Category Archives: Neale’s Posts

Sex, lies and a bowl of 2 minute noodles – by Neale

I had an exchange with a friend of mine not too long ago. Well, perhaps “friend” is the wrong word. “Person I know” is probably more accurate. Although, if I’m honest, I don’t really know her all that well. Or even at all. Skrew it, let’s just call her “a person”. So I was chatting to a person the other day (who happens to be pregnant) and she remarked, whilst eating a bowl of 2 minute noodles (the South African equivalent to Ramen) that “this is obviously what the baby wanted”. Nothing wrong with that, right? Pretty normal thing to say. Well, not normal for EVERYONE to say, I guess. I once told a waiter, after ordering ribs, that “the baby was having the STRANGEST cravings” and got more than a few worried looks over the course of the evening. And, possibly, a little bit of saliva in my basting sauce. Regardless, pregnancy cravings are a thing, I’m told and so this person’s statement was hardly a shocking one. Although, I did find myself wondering, could SHE not just have felt like a bowl of 2 minute noodles at lunch time on a Wednesday? They’re somewhat tasty and somewhat lunch appropriate. Did EVERY meal really have to be the result of strict, nazi-style orders from the occupant of her womb?

This got me thinking of lies (again).Lies, and the motivation behind us doing the things we do. Let’s start with a typical work scene. It’s shockingly early ‘o clock on a Monday morning. That blogger from South Africa you enjoy reading has forgotten to upload his promised Sunday post, AGAIN, (sorry) and you’re at your cramped desk, wishing you were pretty much anywhere else in the entire world. A chipper co-worker enters, asking about your weekend. You snap at stupid Patrice and her stupid too small purple dress, who shrinks off with a smile a few molars smaller than when she walked in. Some hours later, you feel bad and apologize to stupid Patrice, explaining that you “hadn’t had your morning coffee yet.”
Or, if you’ll allow me to get a bit risqué, you’re hanging out “at da club”, feeling sorry for yourself because your significant other/crush/bae (pukes in mouth) hasn’t been showing you that hoochy love that you need. So you go hunting around the club for the first sweaty body willing to have an ill-advised tryst with you. Because you’re sad. And trysts make sad you feel better.

Both of these scenarios seem perfectly logical and reasonable, right? You haven’t had your morning coffee so you lashed out. Normal. You were sad about your failing love life and so wanted a little validation of the lips-on-lips kind. Normal. Or you were a pregnant lady eating some cheap food because of them cravings. All normal. But, like, people lash out even when they have had their morning coffee, right? And not pregnant people eat 2 minute noodles too sometimes, right? And people kiss other peoples in clubs, right? (I’m told this happens). For no reason other than because they want to do these things. Which got me thinking. Maybe:

a) You don’t NEED a deeper reason to do these things and other things and things in general and/or
b) maybe we use the cause/effect and corresponding solution of popular culture as an excuse for our behaviour.

As I said in point A, if you’re gonna do your thing, do it. I’m not so narcissistic to believe that what I say will change how you do things anyway. (I totally am). But, maybe, there’s also room for us to evaluate our decisions on a case by case basis. To decide how we feel about something without just falling into how we’re expected to behave or respond. To ask whether this thing that I’m doing makes sense FOR ME, or whether it just makes sense for MY FRIENDS. (Or YOU and YOUR FRIENDS. or whatever. You know what I mean, dammit.) Maybe, even without your morning coffee, you don’t need to lash out at stupid Patrice? (Or maybe, even WITH your morning coffee and a croissant, you DO need to lash out at stupid Patrice. Because who doesn’t know what toner is?) Maybe you don’t need to touch faces with THAT boy in the club. What about THAT boy in the club? Or THAT girl? (For you boy readers. I am not a pervert. Winking face.) And maybe you pregnant ladies, … nope. You just keep doing and eating what you want. You’re perpetuating the future of our species. Go to town on those noodles.

The ultimate pregnancy snack

The ultimate pregnancy snack

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Define interventions – Neale Christy

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Who am I?

Sorry, that’s what we in the industry (the “people who forget to blog in exchange for no money” industry? Ed) call a “rhetorical question”. I know it’s been a few long weekends since I last posted here, but I haven’t forgotten that my name is… Neale. (As you can tell by the elipses, I thought about making a joke about forgetting my name/needing to know who I was. But I’m too tired. Mondays).

But yes, who am we? I was thinking about that question a lot this weekend (OK, “a lot” is obviously not true. But it sounded better than “I was thinking about this for roughly 2 and a quarter minutes before watching another episode of Blue Bloods. Have you seen that show? It’s excellent. And by “it”, I of course mean Tom Selleck’s moustache.) As is so often the case when posed with a tricky existential question about man and his ultimate place in the universe, my mind immediately went to a quote from a great movie. 

“You are Julie… great knees, powerful brain. You can do this.”

The above (as you all obviously know) is a quote from Sleepover, starring Alexa Vega (former Spy Kid). It’s a film about a group of girls trying to complete a scavenger hunt before some weird apparently pre-teen boys and a group of popular girls complete the same scavenger hunt… so that they can have lunch next to some fountain at their new junior high school. Some have likened it to a modern re-imagining of Dickens’ Great Expectations. (Far more have likened it to the worst movie ever made. But let’s not give those philistines the time of day.)

So, in Sleepover, the main character Julie’s admittedly more attractive friend defined her as “great knees, powerful brain”. Julie wasn’t too thrilled about this definition. A few jaw-droppingly awesome and brilliant movie seconds later, she was defined again, this time as “Basketball, boarding and dogs.

Interestingly enough, Jules preferred this definition. Personally, I’d probably choose the brain and knees stuff. (Seriously though, what sets a great set of knees apart from their more mediocre counterparts? Are these knees solving the conflict in the Middle East? And, whilst we’re on that topic, who goes through a mental checklist of their friend and says, yes, OUT OF ALL OF THE CHARACTERISTICS ABOUT FEMALE FRIEND LEAD CHARACTER I COULD POSSIBLY COMPLIMENT, “knees” is the one I’m choosing. Knees. Not even “Powerful brain, super hot knees” or “Powerful brain, knees-which-look-great-in-a maxi-skirt.” No. “Great” knees. Powerful brain. Oscar winning gold.)  But Alexa Vega character, as she so often does, knew better than I because definition number 2 got her the dreamy floppy haired male lead boyfriend type, making us all go awwwwww. Yay her.

Much like Alexa Vega character, we are constantly asked to define ourselves, thanks to social media. To “write a bio”. To update our “about section”. To do… whatever it is one does on Google plus. I thought I’d have a look back at some of my self-definitions. The results weren’t pretty. Below is my current Facebook “about”:

 

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” – Oscar Wilde

I love laughing, and making people laugh. Music is one of my passions, but I’m far too lazy to play an instrument. I played piano for 7 years. The one thing I’m serious about is my relationship with God. And my hatred of girl schoolpants (sorry girls in schoolpants) and crocs. Football/soccer is another thing I love doing and talking about and playing and talking about playing. I love soccerball. I love my friends and will do almost anything for them, provided I can see them at all times, and can’t get any serious jail time for it, even though I’m also an amateur rebel in my spare time. I enjoy rapping with my homie J to the O to the Shhhh, as part of the world renowned rap group “New Walk”. Like New York, just New Walk? Clever…

Did I make use of a faux deep quote from a dead author I hadn’t yet read and which I didn’t completely understand, to make me look “layered and complex” for the ladies? Heck yeah. Did I throw in some “inside jokes” that one person found not un-ammusing that one time but which completely failed to translate to anyone else who may have ended up reading this bio? Why WOULDN’T I??? Do I hate myself and everything I stood for as a snotty 18 year old drain on the economy? Yes. All of that stuff.

Definitions, man. (Worst superhero ever?) They’re important things. When I’m introduced to someone new in real life, 9 times out of 9, I’ll go with “Hi, I’m Neale. I’m a lawyer.” Why do I do this? It’s definitely not because I particularly enjoy being a lawyer or because I feel like the “stereotypical lawyer” necessarily describes me to any degree of accuracy. If anything, I believe the opposite to be true, which is one of the reasons I don’t particularly enjoy being a lawyer. Yet it’s still the way I introduce myself. I know I’m not alone in this. WHY? I can recall Mikel pointing out how many elderly Australian men are big suicide risks because of a lack of purpose following retirement. What gives? We bitch about our jobs for 30 years, then can’t cope without them? Are we so trapped that what we do for money is really the thing that most adequately describes us?

Maybe we’re scared that new people won’t get all that nuanced stuff that makes up “me”. Maybe we don’t care or maybe we’re just scared other people don’t/won’t. I don’t know. But, given that it’s probably how you’re going to be remembered/described to others anyway, maybe it’s time for a bit of a change, introduction wise. All I know is, given the choice, even “Great knees. Powerful brain” seems cooler than “I’m a lawyer”.

The age old old age problem – Neale Christy

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Good morning Vietnam!!!!!!!!!!! (Is this still relevant? No? Dammit, late again.) I apologize for my one week hiatus from the It’saSmallWord (trade mark sign) world, but I was taking some me time. I’m really incredibly busy and important (and not at all absent minded or lazy) and sometimes this means I don’t put things on the internet for people(?) to read/mock/post angry emails about. My suspicion is that my one reader will survive.

So. Old people. I’ve really enjoyed pretending to read through everyone else’s posts on the topic. Like really. Top notch words on “old”, guys. I particularly enjoyed it when Amanda wrote that witty anecdote about people who are old. And when Abner said those words that Abner said. Just wonderful.

As you all have probably gathered, the West[1] is not the biggest of fans of the elderly. Well, I suppose TECHNICALLY, the west isn’t the biggest fan of GROWING old, but if you’re the “it” girl/boy of the 7cm bifocal and mahogany cane brigade, chances are you’re going to be the recipient of some “I AM TERRIFIED OF GROWING OLD” disdain/ire/hatred.

In any event, ”growing old is boring,” we are told. Poppycock. Have you ever stopped to think about all the things old people are allowed to do that are actually totally awesome? No, you say? Because you have a real life and real things to do, you mumble dismissively? Fantastic! Allow me to enlighten you… With another super cool list!

  1. You can use words like Poppycock. Or lavatory. Or jumper. Without feeling the remotest inkling of shame. The world expects these words of you. Give the people what they want.
  2. You can go to the bathroom all the time. As a young person, it’s kind of frowned upon to go to the bathroom a lot. It freaks out comp’ny. So you have to grin and bear it. You’re also not allowed to use multiple bathroom visits as a means of avoiding tedious conversations. As people will think there’s something wrong with you. When you’re old though – there probably is something wrong with you! So go to the bathroom to your heart’s content.
  3. You can wear slippers everywhere. People tell me crocs are comfortable. People tell me running shoes are comfortable. But there is only one truly comfortable piece of footwear – the slipper. And old people are allowed to rock these bad boys everywhere. Lucky.
  4. No need to ever go to the bathroom again. Not going to elaborate, ‘cos gross. But seriously. Never.
  5. You can go to bed at 6PM. You know those days where you just “can’t deal” anymore and would rather just go to sleep, but can’t because it’s 6PM and that would be “like, total freaking social suicide”? Well this is not a problem when you’re an old person! Go to sleep insanely early. Wake up at 3am. Do “you”, man.
  6. It doesn’t matter what you say. Or to whom. Old people get away with saying anything, regardless of how offensive and inappropriate or non-sensical, just because they’re “cute and old”. Basically, you have licence to be a bad-ass baller thug. With a pimp cane. And grills.

I think I’d make a really good old person right now. But, if I’m honest, the idea of growing old terrifies me too. But I think what terrifies me most, at the moment, is the fear that I will have missed out on something, whether that be love or an accomplishment or life experiences or some or other skill. Or just something that I’ve delayed and put off with excuses until one day I wake up and realize it’s too late and I’ve missed my chance to do or to be or to love. And I think this is the biggest thing I take from any discussion about aging. The reminder not to let stuff that you don’t care about prevent you from doing stuff you do, because no-one wants to wake up one day with more regrets than memories. If you get that right, I think, it shouldn’t really matter what “the world” thinks about you when you’re old. ‘Cos you’ll be a bad-ass OG (with a pimp cane and grills), looking back on a full life and a clutch of happy memories.

(And if you get it wrong? That’s life I guess. Try not to take it too seriously. We’re all going to die.)

[1] South Africa, where I’m from, is obviously not technically part of the “West”, geographically. Although, I suppose, technically-technically (how many technicallys could I put in here before the word becomes redundant) it is, as “West” was originally used to describe anything West of “the east” – China, India, Japan etc. But, in an ideological sense, South Africa has always identified with Europe and to a lesser extent the US when it comes to trends and values, our similar views on growing old being a case in point.

What lies behind us by Neale Christy

I arrived at work this morning (after taking some festival related leave this weekend) to discover a mountain of work the likes of which I’ve only ever read about in books about people who committed suicide because of having too much work to do. Don’t worry about me though, my office is 28 floors up and I’m pretty sure the windows can be opened with a firm kick from a desperately crying man. (If you haven’t already realized, this is what they call “a cry for help”. Send puppies, trained hug based specialists/super models or people who don’t mind doing my job for me for no pay or appreciation ASAP.)

Naturally, instead of actually doing any work, I thought I’d give you some thoughts on a topic that’s very close to my heart: lying. Let it not be said that I don’t focus on what really matters in my blog posts. So; lying. We all do it, don’t we?

“New haircut? Looks bitchin’.”

“Ah, stranger I haven’t seen since highschool! Tell me about your life, I’m more than marginally interested.”

“You sent me an email? That’s weird. Must have gotten lost in my spam filter.” (That this is still accepted so completely in 2014 is hilarious to me.)

“Don’t be silly, of course I don’t think your peanut butter and anchovet flavoured prawn jambalaya tastes like old people’s feet. I always throw up a little when I’m excited.”

I’m beginning to understand why I haven’t found love. Anyway, contrary to what the completely true-life examples I’ve given you above may indicate, I’m actually pretty good at lying. When I need to be. Advocates for the truth (losers) like to talk about the perils of the “web of lies” you create to keep your first few lies going, but I prefer to think of them as more of a complex combination of lie-threads, woven together to create a garment of some sorts. An invisibility cloak of lies perhaps. Cocooning you with its embrace of untruths from well-meaning family members and annoying telemarketers named Glenda who just don’t seem to understand that I don’t want to join your stupid gym. Basically, lying is fun. (I’m secretly a nice person, I promise). (Another lie!)

You know what’s less fun though? Being lied to. Even the little lies like “sorry I missed your call” kind of hurt when you know for a fact they are not true. I can never quite decide if it’s the truth behind the lie that has hurt me or if it’s just the fact that I’ve been lied to. Because very rarely do we ever find out “the truth,” anyway. It’s always more a case of realizing what you’re being told is untrue and reading between the lines a bit. (Unrelated, but it’s astounding how many of my friends who blow me off end up meeting with my first grade bully and the girl who rejected me at that one camp to gossip and say mean things about me and my new T-shirt).

I suppose, at the end of the day, it’s a trust issue right? And regardless of whether you’re the kind of person who trusts new people automatically or someone who expects new people to earn that trust, catching someone out telling lie(s) does some damage to that relationship. The hope is, obviously, that the relationship can be repaired over time but sometimes it just seems a whole bunch easier to front up and say, “Yes. You do look a bit fat in those jean shorts.”
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It’s a G thing by Neale Christy

Good morning. And, in case I don’t see you, Good afternoon, good evening and good night. (I love Jim Carrey!). I’ve spent a large portion of the week that was listening to rap music. And what I’ve learned is there’s nothing like some good gangsta tunes to cut to the core of an issue. Oft criticized for being a bit “samey”, this week has taught me just how diverse the collective rappers’ body of work actually is.

 

“She look good, but I know she after my cheddar/ She tryna get in my pockets, homie and I ain’t gon’ let her”

— 50 Cent, Wanksta

 

 

I for one am thrilled at 50 (AKA “Ferrari”???) finding time in between busting caps and grindin’ hoes to rap about something real. Like good cheese. Given how cut-throat the rap world is, it must have been very difficult for him growing up, cultivating an appreciation for artisanal cheese-making (‘cos you just know he’s all about that hand-made cheddar). I feel for the kid, but I’m happy that he’s reached a level of success that allows him to proclaim his love for dairy based snacking without fear of judgement. If we wanted to be overly-critical, we could point out that cheddar is a pretty meh cheese to hype, but, given that he’s got girls trying to hang onto his pocket like that creepy guy from Prison Break, his exposure to the world of fine cheeses has understandably been a little stunted.

 

“She got a big booty so I call her Big Booty
— 2 Chainz, Birthday Song

 

 

People get quite agitated with 2 chainz, but I’m at a loss as to why. If your female companion has a “big booty” then what, exactly, do you suggest calling her other than “Big Booty”? “Her actual name,” you plead? That’s obviously not gangsta, you square. (Is “square” still an acceptable insult for a straight up G?) Also, I feel that people don’t give Mr Chainz enough credit for his expert use of capital letters here, illustrating perfectly that Big Booty has, in fact, become the young damsel’s name. Disproving, once and for all, the notion that proper grammar isn’t street.

 

“Don’t knock me off my high horse, what I do is my choice
I’m high as the scoreboard, bitch look up at my points

— Lil Wayne, Trippy

 

Weezy F baby seems like a confident fellow and it’s great that he’s standing up for himself and his human right to choose. More cynical commentators may point out that his understanding of the idiom “sitting on your high horse” leaves a bit to be desired, but the “confusion” has obviously been used intentionally to reiterate how what he does is his choice, man! These are words to live by.

Regardless, It’s clear he understands how a scoreboard works and it’s nice that he’s chosen what can be quite a limiting medium to point it out to his pet dog. It’s also sweet that he doesn’t reveal his pup’s name in the song, obviously as a means of protecting her from the harsh glare of the papparazi, which I’m sure she would appreciate. If she wasn’t a dog.

 

“She fell in love with the martian
I said you too down to Earth”

Lil Wayne, Wowzers

 

Wayne Jr, again, dropping truth bombs on an unsuspecting public. You would think that inter-planetary romance has no place in rap music, but Lil Tunechi clearly illustrates the folly in that way of thinking by reminding us that the themes of “unrequited desire”, “rejection” and “complications caused by distance” are timeless ones, that almost anyone can identify with. Shakespeare-esque stuff, really. I feel great sympathy for the young lady character, stuck on Earth whilst her martian lover flits about the cosmos, rebuffing her advances. However, I also can’t help but empathize with the martian character, who puts on a tough-guy facade but who is clearly only using his strong words as a defence mechanism, rejecting her before he can be rejected himself, subtly admitting that his home on Mars may mean him being alone for the rest of his life. Really moving stuff.

 

Reading through the lyrics of some of my favourite rap ditties, I was struck by two somethings. (Figuratively of course. I know I may come accross pretty ghetto, but I don’t actually live in the hood). The first is that rappers are fortunate that they talk too fast for people to hear what it is that they’re saying all the time. Cos they lyrics be dumb. But, secondly, after a little period of quietly judging myself, I realized how much I really do love rap music. How much I love the rhymes, whether complex and surprising or vulgar and sexist. How much I love the spine warping bass-lines. How much I love the ridiculously over the top music videos.

 

And, since no conversation about rap music could be complete without a little racial stereotyping, I think it’s important that I point out that my love of rap music is in spite of me being the whitest person in all the land. (Ok, THIS guy is actually the whitest person in all the land. But I’m probably a close second). And what better to show off my “whiteness” than by making a list!

 

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The afore-mentioned White List

*quickly googles things that make someone “white”

  1. I’m quite partial to the mini shampoo bottles one gets from hotels. Miniature foods and miniature pets are also pretty neat. So are bonzais. And mini-golf/putt-putt. Pretty much all miniature versions of things.
  2. I like using a fork to eat sushi. We have evolved beyond the use of sticks as cutlery.
  3. I have been known to have fights over games of monopoly.
  4. I have one dance move, which I whip out most Saturday nights at the discotheque(s?) until people realize that it is, in fact, my only dance move.
  5. I sometimes clap at the end of particularly moving movies or sports games or advertisements featuring talking puppies.
  6. I like Coldplay. And Katie Perry. And Macklemore.
  7. I have a jo (Boy, that turned a bit racist rather quickly. Thanks for nothing, Internet)

 

In my mind, the thing that most people who like it relate to in rap music is the attitude. That swagger. The 4 minute-something escape from your life that it offers you, where you can pretend that you have the confidence to do and say whatever it is you want, because there’s no-one more impressive than you. You’re invincible, says rap music, and it’s this infectious sense of FIGJAM (Google it, it’s a little naughty) that I most enjoy plugging into. That, and the ability to laugh at just how ridiculous I would be as a rapper. Nale (pronounced Nah-lay). Tell that pig and that cow I’ll go ham if there’s beef. Word(s).

Music makes the people come together. Yeah.

Good evening, blog reader people. We’ve had some fun, over the last 3/4 weeks, haven’t we? Our smorgasbord of writers have learned us many a thing about independence, what it means for their countries and how it could/should look on a personal level.  Independence isn’t really a topic I’ve thought about too often in my twenty something years on planet earth, but it’s nevertheless been interesting reading my fellow It’s a small word (trade mark sign) writers’ views, even when those views are different to mine. (That said, Mikel is a big stupid head and the smart play is to just ignore everything he writes in the future).

The event that initially sparked this whole discussion – Scotland’s potential independence from the UK – was finalised on Friday morning, with the Scots being a little naughty and voting NO, foregoing the whole independence thing. (Incidentally, what is the past tense of the word “forego”? One would assume it would be “forewent” but come on. That just sounds ridiculous). Whether or not the vote is a good thing, I’m not sure. But I did think it was an interesting (playing fast and loose with the word “interesting”, I’ll admit) illustration of independence in action. Sometimes people acting independently don’t make the choices you want them too. Sometimes they’ll make choices you didn’t even realise were options. And sometimes they’ll just say “no thanks” to the idea of independence altogether.

This evening I’m going to further illustrate the power of independence by not writing about independence. (The pedants amongst you will point out that, since I’ve already written nearly 270 odd words on the subject, this isn’t much of an illustration. To those people I say… clap. clap. clap) Instead, I wanted to speak to you about some new music I downloaded completely legally and definitely not through use of a torrent this week. Not about the music itself (Twin Atlantic’s Great Divide, if you MUST know), but about the importance of music in so many of our lives.

A guy named Nick Frost wrote this post on getting married to music, which you should totally read just for lines like

“Don’t be ridiculous. Music is openly polygamous. In fact, the entire world is engaged in an ongoing orgy with music! Somedays, you’ll even have passionate soirees with multiple genres. So casual.”

The reason I like that post so much is because it gets us laughing AND learning. Because music is weirdly important, right? To everyone. Even people who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves MUSIC LOVERS have those playlists for when they want to get amped or when they want to hate themselves at the gym or when they want to have a good cry over that guy from Grey’s anatomy who died. There are countless songs in my collection that are linked to a person or a place or a moment, often times transporting me back to the Neale that I was when I first fell in love with them. I’ve heard music described as the audible murmurings of one’s soul (how deep is THAT for the start of a new week) and there’s a lot to be said for music’s ability to speak for you when you don’t really know how to speak for yourself. And, if music really is your soul’s voice, it’s easy to see why so many of us end up bonding over music. (Daaaaaayum, guuuuuuuuuuurl, this my jam! THIS MY JAM!!!!) On a basic level, it lets us know that we’re not alone. That other people think and feel the way we do. And that’s quite nice.

 

Another sunday-ish blog post

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“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela

I know, I know. A South African opening a blog post with a quote from Nelson Mandela. I’m a clichéd mess. Sue me. (Please don’t sue me.) But it’s a nice quote. It’s nice to be optimistic about man’s inherent good-ness, sometimes. Personally, I’ve seen a lot more evidence supporting a quote like “human beings are a disease” (Matrix. The first one. Remember how good that film was? Life Changing. But what the hell was up with those sequels?) but it’s nice to do the whole glass half full thing sometimes, right?

Back to that original quote and, more pertinently, how it relates to the question of independence. M-dog postulates that discrimination is a learned behaviour. And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t come across many schools offering “People of Spanish origin are lazy” 101 as an elective. So Mandela, smart dude that he was, was probably hinting at some other form of learning. The kind of learning that teaches us what your husband/wife is supposed to look like. Or what sports little boys or little girls are allowed to play. Or who deserves your respect and who doesn’t. It’s subtle, it’s (largely) unspoken and it’s so entrenched as to feel natural. Like you came up with it yourself.

And that’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? Because I think all of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, carry a spot ‘o blind seething hatred towards a people group or two. Some of us can even defend that hatred for a while. (Have you SEEN how they drive?) But, when we get right down to it, we have to get that racism, sexism, homophobiaism and bloggerism (the worst and most hateful of all the isms) are all… well, a bunch of crap, right? Below the skin, people are all pretty much just people. But prejudice continues indiscriminately discriminating across the globe, irrespective of age, education or gender.

“Hey. Neale. Thanks for preaching to us bro,” I hear you saying.

“ We really appreciate it. Really,” I can imagine you adding.

“But… what does ANY of this have to do with independence.”

Independence, on an individual level, starts with YOU. (Yes, I know it ACTUALLY starts with the letter I. Hilarious. Let’s keep going, ok?)

What do you want? Who do you want to spend time with? Where do you want to live? What is important to you? The answers to these questions, and the decisions that follow those answers, are the foundation on which independence is built. (You know, “starts with I” would have worked a lot better in that earlier sentence. ‘cos it actually does start with I, but also, like, the personal pronoun. But I’m too lazy to change it now. Just re-read it and imagine it the way it should be. Come to think of it, maybe you should do that with the rest of this piece…)

But, how many of these decisions are actually our own? I mean, if we can be taught to hate multiple people groups for arbitrary reasons like skin colour or which gender they love, how many other externally-made decisions are we passing off as our own? That celebrity you admire or that guy from high school with the cool jacket or your friends and family –  could they be the real decision makers in your life? And the real kicker, I think, is IF these are the people making your decisions, who is making decisions for them?

Maybe none of this matters. Who really cares whether you’re styling your hair a certain way because a girl you liked reacted positively to it once. But it does make me wonder about independency as a concept. It’s a lie guys. A false construct. We have little to no control over what happens to us and, what control we do have, is handed over to other people, at least to some degree. Whilst it feels good and just to fight for our right to live how, where and why we want, independency, when we peal back its ogre-like layers, is just another form of control.

Ants of Indep

Hi there! Hello. I’m something of a latecomer to this little blogger shindig conversation thing that’s happening. Truth be told, I’m something of a latecomer to most things in life. I struggle to keep deadlines. Appointments. Really anything that involves structured adherence to a time of arrival or performance. And, since last week was supposed to be an introductory blog type thing, what better way to introduce myself and my struggles with lateness than by posting my introduction one week late! A selfless act that had absolutely nothing at all to do with me forgetting that I was supposed to write something. I did this for you, dear readers. You’re welcome.

 

“But Neale,” I imagine you saying. (I like to imagine people on the internet asking me questions. It’s one of the reasons I’m still single)

“Surely there’s more to you than just being ridiculously good-looking and kind and humble and witty and an amazing chef? (Did I mention I was single?) Can’t you tell us about YOU and what we can expect from your posts on It’s A Small Word (trade mark sign)?”

 

The answer is NO! Whilst I may be many MANY amazing things, a narcissist, I think we can all agree, is not one of them. So, instead, I’ve collected an assortment of quotes about myself and who I am, which I’m going to dispense to you all, Oprah’s book club style.

 

“This is why you’re my second favourite son”

– My Dad

 

“His writing is so beautiful it makes my soul weep”

– My imaginary friend, Derek

 

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I know anyone by that name.”

– My favourite high school teacher

 

“That’ll be R7,50”

That cashier I met at the corner shop yesterday.

 

“Leave me alone or I’m going to call the security guards.”

A man in a green jersey reading the newspaper.

 

There you have it. I think it’s safe to conclude that I’m way too important for this blog. I’m excited to be involved anyway.DCIM100GOPRO

So, independence. It’s a big deal to a lot of people, both in Scotland and out (side of Scotland). On a grand scale, it involves people groups governing themselves and it’s crazy to stop and think of how much of global history and the identity of the world’s countries began with a fight for the ability to do that. My own country, South Africa, became a republic in the 1960s after systematically cutting the legal and political links it had with Britain, and it’s something that many South Africans still look back on fondly today. Of course, it did contribute to entrenching the systemic racism that plagued South Africa until 1994’s first democratic election. But hey. At least it’s harder for us to travel internationally now.

 

On a personal level, independence is something young people especially are very passionate about. We (I’m young, can you tell?) want to obtain independence from our parents by the getting of flats (which we can’t afford) and jobs (which we don’t really like). People who are recently broken up like to post on Facebook how good it is to “finally be independent” so they can “start figuring out how to be a me instead of a we”. Questionable grammar aside, these sorts of conversations and posts always seem to carry an undercurrent of trying too hard-ness. And, to me, that screams of an ideology which we all feel really strongly about supposed to be wanting, rather than an ideology that we actually want.

 

I’m being unfairly glib here, particularly about national independence, which is important to many people for a number of good and valid reasons that I’m not going to share with you right now. My point is simply that a lot of the time, specifically on a personal level, we feel pressured into chasing this pipe dream of independence that we don’t necessarily want or truly understand. I mean, regardless of how hard we fight, the INDEPENDENCE that we manage to get our hands on is always going to be something of a false construct. Our financial well-being is going to depend on a boss or a job, as is our home, whilst both are also dependent on the economy, which is then obviously dependent on those other guys in government or on the banks or subprime lenders or something. Our health, too, is a huge part of any independence we may fashion, yet it’s something that we have almost zero control over and which could be taken away from us tomorrow. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday. (I think you see where I’m going with this).

 

Look, I’m not saying don’t try and learn about yourself and do things on your own. You are the person you spend the most time with, so, if you learn to love that person, your life is bound to be a whole lot nicer. And getting a job and moving out of your parents’ house is a good way of getting to know Neale. If you’re me, of course. You probably won’t get to know Neale so much, but can get to know your own name by doing those things that I’ve suggested. (Although, I am pretty lonely so we could probably get to know each other too. Once you’ve got your life together. You loser.) But, there are plenty of other cultures around the world (usually mocked for being “primitive”) that celebrate the importance of the community over the importance of the self. And, whilst they may not all have 85 square metre lofts in the city centre with granite counters, a reading nook and 1/2 a parking spot,  they do, a lot of the time, seem pretty happy. And it’s kind of nice to be happy. Both independently and together.