The #selfie experiment… What it was, how it changed, what it meant

What started out after one of those office conversations that must have started about something Serious and Journalistic and then turned out into a rant about why-do-people-who-just-post-selfies-get-so-many-extra-Instagram-followers, my “#selfie” experiment was intended as purely by-the-numbers game.

My intention was to post a selfie a day to my Instagram account for thirty days, and count the mundane things like likes and new followers.

And then I realised something pretty fundamental for the #selfie movement: I really, really, really do not like the way that I look.

This is not a fishing for compliments post. There are people that think I’m pretty/attractive/sexy/whatever. Most of the time, I just don’t happen to be one of them. (I’m also well aware that there are people who find me equally unattractive etc etc).

But that is still not the point of this post. It’s about how much I dislike feeling vulnerable. Or judged. (Which, if I ever get the courage to post The Post, will be explained shortly). And so, for me, the biggest discovery about my #selfie experiment was not my physical insecurities, but rather my emotional ones.

Three things, though, to kick you off: I didn’t get a single negative comment on my Instagram feed. Not a one.

Most of my selfies were taken at home – any of the ones I took in public were snapped very surreptiously. As in, look, I’m pretending to take a photo of the scenery etc. Because I was that embarrassed. And that convinced I was likely to be judged by a passer-by. Heck, even my friends.

And as soon as I realised how insecure I felt about posting, I started posting the “anti-selfie”. The idea? Selfies of me as natural and as vulnerable as possible.

When we think of the selfie, we generally think of young women, layered in make-up, cleavage out, in a totally-nonchalant-but-absolutely-sexy pose. Even the not-teeny-bopper selfies are still carefully constructed to show the person in the best light as possible – artfully done make-up, gorgeous hair, hipster-esque shots, oh-look-at-me-being-all-nonchalant (again).

Yeah, I tried. That’s not even a little bit me. And so as soon as I realised this, I started posting pictures of myself in my most insecure moments.

I didn’t make 30 days. There was no way I could. I’m not a selfie person (unless it’s for a very memorable event). But I learned a lot about myself – and the world – in the 15 days I did take them.

I think there are maybe two in which I’m wearing make-up, perhaps? (One of them was for a 90s dress-up – I’ll leave you to spot which one). But there’s me with mussy hair, me on a bus midway through a 14-hour trip, me on the way back (red-faced and exhausted after my hike home), me dying of my cold, in bed, in my dressing gown, soaked to the skin and very grumpy after standing in the pouring rain waiting for a lift back to my car at Smits. And yes, one hipster one thrown in for good measure.

And so, a “real” snapshot of my life, perhaps. Although, of course, all of the selfies are constructed in some way – every photo is.

And, interestingly enough, it was those photos of me looking like – well, myself – that garnered the most likes. Not the ones where I’m dressed up to the nines, or the ones that I thought were the most “selfie-ish” of all of them.

Surprisingly enough, in a world where physical beauty is held up as such a great standard and even the most beautiful men and women alive are Photoshopped to remove a mole or a scar – any defining feature, really – we’re slowly learning to appreciate reality and honesty more.

At least, I hope so.

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A return, a pixie cut, and finding one’s feet

Greetings and salutations, fellow travellers. Welcome to a kinda-sorta-little-bit redesigned version of Down the Rabbit Hole.

After a terribly long hiatus (the longest since I’ve started this here blog) in which so much went down that I don’t actually know where to begin (okay, actually I do know where to begin, I should just probably really think about how to start it all off), I’m back. I think. You know how it goes.

There have been half a million changes – and changes back, and changes-that-aren’t-really-changes-because-let’s-be-honest-what-did-I-expect – and things that have happened, but this week’s biggest (possibly only by a little, it’s been a weird ten or so days) is this…

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Yup, after quite literally a year of threatening to do so, I finally took the plunge, embraced my inner Jennifer Lawrence (and Miley Cyrus and Pink) and cut it all off.

*Warning: This post contains an obscene amount of selfies.

It’s the first time ever that I’ve ever gone to a hair salon with Something in Mind. Normally I’m just like “Erm, make it pretty?” and end up with variations of the same haircut I’ve had since school. No more. Bryony went and her locks chopped off on Friday and made me make an appointment – which I did, for Saturday morning – I went armed with a red carpet photo of Jennifer Lawrence and a mission.

The result… (Obligatory before-and-after)

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My hairstylist – after looking at me for a minute with that Are-you-sure-like-really-sure look – grabbed my ponytail and attacked it with scissors, then unceremoniously dumped it aside. No going back from that point on.

And I feel liberated. More like myself than I have in a long, long time. Fierce, even.

Of course, until I wash it and attempt to let it air dry naturally.

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The result? Having a “hair-care routine” that went from this…

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… To this. Thankfully styling short hair is actually infinitely quicker. And SO MUCH MORE FUN.

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We’re still learning, still playing around – it’s like having somebody else’s hair on my head, really, which is awesome. I call this the “I saw a tip on YouTube about spraying hairspray in your wet hair before bed” look.  

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So far my favourite look (in all, like, four days of having a pixie cut) is my Miley Cyrus-inspired look. Who knew my hair could do such things?

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But really, it is true. Having short hair is so completely liberating. And it’s also made me feel surprisingly more confident, which – with the last few months in mind – is a pretty big achievement.

Take it and leave it

After a hellish few weeks – some of the most stressful that I can remember – I finally managed to sneak in a teeny bit of leave. And I say a teeny bit, because I ended up working a ton around it (yes, I know, I’m an overachiever. you can shout at me later. I almost didn’t take the leave at all – I compromised and took less than I should have.)

Also over the last two weeks in particular, I’ve felt my handle on myself slipping. Nothing dramatic – I just needed to remind myself that gosh darnit, I am awesome. And I needed to hear it from myself, and not from anyone else. You know how it goes. (I’ll stop rambling soon, I promise.)

So I set myself some targets for this week. I had some gift vouchers for a manicure and a facial that I needed to use, so there was that. I wanted to take a trip out of Cape Town – within driving distance, on my own, to go exploring. I wanted to go to a yoga class. I wanted to go to a coffee shop and have a coffee on my own and try not to care. I tried to check my Whatsapp only 15 times a day instead of 50. My email embargo flew out the window, alas. But I tried.

But I did all of this and a decent amount more, I reckon. Who needs Eat Pray Love? I did my own version. With jellybeans, mild road rage and the most kick-ass floral pants. Girl needs her floral pants.

On Tuesday, after rushing into work for a bit, I finally managed to get into my car to head off on my travels. I left later in the day than I had wanted, so I had to cut my trip short. Below, essential solo travel supplies: Jellybeans, neon glasses and kickass floral pants. R50 from Cotton On. Best. Sale. Buy. Everrr.

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Decided to explore Cape Point And Surrounds. The game became this: Whenever you see a little brown touristy sign, go forth and explore. If it was free. Because I forgot to draw cash.

But first photo stop… Just outside Simon’s Town (Missed the Naval Museum, Boulders cost R45. Damnit, I wanted to see some penguins!)

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Should’ve brought a hair tie… Though I kinda like how crazy and wind-whipped my hair is here.

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Scarborough beach. Dodgiest public bathrooms ever (not pictured) and what I’m sure was a drug deal in one of the cars (also not pictured). Pictured: Beach.

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Beachy toes and kickass pants.

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I don’t do selfies very often, as you may have guessed.

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Lighthouse near Kommetjie was closed for maintenance. Laaaaame.

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Also not pictured were the troupe of baboons I came across near Cape Point (R90 entrance! Fuck me!), the ostrich farm (ostriches terrify me), Die Kom, Misty Cliffs and the random Rastafarian on Ou Kaapse Weg.

*Edit: Was asked about the road rage. Truck going pretty much going -15km/h up Ou Kaapse Weg. I never claimed to be patient.

Heading home.

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Hardly an epic journey, but it was good for the soul. Good music, pure and total alone time, and around three hours on the road.

I also went to my first ever Bikram yoga class (totally not pictured). I’ve done Vinyasa before, but not for a long while, so there were a few severe learning curves again. I didn’t throw up, and almost only fainted once. Success!

Then, today, I ticked off the facial (my poor skin, so many extractions!), the manicure and the coffee shop. (Note slightly smudged nail and chocolate cookie of deliciousness from the coffee shop. Worst nail polish ever, jeez. Took three hours to dry).

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Also signed on for my sixth and final (sniff) egg donation with the wonderful, inspiring women at Nurture. There will be a decent long post once I’ve nailed down some of the details. But for now, I rest. ‘Cause life, from tomorrow, is going to get wild.

Who needs sleep, anyway?

Oats are the most dangerous of breakfast foods

“Oats are the most dangerous of breakfast foods”, I tweeted somewhat prophetically on Monday morning.

See, despite my most careful preparations, I still managed to have my morning bowl of oats explode all over the office microwave. Smooth, real smooth. And, of course, as if that wasn’t enough, I also burned the roof of my mouth in my desire to actually have a breakfast that wasn’t trying to kill me.

Don't let their sedate appearance fool you. Oats are actually lying in wait, plotting your demise.

Don’t let their sedate appearance fool you. Oats are actually lying in wait, plotting your demise.

Fast forward to Thursday morning… I’m over-tired, desperately looking forward to the long weekend. And, heaven forbid, wanting breakfast. I go through the motions. Oats. Water. Microwave. Low heat, because otherwise breakfast ends up decorating the microwave. Medium heat, because I’ve just realised how much shit I’ve got to do before all the public holidays, and can’t really face spending six minutes playing an excruciating game of the-oats-in-the-microwave-go-round-and-round.

Now, the office cereal bowls are mighty pretty. White, clean, decent-sized. But my god, do they retain heat like nobody’s business. I once heated up a stir-fry in one of these so-called “Microwave Friendly” bowls and almost dropped the damn thing all over my shoes after I took it out the microwave. So you can imagine what oats do to these bowls.

But, because it’s Thursday morning and I’m multitasking and trying to send pictures from my phone to my work email because the office Easter Egg Hunt was that morning and I absolutely must get the photos up, I forget that The Bowl Is Lava. And start taking it out the microwave… Foolishly, with my bare hands. The “Oh shit this is hot” registers, and I half-drop the bowl onto the edge of the microwave tray, and try to grab the stupid fucking thing before it pours all over my stomach and shoes and whatnot.

Bear in mind that microwaved oats are the closest thing to napalm in the civilian world. 

Now, I’m pretty sure stuff like this is supposed to happen in slow-motion. It totally does in the movies. But this happened lightning fast. I tried to grab the sides of the bowl to catch it. I was 50 percent successful. Left hand was fine, right hand was plunged into the volcanic breakfast food.

I didn’t scream, I didn’t cry. Instead, I calmly turned to the kitchen sink to run my hand under some water. Only, there was somebody there, filling up the kettle. At an immensely leisurely pace, I might add. I calmly asked her to “Please move”, and I think she may have replied something about the kettle. I then informed her that I was “on fire” and pretty much lost control of my voice at that stage, snapping at her to “PLEASE. MOVE”. She did, at almost snail-like pace, it felt. And blessed, blessed cool water was running down my hand.

And so it was that I ended up feeding myself oats with my left-hand and flinching with every keystroke, and dashing to the water cooler at the gym. (Of course, Hardcore Gym Guy took one look at me running my hand under the water and quipped something about “That’s not going to work”. I’m not sure if he meant it wasn’t going to help my hydration, or it wasn’t going to help the pain from lifting weights. Regardless, he got the Sad Oat Story) .

It also meant that I spent a large portion of my night out last night stealing ice out of people’s drinks and resting my hand against the coldest glass on the table.

Today, I have the gnarliest blisters on my right knuckle, and a healthier appreciation for yoghurt and cold milk.

Because long weekend

This time of year in South Africa is packed full of public holidays. Human Rights Day, Good Friday, “Family Day” (eg. the day after Easter), Freedom Day and Worker’s Day. All in March/April/May. So I took full advantage, and exercised my Human Right to take an extra day off and make up a long weekend.

And it was crazy. The good kind of crazy, for the most part, that kind that makes you feel I am living.

After work I drove through to Bergvliet (in peak traffic, mind you – I had completely forgotten how hellish the drive back to the burbs was) to join Bryony and her hubby at a run/walk in aid of The Chaeli Campaign. It kicked off at the Bergvliet Sports Club, which springs some interesting, neon-related memories to mind (and it also made me realise that I may have been drunker than I thought that night… Seeing as I walked into the ladies’ bathroom on Wednesday and had that overwhelming feeling of What is this place? Still. It remains one of my favourite nights. Ever.) 

Anyway, we decided to skip the run and did the 4km walk instead, ’cause we had B’s dogs with us. And after, it was beer and a boerewors roll, before heading back to B’s for dinner. From there, I did a quick-change in her bathroom (I still cringe whenever I go in there, remembering my Epic Drunk Dial escapade. Oh, lordy) and headed out to a friend’s birthday drinks in Woodstock. Jess was well into the shots by the time we arrived, and I braved chocolate tequila and caramel vodka in the name of being a Good Friend.

I love buying presents. It's a  thing. I get especially thrilled when I find budget-friendly perfect gifts.

I love buying presents. It’s a thing. I get especially thrilled when I find budget-friendly perfect gifts.

And then, I managed to drop my R1200 glasses off the balcony. And all in the name of vanity. You see, somebody wandered up to the group that was hanging out on the balcony and wanted to take a picture. So I pushed my glasses on top of my head – with rather more vigour than anticipated – and felt them slide over the back of my head. I turned just in time to hear them crash to the floor a storey below, into the parking lot.

Of course, because I can’t actually see without the damn things, I ran around the flat shouting “I need someone with eyesight!  I need someone with eyesight!” Thankfully, I managed to find Christie (who has contact lenses) and we dashed downstairs. We found the frames quickly enough – sans one lens – and I was crawling around on my hands and knees in the parking lot, praying to the God of Optometry (he is a very cruel, greedy god) that the other lens was in one piece. It was. And I did a shrieky, giggly little jig out there in the parking lot. Hey, I never pretended to be cool. Christie managed to pop the lens back in and voila, the party continued.

We were all meant to head out to a place in town, but after scoping out the 200-odd people in the queue, changed our minds. Jay had volunteered to drive with me in my car and we drove down Long Street, stuck in traffic, with me getting him to hack Ingress portals on my phone while I drove. Like I said, no cool kids here. We eventually found out that Jess and company were at an ultra-dodgy dive on Long Street, but one look at her in the bathroom when we arrived and I knew it was time to get her out of there. And so I volunteered to drive her and her boyfriend home to Constantia, some 20 minutes away. Nobody objected, but nobody else jumped up to help either.

And because I was too wired after that, I drove home the ultra long way round… Around Camp’s Bay, taking in the lights and revelling in late night Cape Town. I’d had a long talk with Jess’ boyfriend in the car, and it actually opened up my eyes a little – in a very painful way, but it needed to be heard. And that was Wednesday.

Thursday I went to go see Quartet with Cait – was lovely just to bond, and it was quite a lovely cast and quite a lovely film, but not quite satisfactory. (Ack! Bad, Candace, bad! No mini-movie reviews, you’re on leave… ish!)

Friday, it was off to my first ever sunset show at Kirstenbosch Gardens. Stefan had texted in the morning with the offer of tickets for the Farryl Purkiss/Jeremy Loops/Xavier Rudd gig, so I reckoned heck yes. And it was stunning, and surprisingly healing… Although maybe that’s because we also had some major bitch-bonding time. The hippies were out in full force and the chilly wind brought a pretty heady smell of pot wafting over regularly. But it was an amazing show and a beautiful setting – and I’d definitely do it again. (Although ultra-top-tip: Definitely leave a few minutes before the set ends. You can hear the music for ages AND you don’t get stuck in the heaving crowds. Win!)

I <3 Cape Town

I ❤ Cape Town

Saturday I got a severe case of the Sads. I was meant to go film for work and got out to the location, then called it off. I was meant to go to the Biscuit Mill with Bryony, but she took a while to text and I could feel myself wanting to curl up into a teeny, tiny little ball and just go to sleep. Instead, Xanthe texted. Beer. Forries. Now. So I did – and beer turned into lunch and an awesome chill out with some great friends. Bryony eventually did text, and I of course immediately felt guilty for sorta bailing on her… If anybody would like to start work on a Time-Turner a la Harry Potter, that’d be good.

I then had to drive Sean out to Bergvliet for a beer pong tournament (true story) and raced back to get home in time before they started closing all the roads for the Bafana Bafana game. Now, living in Green Point is amazing. Seriously. But every time somebody wants to stage an event, they’re all like “Hey! Green Point is like, totes the place to do it.” I’m not kidding. This week, the roads were closed for soccer. Last week, for the “Cape Town Carnival” (Hiss. It made me miss Iain’s housewarming. Okay, well, Carnival and Xanthe & Timmy’s engagement. But, you know). The week before that? The Cape Argus. And the week before that? Pride. Madness, I tell you.

And then, because I am the World’s Best Sister, I drove out to pick him up at 12.30am again. It’s all good though, after Jay I know that road pretty much backwards, so hecking out there at that time of night is a piece of the proverbial cake.

And now it’s Sunday. Cait decided we should all go hiking this morning – fair enough. We mapped out a route to Tranquility Cracks, but none of us had counted on the wind. It started out well enough…

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But as we turned the corner into Corridor and got further up the ravine, we were nearly blown off the mountain. No, seriously. I was holding onto a rock, being buffeted backwards, completely astounded by the sheer stupidity of it all. After a hasty mid-hike conference, sanity prevailed, and we scuttled back down. We tried to warn other hikers (seriously, actual “gale force winds” is an effing safety hazard, people), and you’d be surprised at how few listened. Sure, you probably do this all the time, but all it takes is one gust of wind and a mis-step. It’s a long tumble back down to Camp’s Bay, people.

Anyway, we took the scenic, less fatal route back down.

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Anyway, I shall stop thrilling you with my weekend tales. I do, however, have a point to all of this.

Time with the people you love is one of the best reminders that you mean something. No matter how dull a grey the world is.

Also, choose plastic lenses.

 

We were Born This Way

It’s been an… Interesting week. Emotional. Extremely painful. Stupid decisions were made. Lots of weird things happened. Some amazing things, too. I’m too tired to write about it properly. But, in highlights…

New running shoes. Yes, they're pink and purple. Look at me not caring.

New running shoes. Yes, they’re pink and purple. Look at me not caring.

WOOHOO. 'Nuff said.

WOOHOO. ‘Nuff said.

View from my seat during The Darkness' opening act for Lady Gaga

View from my seat during The Darkness’ opening act for Lady Gaga

Sunset at the Cape Town Stadium on the night of the Lady Gaga show.

Sunset at the Cape Town Stadium on the night of the Lady Gaga show.

New lace dress and pretty wedge pumps. Cost more than they should have. Love them anyway.

New lace dress and pretty wedge pumps. Cost more than they should have. Love them anyway.

My brand-new Kindle. An amazing gift from an incredible, incredible woman.

My brand-new Kindle. An amazing gift from an incredible, incredible woman.

I got an award at our office function - and a great little speech from my CEO. I may have teared up a little. MAY.

I got an award at our office function – and a great little speech from my CEO. I may have teared up a little. MAY.

Mussells for starters for our year-end office function. Dee-licious.

Mussells for starters for our year-end office function. Dee-licious.

Our main course for our office year-end party. Fillet wrapped in bacon. YUM.

Our main course for our office year-end party. Fillet wrapped in bacon. YUM.

First official beach day of summer 2012.

First official beach day of summer 2012.

Egg donation: Some FAQs

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So on Saturday morning – at the crack of dawn, mind you – I started my Gonal-F injections for my fourth cycle of egg donation. I say at the crack of dawn, and it really was – a few of us were doing a trail run in Stellenbosch, and I had to leave my flat at the quite ungodly hour of 6am. I’d forgotten the unparalleled ability of a needle in the stomach to wake a person up. Truly, I’ve probably done this whole self-injection thing around 50 times now – and I never fail to experience that rush of adrenaline that accompanies it.

As donors, our doses are pretty stock-standard: 225 for four days and 150 for two days before our first scan. (Mine is tomorrow, hold thumbs all is looking good!) This time, I’m already feeling a little discomfort from bloating – although that may be all the water that we are encouraged to drink, and all the wine that I’m not allowed to touch!

So, because it’s all early days and I’ve not got much to report, I thought I’d address some of the FAQs that I, personally, get.

1. Aren’t you scared?
I get this a lot, strangely. No, I’m not scared – always a little anxious that my body doesn’t co-operate and that I let my recipient down. But I’ve been through the process three times already and I know the team at the Clinic are exceptional. I’m in great hands, so no – not scared!

2. Does it hurt?
Look, I’ll be honest. Before you even get to Donation Day, there is a lot of poking and prodding. A LOT. You do daily injections yourself – once you get the hang of it, they barely hurt at all – and you have an internal ultrasound around four times per cycle, which – as I explained to my long-suffering brother last night – goes up and inside vaginally. And the Cetrotide – to stop premature ovulation – itches like a mofo.

The actual procedure, and the pain each person feels when they come around from anaesthetic, varies. I woke up after my first donation in a lot of pain, while the girl in the bed next to me pretty much skipped out of the Clinic. Now, while I’m out, they shoot me up with a fair chunk of painkillers… And I’m golden!

3. What about your babies? Aren’t you curious about them?
Not my babies. My eggs, yes – but the making and growing babies part belongs to the Clinic and the recipient and her family. Obviously I like to know that the babies are healthy etc – and I’m obviously curious about what they look like – but they were never my babies.

Update A: I actually have more of an emotional connection with the recipient, as a general rule.

Update B: It also comes down to your whole idea of “parenthood”. Is the child “yours” because its yourgenetic material? Is it “yours” because you carried it through pregnancy, gave birth to it? Or is it “yours” because you’re the one  awake at 2.30am for the sixth time this week, “yours” because you love it unconditionally, even when you’re covered in puke, and “yours” because you’re sitting in the front row for its first school play? For me, it’s the third option.

4. And… no sex, right?
Right. Abso-fucking-lutely no sex. Do you KNOW how fertile I am right now?? Thankfully – and I use the word “thankfully” quite loosely – I’m no longer seeing anyone, so the temptation has been removed, so to speak. I’ve actually never been dating anyone during a cycle.

5. What – and how – do you tell your partners?
Well, the only partner I’ve had and told has been J. Just after we hooked up, I was a little tipsy – which I think helped! – and I kinda just blurted it out. He was immensely accepting, though, and seemingly quite fascinated by the thought that there were little people with my genetic material out there. Which is quite cool, if you think about it.

Right, have typed this all out on my phone while waiting for my bro to finish playing soccer. And my fingers have cramped up a little.

But feel free to post any questions you may have and I will answer as best I can 🙂

Blog edited for typos and poor word choice.