Thursday, 20 February 2014

Icon Escapism

My friends and I went to see a soap opera actor once when he was in town.  It was a long time ago in high school.  It was supposed to be very exciting.  Truth be told, it was my friends who were big on this.  I was the tag along.  I wasn’t even sure who he was; I just knew he acted on the soap opera ‘All My Children’ which I was not allowed to watch.  I am not dissing his acting or anything, I just had limited access to that sort of information and wasn’t interested in seeking it out.  So we went and got our picture taken and got the autograph, of which I still have neither.  It went into file thirteen.  (My ex’s contribution and that is a whole other blog)  But that’s besides the point, we went with a group of friends when we teenagers.  It was fun and it was an evening out.  
But that was sort of old school.  These days, you can stalk people up close and personal in cyberspace and they ‘answer’.  My daughter and her friend were quite excited that her celebrity crush answered their ‘happy birthday’ message back (well someone did anyway).

Which I told her and she was like, “Ahhh... Mom, why do you gotta kill my joy”.
To which I replied:  “Someone has to do it”.     

I find it interesting that in cyberspace, people read and seem to comment based on stereotypes or even follow people that they think they know and so actors and singers hold some of the largest following.  Funny how people who are paid to pretend they are someone they are not carry some of the most influence in society today.  I somehow find that amusing, somewhat worrisome and definitely ironic.    
The entertainment industry has an influence on media space and the growing disconnect in society’s relationships as a result of increased individualism are feeding an icon fascination much of which is hyped, staged and fabricated.  But who cares, it makes money and creates a high level of dissatisfaction which in turn makes people spend more money to make themselves feel better.  It’s a brilliant business model.

In any case, it would appear that the cyber-community seems to have a strong desire to follow someone that they know something about and can recognise, regardless of whether the other party would recognise them back in return.  And so it has been somewhat interesting to note that the distance between ‘followers’ and ‘the followed’ feels closer than in generations past and yet is in actuality further, given that there is no real relationship present.
So someone we think we know, who doesn’t know us, we can follow.  Someone whose ideas we identify with, but we cannot recognise, we engage with, from a safe distance. 

The question is why. 
What makes us buy the perception that we really have a relationship with Celebs?    

Is it because we know more of their business then our own? 
And could that be a coping strategy? 

Escapism perhaps?   

Monday, 17 February 2014

Valentines Cynicism

So, you know things are bad on the relationship front when the most exciting thing you have planned on Valentines Day is to change into your old clothes after arriving home from work and going to mow the lawn.  

I know, the best I could do for Valentines flowers was to cut them out of the garden.   

Yep, that was it.  My evening on Valentines.  A bit sad, eh?  It could be, I guess, but I suppose it really just depends on how you look at it

Yeah, I know, none of you have ever experienced that.   

If you measure success by the presence of a relationship then I suppose I am terribly unsuccessful and that is terribly sad.  If you measure your value by the presence of a significant other then I suppose I am not so valuable either and that would be even worse. 
But to me it is neither.  My current status is simply a part of life's journey which provides me with time and opportunity to focus on other things.  Relationships with significant others do demand an enormous amount of time investment.  In economic terms, they can sometimes be a huge opportunity cost.  I think in my life to date, my largest opportunity cost was my marriage.  That's probably a highly politically incorrect statement but I think for many women it is probably true, even though we don't say it out loud.          

So while enjoying the evening air and the view of my garden, I have come to the conclusion that there are a few things that I have decided I totally do not miss that are frequent occurrences on the relationship front. 

The first one I refer to as the butterfly syndrome.  I have had enough relationship drama in my life time to know that often a 'significant other' is more interested in what they stand to gain by having you in their life than simply an interest in sharing their life with you and vice versa.  And so there is so much effort put into the chase and catch which is soon followed up by the 'lock them up' and put them on show when other people are watching.

You know the desire to catch a butterfly and place it in a jar.  The jar soon becomes the place that causes them to loose their lustre because they have lost their ability to fly free.

Yes I know, that has never actually happened to any of you.  You all speak your minds when you are not happy with something.  The problem only arises when you begin to withdraw your voice from the circumstances and that eventually will also cost you your power.

The second is those who see you as the clay from which they can create their ideal partner or as close to it as they figure they can get.  And after all the pruning, one day you look in the mirror and you wonder who the hell that is, looking back at you.   I know, that has never happened to any of you either.   

My experiences have taught me that there are very few people who have the courage to love the person they're with and see and appreciate them for who they are.  In order to do that we need to first love ourselves. 

For once, I would like to share my time with someone who sees and values me not what they hope to get out of me, even when I am in my overalls and covered with paint or experimenting with power tools,

Perhaps that is the largest case of wishful thinking there is.

In this day and age, I am beginning to wonder if there are people out there who can still do that?  

So that is my little contribution to Valentines Day cynicism, but since there are so few of you who identify, let's leave it there and hope next year will be better... 

So here's to the flowers, teddy bears (no, the damn bear needs to go), chocolates and other trinkets on Valentines Day.  

Having someone make you feel special will never get old.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Devil of Procrastination

I am back to writing the day before publication. 
That is one habit, I cannot seem to shake.  The devil of procrastination.  How is it that for me the relationship between deadlines and doing is so strongly correlated?  Perhaps I need to journey back to my childhood to find the answer to that question. But I will leave that for those visits with my paid best friend, and since I am suffering cash flow issues at the moment, that will have to wait for another lifetime.  

The problem with blogging is that we are back to ambiguous attempts at sourcing last minute topics and so I thought to myself, perhaps I should have a look at blogs that are popular.  You know, put myself in mainstream market.
So let’s see, fashion..., well..., after careful consideration, I think I will just leave that up to the experts.  I personally wear clothes  (I know - that is a serious disclosure of note) and I would like them to look good, but generally would prefer to spend my time discussing things other than clothes.  I mean just how much can be said about shoes before we reach overkill?

Apparently quite a lot since society has not yet arrived at the level of overkill yet.  Some of us have lower thresholds of tolerance.  Clearly.  It was probably the playing with tractors growing up instead of dolls; ruined me for life.  Thank God. 
Alternatively we can discuss our children.  Yeah that’s good too for a while, but eventually I think those who do it too often have become too highly invested in the lives of their children to the neglect of their own.   

Or how about a classic blog on relationships?  See, relationships are a fascinating topic.  I enjoy this topic.  I just don’t think it is necessarily a topic that people are very honest about.  We do relationships according to our own unfulfilled needs and societies expectations and if you have never looked at what you are looking for or where you are going; it is generally a recipe for disaster. 
The ‘can’t get out of bed’ and eat nothing but ice cream for the whole weekend disaster.  Ice cream being the silver lining in the situation. 

But hey, in the mean time feel free to take the compatibility tests, learn how to seduce your man / woman (whichever strikes your fancy, temporarily) and find out which shoes will attract the right sort of relationship into your life, how to stop being the other woman / man,... blah, blah, blah.  Something like that.    
Yeah... so the change addict in mainstream is probably not such a great idea because I am of the candid opinion that the mainstream market needs to change its interests just a little.  I know, wishful thinking...    

So while we touched a little bit of everything in the time being I should confess that I have a paper to write on the relationship between poverty and governance.  I know, a little heavy for blogging, but at least this blog allowed me to do what I do best: 
A little procrastination.    



Monday, 10 February 2014

Man's Best Friend is also Man's Best Replacement

The balancing act between what can be said, what should be said and that which should be left unsaid seems to be where the boundaries of etiquette are shrouded in fog; discernible only by those who have high levels of EQ (emotional intelligence). 
The art of ‘come ons’ seem to be positioned right about in the middle.  The most savvy are those with dual interpretation which allow for a duplicity of meaning.  This way there is an avenue of retreat, should the response of the party to which it is directed, be less than favourable.

Armed with a lighter and offering to ‘light someone’s fire’ at a braai (BBQ), has a definite double meaning and you will likely get away with it.  Albeit, you would be pushing your luck.  Saying that in the workplace, probably less than easily ‘back-peddlable’.   
I suppose those who regularly push those boundaries become exceedingly practiced in which case gives rise to yet another phenomena; heightened levels of charm and lowered levels of substance.  The problem with charm is that it is generally a reflection of an inner need to be seen and noticed which contributes substantially toward that same charm being readily and freely available to anyone with the slightest indication of interest. 

In lay-mans terms: ‘a player.’
And since I encountered one this week, up close and personal, the only conclusion I was forced to come to is that 29 is definitely too old for ‘that shit’.               

The good news is that 29 is not too old to be ‘come on to’.  So it was a little flattering.    
The bad news is that the quality of the selection of men, as time passes by, seems to deteriorate.  The good ones get taken.  So, I know it’s not a politically correct thing to say but; I have almost concluded that I should be looking for a man with a dead wife. 

And not just any dead wife because that too can be risky.  These days, even the circumstances around the death need careful consideration.  One that died in an accident.  And not any ‘accident’ either; you know what I mean.  Consider Oscar.  Accidents’ involving bullets don’t count.    
So the long and short of it is simply this.  By the time you reach ‘29’, the pickings are thin. 

But despite that, what I do know is that the right man is still important and that life has taught me that it’s better to get a dog, than have the wrong man around. 
I mean dogs are great.  They are always happy to see you when you get home.  They know when you have had a bad day, understand that they must simply listen and not try and fix the problem and would lay down their lives to protect you.  

They will happily keep you warm and are content to simply curl up at your feet. 
Many a man could learn something...  



Thursday, 6 February 2014

Peppered in Doubt

Finding myself in the midst a classroom this past week, I was reminded that the world I see is perhaps not the same one that most other people live in. 
They say that there are characteristics that get more entrenched with age and in this case it was highlighted in neon.  I have an inability to simply conform.  I have a seriously hard time doing it if it doesn’t make sense to me. 

You know those situations when you become acutely aware that the way you view the world is not the same as what the average person sees.  When everyone is going left, and there you are on a quest to the right.    
I wonder sometimes if we all taste the same things?  Or whether or not we all see colour the same?   

I think I am convinced that different people attune to different information in the same circumstances.  What I find relevant and what someone else finds relevant are perhaps very different things. 
I suppose too that any information we receive is also passed over an internal processing system and in my case it always comes right back to ‘why.’   

I suppose God already knows what has crossed my mind so why not be honest about it and say it out loud.  A part of me doesn’t really think that there is too much difference. 
Another part of me recognises that the differences can be very real, with far reaching consequences.

But what seems to get me in trouble the most, is the speed at which I see the consequences of something.  Sometimes I wonder if other people see it , if I am alone, or if I simply just make this crap up for the fun of it and irritate myself. 
Whatever the case, this seems to be the operational point from which I start; the root cause of my change addiction and my inability to simply keep quiet and watch things happen.    

My mother, bless her, still rolls her eyes at me and says, “must you always try and change the whole world?”
“Well..., yes, Mom”.    

I mean this is my Mom.  Surely by now, she should know that there are things that just simply need changing!  If anyone has known me my entire life, she should know...
To be honest there are days when I sometimes wish I could simply wait and see things unfold as they happen like I perceive the majority of people seem to be doing. 

And perhaps that perspective is wrong.    
What I do know, is that often I see decisions that are made that people are uncomfortable with, that are justified externally with layers of intellect but internally peppered with enormous seeds of doubt. 

Sometimes, I just think that it’s the doubt that should be given the platform a little more often.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Someday... Girls Might Just Grow-up

“The girls that get chosen for the basketball team are the ones who look good in their uniform” I am candidly informed by my niece (14).  Sadly, there are high schools fifteen years later (plus-minus) that still exist in a time warp even worse than the one I attended. 
Now that is still tragic.  When it is no longer about the sport and even there out on the basketball court, it is about how you look, I wonder what women will be doing in twenty years, if anything at all?  When will it be about what you can do and not what you look like?

Yep, the change addict is an ugly duckling, you’re thinking... so many words, so few pictures; there must be a reason...
Imagine if both genders functioned like this.  A whole world of very pretty but entirely useless people.  A booming beauty industry, but that is about all there is.  The pursuit of beauty the be all and end all.  Lots of plastic surgery and the endless pursuit of the fountain of youth. 

Yep, that’s it, she’s one of those, ‘nice’ girls.  You know all personality, not too much else...
If women were placed in a ‘separate development’ social construct, I fear that many would be living in shacks, well because engineering would be beyond our intellect or at least our interests, the roads would collapse and never get repaired, because well... we wouldn’t want to break a nail.

I understand that given biology, the survival co-dependency between men and women ensures that this scenario will remain a case of gross speculation and little far-fetched. 
But isn’t that what women have been sold?  Check ‘women’s magazines,’ it’s not all that far off.    

...Oh dear, even worse, the change addict must almost be a man... must be... No ‘good-looking’ woman would talk like this...   

I cannot help but ask myself is this really the fruit of the hard earned women’s suffrage movement and the generation of women who determinedly burned their bras in their quest for equal rights? So women can now vote, but their value still comes from how they look not what their accomplishments are, what they stand for or who they are. 
Amelia Earhart was the first woman who flew solo across the Atlantic, but just how good did she look in her stilettos?    

What saddens me most is that places our value as women externally.  It is based on someone else’s approval and the question is:  Why would you give somebody that sort of power over you? 
This culture of ‘haters’ needs to go.  Talk about debilitating. 

...Yep, must be a man...  
The inability to see value, talent and potential in another human being says more about the person seeing than it does about those being seen.  It says that they are unable to see intrinsic value in themselves and in order to make themselves a little bit bigger, they have the need to look down on other people and make them small. 

That attitude also guarantees nothing will be accomplished that is bigger than we are. 
And no, I am not a man, I have a biological daughter. 

Science may be good... but not yet that good!