Wednesday, 18 December 2013

December Moon

Moon - Sia

I watch you spin from afar
I drink you in and breathe you out

I'm camouflaged by the time line
I'm camouflaged when the sun shines

Two ships passing in, in the night
Two lips pressing ground the tides

I believe the world it spins for you
We will never be, you are the moon
I believe the world it spins for you
We will never be, you are the moon

I long to be a part
I isolate my heart

You've drawn me into your world
Now, I too spin limbless

One hand clapping, where's the wind
I stand spanning at your distant wings

I believe the world it spins for you
We will never be, you are the moon
I believe the world it spins for you
We will never be, you are the moon
I believe the world it spins for you
We will never be, you are the moon

(Words in italics changed)

Rest in peace my little December Moon
Cherry Blossom

Friday, 6 December 2013

A Tribute to Madiba

I am a white girl who was born in Boksburg in 1979. For those who don’t know, Boksburg was at the heart of the apartheid movement, and the laws governing that place were as vicious, oppressive and cruel as ever could be in our darkened history. I came from a poor family, but still a daughter of privilege in the sense that my skin colour allowed me access to the local swimming pool, public toilet, the library and to picnic and walk by the legendary Boksburg Lake. My happiest early childhood memories include train rides at the little park for children next to the Lake, winning a fancy paint-set at a Christmas colouring-in competition at the library, and long summer afternoons splashing freely in the pools. To the outside world, apartheid never affected me negatively as a child, but that is not entirely true. I was guilty of the sin of acceptance, albeit unconscious acceptance. I was taught by my societal surroundings that black people were not capable of keeping the lake clean, unable to respect the value of books and words, and, in horrifically extreme cases, taught by the church that blacks were the sons of Ham, who, according to the Bible, were cursed to live under the oppression of their white brothers forever - and it was their own fault. I accepted these teachings as a small child, never questioning them or the authorities who told them to me. I was a white child in South Africa, being taught to be a racist.

My parents were involved in missions, and opened a Christian school in the Boksburg town center. This was the only school there to have both white and black students attend together. And this is where I first noticed that something was not right. When my black skinned friends were not allowed to come with me to the library, I asked my mother why, and she explained to me that while it was wrong and an injustice, that the laws prohibited it because of their skin colour. This had me baffled. I could not for the life of me think what could possibly be different between my friends and myself – we played games, laughed and learned together. One of my friends had managed to get a hold of green nail polish and I thought it was the most fabulous nail colour I had ever seen. She was my hero! And she was just like me, surely?

But as I grew older, it was continuously reaffirmed to me that no, she wasn’t. She was black. Therefore inferior. It wasn’t her fault, it was her skin colour. We as white people could be kind, ‘un-racist’ and loving towards these lesser beings – we would open our homes to them when the fighting in Vosloorus (a local settlement development where black people were removed to in the 60’s under the apartheid regime) was too dangerous for them to go home – we could give them our old clothes and tins of food when they came begging, but we were, of course, by all accounts, the superior race. I lived in a protected bubble where I was not exposed to the true atrocities that were happening. But the curse of the privileged is the belief that we deserve our privilege, and others don’t. I was being gently coerced into being a delicately tailor-made racist. A nice one, but a racist none the less.

Mandela was released from prison when I was ten years old. I remember the hushed, outraged grumblings, talking about how ‘those’ people celebrated by breaking bus windows and causing a general destructive ruckus. How ‘they’ were celebrating the release of a terrorist. I heard, but I didn’t ask too much and carried on in my blissfully ignorant existence. What I of course didn’t realize yet was how much he had done, how tirelessly he worked to change those wrongs that had touched my little life so mildly, how he labored to save me from believing the racist lie, and how significant that day was to the entire nation.

In the years that followed, I learned much more of the man, and the monster, Mandela. Some of those who had my ear spoke of him in reverence while others spoke in hatred. South Africa was torn and I began to pay more attention. We moved to Cape Town, I hit my teen years, and I quietly started choosing who I believed and who I didn’t agree with when he was discussed. A family friend I used to hold in high esteem told a story of how he refused to shake Mandela’s hand. I decided that he, no matter how close a friend of the family, was an idiot.

Mandela became president, and though I was not interested in politics but rather honing a fondness for shoes, I could see all the good that was being done in his name. My Granny read ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ and often read out extracts to us. She had been a Boksburgian herself, but was thoroughly converted, discussing the importance and greatness of this man. We teased her by nick-naming her ‘Comrade Granny’, but I didn’t realize until later how those afternoons with her, listening to her in her bedroom, my own beliefs about racism and oppression were being shaped. He had done some terrible things, Granny explained, things that many people were not willing to forgive, (the same people, incidentally, who were more than happy to forget the terrible things that had been done to him and his family and friends first). He was fighting in a war I had not seen – a war for freedom. And he had done the time when convicted, coming out of prison with a more powerful weapon than before – Love. He forgave those who oppressed him, but did not accept the oppression and vowed to do everything he could for the freedom of ALL South Africans. Black, White, Coloured, Indian, Men, Women, Gay, Straight, Christian, Muslim, Jew – he committed the rest of his life’s work to the equality of us all. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” And that is what made him such a great man.

I am so thankful for Nelson Mandela, for everything he did for our country. Not only did he open the gates to save the oppressed people, and open up our country to the world, but he saved me from a racist society that was surely seeping into my very core. He sucked the poison from me, offering his life for the freedom of us all. I am honoured to have lived in his time and to have been able to see some of the history and transformation happen first hand. I am blessed to have become part of the new privileged, privileged to live in his New South Africa, free to be free. My skin colour can not bind me to racism anymore, and if I choose, like him, to live the change I want to see in the world, his message and work lives on in me.

I do not like confrontation, I do not like to fight. I don’t have the courage and tenacity of spirit that he had. But if I can display even an ounce of the love he had for friends and foes alike, I will be able to do some good in this world too. And if there ever was a pair of shoes I would like to attempt to do my bit to fill, let it be those of the father of my nation.

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference” – Nelson Mandela

Rest in Peace, Tata Madiba.
Cherry Blossom

Friday, 1 November 2013

Dream Catcher

*Please note that none of what I talk about in this blog post would be possible if Husband was not in a position to support both of us, and willing to give me the freedom and space to chase my dreams for now. I am fully aware that someone has to still take care of the responsibilities and bills of real life, and Husband has taken over that role for both of us for this chapter whilst I follow my bliss. I love you Hubby! And one day, some how, some way, I will return the favour. Thank you for believing in me and putting your money where your mouth is!*

Three years ago I embarked on a sabbatical of sorts. I left a very corporate world and replaced my office days with something that most would describe as being a full-time house-wife, or even lady-of-leisure. I embraced this title for a time, but only because 'Full-time Dream-Catcher' is not exactly something you can claim at dinner parties when strangers inevitably ask you: 'So? What do you do?' without looking a bit like a freak. And that is the sad state of our society.

It has been quite an adventure, with highs and lows, victories and disappointments. I found that even though I was no longer 'working' that I still didn't have enough hours in the day to do all the things I wanted to do. I discovered that all those things we always say we want to do but never have the time, don't magically happen when time is allocated - but rather take a whole lot of hard work and dedication. But the thing that I was most surprised (and hurt) to find, was the firing-squad of judgment, resentment and down-right nastiness I encountered from many peers, friends and even some family.

'What do you do all day?' 'I would be so bored if I was to stay at home all day!' 'Don't you think it's time to go back to work?' are the kind of comments I have had to bat on a regular basis. For the most part I have ignored, joked about or argued my way through these unpleasant encounters, but a recent, more frank version of these comments (from a well-meaning source) got me thinking - why is it that some people have such a hard time dealing with my current life choices?

Lets say that you started dating a new guy. He makes you happy - happier than you have ever been. He is sweet, kind, generous, funny, smart, and adores you. He is completely dedicated to you. He listens, lets you choose the movie (most of the time) and even finds your strange obsession with purple spandex endearing. Now lets say I am your friend, your confidant, someone who has been around in your single years. But from the day you met Mr. Perfect, all I can ever say to you is 'Oh my gosh, you have to get out of this relationship immediately! He is poor. He isn't going anywhere in his career. He lives in a rented apartment on the cheap side of town and can't even afford a decent cup of coffee. He lives with his mommy! He drives a beat-up old second hand rust bucket and he doesn't have an iota of dress-sense. He uses 'literally' incorrectly and makes spelling errors on his Facebook status updates. He listens to Nickleback, for goodness sake, dump him!'

Would you say that I am a good friend? Would you say that my interests lie in wanting what is actually best for you, or what some of society perceives as being best for you? If I were to suggest that you should date the rich maverick over the poor guy any day of the week, that would make me shallow, right? Shouldn’t he be valued for more than just his monetary status? Would you consider me a b**** if I only thought of your boyfriend as someone you could get a five carat diamond out of?

That's right. I would be a bad friend, at the very least.

Well, this is what I am encountering in my life right now. I have chosen the 'poor guy', if you will. An artistic, non-money-making sabbatical over a previously thriving career. To 'stay at home'. But I believe there is more to life than salaries. There is more to life than 9 to 5. And yet my dream-chasing has been seen as everything from lazy to lost, and I have come to the conclusion that those people in my life who perceive it that way are not wanting the best for me. Perception is a funny thing - because it can be just as easily based on blind ignorance as on personal experience. I suppose that is the difference between perception and misconception.
I have decided to map out a few answers to the top 10 general misconceptions I face:

1. "You don't 'work'."
Define 'work'. Are you saying that the only work worth doing is one where you get a monthly salary? Where you drive your car or take public transport to a building somewhere away from your home and spend an average of 8 hours 5 days a week doing things that make profits for a company that gives you a pat on the back and a pension when all's said and done? Don't get me wrong - growing up through this work force was an important, crucial part of my own personal development, and there may very well come a time where I have to return to the ranks. I do also find the work that so many do to be admirable. The street sweeper who provides for his family by beautifying our city, picking up the trash discarded by strangers; the lawyer who fights her battles and pays for her own Prada; the nail technician who puts her baby brother through school with her earnings; the husband who sees his wife yearning to create a new path for herself, and takes over all monetary responsibilities for a time so that she can do so; the high-school teacher and the sales person and the doctor and the domestic and the accountant and the entertainer and the researcher alike. But they are not the only ones working for a living. The Oxford Dictionary defines 'work' as being an 'activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result'. So yes, I work.

2. "What do you do all day? I would be bored if I had to stay at home all day long."
Being 'bored' is probably the saddest, most revealing aspect any human can portray. The world is an enchanting place. Perhaps not everyone sees it, but I wake up each morning and embrace my universe like a child prancing through vast fields with a butterfly net (after my cup of coffee, that is). My husband jokes that I have been going through a second childhood, and in a way that is true. Any parent will know that children need to be fed not only with physical food, but in mind, body and spirit.
-The first thing I did after quitting my job was to enroll myself at a piano studio - I was adamant that I wanted to be classically trained in music, something I didn't have the opportunity to do as a child, and wanted to be able to one day teach piano too. I hadn’t yet worked out the specifics, I didn’t have a piano-teaching 'business model' mapped and ready to show any doubting onlooker - I just knew I had to start getting my brain and fingers moving. The learning curve was intense, but I have completed 5 grades of music training thus far, complete with taking the exams and playing mini-performances, and am continuing in my training. I was taken on by my piano teacher as a 'student teacher' a year ago, continue to sub for her when she can't take a class, and have built up my own profile of pre-grade students, under her guidance, that I teach on a weekly basis. (a highly rewarding job, might I add - much more so than anything I ever did in the corporate world!)

-I enrolled in a creative writing course at UCT and started to work towards the goal of becoming an author. I wrote a book, which, like piano, was something I have always wanted to do, getting my first novel down on paper, and am a third of the way through writing my second novel (with one abandoned literary project in-between). Writing is not something that just happens when inspiration strikes (though those 3am - 7am inspiration sessions do occur and I have to just get up and write till it’s out) - it is a skill one must work on and develop over time and thousands upon thousands of words. Being aware that successful writers don't just lie on the beach waiting for heaven to open up and deliver them a product (read Malcolm Gladwell’s book 'Outliers' to understand the 10 000 hour concept of success) I allocate 'writing' days where I start first thing in the morning and work for 8 or more solid hours with just coffee and a lunch break in between. Nothing glamorous or easy about it.
-I dusted off my old sewing machine, only ever used for hemming or fixing store-bought-garments in the past, and started learning to make my own clothing from scratch. The growing ensemble of 'pami products' now includes an array of trousers (stretchy jeans, leather leggings, silky sleep bottoms, his and hers fishing fleecies) children’s pajama’s for my nieces and nephews, baby's touch quilt, vintage feel lace napkins, various tank tops and long sleeved shirts, and the latest, a leather Catwoman suit, and a white pom-pomed fluffy waistcoat.

-I started a veggie patch, quite a feat for someone who used to have a talent in killing everything green - including cacti - quite dramatically. (My 'Peace-in-the-Home' is the only survivor of this past opposite-of-green-fingered me, having miraculously made it through patches of darkness and drought, and an oops where I once spilled a pot of boiling pig stock I was making over it...) My garden is now producing herbs and veggies for the third year in a row, with its first-of-the-season tomato revealing its round little un-ripe self today. Bless.
-I joined an adult ballet class for a year (never having danced ballet past age 5), learning to pirouette and pliĆ©, in hopes of finding a fun way to get my 30's body into shape. That was ultimately replaced with CrossFit (10 months and counting) and I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been. (Please note, I didn’t say 'skinnier' than I have ever been - after all, Strong is the new Skinny!)

There has been so much more keeping me butterfly-catching, or staying at home, depending on your perception, but in an attempt to avoid eye-rolling proclamations of 'first world problems', I'll leave the overseeing of house renovations, writing of blogs, wifeing of high profile husband, running of household, throwing of life-event parties, baby-sitting and making of red wine reduction sauces, stuffing my own olives, and whipping up home made mayonnaise’s out for now...
In short, what do I do all day? I chase dreams, I experience life, I do. I don't believe in 'boredom'. Boredom is for people who bore people.

3. "But you don't WORK"
Let me elaborate. Playing a musical instrument requires an extreme amount of mental and physical effort in order to achieve a result. If you don't believe me, try. Learning to play the piano as an adult is even harder - not because the work is harder, but because we are so conditioned into not using our fingers that way, that we first have to break the years and years of 'hand' behavior and then build new abilities. Cramp-hand is no joke! Just ask the teens who suffer from bbm-'thumb' carpal tunnel (I mock, but apparently it is a real thing and has resulted in the need for surgery) and learning to read music is just like learning a new language - in fact, a few new languages, as you must memorize a whole bunch of Italian, French and even German terms, along with 'reading' all the semebreve's, dotted minim's, demi-semi-quavers and imperfect cadences. (The good thing about learning as an adult, is there is wine at the end of it...) 

Making clothes also involves mental and physical effort in order to achieve a result. It is hard, until it becomes easy. Practice generally makes perfect, and trust me, many a throw-away resulted from my sewing machine before the white pom-pomed fluffy waistcoat. Writing a book...don't even get me started! The initial 150 000 words were 'easy' to get out relative to the editing, re-editing and multi-editing processes (they say that 7 is the lucky number). And jumping into the publishing-pool has been nothing short of an amateur swimmer thrown into the Cape of Storms in high season. But I continue to paddle, grasping for signs of land, and continue to write.

4. "You are lost - no direction in your life! Remember when you used to be in were always so concerned with the next project, the new launch, the sales figures etc... You had purpose. Direction. Now you are lost."
Erm, no. Nope. Not true. My past is in my past. I gave it my all when I was there, but that's just me. When I do something, I do it to the fullest. And I was in a very different stage in my life. I had to ‘work’ to pay the bills. I had to build up my own skill set to know that I could take care of myself for the rest of my life if need be. I needed to prove to myself that I was worthy of the corporate title I eventually did attain, and made darn sure I studied and put in the hours to do so.  But my past success is not who I am. I am following a very clear map - the map of Living a Happy and Meaningful Existence - Whilst Wearing Fabulous Shoes. And speaking of shoes, the 'Dreams' I have been chasing for the past three years are 'Futures' I have been trying on, investing in, (convincing my investor to invest in), ones that I have been walking around the shop floor in, testing to see which ones will leave the Store of Life with me to carry me through the next phase of my time here on this planet. (OK, enough with the Capitol Analogies...)

5. "You probably spend all day tanning on Camps Bay beach, reading books, and getting treatments in beauty salons."
Aw, thanx man! You think I look that good?
And yes, yes I read. Your point?
For the record, I went to the beach on a week (aka work) day a grand total of ONCE in the past three years. I go to lunches on an average of once a month (most of my working friends do 'lunch' more often that that, where absolutely nothing work-related happens) I have had my nails done...oh wait...that’s right, never. Nails are things I take care of myself, after hours, every second week or so, while watching a movie or series with Husband. I am about to go for my first pedicure next week as a birthday treat, taking my two teenage nieces with me to enjoy the experience too. The appointment is at 4pm. Sue me.

6. "It must be so nice being at home. You can kuier all day, drinking tea." (usually said with so much back-handed venom that it would take a machine-powered syphon to suck all that sarcastic poison out!)
It's coffee most of the time, not tea, and it's mostly by myself with my manuscript-in-progress or piano books, and not often with friends. Having coffee is something I did just as much of when in an office environment (possibly more).

7. "You are on Facebook, like, 24-7! Clearly you have too much time on your hands!"
Facebook is my 'water-cooler', and I am a sharer. I admit, I am partial to social media. I check FB/Twitter/Pintrest/Instagram on my phone in traffic on the way to CrossFit, on my iPad between teaching piano classes, on my laptop with my morning coffee and on the couch at night when watching a series I am not as enthralled in as Husband is (when I don't have some hand-sewing to finish or nails to do, that is) I have a friend who is on Facebook just as often as I am - she sees all, reads all, browses every photo album. But she is not a natural sharer. She never hits 'like' or 'share' or comments on statuses like I do, and thus appears to have no FB activity what so ever. (Very sneaky, my friend)(you know who you are!) Fun fact: Being an avid social media user (and this is years of previous marketeering speaking) makes me more of a modern-ling than a stay-at-home-with-nothing-to-do-ling. Think about it.

8. "You don't wake up to go to work, your life is a breeze.”
There are more things in the world to wake up for than 'a job'. Have you ever been on holiday, with some exciting event planned for the next day, and had to set the alarm clock for a work-worthy-hour? Welcome to my world. I wake up with Husband every day. Granted, not to go to an office like him. But to go to work on my life. (PS Husband and I sleep in on weekends AND WE WILL NOT APOLOGISE FOR THAT TO ANYONE!)(PPS I am aware that babies will change all of this in one foul swoop, but I will embrace that bridge when I get there)

9. "I am worried you are going to turn into one of 'those' women."
Who exactly are 'those' women? And who gets to judge who 'those' women are? And even once identifying 'those' women, who are you to decide what 'those' woman do or who 'those' women are in their deeper core beings? Who are you to define them? The kept? The princesses? The desperate housewives? I don’t know about you, but I haven't found myself trapped outdoors in nothing but a bath towel any time recently, and certainly don't have a pool boy (I clean that out-door Jacuzzi all by myself, yo!) The only people who should be concerned with my current usage of my time, are me, and Husband. No one else. If he doesn't see me as one of 'those' women, or if I don't feel that I am one of 'those' women, then what exactly are we talking about here? Moving on.

10. "Well, you don't have a job, and you don't as yet have a child. So what are you doing with your life?"
What are you doing with your life?

Having said all that, being 'unemployed' definitely has its freedoms - mostly in that my time is mine to do with as I choose. So there are days where I choose to spend quality time with my siblings children, or help a friend in doing the school run for her, or take a friend shopping to find the perfect dress for an exciting event in her life. There are days where I choose to show a traveling visitor around my city, or leave early for a long weekend away with Husband, or attend an NGO meeting, or meet with editors and writers to 'talk books', or simply have coffee with my folks. I'm not claiming that it's ALL work and no play - after all, pami is not a dull girl. But what I don’t understand is why what I choose to do with my time is such a personal offence to some?

To those who still don't understand why I am on a Dream Catching sabbatical, can you possibly be happy knowing that I am happy and fulfilled in my life right now and that my 'cost' of living is taken care of by someone who I have a very open and honest understanding with whilst I catch those dreams?
To the rest of the naysayers and haters out there, let me leave you with one final thought. I have taken a leap of faith, trusting that I can grow my wings in time before I hit the bottom. Why do you feel the need to stand on your chunk of the precipice and take cheap shots at me, hoping to knock holes in my dream catching? I can only come to one conclusion. But Taylor Swift says it better than me - she has a wonderful little song, which perhaps applies to you. Have a listen to it here.

(P.S. Hello Kitty called, and she says 'Live and let Live')

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Work It!

Being an adult student is hard. Ask anyone who has ever embarked on the learning curve (willingly) post-varsity - we feel as though we signed up for something paralleled to stocks-and-ladders: We know we did it because we want to develop a skill/pursue a goal/ do well in our field/follow a dream...but it is just so darn hard to climb the rungs of learning whilst living an adult life with all its demands and pressures, to the point of torturous! As if our daily stresses, with its traffic jams, missed appointments, broken hearts, family dramas, monetary strains, failed attempts and spreading waistlines weren't bad enough, we go and throw a nice little self-inflicted exam in the mix? Way to go to hammer the self-doubt home.

Three years ago I decided to finally do the thing I had always wanted to do and learn to play the piano. I thought I had a little raw music talent to help kick things off, some time on my hands, and a loving Husband who would let me practice to all hours at home - what could go wrong? Easy! I'd be playing Rachmaninoff in no time. I'm a grown up, after all. I had worked my way up in the corporate world from nothing to a National Brand Manager, spent a year in a part of Zambia not many are willing to go, overcame a deadly disease in my late teens and lived through the tragedy of losing a loved one to an untimely death. Learning to play the piano was going to be a piece of red-velvet cake, surely as easy as it was going to be fun!

But, of course, there was no cake in my immediate future. I had no idea what a rollercoaster ride I was about to embark on. First the rush, the fun, the sheer pleasure of it all. Then the fear, the doubt, the hard work of it all. The past few years have been measured in hot flushes swinging between happy reward and sweat-drenched frustration. Yes, I learned the difference between a major and a minor chord. Yes, I learned to play pieces of Billy Joel and bits by Beethoven. Yes, I can now transpose from simple-duple to complex time signatures. But mostly, what I have learnt - really learnt, is that work, work and more work is the only way to play the piano.

I have to be honest - I don't like the work. It's great when things are clicking into place and a song is erupting from the keys, but the rest of the time, I am filled with destructive internal questions. Questions such as; 'Isn't it easier for a child to learn this stuff? Why am I even trying?!', or 'Doesn't it take a full ten years to reach the last school level in music? Will I ever get there?!' and even 'Don't kids absorb more and learn easier? What's the point?!' These are questions I use when I feel the hardness and injustice of it all, that I am in my 30's and thus unlucky enough to only be learning my ABC-Majors now. But the answer to all of that, I'm sorry to say, is 'No. Suck it up, buttercup. You gotta work.'

So then, after running through a few scales, arpeggio’s and some finger exercises, I think, 'Oh well, maybe my talent will help me get to the next level.'  Wrong again. Talent can help me play a melody from memory, just as the ability to walk upright will get me from point A to fifteen km's later. But work will help me construct a chord progression around that melody, work will teach me to read the sheet music to play the fullness of the song, just as work will help me develop my ability to run five, ten , twenty km's without stopping! Imagine no one ever pushed harder in training for a marathon than past the point of sweat. As soon as you are out of breath, then stop, because that is too hard. No, we keep working, pushing past the boundaries of our weaknesses, and complete those twenty km's.  Imagine we walked away from relationships the first time we found that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows? No one would ever stay together. It takes work to be happy in relationships, work to go the distance. The same goes for learning to play an instrument. This isn't guitar-hero, friends. This is hard, cold, finger-numbing, brain-squeezing, ear-assaulting, hours and hours of work!

Perhaps the question I should be asking myself when the doubt or laziness arises is 'What made you do this in the first place?' My answer would be that I love music, and I love to create. The combination is a powerful form of self-expression that I simply cannot get in any other way. Listening to music gives me a lot of pleasure and helps me feel a release of this self-expression, but to truly experience my inner most feelings and abilities, I need to be able to play it myself. That's just me. If I want to be able to do that, then I better work.

I think the best thing about being an adult learner is that I am beyond the competition and beyond the parental 'thou-shalts’ of it all - I am doing this for me and me alone. It isn’t about a grade, or getting the top mark, but rather that I want to know how to play beautiful music so that I can play what I am feeling, and possibly pass the love on to another. I want to be able to read music so that I can play what others, composers of the past and present who have lived through times and lives that I could not even possibly imagine, have felt. But the only way I will ever be able to experience this bond to both history and self, is through work.

The moral of the story is that hard, consistent work is the only way to learn to play the piano. But it is the most rewarding work I have ever done, and I plan on doing it for a long time to come.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Miley alla Moderato - Cherry Blossom does Sexy

Did you see what Miley Cyrus did now? This seems to have been the underlying (or blatantly in-your-face) theme of the internet over the past few weeks. Ever since the VMA awards, Miley has come in like a wrecking ball and commanded attention. In a society that brought us Honey Boo Boo and Kim Kardashian, it is no surprise that naked, lurid behaviour with a few 'f' words thrown in for effect, is one of the best ways to rise to stardom, or simply to get our attention. 

Miley's recent acts have sparked off a heated debate of women’s sexuality, their rights in general, and the ongoing argument of slut-shaming. First Sinead O’Connor told Miley that she should not allow herself to be prostituted for the sake of "men making money". Then Amanda Palmer encouraged Miley to own it, and let her freak flag fly. I have since read countless blog posts and articles written by mothers, daughters, struggling musicians and even a few men on the subject, (my favourite of which being this) all talking about the rights a woman has, or doesn't have, to flaunt her own body. 

I have to say, I tend to agree and disagree with all of them, from all angles. Yes, we have come a long way from pearls and aprons (the non-Pintrest version), but the world still feels the need to single out female musicians, female fighter pilots, girl gamers, or girl fly-fisher peoples as though they are a separate entity entirely (even I make that mistake). It is a male dominated world, no matter how you look at it. They still make more money for doing the same jobs, they still head up presidencies and they still tell us what to do. Well they can't tell us what to wear. Or can they? (I bet the boys over at Dolce and Gabbana have a few opinions on that matter!)

I think we have been so busy painting our bare breasts with protests against rape-culture, and streaking for freedom from men, that we may have forgotten what sexuality really is. Sex is an act to propagate the species. Our animal urges, if you will. It all boils down to making more of us, to keep the world populated and the human race moving forward. It is an 'anti-extinction' clause built into the core fiber of each and every person on the planet, both male and female, equally. Each one of us own and have all rights to our own individual sexuality, and have the right to do with (our own sexuality) as we please. In short, sex is completely natural, completely human, and completely necessary. But is bending over and twerking it in everyone’s face necessary?

Saying a woman should use her sensuality to get ahead in the world, seems to me to be on a par with saying a man should use his muscles and testosterone-laced aggression to further himself. We can't have our boys taking swords to school to ensure their teachers give them straight A's, or packing guns in their back pockets to win the girl over, or discussing business deals over a nice blooddied fight in a cage - looser dies, winner takes all! No, we have developed as a species and come a long way from that. We all agree that little Johnny should not punch Jessica in the face to get the toy he wants away from her just because he can. Then why don’t we apply that to ourselves too, and say maybe Jessica shouldn't bat her lashes to get the toy away from Johnny, or even to get Johhny to buy her all the toys?

But then again, men do use some of that inner-motivating testosterone to help themselves do better, go further, climb higher up the corporate ladder. And when done right, it is admirable, and deserves to be rewarded with a promotion, or closing the deal, or selling the product he built for millions. Why not? He worked for it. Sometimes the man who has the guts (which is just ego manifesting itself, if you think about it) to try a pick-up line, deserves the (willing and able) girl. But it is still so much more socially acceptable for men to go out there and flex those animal instincts than it is for women to do the same. And this double standard is the conundrum we find ourselves in. How can we as women use our sensuality to get that competitive edge, to Miley it up, to grab the internet by the sledge-hammer without being labeled a slut?

I don't have the answers, but I do have this little tidbit passed down from my Granny, the wisest woman on earth: Everything in Moderation. Eating a red-velvet cupcake for breakfast is an awesome way to celebrate ones birthday, but if one had to eat red-velvet all day every day twenty years in a row, one would soon find one's BMI shooting through the roof, ones organs will be under massive strain, and one would have an obesity problem, at the very least, on ones hand . Moderation. A little bit of make-up to highlight features can be very attractive, but caking the stuff on so thick that it needs to be scraped off with a spatula is neither flattering nor comfortable for the skin. Moderation. A glass of wine at the end of a long day can help take the edge off, but drinking constantly and copiously will eventually end in vomiting, dehydration, mild concussion and a hangover from hell. Moderation. It is one thing dressing with a little tease, but quite another leaving the house like sex on a stick. There is always room for having a little fun with our sexuality, but nobody wants their daughter’s Hannah-Montana themed birthday party turning into a mass orgy.

So I think I will use that wise word from my Granny when it comes to presenting my sexual self to the world. I'll not let my freak flag fly, but rather keep that flag tucked closely around me, synched in at the waist, of course, to accentuate my fabulous covered-up bosoms and CrossFit shaped ass. I'll reveal my sensuality moderato - and I'll leave the tweaking up to Miss Miley.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

P.S. Please forgive me for the obvious wrecking-ball and sledge-hammer reference-play; I know it's being done to death right now, but as a writer, I just couldn't help myself.