Sunday, 27 July 2014

Say Yes to the Dress...

Planning something as epic as your wedding day can be just as joyous as the day you decided to say yes. Who knew that a proposal as sweet as any would essentially become the first official step along this rollercoaster ride known as wedding planning?

While most girls have had their special day figured out since the day they could walk in their mother’s heels, modern day career girls have been too busy living their lives to give a proverbial hoot about their big day. The whole concept is quite an overwhelming mindset to consider. There’s the catering and the samples, the colour schemes and bridesmaids dresses. The venue and possible accommodation options, invitations and save the dates, the wedding cake.  The vows and the Vicar, the guest list and the gifts. And yes, oh yes, the perfect dress.  With so much matrimonial mayhem to coordinate before the big event, is it any wonder why so many brides-to-be turn into vile versions of Bridezilla? What’s a bride to do? 

They say that behind every great bride there has to be a great bridesmaid, and fortunately for Brenda, she had not one; not two, but five amazing bridesmaids. Five belles of the ball at her beck and call, each one with their own strength and responsibility that would essentially guide and assist Brenda through all these tedious choices in the months to come. Brenda was a less-is-more kind of girl and if she had her way, she would have married in court yesterday but alas, even she knew that certain ceremonials had to be considered to keep everyone happy. What would become of Brenda in the next five months? Would she rise above the stresses and pressures that came with planning the perfect wedding or would she lash out at the slightest sign of imperfection? 

Fortunately for the Bridesmaids of West Coast Village, Brenda was anything but your typical Bridezilla beast. No, she was probably what you’d call the anti-Bridezilla; cool, calm and most definitely collected.  If anything, it was her honorary self-appointed head Bridesmaid with OCD that required anxiety medication to overcome the fact that Brenda had so much to do in so little time. With only 5 months away from the ceremony, Brenda’s Bridesmaids had to find inventive ways of getting her A into G, and what better way to build up the pending excitement than trying on a couple of dresses...

It was a chilly Saturday morning when the four bridesmaids of West Coast Village decided to meet up at Bridal Boutique for Brenda’s first official dress fitting. Five dresses, four bridesmaids (the fifth would tune in on skype), one Bride and one hour. What felt like mission impossible turned out to be the perfect solution for a bride that had no idea where to begin. With a little help from the shop owner and her assistant, Charlotte, Miranda, Annie and I felt like we were in our own private episode of “Say Yes to the Dress”.

The welcome bubbles helped set the tone and calmed Brenda’s nerves who had no idea what to expect.  It wasn’t long before we found ourselves immersed in a movie montage sequence of crushed lace, organza and A-line waist drops.  

Seeing herself in a wedding dress made her realise that shit just got real, and even though none of the five selections had the X-factor, it gave Brenda a wake-up call and some insight into what she could and couldn’t pull off. “We’re not 22 anymore, hey!” Miranda playfully jibed as we ruled out the possibility of the open boob tube. Dress #2 ruled out any kind of champagne sash or rosette while dress #4 opened up Brenda’s mind to the possibility of having a princess cut, a look she had never dreamed of pulling off. She loved the lace and oh boy did she look flawless in a full length veil.   

While Brenda twirled and posed for “Happy Bride” selfies, she started to appreciate the amazing support she had before her. While she may not have a clear idea as to what her perfect dress might be, she had five amazing friends that would never allow her walk down the aisle looking like an oversized cupcake. “Your time is up!” That was quick. Knowing that Brenda would need a snack on her way to the next location, I quickly shoved a handful of complimentary Lindt balls inside my purse.
When it comes to all the fuss and muss that goes with wedding planning, I couldn’t help but wonder, why all this stress when it comes to a dress?        

Thursday, 17 July 2014


In this fast-paced world of information technology and ubiquitous upgrades, survival of the fittest depends on our ability to keep up with the ever-changing times. It’s a mutinous battlefield out there where the old and faithful are often replaced with new and shinier versions of the same gizmo designed to make our lives simpler, better and sometimes faster. Walk-men, wedding invitations, VHS, vinyl and print media. All it takes is one generation to render another obsolete, and while most things in this digital day and age are as quickly discarded as they are packed, shelved and sold, how does one remain relevant within these rapid waves of innovation?

It’s a tale as old as the floppy disk: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy has mid-life crisis and cheats on wife with younger woman. Boy leaves wife for younger home-wrecker who in turn leaves him for someone richer and older, until one day it’s too late for him to realise that he made the biggest mistake of his life. Unlike modern-day technology, some men are incapable of advancing into higher forms of intelligence. They become temporarily blinded by visions of their former youths, a fantasy that got lost somewhere along the way as a result of being with you. Like Blu Ray, they require something a bit more visually stimulating, and even though the clarity of a care-free single life sounds far more appealing, it’s only a matter of time before they realise they’ve: same shit, different package.

In a perfect world the ex would die a lonely death and call for you at his deathbed whispering regrets about you being the best thing that ever happened to him, but in reality, being tossed aside and traded in for a newer, younger model can have devastating side-effects. Not only is your confidence and self-esteem tried and questioned, but for the first time in a long time, you find yourself alone in a dating matrix that now seems so foreign to you; a digital space where conventional modes of courtship no longer seem current.

Friday night at the Ruby Bar brought together all sorts of fabulous gays and gals, single, coupled and aged between 28 and 40. It was happy hour which meant cocktails were cheap and conversation was dirty. By the time I sank into my third glass of Boschendal Blanc de Noir, the conversation had switched over to something called Tinder. At first I thought they were talking about Ke$ha and Pitbull’s latest single, but it didn’t take long before I realised exactly what was app...

“It’s the heterosexual version of Grinder, love. The mobile dating application? You have heard of it, right? It came out the same time Ricky Martin did.”

My gayest of all Minute-Maid Marcy, had just opened my eyes and ears into another dimension. To me, it seemed like online dating on steroids but to hopeful singles everywhere, it was an addictive catalyst to one-night stands, promising potentials and even second chances. I couldn't believe it. Some genius had actually created a smart phone app that could detect respective homo and heterosexual prospects within a specific radius of one’s location. And you could pinpoint them too! A mosaic of bite-sized profiles divided into tribes and groups, likes and dislikes, dating expectations and chat windows, complete with a mini-visual all for your convenience.

“Yip. This is what it’s come down to. It's fun at first but it can also get tiring.” I had met Sasha that evening, a 40-year old divorcee, professional athlete who reminded me of Carrie Bradshaw. She’s one of those many incredible gals that leaves you wondering, ‘how the hell can you still be single?’ “The worst is when you start chatting to a guy you like prior to any kind of real date. You start chatting, and really hit it off and you probably start liking him a bit more than you should, only for him to do a complete Houdini on your ass. Poof. Like that. Gone. That’s when you realise that you were probably one of ten chicks he was chatting to. Don’t worry. Online rejection is nowhere near as bad as the real thing.”

Had online dating evolved into the next generation making traditional dating conventions dated and prehistoric? Were such high-tech modifications easy to adapt to and if so, how does one navigate through all the lies and bullshit? My knowledge on the subject was clearly limited to the online horror stories I’d read about catfish killers and NSA PDA’s in the back of rusty Chevrolets, but perhaps there was more than meets the "i". Was it more than just sex? Did conventional dating methods need to evolve in order to survive? Could we really find love in a cyber space?

Marcy and Kevin did. Lauren and Jerry did. "I know it seems daunting and very new age for most people especially the older generations but anyone that can send an sms can certainly mac this shit. It's all about adapting. Old-school dating is like Betamax. It's Vintage." Oh Marcy. "I know the perception out there is that it's all about sex, which it can be, but it really is what you want it to be. Our first conversation on Grinder went something like this: "Hey. Musc? Yeah. *Dick Pic* Hook up? Fuck yeah. Cum over!" For real. And now look at us. Three years down the line, still going strong and couldn't be happier."  

When it comes to being single in a digital world, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was the download?    

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Godfather: Part 1

When you grow up in a strong Catholic household, being asked to become someone’s godparent is something that’s not to be taken lightly. Not only are you responsible for a child’s care in the unlikely and unthinkable event that anything should happen to the parents but you are also responsible for the spiritual guidance and growth of this tiny individual who at this point knows nothing more than boob, sleep and poop. While most godparents abandon their pious duties the minute the squirming infant gets dunked and freed of original sin, there are some that actually stay well beyond the buffet brunch.  Accepting the title is almost as important as making the decision and commitment itself, which is why every parent should consider their choice wisely…

It’s very rare to have a sibling that would literally die for you. Ever since I was little, the only person I could trust whole-heartedly was my youngest sister, Jasmine. No matter what predicament I found myself in, and there have been many, Jazz would be there without a doubt or question. From bailing me out of DUI’s in my wasted youth to standing up for me even when her own moral fibre was being tested, Jazz was and always will be my hero and protector.  Of course our rivalries weren’t short of tears and bloodshed, but there was never an issue big enough that we could not overcome.  

At the back of my cynical mind I kept thinking that her eternal kindness would one day come at a price. I always felt this way about my sister or anyone that showed kindness; mainly because of my resistance to the concept of unconditional love but also because my sister was the kind of good that I could never be. You don’t get something for nothing you know, and even though my sister did more for me than I could ever do for her, I couldn’t help but wonder….would she eventually expect something in return and if she did, would I be as able and willing to say yes? 

“Well, my friend, are you ready to do me this service?” The Godfather came to mind recently when my sister asked if I would accept the position of being Izzy’s godparent. Any normal, rational sibling would have said yes, but in a family full of potential Emmy nominees, I simply said, “can I get back to you on that?” Yes. The look of horror on her face mirrored my mothers. Just another disappointment I guess. 

Here it was. The one thing my sister asked me to do for her and I couldn’t even say yes.  You’d think after all those years of being my personal bodyguard, assistant and in a way, my only true godparent, I would have jumped at the honour. Instead, I found myself questioning her motives. Why me? Is it simply because I was her sibling, or was it because she truly thought me competent of taking on such an important role? How could she entrust me with such an important duty?

I found the situation slightly ironic considering that my sister, a devout Catholic (but also human) would ask me, a fallen angel to take over the reins of her daughter’s secular journey. On the one hand I did not want to disappoint her (which is why I said yes, then no, but yes, then no) but on the other I certainly wasn’t ready to take on such a significant responsibility. I was in a lot of ways still a child myself in need of spiritual guidance, and didn’t feel as if I was in the position to pass down any kind of wisdom, especially when it came to the big G. My over opinionated stance on religion would only end up disappointing my sister as it had our father the day I decided to become agnostic. Surely my sister could see this. Surely she wanted to immerse Izzy in the same belief pools and values as her own? Was she following her heart again?   

After careful consideration and much debate, I decided to decline my sister’s offer. Of course, she did not take it well at first but I know she’ll understand one day.  “No hard feelings”, she said. Well that only made me feel even more wretched for not being able to grant my sister the one thing she had ever asked me. Had I said yes, it would have purely been out of love for her and not the child, who I was still learning to love. Perhaps there was an underlying jealousy, a subconscious envy that my protector had abandoned me in favour of her own flesh and blood. Either way, my acceptance would not have been the right decision. 

My dearest Izzy. One day, you will come across this post and wonder why I could reject the opportunity of being your godparent.  I will tell you because you asked and I will always be honest with you no matter how much the truth hurts sometimes. I know that you are going to grow up to be as kind and beautiful as your mother and I will be there as your fairy godmother to help reinforce what’s important in life.

I’ve never been one for titles but know that I will always be there for you…when a boy breaks your heart, I’ll be there. When some skitch gives you a hard time at school, I’ll be there. When you need a shoulder to cry on, I currently have two. When you and your mother fail to see eye-to-eye, you can look into mine. The love I have for you will be epic because of the endless love I have for your mother and you will be an example of that love. To quote one the best lines ever written: "Always remember: You is kind. You is smart. You is important."     

When it comes to choosing the ideal godparent, should we decide with our head or with our heart?

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Perfect Match

It takes a culinary genius to truly appreciate the delicate craftsmanship that goes into a good food and wine pairing. Most of us, myself included, simply nod in agreement when a wine connoisseur questions our ability to detect the subtle hints of green peppers and figs in his latest vintage of his Sauvignon Blah. To be honest, all I've ever smelt was alcohol and a guaranteed good time ahead, but just like any good Merlot or block of Grana Padamo, our tastes and maturity become more refined and discernible with age. It takes quite a bit of swirling and swishing, sniffing and sampling before we are able to find that perfect blend, a balance between an individually unique flavour and someone else's intensity.

Grilled fish with Sauvignon Blanc. Slow roasted pork belly with a hearty Cabernet. Oysters and Champagne. If only the same guidelines that apply to gastronomy could apply to romance, imagine how easy it would be to find our own perfect match. But alas, love does not always provide the perfect combination first time around. It’s far more complex and often requires a bit of searching before the ideal fit can be found. Most of the time, romance can leave a bitter taste, but for the lucky few that are brave enough to stomach and endure the ups and downs, finding a soul mate to compliment one’s own personality can be well worth the wait.

There's nothing like a little couples weekend in some remote wine country to get one's inspiration going. Christmas in July was upon us and what better way to spend it than with the love of your life in a romantic retreat nestled far away in the hidden valley known as Tulbagh. Over hill and over river we went, through vast landscapes of muddy dirt roads and acres of deep forestation. The two hour trek was well worth the wait, as most things in life generally are, as we approached the gates of this magnanimous guesthouse situated in the middle of nowhere. Guinevere was her name and she would be our host for the next two nights of fine wining and dining.

Love was literally all around us, from old love to new love, rekindled love and still desperately searching love, but the couple that stood out the most was definitely Brenda and Tommy. With only months away from their wedding date, it was refreshing to see a young couple that truly complimented each other in every single way.  My first reaction to their engagement was tears, a horrible habit I had picked up whenever one of my single girlfriends expressed so much joy. I guess Miranda was right…when you know, you know.

Whether they were tears of happiness or tears of sorrow, I envied them for their evident compatibility. From their morning symphonies in methane minor to the way in which they kept each other guessing, it was apparent that these two individuals were clearly fermenting in each other's love. Even in their bickering which would usually annoy the shit out of me, there was a sense of tolerance and comfort. Yes, they pushed buttons and constantly tested one another's patience, but even their quarrelling seemed cute. Was it pre-marital bliss that made them the “it” couple to be or had they finally found the yin to each other’s yang?

I looked to my own relationship which at present felt a bit like chalk and cheese. My relationship was less than perfect but still preserved in bitter sweet love. So many opportune moments presented themselves this weekend to rekindle a romantic flame that once burned so brightly, all ruined by my own sour disposition. It certainly wasn’t Aiden. It was me. I had tasted love so many times before that I’d actually grown intolerant to its entangled essence. Why was I so afraid to let it back in? 

Looking at these two peas in their pod, I wanted so badly to have what Brenda and Tommy had found. The sad thing is that I had been there before; that place where an innocent game of head stand or thirty seconds turns into a laughing fit, where mockery of one's flaws was done in jest and not in pain, where laughter was louder than any snore humanly possible. Do relationships need to go through a bad vintage before it can produce something fruitful or are some couples simply more compatible than others?  

No matter how cynical love can make us feel, we cannot deny that some people are simply meant to be together. When you see it in others, appreciate it and look to it as a sign of hope. Whether your existing pairing requires a bit more maturity and nurturing or whether you're still searching for something to whet your romantic appetite, it's out there. You just have to keep that heart open like it's your very own test kitchen.     

When it comes to perfect matches, how do we know if he's the Brie to our Chardonnay?

Thursday, 26 June 2014


They say the older one gets, the wiser we become, and while this little pearl of wisdom may be accurate in most cases, it doesn't mean that we have to be happy about it. No matter how optimistic one’s outlook on age may be, we can’t avoid the unnecessary and somewhat superficial panic that goes hand in hand with getting older. Those calories that were once so easy to shed now seem impossible to lose as they find their final resting place in the form of hips, back-fat and Oprah wings. Those delightful crevasses that allegedly give us "character" begin cropping up more frequently than we like to admit. Hair that was once thick, lush and flowing continues to sprout in abundance...that is everywhere except on your head. IBS, cellulite, balding, crow’s feet. How the hell are we supposed to age gracefully when the act of getting older seems to be so undignified?   

For the neurotic at heart, a birthday can be a depressing state of affairs especially when 40 happens to be the next big milestone. Not only does it increase the awareness of our body's inevitable decay but it also makes us question our life choices and where we find ourselves at a particular point in time. Just how much do we really change in a year? Are we really like wine that gets better with age or do we stagnate in pools of complacency, too afraid to plunge into the unknown? And then there's marriage, financial freedom and that timeshare holiday home in Betty's Bay. Why haven't these things fallen into place yet? Have we wasted precious time worrying about the future instead of living in the present? Did we party too hard in our wasted youth? What have we done with our lives and where the hell are we supposed to go from here?

It happened. I turned 31 this week and just like Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, it came with a series of mixed reviews. I could have easily fallen victim to another year of self-deprecation but chose to look at the upside instead. For the first time ever, I focused on what I had achieved in a year instead of what I had not. I had nurtured my talents, produced a sports documentary, forgiven, forgotten, loved, allowed myself to be loved and made my theatrical return to an off-Broadway community theatre production. It was the first time I felt accomplished and comfortable in my own skin, and the first time I couldn't care less about what people thought about me or my opinions. Did I sometimes wish I had the liver and appearance of my 20-year old self? Hell yeah, but do I really want to relive the fresh hell and dramatic antics that come with being twenty-young? After thirty-one years I can finally say that I like who I am and what I have become...and it feels fucking fantastic.

As I watched the flood of cyber-love stream in through facebook, twitter and whats app birthday messages, I felt a certain kind of love and appreciation that I had never felt before. I had made an impact on so many lives and left my mark deep in their hearts. People who cared and loved me for all the crazy that I am genuinely thought of me as beautiful and talented, and that certainly beat any worry I had about stiff joints and Vitamin D deficiencies. It was the first time I learned how to take a compliment for what it was. A compliment. While the actual day turned out to be a complete non-event, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these messages and appreciated each and every single one of them. You just don't get that kind of maturity in your twenties.

Another life lesson I picked up on along the way is that our mistakes and failures are only as damaging as we allow them to be. We all fuck up at some point in our lives but it's how we pick ourselves up and learn from these blunders that makes these lessons worthwhile. I know it sounds like a total cop-out but when you enter the other side of 30, you finally see life as that incredible journey people tell you about and not a destination. We're all so caught up in rat races and finish lines that we completely forget to pace ourselves. We'll all get what we want eventually but only if we endure, even if it's only one baby step at a time.

And then there is the greatest love of all. Love for oneself. No one is going to ever truly love you back until you respect yourself enough to realise that you are freaking amazing. I'm not talking about that self-assured, narcissistic, my-shit-don't-stink kind of love but the self-appreciation kind where you no longer need someone to validate who you are. It's the kind of love that comes to light when you learn to forgive others and yourself for the past, the love that comes when you let go and embrace all things good as well as all the tragedies and maladies that measure our strength and define who we are today.

I know it sounds as if I popped a handful of Valium and chased it with a dirty martini before I wrote this, but the truth is that turning 31 is really not that bad at all. There's a greater sense of calm knowing that who you were back then is certainly not who you are right now. Part of me is wiser, stronger and more self-assured than I was a year ago. I am braver and confident, more willing to take chances and risks, even if it threatens the barriers of familiarity and comfort. If you love yourself completely and wholeheartedly and keep good friends around you for as long as you can, you'll be surprised at what kind of human being you have the potential to become.   

When it comes to getting older, I couldn't help but wonder, do things only get better from here?

Thursday, 19 June 2014


For those who believe in resurrection, death is inconsequential. It's not an ending, but rather a new beginning...a second chance. A reunion. But the very idea of resurrection is so seductive a concept, it's easy to forget that before you can rise from the dead, you have to spend a few days in hell. - The fantastic script-writer responsible for Emily Thorne's melancholic monologues at the beginning of every episode of Revenge.

Previously, on Sex in the C.T...break-ups, babies, save the dates and unholy reunions. Who needs television when life presents its own dramatic doses of tragedies, romantic comedies and fantasies every day? It's amazing how much drama can ensue in just two short months, and while the time away was absolutely necessary to reflect on life-changing events, I have truly missed sharing my antics, and the trials and tribulations of the relentless characters that I am so blessed to have in my life. Consider this my resurrection back into the blog world, an open letter to the people that have inspired me, and the readers and followers that have kept my passion very much alive. But first things first. What ever happened to Kelly and Joe?   

Before my untimely sabbatical from the blogospheric universe, my relationship with Aiden had suffered what the French call la petit mort. I had finally terminated our four year relationship after months of agonising indecisiveness and speculation. What was probably one of the most unstable periods of my life had not only affected my ability to write but also my ability to function as a normal human being. Hurricane Katrina had nothing on the vortex of doom I had become during those tempestuous days that followed the aftermath of our break up. I found myself alone for the first time in four years without a hope or a shred of light to bring me out of the darkness.

Flashback to that fateful Tuesday morning in April when I had reason to believe that Aiden might be having another affair. With whom and how was unknown but I had let down my intuition once before and vowed to never make that same mistake again. Fueled by my own paranoia and insecurities of the past, I took his keys and kicked him out. I fell apart in the most dramatic sense as I found myself packing four lonely boxes and black bags full of his belongings. Clothes, gifts, photographs. The tears came down like waterfalls and I suddenly found myself puffing on old faithful, a Dunhill Light or twenty after my seven month hiatus. How very disappointing.

Throughout my possession of getting rid of his possessions, I found a box lying deep within the shadows of J.K Rowling hardbacks and contemporary pop-star autobiographies. A box I had somehow completely forgotten about. It's something we hoarders like to call a "memory box", a shoebox of tokens and momento's that we collect and accumulate throughout the course of one relationship. I'd destroyed many a box like this one including its respective contents with great ease but this one hit me like a ton of dicks. As I opened the floodgates of my romantic past, I came across the love notes he'd leave me to find in the oddest of places, the first red rose which was now as black as my heart, the customized P.S. I Love You wrapper, and who could forget those tiny little notes he'd written, hidden and re-wrapped inside a box of my favorite favorites. Shattered doesn't even begin to cover the way I felt in that moment.

I didn't need this resurgence of feelings. Not now. Not ever. My mind was made up, but just like Pandora's box of horrors, I suddenly found myself questioning my own questions and actions. Had I perhaps been a touch dramatic? Was I maybe, just maybe, overreacting and misjudging the situation? Was this affair all in my head? The glass of single malt whiskey hidden in the bottom drawer was one thing but what proof did I have of his infidelity?

The following Friday, after three torturous nights of not feeling Aiden's body beside me, I decided to meet up with him so that we could "talk things through" and address the issue at hand. It was like seeing a ghost. A sad, angry, disappointed ghost. I promised myself from the beginning that we would never be one of those tedious couples. You know, those insidious love-fools that make up and break up more often than the Sugababes. There's a logical reason why people break up in the first place. Lack of communication and resolution.

That's when I realised that neither Aiden nor I had really worked on our relationship in a long time. We'd somehow become complacent, co-existing in a vicious cycle where taking one step forward only meant taking two very huge steps back. Sure the past four days had been hell on earth but wasn't the state of our relationship even more infernal? Would getting back together only mean jumping into a different kind of fire or were we finally on our way to heaven?     

It would be a total cliche to say that "we kissed and made up on the spot". Calm down. This isn't an after-school special. We did kiss and yes, we even had amazing make-up sex (which by the way is ten times better than break-up sex), but we're both a long, long way from happy. Just like the phoenix rises out of the ashes, real love is baby bird that needs a strong pair of wings before it can truly soar. Perhaps getting back together is a huge mistake and maybe we're falling into the common trap of relationship co-dependency, but when you've gone through hell and back with someone, and realise that life would suck without them, what's one more shot at the end of the day?  

When it comes to the resurrection of one's relationship, do we need to die a tragic death before we become immortal?  

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Last Supper

If you were brought up in a staunch Catholic household as I was, you'll know all about the tedious ceremonials that occur over this so-called "holiday weekend". While most normal children were out and about enjoying Easter egg hunts and weekend getaways at Goudini, Roman Catholic kids were stuck in purgatory, fanning themselves in stuffy church aisles with weekly newsletters as they relive the biblical adventures of Jesus Christ. As if spending the past forty days and forty nights deprived of our vices wasn't bad enough, our ancestors felt the need to use this time as a period of reflection, a reminder that JC's dramatic exit was always part of God's plan to alleviate us of mortal sin.

Trust the Catholics to celebrate something as morbid as execution and immortality on a day that should be reserved for stuffing our faces with chocolate bunnies and Cadbury Creme's. Although my faith in fixed religion went up in smoke a long, long time ago, it didn't stop the story of JC's untimely death from being relevant to my own set of trials and tribulations. Love, betrayal, pain and deceit; the homoerotic subtext of twelve men breaking bread around an illustrious dinner table. I'll probably burn at the gates of hell for making such blasphemous inferences but if there is one thing I gathered from my sixteen years of Catholic existence (and dating), it's that we all have a cross to bear, especially when it comes to love and relationships.

Breaking up with someone you truly love is like fresh hell on earth and can easily be compared to JC's excruciating crucifixion. Hung up, exposed, emotionally wounded and scarred by all the pain and suffering. Tiresome and troubling until all you're left with is a tomb of solitary confinement, half packed boxes of memories and false hopes of resurrecting something that died a long time ago. While some break-ups cross straight over into the realm of rebound, there are others that feel drawn out and worn, like some prolonged act of contrition. The incessant quest for closure can be desperate and devastating, right up to the point where break-up sex seems to be the only form of salvation.

The final supper can be a real feast of sexual and emotional intimacy, driven by a passion so wild that not even God himself could tame it. The transfer of all those raw emotions from one body to the next can be outer-worldly not to mention hot, but at what point does it become damaging? Should all relationships have one final romp before calling it a day and if so, what were the motivations? Are we really doing it for closure, a final goodbye to end the relationship on a good note or are we doing it because we secretly want our exes back safely in our arms where they belong?

One night without Aiden might as well have been forty. It was the first time I slept in a bed alone in almost four years and the first time I felt separation anxiety. No good bye kisses or hugs of console, just an angry accusation based on insecurity and intuition. Were we seriously over this time or was this just another phase that could be fixed with break-up sex? It felt over but there was still an air of uncertainty. The hunger pains for his touch grow steadily with every hour, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether we’d ever share one final supper together? One thing was for sure, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be a Good Friday.

According to the messiah of sexpertology, break-up sex should only happen when both parties consent to the mutual outcome of their separation. It’s been often compared to the night before a big diet; one mammoth binge session before the starvation begins. Was I ready to wean myself off Aiden for good or did his absence only fuel a brighter fire of lust and desire? Would it confuse the situation and my supposed decision or would it bring our relationship closer to resurrection? Would it remedy all the problems we had before or was it a temporary fix to something that seemed destined to be? 

Trust. Appreciation. Respect. Once those elements are missing in a relationship, you might as well nail yourself to a cross. The road to salvation isn’t always a successful one and sometimes we just need to accept our decisions, trust that fucker called intuition and get on with it. While break-up sex can be a great source of uninhibited pleasure, it can also bring out a whole new set of wounds, wounds that might take even longer to heal. Time can only tell what will happen between Aiden and I but in the meantime, thank fuck for chocolate.

When it comes to the crucifixion of long-term relationships, what are the consequences of one final supper? 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Eeny -meeny-miny-ho!

Remember the story about that fearless little girl with the golden perm who braved the big bad world all on her own? Confident, cute and unashamed of overstaying her welcome, Goldilocks has got to be by far one of the greatest literary heroines of all time. Unlike Rapunzel and Red, whose need for instant validation from the first man that came knock, knock, knocking at their tower door, Goldie knew that good things came to those who wait. She wasn't afraid of taking time to explore her options, even if it meant getting lost along the way. While she hadn't a clue about most things in life (such as breaking and entering being punishable by law no matter how blonde and ditzy you are), one thing's for certain...whatever it was, it had to be just right.

Ever since the birth of modern-day feminism, women have earned a reputation for being too choosy, and they don't hide it either. Most women flaunt their picky-ness and wear it on their sleeves like a brand new fashion accessory. From the carbs they may or may not ingest to the expensive shoes they recently purchased on overdraft, right down to the men they date and subsequently marry. Every decision about love and life is calculated and weighed up against a checklist of impossible criteria; criteria that most men in this city fail to meet no matter how eligible they seem to be. This one's too small, that one's too big, that one wasn't quite right. Have we set the bar too high or are certain standards just way too unrealistic?

For the first time in history women are just as powerful and successful as men if not more so which regrettably means one one will ever be good enough. The expectations are sky-high and most men simply don't cut it these days. We've come a long way from good looking charmers on white horses now that we've become our own heroes and breadwinners. Have we shot ourselves in the foot with all this gender equality and girl power entitlement? Are women expected to lower their standards and expectations if they wish to find a suitable spouse and avoid a life of solitary confinement?

Fortunately for mankind, women have always had the ability to adapt and compromise in such troubling circumstances, unlike Goldie, a 30-something year old entrepreneur, who refused to crack under society's pressure. Like most single girls her age, she'd been in the dating game for more than 15 years and clearly longed for the stability of a loving relationship. The only problem is "she hadn't quite met him yet." Most of her friends had already given up on trying to fix her up, resigning themselves to the idea that little Miss Fuss Pot was going to remain single for the rest of her life. Perhaps her lack of compromise was a bit pig-headed but there's something admirable about a girl who refuses to settle for anything less than perfect...

"I have a very clear idea of what it is I want and I refuse to back down on that!" She did have a clear idea and she wasn't going to settle for anything less than a God-fearing athlete with deep pockets who'd respect and spoil her till her dying day. Her checklist seemed to be getting longer and longer as every year went by and started resembling a monthly shopping list. Although she had recently met a number of great eligible, single guys, Goldie had always managed to find fault in each and every one.

"There's definitely a connection there but I just don't feel the chemistry you know?" "I couldn't possibly be serious about a guy who earned less than I did." "He's wonderful but there's just no attraction." She was by definition infuriating. Instead of just settling down with a sensible, warm-blooded man with a stable income and average looks, Goldie had paved the way for a life of spinsterhood with her high standards and unrealistic expectations. Was she sabotaging her own life with these ridiculous hopes or did she really still have faith?

"Every morning I wake up and ask myself, 'is today the day I meet the guy of my dreams?' Clearly I haven't otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation. I've thought about lowering my standards but then I think about all my varsity friends who didn't and who are happily married to the most amazing husbands. Just because I'm single and thirty-several doesn't mean I'm desperate enough to settle for just anybody. I deserve greatness. It's hard trying to stay positive about the future with so many negative people around me telling me that I should give up on my notion of Mr. Right. I'm not OCD and I'm definitely not mental. If I end up dying alone then I'm cool with that too. I'd rather be single and alone than spend my golden years with someone that doesn't rock my world."

While the notion of pursuing Prince Charming in this day and age is about as realistic as Valeria Lukyanova's chest implants, there are certain standards that a woman should never compromise on, no matter how many toads she has to kiss along the way. Sometimes a little compromise can be surprising, and take us on journeys of self-discovery and futures we hadn't really imagined. Whether it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time, we'll never know. Fate and destiny have a funny way of playing out but it all eventually comes to light at the end.  

When it comes to Mr. Right and fairytale endings, should we wait it out or simply take what we can get?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Versions of Violence

A few Sunday's ago at a recent family gathering, my father told me about the new priest in his parish that quite literally practiced what he preached. Our Lady Sovereign had been blessed with their very own rock-star dominee who decided to visit the not-so peaceful community of Brooklyn Heights whilst taking a much needed sabbatical from his popular online web-show, "Hell yeah, Jesus!" My father, who was somewhat Catholic royalty, couldn't believe how powerful and poignant his sermons were and thought his elaborate performances were the hippest thing since Pope Francis' the 10th's twitter account. Of course it all sounded a bit like Hill Song on steroids to me, a former practitioner whose flesh would probably singe at a single speck of holy water, but daddy dearest firmly believed that Mr. Preacher Man's methodology had the power to convert even the unholiest of sinners. 

We often underestimate the power and long-term effects that words have on a person’s psyche. While actions are believed to be far more audible than the spoken form, words have the power to heal, change, inspire and motivate, make us the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be. Sadly, they can also have incredibly destructive side-effects, especially when used to manipulate someone we claim to care for. Hurt, pain, suffering, severe emotional scarring. We seldom think about the consequences of calling that chubby girl at school the human blimp, or the effeminate boy who hangs out with the art crowd a raging homo. Instead, we do it to mask our own insecurities and boost our own sense of control and power within that specific social hierarchy.

But what happens when the bully-victim dynamic crosses over into our professional and personal adult lives? What happens when the torment continues to happen on a daily basis and becomes too much to tolerate? Do we fight back and move on or simply cower underneath the covers of indifference? While some people evolve, others remain exactly the same and carry out this obsessive need dominate everything and everyone around them to the grave. They prey on weaklings with low self-esteem and little to no confidence, fuelling their own masochistic desires to break people down. A romantic relationship is nothing more than an arena used to wield brutal strength on human punching bags. Sticks and stones are infamous for breaking bones, but what about words? Do they really do no harm or are they actually the most soul destroying weapons of human destruction known to man?  
Stupid whore. Slut. I don’t know why I stay with you. It’s hard to believe some of the things we say to the people who we claim to love unconditionally, especially when we are fueled with fury and disappointment. Dina and Shayne had been together for nearly five years, and even though they had there fair share of relationship troubles, it was only recently that the cracks in their relationship started showing. Shayne had always been a bit possessive and controlling over her but not so much to the point where friends and family needed to intervene. There were no physical bruises on the surface but what people didn’t know was how turbulent and emotionally unstable their relationship had become.

After years of silence, Dina finally broke down, and opened up to a small group of friends who had noticed how withdrawn and uninterested she had recently become. She’d always had a low opinion of herself which her friends simply put to her introverted personality, but lately, she was far more open about trashing Shayne publicly. She began to put her needs ahead of his own and made subtle, yet extremely awkward jabs about their relationship at every chance she'd get. “That’s just our sense of humor guys,” she’d brush off whenever her friends tried to confront her about it. What her friends and family didn’t know was that for over a year now, their relationship had become beyond volatile.

They argued all the time about issues of the past, barely communicated two words to one another and some nights, they simply slept in separate bedrooms. Dina felt like she was losing control of her life often feeling like she was going out of her mind. She could no longer confide or express her true feelings to Shayne because she was terrified that he would explode. “You want to leave me so that you can go and fuck around? Of course you want to break up because you’re constantly looking for the easy way out? You never loved me because you don’t know the meaning of the word?” It worked every time. Was Dina trapped by Shayne’s emotional guilt or was Shayne just a master manipulator? Did his words bear any truth at all or were they just clever manoeuvres around her insecurities that would prevent her from leaving?

The push and pull had sent Dina into some very dangerous territory. She found herself delving into some old habits and spending as much time away from home in order to avoid contact with her so-called life partner. “It’s like we’ve started living completely separate lives. I sometimes feel like telling him I’m having an affair just so that he can hurt the way I did and leave. This is such an unhealthy situation, one that has permanently scarred and warped my perceptions about relationships. If I ever get out of this mess, I don’t think I want the inconvenience of another person’s baggage ever again. What’s the point of falling in love when it a) eventually fades away and b) leaves you constantly disappointed?” 

Whoever said that words could never harm you has clearly never been in a dysfunctional relationship. Of course, it could be a lot worse, but when words are used to abuse and manipulate, it's time to seriously evaluate the relationship. While most of these versions of violence are subtle and go by unnoticed, they still have the potential of leaving the biggest mark of all. Do we get out? Should we stay? Are the voices inside our head a result of this abuse or am I really a narcissist undeserving of love? Once the grenade has been detonated, there's no telling if we can ever fully recover from the damage?

When it comes to a war of words, when do we begin to surrender?  

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Demolition Women

If you ever find yourself working in the hotel business for more than five years, you will come across a very expensive but altogether necessary exercise known as "refurbishment". In an attempt to justify the annual increase in preferential, rack and corporate rates, many leading hotels close shop from time to time in order to refresh their tired brand and essentially improve the product and overall client experience. Carpet samples and room extensions, fresh linens and tapestry. Basic amenities such as Charlotte Rhys hand soaps, rain showers and iPod docking stations. The extent of this transformation may vary depending on budget and desired outcome, and while the sole purpose of change is to lure and attract new clientele, it can also be used to retain the attention of more frequent, permanent guests.

Being in your first long-term relationship can be like your first visit to a five star hotel. Once you check in, you never want to check out, especially when the service provided is top class and caters to your every physical and emotional need. Twenty-four hour room service, in-house dining, complementary turn downs. It's no wonder they call the first six months the honeymoon phase, but just like all things new, the novelty of such luxury can sometimes wear off too soon. When you're constantly living the same routine day in and day out, the little things that were once regarded as attractive and appealing can suddenly lose their charm. Sometimes, a slight modification can solve the problem without alienating the guest completely while others feel the compulsive need to totally revamp. It's perfectly understandable that a change is as good as a trip to Puerto Rico, but is it really necessary to whip out the sledgehammer and reconstruct an entire person from scratch?   

"There's a right way of doing it and there's a wrong way of doing it." Taryn, a 42 year-old sales executive had mastered the art of relationship refurbs without compromising too much of herself and without emasculating her partner in the process. "Every relationship eventually goes through a lull and when it does, we find ourselves looking to change particular habits and personality traits within our partners to make us fall in love with them all over again. We want them to be more proactive with the domestics and responsibilities. We want them to push themselves harder in their career. We want to tell them this but because we are human beings we are sensitive creatures so we can't just blurt it out. It requires tact and delicate plan of action."

So how does one begin to refurbish a relationship without riding in on a wrecking ball? When open and honest communication have the potential to backfire, how does one make alterations to their partner without coming across as a Nazi or fishwife?

"James put on quite a few kilo's after Kyle was born and I didn't quite realise how comfortable we were becoming in that skin. He was quite active when we met which was one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place. Suddenly we weren't having sex even though I was horny as fuck so I knew that something had to be done. Instead of making him feel self-conscious or having any kind of awkward conversation where James might implode, I simply took action and hired a personal trainer. Twice a week for two months. Suddenly, we began communicating and laughing again. Not only did it save our sex life but because we were doing something together, it revitalised that connection and intimacy in our relationship."

But how do we distinguish good change from pushy and possessive ones?

"You get some real bitches out there who get some kind of a kick from publicly humiliating and bringing their partners down. I call them Demolition Women. They're the ones who believe in total overhaul. Once they get their hooks into a man and they're comfortable, the hard hats come out. They start telling him what to wear, what to say, how they should and shouldn't wear their hair, what and where he should spend his money. The Blue Balls as I call them. Demolition Women don't want boyfriends. They want a project, someone that they can mould and fit into their warped idea of perfection. Here's a newsflash sweetheart: no man is perfect! The best you can do is encourage him to be the best he can be. The rest is up to him. When you have someone's best interests at heart like that and they're willing to make the necessary changes that will inevitably bring out their full potential, that's when you have vacancy for life."  

Whether the improvement is external or internal, the general consensus around changing one's partner in a relationship is generally not advised. Whether it's his offbeat sense of humour that you used to find funny but now detest or even a physical attribute such as the ten kilo's he's gained since you guys got together, being honest with the person you love without hurting their feelings is nearly impossible. No matter how delicately you approach the subject, there's no good way of telling them that certain qualities repulse and annoy you. You have to be subtle, sensitive and rational. While some partners see light renovations as something constructive and positive, some would rather have the relationship crumble to ruins before making any kind of adjustment. While minor D.I.Y's and home improvements have the potential to save a relationship, at the end of the day we simply have to love our partners just the way they are.

When it comes to changing one's partner in a long-term relationship, I couldn't help but wonder, is it better if we do not disturb?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Lonely Heart

They say that no man is an island, but when you’re the only single woman in her early thirties in a social group full of boyfriends, fiancĂ©es and husbands, it’s pretty hard not to feel like a fucking loner. You've officially become the ninth wheel, the drifter floating amongst a sea full of loved-up couples, and even though you know your time will come - eventually? hopefully? did he die? - the pressure and expectation to settle and become one of “them” can hit you like a tidal wave. Suddenly, the dynamic in friendships changes and you realise that if you don't follow suit soon, it's only a matter of time before you start becoming a liability. I mean, what self-respecting woman in a serious relationship wants to party until 2am at a Sports bar while her single friend flirts up a hurricane with some random Stormer's fan? What’s worse is that your recently paired friend who was once fun to be around and in the same predicament as you has suddenly developed an opinion about your lifestyle and relationship status. The message is coming in loud and clear: find a boyfriend or die alone!

While the intention of wanting your token single friend to find the same joyful bliss love has brought into your life may seem honourable and humbling, it can also come across as selfish, underhanded and patronising. As if witnessing your best mate's new-found happiness, incessant texts to the point of not having a conversation at all and coo's of premarital bliss wasn't scarring enough, being the odd one out evokes a whole bunch of shitty feelings; feelings of doubt, fear and self-loathing, feelings you thought you had already come to terms with. Suddenly the possibility of being a grumpy old spinster with several cats becomes a very possible reality. The internal pressure is already bad enough to make you feel like a leper without all the tragic looks of "don't worry, he's out there" and powerful pearls of wisdom that a 6-month relationship has suddenly bestowed upon them. Yes. Congratulations. You found love and are happily on your way towards marriage and baby-making days...not to mention the possibility of divorce!! #justsaying 

Jealousy is just one of the many other colourful emotions that comes with being the last one standing. Throw in a bit of confusion, sensitivity and resentment and you'll have the perfect recipe for alienating the friendships you once cherished. Of course we want nothing more than to feel genuine happiness for our friends and their good fortune but at the same time, we are petrified of losing them to kitchen teas, baby showers and play dates. Change is a natural part of evolution to a woman becoming a wife and mother, a change that a singleton might not completely understand right now. Are these just temporary feelings of insecurity and uncertainty until they catch the boat themselves or do certain friendships have expiration dates? Are great friendships doomed the minute an amorous knight appears on a white horse? Neigh, say it ain't so?

"Friendships are very much like romantic relationships. It doesn't matter how long you've been together, friends, like lovers, can sometimes grow apart." Charlotte was my favorite single white female about to hit 33 with no potential partner in sight. She had been dating since the age of 16, saw the love of her life marry a Frida Kahlo look-a-like and was now the last one in her friendship circle to be married off. She'd never once felt miserable or deflated about her non-platonic endeavours and strongly believed that the sweet Lord above had an awesome plan in store for her. It was only until recently when she missed an invitation to some couple's retreat that she began questioning the severity of her singleness and the impact it had on herself and her relevant friendships. 

"When your gay friends start talking about adoption, it's a sign that it's time to start moving on and finding some like-minded friends. You'll always be friends because of the history and love you share with one another but the minute you fall out of sync with your bestie, then you might as well put out a wanted ad in the lost and found section." Charlotte's feelings of abandonment had forced her to go out and meet a recently divorced mother of two to fill her own social void. She was everything her friends weren't at the moment; available, mutually responsive and relatable.

"What couples don't seem to realise is how self-involved they become. It really does become all about "them" and "their" happiness, almost as if there's nothing in your life that they could possibly relate to anymore. All of sudden you're treated differently, sympathetically, like not having someone to share your life with right now is the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. It's extremely off-putting."

Did couples feel the same way about their single friends? Selfish shells of self-importance that have nothing more to contribute to the relationship? Reckless and pitiful reminders of the things they no longer regard as important? Marriage, children, life partners. Of course we all want the same things but why should singletons be cast away the minute their timing is off? Should they find a way of trying harder to keep up with the Joneses or should they wade through these temporary waves of loneliness and just keep swimming?

"The most lonely aspect is how one day you're that person's person through all their hardships and agony and the next, it's like you barely exist. It seems like it was only yesterday that you were trying on training bra's together and getting your first visit from Aunty Flow. Your first boyfriend and heartbreak. The first time you had sex. Now, she's too busy reading mommy blogs and recipe books to spend a little q-time with the friend that used to be her emotional crutch."

Romantic relationships can make it difficult to retain one's independence and individuality especially when you're thinking of taking the next big step. While some people are able to remain themselves within a unit, others are quite happy morphing into Stepford versions of themselves abandoning the past and looking only towards the future. While some friendships are able to survive the ultimate test of time, there are others that, just like relationships, were simply doomed from the moment she said, "I do."  

When it comes to friendships versus relationships, what came first? The boyfriend or the BFF?