The Potential for Extraordinary Never Dies: Not Really a Valentine’s Post

Every morning I check the “On This Day” feature on Facebook. Perhaps that’s a little narcissistic. I don’t know. What I do know is that it helps with my capacity for nostalgia.

You see, I sometimes worry that I am incapable of nostalgia. You know how most people say that childhood is the best time of your life? Or how people get really bittersweet when they hear a song from their past? Or when old friends get to chatting about “the good ol’ days” and then they get a bit morose about it?

That doesn’t happen to me.

Songs that I used to listen to in high school irritate me. They feel more like a jab of holy-crap-how-did-we-listen-to-this-rubbish. I don’t look back on too much of my life with longing. I don’t miss things very much. Sometimes I miss my grandfather, though even then I have to admit I am probably more “too much” for him these days than I was when he was alive. Would we even get along now?

Anyway, I check my On This Day feature every morning, and I delete all the things that have no nostalgic value. Sometimes I smile at what is left over.

This morning I flicked through my nostalgia timeline and it was filled with Instagram images from my trip to India (I’m sort of sorry about that by the way – in the moment I didn’t realise I was posting so many!) and I couldn’t help but smile at the memories, even though they barely feel like memories so much as just things that happened the other day. We spent Valentine’s Day at the Taj Mahal last year. It felt nice to be able to say that, I must admit. But I also admit it was quite nice to scroll down further and get to the year where the husband and I spent all day posting Doctor Who valentines on each other’s Facebook walls. That made me smile too. Maybe that means my nostalgia isn’t broken?

I sort of thought to myself: won’t it be nice in about ten years time when every day my On This Day timeline is filled with at least one magical thing that happened in the past? And wouldn’t that be such a lovely reminder that good things kind of do happen all the time?

Yes. Of course we fill our timelines with dreadful things too (they’re totally delete-able online though!) but those good things can be so powerful. From silly things like mentioning that you baked a great batch of cupcakes to that time your kids did something really sweet.

Social media is seen as such a skewed picture of life, and perhaps it is, but I cannot help but be grateful for the reminders of celebrated little things, because they remind me that little things are always around the corner. I tend to get so stuck in the now. Caught up in an extra bad instance of anxiety, or being overwhelmed by the trials of a loved one. Those sorts of things take dominance so often.

And yet my cat is cute as hell when she sleeps. And my husband sometimes brings me a choccie from the shops. And sometimes I take a hundred pictures during a walk in the park.

So today I am thinking about the potential for extraordinary. It is always there. Overshadowed sometimes by my own potential for dread. But it is there. And for that I choose to be grateful.

A Geeky Valentine

So Valentine’s Day is just about upon us. I’m pretty sure my opinion of this day changes from year to year, depending, most likely, on how lovey dovey I am feeling when it arrives.

Last year I was at the Taj Mahal for Valentines Day but I can’t for the life of me remember what we did after we were done there. Did we just go back to our hotel and nap? What food did we eat?

Anyway, this year I’m just embracing the whole love-dorky package that is the celebration of St. Valentine. I imagine this will likely displease my grandmother considering how not-so-impressed she was by my lack of love for Christmas, but what can you do?

I reckon that adage of “promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate” applies. I love love. So I’m going to just go ahead and love loving it.

Yeah?

Yeah.

Gosh that’s cheesy.

Luckily for us Port Elizabethans, this year, Geek World exists. Which kind of means that us Geeky Girls and Boys have somewhere fun to shop for Valentine’s trinkets and huggable plush toys that don’t necessarily have hearts on them.

And I do find myself quite charmed with this idea. Like, why does love have to be a bouquet of roses? Why does it have to be red or pink? Can’t love be a Ravenclaw scarf? Or a Doctor Who charm bracelet? Or a Star Wars figurine?

I reckon it should be.

And it should be all year long. But, you know, if you’re feeling the Valentine’s pressure to do some celebrating on February the 14th, I reckon a Yoda plush toy, a bottle of champers, and a cuddle on the couch with a Star Wars marathon will suit some of us far better than roses and chocolates.

Oh, who am I kidding? Get the roses and chocolates too.

(PS: I’m still a Doctor Who girl, the Star Wars references were just for the Star Wars folks)

The Wonders of Harper Lee

Last year a bookish friend gifted me with a brand new copy of Go Set A Watchman. I’m not sure why she chose me to gift it to, but I am exceptionally glad that she did because it made me haul out my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, which I had not yet attempted to read.

2016 was not a great reading year for me. I squeezed in a couple of easy reads between my travel plans and life in general, but I didn’t get through too many. Finally in December I decided to give the previously discarded To Kill A Mockingbird another try. I’d set it aside before because it was kind of heavy and 2016 was an otherwise light year (if you disregard all that stuff where the free world elected an oppressive twat as their leader) so heavy reading didn’t quite fit.

I finally picked it up though. And wow. Have you read Mockingbird? It’s undoubtedly exceptional.

It has left me in a bit of a fog though.

I’m no scholar, so perhaps I am wrong, but I cannot help but feel that both Mockingbird and Watchman were written by a woman who was clearly trying to come to terms with her own whiteness and the undoubtedly unjust privilege that comes with that. Perhaps I recognise it because I feel it myself, but I cannot help but notice that without being preachy, Harper Lee exposed and questioned so much ugliness in the black/white dynamic of America. And she did so most likely at a risk to herself.

So I have to ask: If this book was so popular (30 million copies sold, boasts the cover of my copy of Mockingbird) then surely it must have had some sort of societal impact. Surely people cannot read books like this and remain unaffected.

Or perhaps the question should be: If people are affected by this kind of art, why does it still feel like it is not enough? Would society in general be worse if these minds did not exist and share their musings with us?

Is it possible that it will ever be enough?

When Watchman came out it was followed by bad reviews. I know Harper Lee herself wasn’t enthusiastic about it going to print, and I can even understand why. Watchman is completely out of Mockingbird’s league. It is almost as if it were written by a lesser version of Harper Lee. Or perhaps it even reads as if it might be fan fiction. And yet the heart of the questioning white girl is still there. And I cannot help but feel a lot of love for that girl. I imagine I will most likely be criticised for it, but so much of race dynamics relies on white people choosing to better themselves, and I do choose to do so, though I undoubtedly fail at times. I cannot help but have great respect for someone like Harper Lee who struggled with it on her own, driven by her own conscience more than by a massive collective conscience which we are fortunate enough to be able to turn to for guidance today.

I read the other day that parents are calling for Mockingbird to be removed from the American school curriculum because it is derogatory to black people. It is. Of course it is. But that’s kind of the point. It is a narrative that seeks to expose and understand those dynamics. Studying that and encouraging those kinds of conversations amongst young people strikes me as so exceptionally important. It shouldn’t be thrown away because of its use of the n word. The heart of it is so much more than that.

To my white reader friends: I encourage you to read these two novels and catch the heart of the justness that they try to communicate. And while you do so, marvel at the fact that an author, lost to us now, could have created something so long ago and still have it be relevant to today’s society.

And then think: what can I do to make this less relevant?

Finding Photographers: What I Learned from Meggin Murphy

When I was 15 I tried my first cigarette in my best friend’s dad’s office. It was kind of lame. I didn’t inhale. I just pretended I did and then followed it with a fake cough to prove that I had inhaled. Of course we went to a Christian school in a small town so it took about 3,5 seconds before the story of Kelly, Chrissy, Jacqui, and I trying cigarettes was the story of the moment. Minions of Satan, we were. Funny enough not to the grownups so much as to our fellow scholars. I giggle just thinking about those looks of disapproval. Like I said: lame.

The incident did kind of endear me to my friend Meggin Murphy for life, though, and it’s weirdly the first thing I think of when I consider our friendship. After that incident, Meggin, who was ten at the time, pulled me aside and burst into tears because she didn’t want me to die from becoming a smoker. It’s funny how potent the idea of someone giving a shit about you can be.

Anyway, Megs and I go a long way back and to this day we indulge in a strong friendship despite the kilometres that divide us, so with this project I’ve already broken some rules for her. I intend to feature mainly Port Elizabethan photographers here (it is where I am after all) but I’m making an exception for her because a.) she’s my Meggin, b.) no one else has photographed me more than this woman has, and c.) she visits Port Elizabeth often enough for us all to take advantage of her skills at some point if there are any takers.

The only issue I ever have with working with Meggin is perhaps that we are too close, which sometimes causes a bit of a hit and miss before we hit our stride. I’m awkward in front of the camera in general. Sometimes I think that  I actually find it far easier to be natural with strangers than I do with people who know me, but I’m not even sure if that’s true. Maybe I’m just awkward with everyone.

My favourite thing about Meggin is that I can always just tell her what to do without feeling idiotic about it. She really does go out of her way to understand my vision for stuff. But for this project, she was in charge. (more…)

Finding Photographers: A New Blog Project

After spending much of 2016 falling more and more in love with my photography hobby, I decided that this year I should actually start learning some things instead of just snapping away and hoping for the best. I have always adored the idea of photography as an art, and have come to know quite a few photographers in the last while. Some professionals, but many just hobbyists like myself.

This year I have decided to spend more time with my photographer friends and collaborating with them in a sort of experiment. I want to show myself, and you, how the photographic style and personality of different photographers can make  a difference when it comes to photoshoots. I especially want to show how a little element of art can be found when photographers are given all the say. I want to show how that varies from photographer to photographer, even when the subjects (myself and my husband mostly) stay the same.

So basically the premise is this:

1.Find a photographer.

2. Give them free reign over the photoshoot.

3. Share the experience.

I have my first photoshoot ready for sharing already, and I’ve got a couple of other shoots planned so long, but if you’re keen to take part in this project or if you know someone who might be please do feel free to give me a shout so that we can set up a time to play together.

You Are Art

It’s mid-January already.You’ve probably been told that more than once in the last couple of days. Mid-January. Mid-January surely means that the scars of getting through the holidays should be fading by now. Are they?

When you’re The Mom Friend to a whole gaggle of people, this can be the time of year that you playing psychiatrist becomes quite the juggling act. Tensions don’t run quite as mildly as folks on Facebook would have us all believe. Super silly happy family! Look at us all. We love each other. We eat in peace once we have said our prayers. We look like an idealistic painting. Painted by fairies who bathe in the spittle of unicorns.

So it is at this time of year that I tend to contemplate what it means to be the outsider. What it means to be the black sheep of the family. What it means to be the misplaced loner who feels rather alien when it comes to family life. I consider them more at this time of year, not only because I feel them in a small way myself, but because I watch how this familial disconnect keeps happening to people I love. I see how the disapproval directed at them by close friends and family members – gathered together in the name of supposedly the most sacred of holidays for the Christian faith – breaks them into smaller pieces than they deserve to be broken into.

And all I can think is this: You are art.

Because maybe that is the answer. Maybe you are art. We have been told over and over that art seeks to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. And if we are to believe this statement – a statement that I personally hold to be an exceptional truth – then perhaps we are art. Perhaps we disturb the comfortable with our very beings. We may not be a provocative painting or a sculpture that begs questions, but I cannot help but believe that we are a disturbance in the very face of picturesque suburbia, or whatever your familial equivalent of that might be.

Our hair isn’t right.

We’ve dressed too shabbily.

We should really lose weight. Or gain weight.

That’s not polite conversation, we should stop bringing it up.

Have you tried a different shade of lipstick?

What are you doing with your life?

You’re not getting any younger, you know.

All the questions and the criticisms boil down to basically one thing: Why are you this way when you should be that way?

And maybe the answer is that you are art. You are a disturbance in the life of the comfortable. And you know what, my friend? That is such a beautiful thing. I am sorry that this is a hard time of year, one that brings judgements and accusations and  crippling self-doubt.

But you are art.

It hurts and it is a heavy burden.

But you are art.

You are a thorn in the side of those who are incapable of seeking to understand.

But you are art.

You are the most glorious of comforts.

You are the colour against a grey background.

You are dessert for breakfast.

You are art.

Finally, Nadine!

 

Hello and welcome to Nadine Rose Larter – the url I should probably have been using this whole time. I do particularly love January and the hopefulness it incites (in me at least). This year I have made the decision to split my travel writings and my more personal writings (although let’s face it – probably those travel writings will still indulge in the personal from time to time) and I’ve moved all my non-travel-related musings over here. So welcome. Or something. This is already getting awkward…

The point is… I’m blogging under my own name now. So that one day if I actually ever finish writing the ten or so WIPs that I have going, I’ll totally have somewhere to share the news.

In the meantime I’ll just keep writing my nonsense!

December is the new January

A Christmas HatGuys: It’s December. I swear it was just a fart and a sneeze ago that I was working my butt off to gather the last of what we needed to get to India and now it’s December and where even did my life go?

After a whole month of November (seriously – can’t November be shorter or just not exist at all?) I’m feeling pretty inspired about life moving forward, which is kind of a weird thing to happen to me around this time of year…or possibly even at any time of year. Not too sure how that happened, but let’s try not to jinx it, kay?

Here’s the thing: I am a HUGE fan of January. I love January (and I love Mondays… am I broken?) and I can’t think of anything worse than holding my breath and plowing through my second worst month of the year, so I’ve decided to start January a month early. There’s something cathartic about “new beginnings” for me. And yes, I do know that there’s nothing special about the first of January, just like I know that there are no magical powers to Mondays, but I like the symbolism. Or something like that. So I’m going to have two Januarys. Granted all that obligatory Christmas madness will be thrown in there somewhere (would it be wrong to change religions just to be able to skip this madness?) but I’m hoping to use this month as a pre-cursor to a year of living an even more colourful life and working towards carving a place for myself within the travel industry in general, because if I have learnt anything in 2016 it is most definitely that I am happiest exploring absolutely anywhere and documenting my discoveries with my camera. Of course these explorations needs to be punctuated with quite down-time days that include probably too much tv binging, but still. The explorey stuff is the happy making stuff.

You can expect to hear a lot more from me going forward. Here’s to a long December of making plans, and a beautiful January of carrying them out.

 

 

If time is irrelevant why is Novemberitis a thing?

NovemberitisNovember is upon us and I’ve got to be honest: I started feeling the twang of Novemberitis around the second week in October. What is it about this time of year that squishes me into a ball of uselessness? I mean, really. I’m enthusiastic about the upcoming year. I’ve got some ideas swimming around. Some old. Some new. And yet here I am, half falling asleep, feeling guilty about skipping NaNoWriMo this year, and wondering if another nap is actually going to help me feel “more refreshed and capable” in the long run. I hate November. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And yet I am quite aware of how ridiculous that is. Novemberitis isn’t a thing! It’s nonsense. Just because you get hit with a bucket of the blues every single time this ungodly month comes around doesn’t mean anything! Does it?

Honestly I have no idea…

What I do know though is that I somehow have to snap out of it. The only thing keeping me going at this point is our trip to…hmmm….where are we going again? Somewhere outside of Grahamstown. Hlosi? Is that a place? I don’t know how game farms work… I should probably look that up before we set off on Friday.

The (sort of) point is that Novemberitis has me in its death grip this year. It’s pretty bad. A part of me is ashamed of it, but then another part knows that sometimes “the dumps” happen.

Is there anything I can do? It’s kind of too late now, but maybe I should try and “do” something about it for next year. Maybe plan a trip. A road trip maybe. The weather is a little windy this time of year, but that’s ok, isn’t it? And spring is pretty. Although…September and October are prettier. November is just this limbo month where the swimming pools are all still too cold to jump into and the heat is yuck.

And Christmas is coming.

Blegh.

Just blegh.

I hate November.

Nesting Season

Nesting SeasonYou know… I didn’t know that I thought it, but I think I’ve always just assumed that humans are these massively evolved beings that don’t really march to the beat of nature’s drum. That’s kind of stupid, I guess, when you take things like menstruation and ovulation into consideration (glory!) but yeah, you know. Actually no. That’s not right either. That stuff is biological, not instinctual.  What I’m trying to talk about is uncontrollable instinct. *shakes the cobwebs from her brain* Here I thought we were all at least semi-in-charge of all this nonsense that goes on around us, but after observing myself as well as all the people around me over the past couple of days, I think I might be changing my mind.

Now I am wondering: are we somehow instinctively tied into the changing of the seasons as well? In the same way that animals are? I know you could probably go and read up about this stuff online (I might do so just now) but just from my own observations I help but wonder. After a short winter of stagnation – comfort food and cosy weekends in front of the telly – September has arrived and everything seems to have gone mad. Is it like this every year?

Suddenly everything is busy! Nevermind spring cleaning…it’s just all this getting ready for this and that and the next thing. Work is mad. Life is mad. Kids are mad. And it’s not just me. It’s everyone! I’m starting to feel like a bird who just automatically starts making a nest and then suddenly he’s all “wait a minute…what am I doing? Why am I putting this twig here?”

Yesterday I actually felt myself burn out. The switch came while I was trying to have a conversation with my mother. It was kind of like my body was telling me “you didn’t listen when I gave you a fever blister, you didn’t listen when you couldn’t sleep, so now you have to crash, don’t say I didn’t warn you”.

I’m dead on my feet. And I feel ridiculous! Because the reason I’m wiped out is because we’ve been working towards good things! We’ve got a road trip with the kids coming up, and a wedding. And then we’re off to Zanzibar. The chaos has purpose. But the chaos also has damn sharp teeth.

So now I’m just sitting here going: Nadine, do not wipe yourself out before you have the chance to enjoy your damn holiday. Find your energy. And find it now.

Enough of the nesting season! I’m ready for a cup of tea and a nap.