Thursday, 19 June 2014

Brasil 2014

I’m late to the party… but I think one week is well within the grace period. The World Cup is here! The very first one since I completed high school, and like with everything else that I have experienced post-high-school, it really felt much more exciting when I was on the inside. Maybe it was just the vuvuzela orchestra. 
Richard: SI unit of the underdog

It is no secret that I root for the underdog… always have. Maybe I do it just to be the different one with the dissenting opinion. Whatever the reason, I will be the girl cringing every time Richard Jenkins embarrasses himself and the one crying softly when he finally launches the fastest, most lossless (is that a phrase?) compression software on Silicon Valley. However, for once, I will be rooting for someone with a real and apparent shot at winning. My support for Brazil is completely non-football related. Don’t get me wrong, I am convinced (largely by my boyfriend) that Neymar is a football demigod. 

Even with that, I am with Brazil because I believe that a country with a city as beautiful as Rio de Janeiro… a city so amazing that it inspired a movie as spectacular as Rio, deserves world recognition. The fact that this recognition will come in the form of the World Cup is simply a by the way. Even the people are beautiful and fun. I would give anything to be in one of their carnivals. Nothing says, “Carpe Diem!” like rocking feathers and glitter. I already have my honey moon destination figured out.

The World Cup is natural selection at its best. The strong come out triumphant and live to fight another day, while the weak get eaten. Ask anyone in a relationship. The World Cup is nature’s way of weeding out the weak couples from those who have what it takes to make it to July 13th unscarred. On that note, congratulations mum and dad for making it through 5 World Cups together. May you get to enjoy many more… or rather, mum, may you get to live through many more “You are blocking the TV!” while all you want is to announce that supper is ready. 

Being the benevolent soul that I am, I have dedicated time and effort to determining strategies on how you, relationship guru who knows nothing about football; or you, football enthusiast with mild Asperger’s syndrome can live through this. Luckily, with my well balanced personality, I have the optimal love-hate relationship with both football and people… making me your go to girl on such conflicting issues. 

1.       Pick your teams in advance. In the unfortunate event that your team of choice may upset your significant other’s sensibilities (like how upset I’d be if he supported Germany, of God forbid, USA) it would be wise to declare your support as early on as January to give them time to adjust… and to tear up your jersey as therapy.

2.       This will cause backlash so make sure to have a conflict resolution strategy. During this period you can expect to argue about anything from whether to watch a particular game, where to watch it from, whether or not to celebrate the fact that Spain is out… I recommend arm wrestling as a strategy. That is not code for anything.

3.       Develop a new hobby. This is for those who don’t want to have anything to do with the World Cup. Learn origami or something… have a new baby if you must. Adopt a puppy.

4.       Watch Rio… and Rio 2. They will remind you of the beauty of Brazil… and of the Brazilian people. Despite the news of all the human trafficking that goes on there, Rio (the movie) will restore your faith in Brazil.

5.       If you can’t beat them, join them. As an actuarial science student, I would recommend that you read statistical predictions from Goldman Sachs and Lloyd’s of London. It will give you a unique opportunity to watch grown actuaries and investment bankers get into a pissing contest about which team stands better odds. Investment bankers, despite causing the Economic Crisis, can still do some things right. They think Brazil has a real shot… a 99% chance. Though they did predict that Spain would get to semis… so there’s that.

6.       When all else fails, love each other. When I scream that I really hate you, it actually just means that I hate that I love you so… learn to read the love in between the lines.

When all that is said, the next couple of weeks are some of the most exciting times that will happen in the next four years. Try to enjoy yourself. Support Brazil, even the minions do.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

We had them (at the very least)

Maya Angelou passed away last week. I will be frank and say that I know more about her now than I did when she was alive. I love her poems: Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise because they affirmed my feeling that I am a beautiful, strong, black woman (ignore my total lack of upper body strength). But isn’t it always so. Humanity has a knack for celebrating great people post-humously. 

The day that Maya died I attended a funeral. The really sad kind that leaves you angry at the world and greatly pained… the kind that you can’t talk about because talking makes it seem more pointless. Days on, the acute pain gives way to a pensive mood where you realise that you have to live vicariously; greet the world with arms wide open… else you will not be doing right by those who will never get the opportunity. Those candles whose flames go out too soon. The greatest tribute one can give them is to live. 

Several people have asked me why I haven’t written in a while. I have given all sorts of excuses but it all comes down to me getting so wrapped up in mundane activities and forgetting about the one thing that makes me happy. I thought I had outgrown the need to publicly document what I was feeling, thinking about and experiencing but I haven’t. Not yet.

 When I was in primary school I had a teacher who would say that when the pressure became too much one should go out to the playground and just scream. It sounded absurd then. However, of late, I often scream silently when I am exasperated by some school project. Judging by my rage at my laptop I now know that I will have a serious case of road rage. I know that I don’t only like writing… I need to write. This here is me screaming in the playground and wearing my Fuckit! face at those kids peering at me from the windows of the library.
Also I like her earrings

The screaming won’t make everything all better. I still have to go on and face life, but at least I will do it with a lighter load on my shoulders. 

I ran across one of Maya’s poems that she must have written as a tribute to Michael Jackson and it expressed, almost accurately, how I feel about the people I love whom I have lost: I had them. No matter how brief the time was, I had them and all they had to offer.

We had him.
Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing
Now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace
Sing our songs among the stars and walk our dances across the face of the moon

In the instant we learn that Michael is gone we know nothing
No clocks can tell our time and no oceans can rush our tides
With the abrupt absence of our treasure

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone
Piercingly alone
Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him

He came to us from the Creator, trailing creativity in abundance
Despite the anguish of life he was sheathed in mother love and family love and survived and did more than that

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style
We had him
Whether we knew who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his
We had him

Beautiful, delighting our eyes
He raked his hat slant over his brow and took a pose on his toes for all of us and we laughed and stomped our feet for him

We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing
He gave us all he had been given

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana's Blackstar Square, in Johannesburg, in Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham England, we are missing Michael Jackson

But we do know that we had him
And we are the world.
Maya Angelou