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Showing posts from October, 2016

Is the Jig Up?

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This week I started a training programme at a digital content creation company, and I have so many feelings.
There are nine of us in the group, and by Tuesday I could see myself making friends with most of them. Maybe it’s the result of us all being in the same room together for seven hours each day, but I like them. I’m also intimidated by them. Some of them have interviewed celebrities and run magazines, others are brilliant photographers. I feel like I haven’t done enough.
But I also know that this is an opportunity to learn. I want to be a writer, I want to have a steady job that I’m good at one day. I want to be successful. These are all things that I now have a chance to do.
I took notes on the presentations some of the team members gave us, and I enjoyed hearing them speak about their career journeys. I began to understand that this programme would be hard work.
By Wednesday, the curiosity that had been laced with optimism was replaced by a growing dread. I started thinking it w…

[Review]: "Dis Koue Kos, Skat" - Marita van der Vyver

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One would think that a book made up entirely of one-sided correspondence would be tedious and uninteresting. But in Dis Koue Kos, Skat Marita van der Vyver does such a wonderful job of building nuanced characters, and introducing them to us through the eyes of the protagonist, that it does not matter that none of them actually speak for themselves.
Through letters, emails and, later on, SMSes, the reader goes along with Clara Brand as she makes sense of her post-divorce, post-apartheid, mid-midlife crisis world. Between 1998 and 2007, Clara writes to her friends, family, and even her enemies, sharing her worries, fears, insecurities, hopes and aspirations – for herself and for her children. Most of the letters are never sent, and others are only sent so that Clara does not drive herself to edge of sanity with her own thoughts.  Marita van der Vyver builds and draws the reader into Clara’s inner life, making her as real as possible while keeping her story entertaining.

Clara’s written r…

Craving Intimacy

As a rule, I avoid close interaction with people, especially those I don’t know. But it turns out keeping people at a physical and psychological arm’s length is not the best strategy for survival as a human being. There is a lot to be said for the simple but intense experience of touch: a brush of fingers on a wrist, a hand on the small of a back, an arm around the waist, a hand on the stomach, a tight hug. There is a trust to be found in these intimate moments. They say “I see you. I’m here for you. You’re doing fine.”
This kind of touch and closeness is typically packaged in intimate (i.e. romantic) relationships. That probably has to do with the level of vulnerability that intimacy creates and supports: the societal contract says you may only appear to need or provide touch within the private space of a relationship. In general, it’s considered weird to hold hands or cuddle with a best friend, and it’s considered normal to grow less physically attached to our parents as we grow olde…

An Extract from "Sometimes I Look for Good News in the Spam Folder"

This afternoon while I was walking back from Pick n Pay I was thinking about my life. Specifically I was thinking about my work situation, i.e. my lack thereof. I thought of how, when I was in school, I thought I would have a job that I loved and that I was very good at by now. The words "job" and "career" meant the same thing to me: working as a writer/editor, and basically ruling the world with my skills and talent.

That has not happened, and I don't know how much longer it is going to take. I have been studying for so incredibly long, "preparing myself" for a wonderful job that I would get as soon as I marched into an office of my choosing and showed them my shiny new degree, still warm from the printer. Of course they would take me. I would be the one candidate who stood out from the rest; we would all have exactly the same qualification, and share the same "passion", but I would be The Chosen One.

Well. The past years have been filled w…