i have adventures (sometimes)

Monday, 14 October 2013

It's Like You're Always Stuck in Second Gear

Maya and I bought drinking coconuts on a whim and then had to Youtube "how to open a drinking coconut". This was our celebratory photo.
I say spring, but it really is more or less summer given that spring in Jo'burg basically lasts for September and then we jump straight ahead to summer and stay there until March. But the blossoms are blossoming and the birds are building nests and the jacarandas are only just starting to bloom, so I suppose we can still call it spring for a little longer.

And now I'm going to talk about being sad for a bit. At the end (spoiler alert) I'll tell you that I'm doing better now, so don't panic and don't be sad. Ready? Ready.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Some Happy Things

20:17 Posted by Ali , 4 comments
Sometimes I find things that briefly make me feel like I'll never be sad again. This isn't true, as I'll explain in another more depressing post, but never mind that. Let's look at the happy things.

This sloth has big eyes and would like to hug you.
This chicken is attempting to hide from its past beneath this bad wig.
This hedgehog is giving this tiny bunny the side-eye. (Source)
This man loves his giant onion more than ANYTHING.
And this baby sloth loves its giraffe just as much.
And today I learned that young sloths sometimes mistake their limbs for tree branches, grab onto them and fall out of trees.

You're welcome.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Sexpo's Straight White People Problem

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't particularly enjoy arguing on the internet. Sure, sometimes I'll send hostile tweets to Mark Driscoll when I'm in a bad mood, but on the whole I find arguing tiring and stressful and I like to leave it to people who can argue much more competently than I can, and there are lots of those.

But on Friday I found myself embroiled in several online arguments about something that seemed pretty obvious and straightforward to me: Sexpo's straight white people problem. Are there bigger problems in the world? Sure. Does this mean that we should just shut up about representation until we've solved poverty, violence and war? No.

Obligatory disclaimer: I am a white, basically straight person. This is not a problem that affects me directly, and I don't want to white knight about it. I also think that's kind of what I'm doing here, and so I'm in two minds about posting this. I don't claim to speak for the people who've actually been excluded here. I wanted to raise this problem for discussion, but I'm very open to correction.

Sexpo claims to be
the world’s largest event of its kind focusing on a broad spectrum of adult related topics and spectacular stage performances by local and international adult entertainers. The aim of the exhibition is to educate, inform, entertain and celebrate our sexuality in a fun, exciting and safe atmosphere.
What it doesn't mention on the website is that it mostly wants to offer all these things to white heterosexuals - or at least, so I infer from their advertising. Every single poster/billboard I've seen features white, hetero couples. Their website also gives a pretty good indication of who they think worth representing (only here without any thin white men to get in the way of gazing at thin white women).*

Here, have some thin white ladies for your male gaze.
I'm also not the first person to think so, based on this very interesting post about Sexpo Australia:
This experience has opened me up more than ever to the normative and heterosexual-oriented nature of the exhibition. Although it markets itself as a show about ‘lifestyle’ and ‘sexuality’, I found anything but this in my searches of their website and from the organisers themselves. Their desire to represent ‘sexuality’ (other than heterosexuality) seemed confined to throwing together a couple of gay back-up dancers to perform and have a handful of half-stalls selling sex toys for men.
So I wrote to them.
Hey Sexpo,
Why do all your posters feature white hetero couples? It's exclusionary and in no way reflects the reality of sexual relationships in South Africa or elsewhere. I'm very disappointed and will not be attending Sexpo.
To their credit, I received a response quite promptly. To their credit, it was an apology. Less to their credit, it wasn't a very good one. I'm going to break it down here and talk about why. As it presumably represents Sexpo's official response (a friend who sent a similar complaint got the same email), I don't have qualms about reproducing it here.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Spring Rains

It's spring! Do you want to know how excited I am? I am this excited.

Spring in Jo'burg is my favourite season/place combination of all the seasons and places I've experienced (and there have been quite a few). The weather warms up and everything starts to smell like jasmine and yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, which is a particularly appropriate plant, given that it makes me feel wildly optimistic and painfully nostalgic all at once. It hurts in a way I can't quite define, but I love the spring here so much that I don't know if I could ever give it up.

And yesterday, it rained.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Whole Point of Me

ARTHUR: Oh, come on, Douglas! It’ll be fun! We’ll make a game of it! Like, one of us could put something metal in our pocket and see if the X-ray machine can tell which one of us it is!
: I think the machine can tell that. That is the whole point of the machine.
: Yeah, well, let’s see. There’s lots of things that are the whole point of me that I don’t do.
: Like what?
: Floss. Don’t tell Mum.

After a killer day of Sunday blues that led to me spending most of Sunday afternoon crying in bed, I woke up on Monday morning feeling sad. This isn't news. I wake up most weekday mornings feeling sad. Sometimes weekends too. Lately, I've been feeling like the whole point of me... isn't anything, really.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've been sad for a while. Between a fairly recent break up and a fairly soul destroying job, it's hard to tell which one is making me sad at any given time. I won't talk much about the break up, because obviously I'm not the only person involved. But a few weeks down the line, I'm getting slowly better, and I have Kelly and Taylor and Katy and Little Mix to tell me I'm fine on my own and One Direction to tell I'm beautiful (and that casual sex is fun?). So while I'm listening to music that would have made my goth teenage ears bleed, it's keeping me going.

Deal with it, disapproving 17-year-old Ali.
But this is not a post for unrelenting misery, because I've been doing some of that and now it needs to do some relenting.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Hypnotic Penguinhead Hiatus Gif

The hypnotic penguinhead hiatus gif is back.

Which means that, once again, I don't have the time or energy to write, which is a pity, because it usually makes me feel better. But right now I'm really very sad and quite tired and I'm not really having any adventures to speak of. I'm finding myself quite boring at the moment. But I do have great friends who are looking after me very nicely, so I feel very lucky.

Here are some things for you instead.

  1. The new Doctor is ANOTHER WHITE DUDE, at least partially because Steven Moffat is a douchebag. (I decided to stop watching Doctor Who if the new Doctor was another white guy, but in the interest of full disclosure, I would have made an exception for John Finnemore, because he is the loveliest person in the world.)
  2. This is an excellent chocolate cake recipe.
  3. This is a controversial opinion about Elementary being better than Sherlock. (I might agree.)
  4. A Softer World is heartbreaking, as it usually is.
  5. A great response to "But men are objectified too!"
  6. These little guys are so adorable I COULD DIE.
  7. Chase that happy!

I'll be back when I can. Hopefully with some deep thoughts, because it's hard to write about my own adventures when I'm not actually having any, so I might as well find something interesting to write about. Meanwhile, enjoy the penguinhead gif.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Property of Work: If Found, Return to Desk

22:38 Posted by Ali , 1 comment
Work almost entirely owns me at the moment and it's making me unhappy. Remember how I laughed at that clause about unlimited compulsory overtime? Yeah, hilarious. Last week I worked every evening and most of the weekend, and have accordingly been hating my life and questioning my life choices.
Full credit to a colleague for noticing and getting me called in to the manager's office to talk about it, although that did mean I spent half of Monday crying to her and HR. I defy anyone feeling fragile to answer "Are you OK?" without going to pieces.

It's not the impression I wanted to make two weeks into my new job, and certainly not if it means that the rest of my team gets put under extra pressure because ag shame the precious new girl can't cope. It's not even that I can't handle the pressure. This time last year I was sitting in the library 10 hours a day writing my dissertation. I survived. I also sort of resent the well-intended notion that it's because it's my first real job and the corporate world is so different. And yes, it is different. But that's not my problem.

My problem is that it's the same.

Deja vu.

Friday, 5 July 2013

First Week Survival Report

So my first day at work didn't go quite as I'd hoped. Owing to an unfortunate combination of circumstances, by the time I got there on Monday morning I was emotional and over-tired, which meant that after a day of a growing headache and being introduced to 150 people and learning a million new things and questioning my life choices and seriously questioning my life choices, I was overwhelmed and totally emotionally overwrought.

I cried all the way home. I was sort of hoping that I could escape too much attention and go and hide in my room until I felt human again, but luckily for me, I live with the best people in the world. So instead, Darryn gave me a hug and put on the kettle, and Meg gave me painkillers, and Dave offered me another hug, and Meg offered me another cup of tea, and Darryn offered me take-aways, and Leila fed me wontons, and the world felt a little more bearable again.

I love these people so much.

I also love Meg, who isn't pictured.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Guide Me O Thou Great Twist Mop

Well, I've managed to be away a solid month. Don't worry, I won't be offended if you didn't notice. And I certainly won't bring it up passive-aggressively in conversation indefinitely. That doesn't sound at all like the sort of thing I would do.

But anyway. I come bearing GOOD NEWS!

And this GOOD NEWS is that I now have a real, honest-to-goodness, salaried, pension-funded, medical-aided, 9ish-to-5ish job.

I think it's probably because I'm so good at looking thoughtful and serious.

So come Monday, I will be starting as a Research Executive at a market research firm. I'm not entirely convinced it's what I want to do, but the company and the people seem really nice, and most importantly it's income and experience. You never know - maybe I'll be as happy as this man with his onion (has anyone been this happy about anything else ever?).

I'm totally taking up giant vegetable farming.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Ghost Pops Before Bed Time

Help, internet, I'm busy and tired. I have lots of freelance work to do, my social life appears to be trying to make up for my entire adolescence all at once, and I'm having a really hard time staying awake for a normal number of hours per day. Apparently 9pm isn't bed time? I don't know. Stop telling me what to do. You're not the boss of me.

I'm sorry. Tired makes me sulky. It all feels rather too much like my days slumped over my desk in the library last year.

It's getting wintery, which is my current excuse for eating all the snacks all of the time, to the extent that even Dave, my buddy in low-blood-sugar-avoidance, laughs at my daily snack bag for work. Contrary to what he tells you, I am not eating 30 dried apricots a day. Firstly, I can't afford to eat 30 dried apricots a day, and secondly, it's not even properly winter yet. (Check back next month.)

But anyway, I have been doing some things. Here are some of those things.

I went to a genderfuckery party.

I have no idea what's going on here, but by the look on Ro's face, it's something scandalous.
We are manly heterosexual men and that makes us... confused?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Peanut Butter Dreaming on Such an Autumn Day

I had just started to settle into a routine where I was actually managing to work full-time and still do other stuff like go to gym and buy groceries and hang out with people. And I was getting paid! Not as much as a normal salary, but much more than I had any right to expect from my one day a week of paid work. I dreamt of a new duvet! Good peanut butter! Not crying over the water bill each month! Everything was going well.

But it turns out that was a little optimistic, because the Fundraising Place - the only people actually paying me - just cut my hours to... well, none. Until they need me again at some point in the vague future.

This is what I did not do when they told me, because unfortunately, the fact that they were my main source of income is my problem, not theirs.

Not that you can even get vegan ice cream here any more. NOW I FEEL WORSE.
So instead I acted like this was all totally fine, asked them to call me in for a few hours here and there if I could do anything, and walked home. Thus.

(I love you, tumblr.)
Which did give me the opportunity to do my obligatory privilege check. I'm glad to be in a position where I can afford to lose my main source of income and have it make me only sad, rather than, you know, homeless. But I think I'm still allowed to be a little sad.

Nevertheless, here are some things that are not sad!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

L'Esprit Humaniste d'Escalier

"So, do you believe in anything?"

French has the lovely term "l'esprit d'escalier", which refers to that moment on your way down the stairs after an argument when you think, much too late, of the perfect comeback.

Dammit. (Source)
I didn't have an argument last night. It wasn't even much of a conversation. I ran into a former acquaintance from the church I went to in high school, and it took her about two minutes to ask if I was "plugged in" anywhere.*

So I said "No." and she said "No?" and I said "No." and she said "No?" and we did that for a while, until eventually she asked if I wasn't still going to my former church, and I explained that I wasn't because I'm not a Christian any more.

Or maybe I misspoke, because based on her face I might have accidentally told her I'd joined a prison gang. (I am a terrible mumbler.)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

So Die Well With Some Good Distractions

And somehow, two blogless weeks just whizzed past me. Apparently that happens when you have to sit at desks all day and look serious.

I'm not good at looking serious.
The jobs are going well, although I am really not good at sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. I strongly suspect that no one is, which makes me question this whole capitalist system. I could at least use the ubiquitous excuse that "it pays the bills", except that it DOESN'T.

Still, the Fundraising Place pays me and the Food Place is interesting and I love everyone at the Health Place, so it could be much worse. I'm happy to be doing more or less what I want, and it means I don't spend my days sitting around in my pyjamas eating chocolate all day any more, so at least I'm saving money there (good chocolate is expensive, you guys).

I'm actually really happy right now. Desks and lack of stable income aside, things are going well. I'm trying new things and going out and listening to the new Alkaline Trio album and spending time with great friends, and I have enough freelance work to feel a little better about the lack of a salary.*

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Linguisticali Working

18:45 Posted by Ali , , No comments
Friends! Romans! Countrypeople! You are looking at -

No, wait.

You are now looking at a thrice-employed researcher! That's right - from next week, I'll have five whole days a week of work to do for three different organisations. And I'll be getting paid... for just over one of those days.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Republic of Heaven

19:02 Posted by Ali , , , 1 comment
“He meant the Kingdom was over, the Kingdom of Heaven, it was all finished. We shouldn't live as if it mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place.... We have to be all those difficult things like cheerful and kind and curious and patient, and we've got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in all our different world, and then we'll build... The Republic of Heaven.”
- Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass


The first few times I read His Dark Materials were in my Christian days, and as a result I (perhaps wilfully) missed out on the central humanist message. I reread the trilogy more recently, and the concept of the Republic of Heaven is so beautiful that it moved me to tears.* 

This Easter, I'm grateful for the freedom I've found. I'm grateful to be the subject of no kings or gods. I appreciate this life and this world and the people in it more now than I ever did before, and I'm proud to work towards building the Republic of Heaven.

*Or it would have done had I not already been sobbing because Philip Pullman hates happiness.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Latin Camp Vincit Omnia


When I was at university, I did a lot of Latin. It was cheaper than drugs, and I've never been very interested in drugs anyway. People would hear we had a Latin club and say "Oh, so you dance?

... No. That is quite a lot cooler than the Latin we did.

And now some of my best friends are my Latin friends. And we really are just about as nerdy as our shared hobby suggests.

Team Latin at Victor and Arlene's wedding, 2010.
The last time we went on Latin Camp was nearly three years ago, when Anne-Marie was adventuring in Japan and before Andrew and I moved to England. This was also back when we could all still remember our Latin well enough to illustrate Latin prepositions.

In aquam.
In aqua.
Picnicking prope rivum.
And then we got scrambled to the corners of the earth: Justin to Cape Town and me to York and Andrew to Oxford and Robyn to... Honeydew. And we forgot our Latin and things changed and life went on. But with four of our gang of five at last back in the same city, we decided it was time for Latin Camp: The Sequel.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A Very Pink House Birthday

This weekend was my birthday! I like being 24, because I prefer even numbers to odd, and I really like numbers where one digit divides exactly into the other. So all in all, a good age to be. I do feel like I should be more of a grown up than I am, so one day I'm totally going to learn to iron. I'll put it on my list of things to do before I'm 30.

Obviously, the only other things on my list are:
  1. Be kind
  2. Have fun

As it was also the birthday of two of my housemates and we only moved into the Pink House last month, we thought it would be a great idea to have a BirthdayBirthdayBirthdayHousewarming Party.

This, right here? This is the kind of thing I always do. I decide that throwing a party is the best and most exciting idea I've ever had! And it will be amazing! But then the party itself gets closer and closer, and the full weight of what I've done hits me.

I've invited PEOPLE. SO MANY PEOPLE. What if they get hungry? What will I feed them? What if there aren't enough drinks? What if no one can drive home? Can I just pile them all on the sofa? What if they all hate one another? What if they get bored? Seriously, will they be hungry? It'll be ALL MY FAULT.

So I gradually transition from "This is the best idea I've ever had!" to "This is the worst idea I've ever had!", and by the time the guests arrive I have to be dragged out from my hiding place behind the sofa to let them in.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Week 2013

18:27 Posted by Ali , 6 comments
It's A Week!

My friend Chris has blogged about it here, but here's the general gist, according to the Facebook page:
The idea of ‘A’ Week is simple - to raise awareness of how many people are ‘Good without God[s]’ and don’t need religion to influence their lives.
So that's it in a nutshell. All you have to do if you want to take part is change your profile picture to an A for the week of the 17th to the 23rd of March.

These days, I hardly meet anyone who believes in a god, at least in the traditional sense. That said, I know that when I was a Christian, I remember finding atheists... unsettling. "Atheist" seemed like such a strong and scary word. It was one thing to be kind of fuzzy about religion - it was quite another to be that sure that there wasn't a god.

Obviously, I know better now. As do most people. But I think there's still something to be said for standing up fairly quietly and reminding people that atheists are actually just quite ordinary people whom you know. We're not amoral baby-eating monsters. We're your friends and family. (Hello!)

As Chris pointed out in his post, there's also the advantage of reminding socially isolated atheists that they're not on their own. There really is a world outside religion, and we're doing ok out here. (Hello!)

So this is me, letting Facebook know that I'm good without gods. I'm not by any means perfect, but I'm always learning, and I'm living my life as best I can.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Freelancing Woes

Internet, I'm sad. And when I'm sad, I like to tell you about it.

Freelancing is turning out to be not a lot like stock photos would have you believe. It's not all happy skinny white ladies in well-organised home offices.

"Look at me! My room is so colour coded and I'm so fulfilled!" (Source)
"I'm not even pretending to work!" (Source)
"This isn't even a job!" (Source)
Right now it's more like this.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

On Body Shame

Hey, let's talk about body shame! FUN!

(Warnings: This post contains maybe-triggery references to food and weight, non-wizard swears, and a picture of a cartoon naked lady.)

Caveat: I am a thin-bodied person. I once had a friend say "When I hear skinny girls obsessing about their weight, all I hear is 'I don't want to turn into you'." It's had a big impact on how I talk about weight and body image, but I don't necessarily always get it right. What I'm trying to do here is not say that fat is bad and scary, but rather talk about my own issues and the collective issues of our bullshit fat-shaming society. I'm sorry if I get it wrong, and I'm open to being corrected.
Fat Pony noms on body shame. (Source)
As predicted, I didn't do all that well in the fitness test. Whatever. But it stirred up a number of issues that have been gradually making themselves known again the more I pay attention to my food and exercise. Although I did surprisingly well in the general fitness and strength tests (even the push ups!), I came away focusing on the failures, like you do. But what's most telling is which failures. Arguably, I should be much more concerned that my flexibility was below "Poor", because if there's ever a hamstring emergency I'm just not going to be able to pull through and zombies will eat me.

And instead I came away obsessing over my body fat percentage being too high.

Oh come on.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Game Face ON

17:35 Posted by Ali , , , 3 comments
Some of you may know that I'm a little bit competitive. I know, big shock. It's not that I can't stand losing - I really can cope with that (except when it comes to 30 Seconds). I just really really like winning.

Do you want to play? Do you want to play RIGHT NOW?
Which is why joining Discovery Vitality has suddenly made me care about things like my health and fitness. Or rather, the points I can get by acting like I care about those things. You mean I get to level up if I do all sorts of mundane health-related tasks? My game face is ON.

My game face is just one of the reasons people sometimes won't play games with me.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Online Dating and Humourless Feminists

(TW: references to rape culture, sexualised insults.)

I don't often talk about my online dating adventures. The first reason is that, as will become clear from the rest of the post, I haven't had that many adventures. The second, I suppose, is the lingering stigma. It's rare for people of my generation to bat an eyelid at the idea of meeting people online, but somehow I can't shake this feeling that there's something outlandish and dubious about online dating.

But... I live on the internet. I have friends I only talk to online. I have friends I only know online. I've travelled across land and sea to see internet friends. For about 5 years, my LiveJournal friends knew me better than anyone I spoke to in "real life". So I've decided not to be weird about it, and if other people want to make it weird... well, I promise not to online date them. Everyone happy? Super.

Anyway, I signed up for all this a while back with the idea that it would be fun to meet new people. I figured it would be a good way to throw myself into this real world that turns out to exist outside church, where you're allowed to date people even if you don't plan to marry them, and so maybe dating wouldn't be so damn terrifying. And no one would use the word "intentional". Obviously, I was mainly in it for the hilarious anecdotes.

Sitcom-style hilarity ensues!
And honestly? It's been pretty underwhelming.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Great Job Hunt

14:06 Posted by Ali , , , 4 comments
It turns out that job hunting isn't much fun.

Another one?
Maybe it's a private school thing, or maybe it's a Gen Y thing, or maybe it's that as a white, wealthy, non-disabled, cisgendered, heterosexual, thin-bodied person I'm sitting on a shit-ton of barely-acknowledged privilege, but I've just always expected things to work out for me RIGHT AWAY. I feel like I've spent my whole life walking casually into scholarships and part-time jobs, and now that I would quite like to pay rent and buy board games useful grown up things, suddenly it's just not working out for me any more.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Leaving Home, Going Home

In order to avoid having pretty much every blog post in the last three months start with an apology for not posting, here is a warning about wild cheeses.

I keep promising myself that I'll start blogging regularly again, when things settle down or pick up or get more interesting. Well, we're getting there. On the plus side, things are happening in my life again - they're just mostly not particularly exciting things. I am at least much better than I was during my first month or two back, and I can now do things like stay awake for a whole day at a time, and concentrate on basic tasks. Which means I can blog, but still doesn't mean I have anything to say.

So, where was I? Ah yes, England!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Monday, 21 January 2013


Hey, look where I am!

Yes, I'm back in the cold and the dark, having considered graduation a good excuse to come back to England and spend time with the people I like over here.

England is, of course, in chaos over the three-odd inches of snow which have fallen over the last few days.

It's madness.
But my plane landed on time and I've generally been able to get to the places I'm going and I have lots of soup and chocolate and waterproof boots and an Emily, so I'm free to enjoy the snow.

Or to lie around in my pyjamas and read and drink tea instead. Because now I'm in another country, so it's called "being on holiday", not "unemployment".

Sunday, 13 January 2013

New Things and Tiny Hats

At the risk of sounding like the opening scene of The Marriage of Figaro, I made a hat!

Come winter, some unfortunate child will be getting this.
It's not a good hat, but as a first knitting project since my days of resentfully knitting squares in junior school, I'm pretty proud of it. I'm still not up to much, thanks to having no energy and a touch of the sadbrain, but I'm keeping myself occupied by learning New Things. My current New Thing is knitting.

The problem with learning New Things is that, while they keep me busy, they can also make me feel even worse, because I don't like being bad at things. But my knitting no longer looks like it's been chewed, so now it makes me feel accomplished instead of useless. Progress! And learning to like things I can't do instantly is another thing I need to come to terms with anyway.*

I'm sure there's an important lesson in here about perseverance or whatever, but I don't like important lessons. I like knitting tiny hats (and then modelling them on kittens). Next, I will tackle cryptic crosswords (kittens probably not involved).

At some stage, I also need to tackle the fact that in changing my blog layout, I broke Disqus. So if you would like to comment on my scintillating tiny hat news... well, I'd be astonished.

*This does not mean that I will ever like chess.**
**I do, however, love Chess. And so should you.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Red Herring Ferret


In a thrilling turn of events (only not really - I'm sorry, I'm really boring at the moment), it turns out Low Ferritin wasn't my nemesis after all.* The ferret was a herring.

Awww. (Source)
It may in fact be citalopram, which really is a shocking revelation, as I thought we were friends. Talk about betrayal. It's like that moment at the end of Philosopher's Stone where it turns out to be Quirrell and it blows your 9-year-old mind. My dissertation was partially dedicated to the manufacturers of citalopram for stopping me from freaking out while I wrote it. And now it may be what's messing with my sleep and making me tired all the time.

Who would have guessed?