Wednesday, 29 May 2013


One of the most difficult things about any relationship is learning how to accept when it's no longer viable. Anyone who's ever been romantically involved for more than two years will tell you about the tireless labour that goes into keeping a fire burning. Vicious fights, restitution and a whole lot of compromise make it all the more challenging, but at what point does the effort of loving someone become too much? We break up and make up in hopes that it will all work it out in the end, but when a relationship reaches a certain crossroad, how do we decide which way is best?

Being in love with somebody is a truly wonderful experience especially when that feeling is mutual. It's like having a massive shock wave of electricity running through your body awakening the senses with passion and vigorous excitement. The thunderbolt as I like to call it is absolutely amazing but unfortunately it wasn't built to last. It is after all a single flash, a jolt to the system that loses impact shortly after it strikes. The fact is that true love only comes after the honeymoon phase, when the flaws begin to surface and you begin to love someone for both the good and the bad.

But what happens when a relationship becomes too hard to handle? When painful situations prevent you from moving forward as a couple? Is unconditional love enough to see it through or are we in denial? Every relationship goes through sporadic moments of doubt but when they are as frequent as a new Ri-Ri album, is it perhaps a sign that things are probably over?

After three and a half years, Aiden and I had finally reached this particular relationship crossroads. For the past eight months, we had spent more time fighting and arguing with each other than we did making up. The infidelity, the resentment, the guilt, the anger, the self-inflicted hurt we caused each other over the years had somehow overshadowed the good times culminating in a very unpleasant living situation. Despite the copious amount of hours spent at couple's therapy, Aiden and I were confronted with the most difficult decision in our relationship: keep trying or move on?

More and more, I began imagining my life without Aiden or any kind of partner for that matter. Free and blissfully uncomplicated. I could cower in the safety of the four walls I had built around my heart and never have to deal with another person disappointing me ever again. It wasn't the most realistic or healthy solution but it sure as fuck looked appealing. A drama-free, emotionally undisturbed existence where the only person that mattered was me, myself and I. Had I just answered my own question?

But what about the history and all the good things worth fighting for? Were they worth salvaging or were they just that - history? The thought of losing my best friend to an emotional tug-of-war was heartbreaking, but I couldn't help but wonder whether breaking up was the right thing to do. We were both clearly unhappy and my erratic public outbursts were no longer respectful to Aiden or the relationship. Was I about to make the biggest mistake of my life or was taking the path with least resistance the most practical solution for all?

Forget what you see in the movies. Love is not a slow motion kiss in the rain with orchestral symphonies blaring out of invisible speakers. It's hardcore and messy and just like most of Taylor Swift's relationships, it doesn't last forever. Even the holy grail of relationships will tell you that it requires work, and a lot of it. Sometimes all it takes is a little time apart to reconnect, but when it gets to the point where you're trying too hard and lying to yourself, perhaps it's time to admit defeat.

When it comes to the relationship crossroads, is it easier to raise the white flag on love or simply try harder? 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

"IT" has a name...

No one can really explain the reasoning behind life's awkward moments. Whether its enduring the humiliation of getting your first period in front of an assembly full of bitchy seniors or that dreadful silence five minutes into a date that clearly indicates the end of all interesting conversation. We all fall victim to the universe's twisted sense of humour at some point in our lives: non-reciprocated high-fives and unsavoury, not to mention, accidental skype messages to your fifty-five year old boss are one thing, but how do you begin to survive the mother of them all; that awkward moment when you bump into your ex and his hatefully delightful, gorgeous new girlfriend?  

It's a known fact that most romantic encounters that don't make it to the finish line usually end up in tears, flames or broken pieces of everything he ever gave you. History, no matter how good or bad, makes any connection impossible to forget, and even in instances where the two of you miraculously end up staying "good friends", seeing a significant lover with another can bring out all sorts of outrageous emotions. Jealousy, rage, happiness, a road-runner meep meep in the opposite direction. What was it about that discomforting moment that makes us so irrational?

"Oh my God!! Hi!! I almost didn't see you!!! Is this?! Oh my God, hi!!! I've heard so much about you!!!" Unless you've died or have been shipped off to the island where Tupac and Mother Theresa are being held hostage, you are going to run into your ex and yes, nine out of ten times, he will most likely be with someone fabulous. Sure, he broke your heart and you secretly hate him for it even though you've publicly admitted on countless occasions that you've forgiven him and wish nothing but the best from him and wifey, but to see the rumours of his happiness in black and white can be just as alarming as a girl's first trip to the fanny mechanic.

Talking in exclamation marks was my first mistake. Correction. My first mistake was leaving the house in sweat pants and high tops without a stitch of make-up on and a hair-don't that looked like I was entering a troll doll look-a-like competition. Hot nerves rushed through my body as the anxiety kicked in forcing me to speak without thinking, simultaneously breaking every rule in the "What not to do" section of "Meeting your Ex's new Girlfriend: A Handguide to Mental Stability". I was being overly nice to the point of being obnoxious, my body language was all over the place and to make matters worse, I automatically started comparing myself to this woman. Was she prettier and younger than me? Could she do tricks in bed that I couldn't? What did she have that I didn't have? 

"This is Katy." Of course it was, I thought as I reached out to shake her perfectly manicured hand. "Katy", I repeatedly mocked in my head whilst maintaining the prozac smile that had instinctively appeared upon my face. You could have easily scraped the plastic off with a spatula as I engaged in small talk about how they met and how long they'd been dating even though I already knew the answer thanks to a good old Facebook stalk. "Mwahaha!", I fake laughed as I glanced for signs of a premature wedding proposal which would have infuriated me considering that the reason we broke up in the first place was because of his commitment issues.

And then I recognised a familiar look on her face. It was the same one I had all those years ago when we were happy and in love. She was radiant, basking in the early stages of relationship glory. He had charmed his way into her life the same way he charmed me and now, everything he did or said was clearly placed upon a pedestal. He could do no wrong. A part of me wanted to knock him down by blurting out his flaws and telling her about that dirty night in Bangkok, but sabotage would've made an already awkward moment even more discomforting.   

"I must rush to my spin class now!! We should all get together and have a coffee sometime!!! It was lovely to meet you (gulp) Katy....really it was!!!" Off they went into the sunset. God only knows what she was laughing about as they walked away. There they were...happy, in love and everything I should have been, and even though I had yet to meet someone special at the time, nothing could have prepared me for the excruciating experience of running into the man that broke my heart and, now, this woman who made me feel so insecure and utterly insignificant.

When it comes to meeting your ex's new lover, how do we turn awkward into amicable without the aid of alcohol? 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Profiler

When it comes to making certain decisions in life, the multiplicity of options can be altogether overwhelming. For the fortunate few who have exactly what they want, when and how they want it, I say "Brava!", but for the cautious kind with wavering tastes, variety is of the utmost importance. Shoes, food, make-up. We are spoiled for choice in every way, so why not take advantage while we still can. Nobody likes an impulse purchase especially one that cannot be returned within 30 days, which is why it's probably best to shop around as much as possible before tying yourself down to a long-term choice you'll end up regretting anyway.

Multi-tasking is one of the many skills required to survive this "time-is-money, money-is-time" day and age, and with the daily stresses of work and life constantly on the rise, it's no surprise that we apply the same dexterity to our own dating rituals. Long gone are the days where the single dating system reigned supreme, where we had to wait patiently by the phone for one guy to make one move. Like Dory, a girl's gotta keep swimming, and in an ocean as deep as the Mother City where every good guy is either married, taken or proudly gay, I couldn't help but wonder whether serial dating was the only way to go?

I had recently been introduced to a professional serial dater called "The Profiler" or as I prefer to call her,  Dora the Dating explorer. Like so many before her, Dora fell pregnant at an early age and thought that her unmarried union would last forever. It turns out, it didn't and while her daughter was definitely a product of love, the same could not be be said for baby daddy who seemed to be nothing more than a useless scrub.

After a much needed hiatus from relationship hell, Dora found herself back in the dating game with not one, not two but three times the amount of men in only half the time. She was dating a pub owner, a post-grad MBA student and a recently divorced high school teacher all at once, simultaneously optioning and ruling out each potential for that lifelong commitment. Being the prehistoric prude that I was and having never been on more than one date at a time, I was intrigued by Dora's approach to dating.

According to Dora, multiple dating was like taking a trip to the ice cream shop. Some days you feel like chocolate and other days you feel like strawberry. Sometimes you want to try something completely different and sometimes you feel like having all three (flake included). It's all about keeping an open mind and not being afraid to taste them all until you find that perfect flavour that keeps you coming back for more. But what were the rules and regulations of serial dating? The do's and don'ts, must and must nots? How does one make a dating spree work without hurting someone else in the process?   

"You must neva go on two dates on the same night, trust me, and you must always be honest, sana. If they ask you if you are seeing other guys, don't lie. Tell them the truth and don't get other people to lie for you either cause that's just shady wena. At the same time, don't brag about the number of guys you are seeing or bring it up in conversation because that makes you sound like a slut. Sweet kisses and over the top patla-patla is okay but don't go all the way until you think you are ready to get seriaas with at least one of them. It's probably also a good idea to keep a dating calendar and code-names for your dates in case you can't keep up. Most importantly, don't be that chick that goes cray-cray when you find out that you are dating a serial dater yourself! What's good for the goose and all that." 

Decisions, decisions, decisions. We get so obsessed with all these dating musts and lists of qualities we expect to find in a man that it often limits the fun and purpose of dating in the first place. When you're single, sexy and free, it's okay to dabble in a bit of this and that before taking the final plunge into a long term relationship. A date is just that, a date, so until you are ready to turn it into something more exclusive, the world is your dating smorgasbord.

When it comes to singling out the options, is a little dating spree necessary to find that perfect selection?   

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Mother Russia

With yet another mammoth Hallmark occasion up ahead, sons and daughters from all around are flocking towards gift shops, florists and novelty stores to celebrate the single most important woman in the world. Roses, lavish breakfast buffets, appliances and weekend spa treatments. Nothing says "We love you mom" quite like throwing a bit of money at the problem, and while most moms would prefer a homemade breakfast in bed or hand-made card professing her child's undying love and adulation, spoiling this extraordinary woman for just one day a year should not be spared any expense. 

The mother-child dynamic is quite a turbulent one with many bumps along the way. One day you're the world's greatest mom and the next, public enemy number one. It's particularly alarming during those precarious formative years of pre-teen and post-adolescent angst. Instead of seeing our mother as the role model and wonder woman she truly is, we blame her for almost everything that goes wrong in our lives. "I hate you. You're ruining my life. You'll never understand. No wonder Dad left you!" These are just a few delightful phrases a mother has to endure the minute her teenage terror decides to turn on her.

Modern day mothers have it even worse. The quest for balance is virtually impossible, what with so many single working mums and lack of father figures. The levels of commitment and dedication get higher and a mother has to be carer, nurturer and disciplinarian all at once. She really is a Super Woman! The pressure is on not only from the children themselves, but from teachers, over-zealous housewives and bored mothers-in-law who have nothing better to do than to criticize and judge their parenting skills. Without a handbook telling you what and what not to do in these circumstances, how does one even begin to compete for Mother of the Year?

I never really appreciated the benefits of having a stay-at-home mother. All I saw was the cook, the taxi driver, the nurse, the bank account and the entertainer. I always thought my mom was lazy for not getting a real job like the rest of my friends' mothers and often compared her to a woman I used to call Mother Russia. Of course, I was a total prat back then, full of scorn and resentment and blamed my mother for absolutely everything; my stint with bulimia, body dismorphia, depression, the reason I ran away from home, the fact that I didn't get into the Waterfront Theatre School. For some reason I thought she wanted to sabotage my dreams because she didn't have any of her own. Her goals and aspirations were simple and conventional and the last person I wanted to be like was my mother.

One day, I sat her down over a cup of coffee and began to tell her things, things about myself that probably added a few more lines to her already-creased visage. I told her about the rape and the drugs, the night clubs and the numerous men without names. She took it in her stride as only a mother can and listened without judgement. Of course, she had already suspected or known most of what I had told her, but she was grateful that I had finally opened up to her. What I found most comforting was her unconditional love and how she had suddenly stopped being the enemy and started being a friend.

I once asked her what she wanted to be as a child and she said she wanted to be a singer. Her voice was something of a legend in the Portuguese community but what I hadn't known was that a talent scout had once approached her before she got married and offered her a chance to sing in a band. My father was in the army at the time and encouraged her to take the opportunity but my grandmother refused and frowned upon the idea. Good Portuguese women become mothers and wives. That's it! She resigned to the fact that God had clearly had another plan for her, something greater and more fulfilling. It was at that moment I realised that what makes a great mother are the selfless sacrifices she has to make in order to be the best that she can be.  

It takes a long time for a child to reach a certain maturity level where he or she can truly appreciate the selfless love of a mother. Lord knows that not all maternal relationships are perfect and some apples are better off falling far, far, far away from the tree. No matter what she says or does to hurt you, a mother usually knows best. She is after all the only woman who knows your heartbeat as well as you do, the only woman strong enough to love you no matter what wrongs you do unto her and the only woman mad enough to get up extra early every morning to cut the crusts off your sandwich just the way you like it.

When it comes to the world's greatest role model, I couldn't help but wonder, is one day really enough?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Odd Couple

It doesn't take a fashionista to conclude that certain trends are just downright fugly and should never be seen or worn in public EVER again. Dungarees and bomber jackets, the sock and sandal phenomenon, Uggs with pretty much anything. The oddity of misguided mismatching is everywhere you look, from FTV and gossip columns to music collaborations and even, relationships. While opposites attract may have been popularized by Paula and MC Skat Kat back in the 80's, I couldn't help but wonder whether modern day couples had taken two steps forward instead of two steps back?    

As I judged through the latest "What were they thinking?" pages of my favorite tabloid magazine, I thought about relationships and the trends we follow in order to keep up with the times. Compatibility has always been a recipe for success, and while most of us prefer our relationships like a pair of Mary Jane slingbacks (identical, well-balanced counterparts that compliment and harmonise each other), some us prefer something a little edgier. Of course innovation and originality comes with certain judgement, but why should liking someone for their oppositeness become a major relationship faux pas?

"Trying to find a compatible partner is like trying to accessorise a brand new outfit. No matter how simple, chic or daring, the matching accompaniments should always compliment one’s overall attire. Style, like so many other artistic forms of creative expression, is both subjective and experimental, and while most of us end up choosing comfort for no other reason than its sheer practicality, there are certain instances where the avant-garde relationship can work, no matter what the critics say."

Pendra was an up-and-comer in the local fashion scene whose latest collection had been inspired by the newest man her life. Being the artist she was, she dabbled with a number of dating styles including preppy guys, jocks, coloured Asians, gangsta men with tattoo's that you can only get in jail as well as brainless pretty boys, all of which had transcended through her work. She'd been introduced to Ahmed a few months ago at an industry function, and although his religious background didn't seem to fit at first, they were a perfect match in so many other ways. Emotionally, financially, physically. From the outside they must have looked like the oddest couple but to Pendra, all she could see were clear lines, fun use of colour and loads of symmetry.

"This is fashion. People get paid to judge us all the time. Why should my personal life be any different!" she said as she gave me a sneak peek at her latest headline design. "They probably think we have nothing in common because he is Muslim and that it'll never last. He knows that I'm not going to convert and he's fine with that. I'm an English rose who drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney but he still thinks I'm a lady. He loves me exactly the way I am and does not expect me to change or compromise anything about myself." Was Pendra's relationship reinvention so stylishly advanced that it was one step ahead of the rest or was this just a passing fad that would eventually fizzle out?

On this ever-changing runway called life, love is undoubtedly the ultimate accessory. It's a classic and never goes out of fashion no matter how you wear it, as long as you wear it with your head held high. As the autumn line comes and vogues, so do our tastes and preferences, and while most of us prefer an outfit with perfect symmetry, some of us like to think outside the box. Shape, form, colour. Who cares what the vultures think. A little bit of pride and a fabric roll of confidence can make any outfit work.  

When it comes to relationships, does a perfect match always fit?