’m a joke. This is what I use to motivate myself because I will NOT work out at home. It’s about the mindset and when I’m at home it does not happen. Which brings me to where I am today.

There are few things I find more frustrating than starting going to gym. If you know what I mean you know what I mean. Gym is a terrifying place for people who aren’t fit or who are even a bit overweight, let alone a lot overweight like me. We go through a whole buffet of self-loathing and judgement before we even put on our damn tekkies. What I’m having a problem with at the moment is going back. Again. I hate hiatuses from gym when I feel like I’ve just got going. I think I had been going to the gym (not every day) for 3 weeks when I had a hectic work week and didn’t have the energy and couldn’t make the time to go. The week straight after that I was away on a family holiday. Immediately after getting back I got a kink in my neck and had to go to physio and couldn’t go. The week after that I got a kink in the other side. Thankfully that one sorted itself out. FINALLY! I got back to the gym.

I started off with a Saturday morning BalletRip class. BalletRip is a new development, using the basic elements of ballet for fitness. For more on this incredible class take a looksy at

http://balletrip.com/ or check out their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/balletrip/

The movements are simple but force you to engage things that you might not even know you had. And of course as my first trip back to the gym after almost a month it was hell. I felt like a million bucks afterwards. I had trouble sitting down on the loo because my quads were so tired. On Tuesday I pulled a muscle in the shower and I vehemently believe that it was because my other muscles were compensating for the tired ones.

I kept going to gym, opting just to walk on the treadmill because at least that was something I could do without further hurting that stupid muscle but still keep active. I went to BalletRip the following week as well, and DURING that session felt the same muscle in the other leg starting to ping. But I made it through just fine. I was sensible and didn’t do any of the movements that seemed to aggravate it. That weekend we had unseasonably cold weather. It was freezing and I had to play a gig for Mother’s Day in a pretty cold place.

The wall next to my desk – filled with recipes for healthy snacks to satisfy my bloodlust (none of which I’ve actually made), the gym operating hours and the class roster.

And then tragedy struck. On Monday I got a sore throat. I went straight to the doctor because I am very prone to colds and flu. Probably a combination of not enough vegetables and not enough exercise, ironically both of which are things I am trying to remedy. The Doc gave me a short course of antibiotics, a saline rinse and an effervescent and sent me on my way with a sick note for a couple of days. By the next morning I had a super blocked nose and by the next day I was coughing like someone who coughs a lot. I was off sick for a full week. I went to work the following Wednesday but was still sick and coughing. I had to postpone one gig and was super grateful when another was cancelled.

Everyone has their own methods of motivation. I, apparently, have focused on Unicorns and Super Heroes…

It is now just over two weeks later and I STILL have a sniffly nose. But now I have to go back to gym. Again. This is always the hardest part for me. I will go. I want to and I have to. But dear god the mental pushing I have to do to get myself back in that door for the first time (again) with my head held high is monumental. I have to remind myself that I owe no one anything. No one there needs an explanation from me. It’s no ones business why I haven’t been in the gym for the last two and a half weeks. All that ACTUALLY matters is that I go.

So here’s to all of us who hate going for the first time but do it anyway.

Fitness is hard. But it’s worth it. Right?

*Body Dynamics may not be fancy looking but it had everything you could possibly desire and it worked. A gym doesn’t need to look pretty to get the job done. I really enjoyed going there and would recommend it to anyone.

A Quick 9 Month Summary

It’s been a busy year. It’s been a busy year for everyone. And it would seem that it’s been a globally shitty year between natural disasters, #feesmustfall violence and Donald Trump. But for me it’s been a year, not necessarily good and not necessarily bad…yet. Overall I’d say things have gone rather well. I’ve been doing new things and going new places and I’ve decided to compile a list of the highlights so far:

  1. Went to the Grahamstown National Arts Festival for the first time

This was a big one for me. For my whole undergrad I (slightly enviously) watched all my peers head off to G-town, some of them performing and others just going – although I never understood how they could afford it. This year I not only took my own production but I went as the stage manager for another. I got to spend almost 2 weeks in this wonderful town. My friends and I became regular faces at the Rat and Parrot (as one is wont to do). I think I could have quite happily stayed for another week.

20160706_075345

Grahamstown is so pretty first thing in the morning

  1. Went to Cape Town for the first time

The Cape Town Crew

As the stage manager for Termite! Tall tales for Big People I was sent off to the Cape Town Fringe Festival

Termite! At the Belville South Library - Satellite performance for the Schools Festival

Termite! At the Belville South Library – Satellite performance for the Schools Festival

with the wonderfully talented T.Q. Zondi and Mpilo Nzimande and their other stage manager Brandon Bosch for just shy of two weeks. Cape Town was a magical place where stuff was kind of just everywhere. Although our schedule was rather hectic we still managed to get out a little bit and see a few places. BTW Cape Town, your city hall is spectacular.

While in Cape Town we stayed at the most wonderful Airbnb called Gypsy Cottage. Check it out here:
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14773295
It is everything it looks like in the pictures and more. Comfortable, cute and an absolute delight. Our hosts left a guide of places in and around the area for things like restaurants, laundromats, shops and markets. And (as is a necessity these days) wifi. The neighbours were friendly and although we didn’t really interact much with anyone we felt the sense of community around us which was very different from Pmb.

  1. Started seeing a dietitian to get my shit together

A far more personal and terrifying adventure this one. The first thing I did this year was start seeing a wonderful Dietitian. And after checking with her I will post her details in a post. 10 months in and I’ve been seeing her once a month, I feel like she knows more about me than some people I’ve known for 10 years. But that’s what she does, she delves in and tries to help you figure out what your relationship with food is.

This image is taken from google and I do not own it

The book my guru has lent to me

We always think (or have been taught to think) that diets are the way forward and that Monday will be the first day of the rest of our lives. Meanwhile it’s the small changes that we need to enforce every day at every meal.

One of the biggest challenges has been throwing the idea of “cheating” away. It’s not cheating, it’s making a choice and that choice is fine as long as you balance it out. My Dietician is wonderful and always encourages me to be smart and aware. It hasn’t been a steady weight loss journey but I have lost weight. On my last visit I had gained back  about 1 and a half kgs and she was very quick to remind me that I’d already lost 15 kgs. So this was okay and it was not a setback.

I hate diets. I have been on diets for as long as I can remember, probably from the age of about 9 or 10 and they have never worked. Because diets don’t work. Lifestyle changes and conscious eating bring change. Diets bring misery and disappointment. You can disagree if you like but so far I’ve had more results from working with my dietician than I’ve ever had on a diet. I’m going to stick with what works for me.

  1. Took up kickboxing

Kickboxing is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be a badass. So my bff and I started going about 2 months ago. It is possible that they’re trying to kill us. It’s hard, seriously hard, but I haven’t yet left a session feeling like I didn’t work. It’s also possible that the taking up of the kickboxing led to the weight gain I had at my last weigh-in – eating more as a result of these sessions (So now I have consulted with my guru on a way to curb the crazy post workout hunger) and also building muscle. We started going to Shuriken Dojo and although it can feel a bit intimidating at first because it is almost completely men, the more dedication you show the more likely you are to feel at ease. Before I went to Cape Town for 2 weeks we were going to 4 sessions a week, Monday to Thursday at 6:30 pm. I recommend it because there is nothing like being able to kick and punch someone with good technique.
Want more info? Check out their facebook page here:

  1. Auditioned – and got the part!

At end of last year I auditioned for The Sound of Music at The Playhouse Theatre in Durban and despite my terror I got a callback and later got the part! I auditioned for Sister Bertha, the grumpy nun (you know, the one who’s all like: Maria sucks as a nun, kick her out) because she’s the only Alto part. Any Alto’s in the house? I know y’all understand. So next week I’ll be moving to Durban (to a granny flat I have just been told is called Flash Villa and I’m loving it) for 2 months while the production gets underway. I’m super excited and terrified, it’s my first production outside the Hexagon and while I know that’s normal for most people and it’s a good thing, I am a creature of habit and comfort. So it’s all very new and terrifying but I’m excited and ready! The only shitty part is that now I can’t go to Kickboxing 4 times a week. So I’ll have to settle for once a week. (It’s a scheduling thing because we rehearse and perform in the evenings) (I promise I’m not just being lazy)

  1. Diagnosed with and receiving treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Sydrome (PCOS)

Anybody know about Pcos? This bad boy seems to be cropping up everywhere. This sneaky little fucker is a Catch 22, you are more likely to gain weight if you have it and you are more likely to have it if you’re “overweight”. It is (basically) your hormones go mental and you produce more male hormones, you may have cysts on your ovaries (I don’t) and it causes craziness with your periods and fertility. Left untreated it can lead to diabetes and/or heart disease. So, after a short discussion with someone I went and got tested with Dr Lee the GP who is wonderful and located in Hilton for anyone who might want to go to her. She is a GP who has a special interest in Women’s Wellness and eye health. I’ve never had a vaginal exam before and was somewhat anxious but she made me feel completely at ease with her professionalism and I will definitely be going back to her. As it was, the ultrasound showed no cysts but the blood work confirmed the diagnosis. Since then I have been getting treatment for it and I have also read that it may lead to weight loss. My most significant weight loss came after being on the treatment for about a month. So get yourself checked!

Just to wrap up I’ve decided to share this:

shot_1476252606426

This delightful little treat is called:

Brownie Batter Overnight Protein Oatmeal and I swear to god it’s going to change my life. I made it for the first time 2 nights ago and it is so delicious and I can’t believe it’s actually good for you.

You can find the recipe here:

https://dashingdish.com/recipe/brownie-batter-overnight-protein-oatmeal/

I swear to god, as someone who is always trying to (in a way) cheat the healthy eating system this is the most incredible thing I’ve ever discovered. So chocolatey. SOooooooOOoOo chocolatey.

Next stop: Durban Playhouse for rehearsals!

It’s been too long, I’ve been neglectful

It’s been a busy year, I had a full time job! On top of being a student! But my employment is almost at an end (even though my thesis isn’t) so I’ll be more attentive soon.

In the mean time, I do things on other sites that don’t require careful thought and spell check. Follow me on Twitter: @ErinFourieTPot or even on Pinterest: teapotmonster

(sticking with that general teapot monster theme you know?)

Just…I don’t know…watch this episode of I Love Lucy and enjoy what’s left of Easter Monday and chill ❤

 

Apparently this video no longer exists. Sorry about that 😦

New Year, New Gear

I don’t know why I called this post that.

It rhymed. So sue me.

Please don’t.

 

It is that time of year again!!! The New one! Who doesn’t like reflecting on all the shit they did and all the other stuff they didn’t get to!? I know I do! I love feeling inadequate at the start of a new venture, it helps me remember that the mediocrity of my actions leads to the mediocrity of my life! Now, before anyone starts losing their heads and thinking “Don’t be like that! The world is your oyster! All you have to do is believe!” and stuff like that, I want to say: I know.

That is why I say this. That. The thing I said. The New Radicals had it right when they said “You only get what you give”.

You get out what you put in. Life is like a savings account, just with a higher risk of death.

So essentially, this should really be what New Years Resolutions are about (in my opinion), charting your goals that will lead to you getting the maximum interest rate out of life. What are you investing in this year? Remember, just because you don’t get it straight away doesn’t mean it’s not worth working towards.canvas11c-w800h800z1-46224-forget-skinny-im-training-to-be-a-badass

 

Here are my chart toppers this year:

 

1: Work hard – whatever you’re doing, DO it

2: Train like a boss – I don’t like the word exercise.  It’s too long. I prefer the word train.

Bad ass3: Take no Shit – Maybe not a priority for everyone but I tend to let things slide (Unless pushed to breaking point) and I’m especially bad with confrontation. I’m a big fan of ignoring problems and hoping they’ll go away. So maybe pro-activity should fall under here too…

4: Be On Time – I’ve become notorious. It has to stop.

5: Dance More – Even if I have to get drunk to do it. I don’t know why I ever stop really…maybe_im_not_so_good_at_dancing_16_photos9

Take the risks, do the things.

So, New year, new beginnings, new chances, new motivation aaaaaaaand…. GO!

4b250af30635ae9a4504e03a2a74653e

The Time and Place – A Pondering

This is a super-short post to ease back into writing since it’s been….a very long time… We all have our faults. But this happened last week and it made me feel like writing this post so here we go!

There are two girls that I’ve been babysitting for about a year and they’re really cool kids but it’s been several months since I last sat for them. The younger of the two likes to chat with me and tell me what’s happening at school and in her life while the older one generally does her own thing while listening and sometimes joins in. So last night the girls and I were watching TV when the youngun asked me if I have brothers and sisters. And I said “Yes, I have three brothers and a sister”.

My brain did a double take.

While the conversation barreled on without me, my heart was palpitating just a little bit. I answered questions on autopilot while my head was in tailspin.

I have three brothers.

I had three brothers.

I still have three brothers, but one of them passed away in November.

I said nothing to the girls and just let it go. It wasn’t important for them to know and correcting myself would’ve probably put them in an awkward position. Well, maybe not, but even so it wasn’t necessary for me to say anything. It wasn’t the time or place.

My brother Tristan was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer last year in July. He passed away in November after fighting for four months. We didn’t have the smoothest relationship but we loved each other. I will never be able to express how grateful I was, am and will always be to the people, some of who were complete strangers, who donated money to get my sister and I tickets to England to see him.

1450869_245489022281476_1278309528_n

Erin, Kathryn, Kerry and Tristan

You gave both Kath and myself the opportunity to make sure that he knew how much we loved him.

The kids asking me about my family just sent my mind reeling. What do I say? It’s a tricky business, when is it appropriate to tell the whole story? And who to? I often feel anger towards some people who use their emotional back stories as some kind of macabre party-trick (and it does happen) because it’s unfair. It’s kind of like serving a plate of bacon to someone you know is vegetarian. Awkward and mean spirited. Since Tristan’s passing in November my family and I have been encountering all sorts of interesting situations. It’s an interesting conundrum that sends your logic out the window as your brain battles with your heart to try and figure out what is the most truthful answer to give that doesn’t mislead someone or cause them to inquire further (because most of the time it’s not something you want to go into right then and there). How much to people really want to know and is it the kind of situation where it is appropriate to tell them?

The short end to this story is that there was no need for me to tell the girls about Tristan’s passing, so I didn’t. I didn’t want them to feel bad and it didn’t feel fair to throw them into the middle of something that I was having trouble explaining to myself.

Super-cheese-alert

Me, Trist, Kath in bed

Tristan is my brother and he’s always here with us. I think about him everyday. Some days I cry a little. Some days I cry a lot. But most days now I think about how he’d think this or that was cool -or awful- and I think about what he’d say about certain things and I imagine the face he’d make if I told him something and I laugh. I feel sad that he didn’t get to finish watching The Hobbit trilogy and that he won’t get to read the next Terry Pratchett book and I wonder if he’d get mad if I gave away the lava-lamp he left with me when he went to the UK (and no I’m not getting rid of the lava-lamp because it’s f**king cool). He’s still on my Facebook, his number is in my phone and I just saw his picture on G-Chat as my mouse scrolled over his name and his face popped up.

It’s hard to think that he’s gone when he’s everywhere at once and it makes me wonder if I will always automatically answer that I have three brothers.

The friends we love (and the friends we love to hate)

When I was a child I believed in that most ideal and magical of friendships:

The B.F.F.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, B.F.F.’s are Best Friends Forever, a popular idea of friendship introduced to us as impressionable children and reinforced by the books we read and the films and T.V. programmes that we watched.

Sweet Valley High

The ones I remember best were books like the Sweet Valley Kids/High/UniversityArchie Comics; programmes like As Told by GingerBuffy the Vampire SlayerPopularMy So-Called Life; and countless films featuring groups of friends and best friends taking on the world like The Goonies and Now and Then.In Primary school it was my greatest hope to find that elusive dream, a B.F.F. of my very own. And I did have one, for quite a while. For about two years I had my bestie and we had sleepovers and were happy. And then we got a bit older and we made more friends and slowly we grew apart. We were still friends but she found a new B.F.F. and I had found a new group. It’s weird, when I look back at it now how everything seems very…predatory. With my new group of friends there was an obvious favourite among them and although she already had her own bestie, I kind of set my sights on her to be mine.

See? This all reads incredibly creepily. The more I think about it, the more that Primary school was like a battlefield. We always see shows about the woes of being in High School, but most of my worst memories come from Primary School. I’ve always been fat and in Primary School I was picked on and called names and bullied quite a bit, however I didn’t realise it was bullying then because I thought bullying was when other kids beat you up. Even if I had known what it was I don’t think it would’ve made any difference.

Moving swiftly forward, in my first year of High School I made friends with the girl I sat next to in my register class and we decided, as one does, that we were best friends. We had nothing in common, and we didn’t even hang together at break. But we clung on to the title because it gave us something to steady ourselves. Our best-friendship was over before the year was out but we’re still facebook friends. Between grade 8 and Matric I think I went through 5 or 6 different social circles, and the one I found in Matric has been the one I still have the most friends from today. My current Bestie came from that group and as an “adult” I am far more aware that my B.F.F. dream of my childhood was nothing like the real thing. The real thing is better and my expectations are much more realistic these days.

Getting back to those stories from our childhoods, I specifically remember in Archie Comics and in the Sweet Valley series, the unbelievable evil that people seemed to be able to do to each other. I could never understand how Betty and Veronica remained friends despite the nasty things Veronica said and did and despite the fact that they were constantly after the same boy!

Veronica, Archie and Betty

I always liked Betty more than Veronica, but in my older age I have learnt to appreciate the grossness of the entire situation. Betty – low self-esteemed and pining after a boy who treated her like dirt more often than not, Veronica bouncing between Reggie and Archie, so shallow and vicious. Reggie pulling horrible pranks on people, even Jughead was given horrible storylines of betrayal – all in the name of a few laughs. I could never understand what kind of friends would do these things to each other, it baffled me beyond comprehension. And, within the same issue, the cruel, backstabbing stories would be followed by plots of compassion and how friends do anything for each other. And one thing that stands out to me now is certain storylines where Veronica would “give” Archie to Betty as a birthday present or some such thing.

G.R.O.S.S.

The point of this trip to my bookshelf is that I couldn’t understand how friends could treat each other with such nastiness and disregard. However, in my 29 years I have learnt a lot. We do terrible things to our friends, just as they do to us and a good deal of the time it is unintentional because generally we are so concerned with our own affairs that we don’t always see further than our noses.

Backstabbing Barbie

Then there are times when things are done 100% on purpose. Sometimes it’s an invitation that never came, a payment for something or other (but something innocuous enough that bringing it up makes you seem petty). In some cases it is as simple as the tone of voice used for a comment, or the way it’s phrased. Sometimes it’s in the form of a gift – this one’s a real biter because not only are you being insulted, but you have to thank the person for it too.

Yup. We are nasty pieces of work and this has come from years of honing our skills. When we were younger and stupider we said and did shit without thinking. By now we know how to use calculators. So what can we do about it? There’s nothing we can do about what people do to us (other than confront them) but we can try to be better ourselves. I see a bazillion pictures on sites all over the internet with lovely motivational sayings. My goal for my 29th year is to put as many into practice as I can, starting with this one:

Rules for Doing Good