Posts Tagged ‘family’

Happy Anniversary! (well. except for the happy part)

June 30, 2011

Anniversary is generally a term that’s used for celebration or a not so subtle reminder that an expensive gift is due. For people like me, the word is used several times a year for a more forlorn purpose.

I always hit a major funk during this second quarter of the year, in fact May, June and July in particular are heavy going.

In May it’s the anniversary of my brother’s death.
In June it’s my late dad’s birthday, and the anniversary of my cousin’s death.
In July it’s my brother’s birthday, and on the exact same day, the anniversary of my Gran’s death.

Sure there are more deaths and anniversaries spread out across the rest of the year, but for these three months, the world seems like one long cruel joke.

It seemingly gets more difficult as the years pass, I think particular because milestones start hitting.

Things like people being dead for longer than you knew them alive for. That’s always a hard one.

Sometimes for a split second I forget what my dad looks like, and that hurts a lot, of course I’ll never actually forget what he looks like, but for that brief moment I’m angry with myself.

I miss my Gran tremendously. She was always the rock that kept the extended family together. In truth I don’t really feel like I have any family anymore, apart from my mom of course. It sad, but it’s a reality. I maybe see certain family members once every few years, but there are no longer family gatherings like there used to be back in the day. True, we’ve all grown up now…well…those of us that are left.

My cousin’s death was a strange one. Particularly based on what the family went through with my brother’s suicide. There are perhaps more unanswered questions to his death than with my brother’s. I will always be thankful that I got to spend time with my cousin in New York. We all know about my desire to get back there. Andre was the only guy who saw how happy I was there and that for me it was perfect contentment. Nobody else has ever seen me that way. I miss him so much because he truly supported my dream and was proud of all my achievements. I’ve never felt anyone else being that proud of me,

I’ve been into detail about my brother’s death before, so I won’t touch on that now, but what I will say is that my brother’s death is what has put my life into the situation it is now. Both good and bad. I’m angry with him and always will be, but I don’t blame him for what he did. I understand, and I do feel him got the better deal outta all this.

Anyways…I know we all have our share of bad days. I guess in this case, it’s just best to fake a smile and waves boys….


A Dummy’s Guide To Burg: 100 Facts about Me (2011 edition)

April 1, 2011

There once was this girl I liked. I knew nothing about her really…except that she worked in an arms and ammo shop in the shopping center I first saw her. My attempts at flirting with her were initially sweet and charming, but I think the minute she realized I was serious, quickly changed her mind and said she knew nothing about me, and then suddenly she had a boyfriend.

Neither of which deterred me, and my solution to problem “A” was to write down a list of 100 facts about myself and then present it to her…Seeing as though I’m still single, it obviously didn’t make much of an impact.

I’d actually like to revisit that list now. A lot has changed. Some not so much. But maybe this will become a Dummy’s Guide To Burg.

1) I still live with my mom as I take care of her. People never understand why.
2) My dad died when I was 11.
3) My older brother killed himself a year after that.
4) I never had a childhood and missed out on so much socializing. I feel bitter about that sometimes.
5) I have a very very very high IQ…but for years have had to show patience when dealing with others.
6) I have the patience of a saint.
7) I sometimes pretend like I don’t know something in order for someone else to answer a question.
8 ) I hate warm/hot weather and prefer cold and rain.
9) I still eat with my baby fork.
10) I can’t sleep/nap unless my feet are covered.

11) I am straight edged. Don’t drink, smoke or swear…and never have once in my life.
12) I don’t believe in religion, but don’t believe anyone has the right to say their beliefs are the only correct beliefs. Wish more people would think that way.
13) I am an insomniac.
14) I worked in call centers doing technical support for 8yrs.
15) I am diabetic
16) I have been in 5 movies as an actor. 2 of them feature films. 1 has had a cinematic release.
17) I hosted a tv show once a week for 2yrs.
18) My favourite sport is tennis. I have a good knowledge of records and history.
19) Lord of the Rings is my favourite movies of all time.
20) I have a massive Johnny Cash music collection.

21) I have never been in a real relationship. Except for that one English period in high school.
22) I lost my virginity when I was 29.
23) That was my only time.
24) I am attracted to exotic woman. Namely indian and asian.
25) I don’t believe in marriage, but would reconsider it for the right person.
26) I hate the phone.
27) Even though I don’t drink, I collect shot glasses. I always ask someone to bring me back one if they traveling overseas.
28) I am a die hard WWE fan, and am undoubtedly the most knowledgeable person in South Africa on it.
29) I collect trading cards. And sometimes trade with colleague’s sons.
30) I love reading, and buy books to store in my library till I feel like reading them one day.

31) I almost never return calls.
32) I am a ridiculously good poker player, but I only learned how to play a few years ago.
33) I am a Liverpool supporter.
34) I love musicals, as long as they are movies and tv shows.
35) I’ve never been to the theatre.
36) I have unbelievably quick reflexes.
37) I see “things”…some may call them spirits.
38) I am a trekkie.
39) I am a brilliant ten pin bowler, and could have taken it more seriously.
40) I have 7 tattoos. Each has a very personal meaning.

41) I have a dog. He does not have a name.
42) I collect movie merchandise and action figures (which I never open)
43) My all time favourite band is Aerosmith.
44) I love Bollywood movies.
45) I know I am a phenomenal writer, but lose faith in myself quickly.
46) I believe everyone deserves a second chance. But 3 strikes and you’re out.
47) My favourite actor is Johnny Depp.
48) I’m very athletic, and despite my size and weight surprise people.
49) I used to write my own comic books as a kid.
50) I have a cat. His name is Rang’a because he is a ginger cat.

51) I strangely still trust my primary school friends, even though I haven’t seen some of them in almost 20yrs
52) I’m the best person to have in a crisis situation.
53) I had a cancer scare last year.
54) I don’t have a best friend.
55) I have a hatred for the country I live in. This upsets a lot of people who don’t understand why. They also don’t get it if I explain.
56) I enjoy reading autobiographies.
57) I am on twitter @theburg
58) I’m the guy everyone opens up to about their problems. I take this as a compliment, but at times its too heavy a burden.
59) I don’t own my own car.
60) I am a coffee connoisseur.

61) I’ve developed a fear of crowds.
62) My favourite food is seafood. Throw it into a pasta, and I’m yours.
63) I broken my arm and ankle in my life.
64) I have a passion for old TV shows, especially old cop shows from the 70s and 80s.
65) I loathe practical jokes and prank phone calls.
66) I collect PEZ dispensers.
67) The last time I had any sort of physical “contact” with a girl was almost 4 years ago.
68) I have a weird need to buy plush toys if they ask me to.
69) When I like a girl I don’t see her in terms of her age, race, or religion, this almost always works against me.
70) I like old skool Disney movies.

71) Pam Grier was my first “african crush”.
72) I listen to most all music…yet cannot tolerate dance music.
73) I wish I had someone to talk to about my “day”.
74) I’m not afraid of anything in life anymore….well except for heights.
75) My radio station of choice is Lotus FM.
76) I have a dvd collection of over 3000.
77) The crime I hate the most is theft.
78) I have vertigo.
79) I do my best thinking when I drive.
80) I enjoy having milkshakes with people, but that hardly ever happens.

81) I am fascinated by Egyptology. I’m not sure if that’s an actual term though.
82) My top 5 wrestlers of all time are: Kurt Angle, Bret Hart, Mr Perfect Curt Hennig, Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Hulk Hogan.
83) When I was a kid, I had an alter ego of “Pencil Man”, I made my own costume and had an entire backstory.
84) If I go to the cinema, I always go to the late show so that I’m alone.
85) My all time favourite comedy is the British “The Office”.
86) Big bugs or masses of insects freak me out.
87) I secretly love cooking shows
88) I’m a VERY good dancer, but hardly ever dance.
89) I am observant to the world.
90) I have had a work crush at all my jobs.

91) I am unbelievably lucky in competitions.
92) I am equally unlucky in life.
93) I find something attractive in most all women. With a few exceptions.
94) Wes Anderson is my favourite film maker.
95) Gays guys are often attracted to me. I take it as a compliment.
96) I believe if you like someone, you should tell them.
97) I hate people who comment in the forums of online stories/columns. They are for the most part mean idiots without a backbone.
98) I don’t think ill ever be a parent, but I’m open to the possibility.
99) I am a romantic, and believe in the “epic gesture”…just like hollywood showed me.
100) I will live in New York one day. In fact, I started growing my beard on the day I got hijacked (july 15th 2010) and won’t shave it off till the day I arrive in NYC. Its now 16cm long.

So that’s its…feel like you know me better? Or did you just suffer a case of TMI.

Rich Burg, Poor Burg: A story about Money

February 21, 2011

I’ve toyed around with writing this particular blog so many times over the last few years -approaching it from more ways than a multi-angle porno flick. Yet no matter which way I wrote it, I came off looking bad…(no I’m not still using the porno flick reference)

Maybe now that I’ve finally blown the roof of the many skeletons in my closet with some of my more revealing blogs, it feels ok to talk about it.

There’s one thing that can come between any two people. No matter how close you think you are. Family, friends, or even just acquaintances.

That one thing is…Money.

There is the long version of my story, and the short version. This blog will cover somewhere in between.

You know as kid, despite the hell at home, I pretty much got what I wanted (within reason), I was by no means spoilt, by my folks didn’t let me go without.

I always sorta felt it was a decent trade off for the beatings and belittling. I twisted sense of acceptance I’m sure.

When my dad died in 1991, my mom tried to make sure my brother and I never went without. We earned pocket money by doing chores, but of course if we didn’t spend that money on gifts around Mother’s Day, birthdays and Xmas we heard all about our ungratefulness.

When my brother died a year later, by default I fell under the haze of the “only child syndrome”, I was treated often and of course put under increasingly more pressure to be grateful for what I was given in life, despite the glaring contradictions of what was taken away from me.

My mom always put me first when it came to spending, and from toys to VHS movies, she made sure my heart didn’t break too often, plus back then I was a bit of a crier for stuff I wanted. Which, was a fine line of course, because if I went too overboard, I GOT something to cry about…

I got pocket money all the way up till my last year in High School, but by December of that year I started working (and of course you know that journey thanks to my previous two blogs.)

For the first time I was able to earn money to spend on myself, which was great. When you get a certain kind of independence, you tend to see how far you can push the boundaries. I got a credit card pretty easily…and a second one even easier. For the first few years of my working life, I learned the art of rotating credit. You know, maxing out your cards, then paying it back with your salary.

I didn’t care too much, because my mom had a decent savings, no thanks us getting screwed over from my dad’s death payout, but it was decent money, we always had food, and debts were always paid.

As time went on, I wanted more and was earning more. Those who know me well know how much I loved spending loads of money on dvds and things I collected.

I never like to save. Rainy day? What was that? I had seen the worst of life, so it was never something to be concerned about.

Of course, fate stepped in.

When my mom and I both lost our jobs in the space of a month back in 2004, income stopped immediately, and with no “credit” to rotate, debts began mounting up.

What followed, was Hell.

My mom never worked again, and I went from low paying job to low paying job.

I learned the hard way. I ended up having to sell almost everything I owned. From my 1500 strong dvd collection (at bargain basement prices) to my beloved Playstation, and of course that little thing called an “automobile”.

With the interest on debts racking up, the next thing to take a hit was – groceries, mainly food.

Riddled with guilt from never saving, this became my problem to fix.

The finances were bad. Really bad.

I begged and borrowed from friends and family where I could, just to get enough for us to eat. Some days, someone would offer me R50. Not realizing how bad my situation, they of course thought this was enough, and I had to act nonchalant, but thankful about it.

There is a scene in the move The Pursuit of Happyness, where Will Smith’s boss asks him for 10 bucks for the cab, and Will gives him his ONLY 10 bucks and tries to act like its no big deal…but in the mean time he is panicking how his kid and him will eat. That’s exactly how bad it was.

We once had a stale ice cream cones for dinner. Crying from both the hunger and anger towards each other.

I used to get stuck without petrol way too often. Sometimes begging friends to just transfer R20 bucks into my account, and I’d pay them back in the morning. Which of course meant a trip to cash convertors the next day to sell something of value for peanuts.

There were days I was dying of thirst and just wanted a can of soda from the shop, but just couldn’t afford it.

One time I had to attend a function for work which was a launch in some convention centre in the bush. I drove all the way there…fully aware I only had enough fuel to get there. I’d have to worry about getting home after work was done. I didn’t have the heart or guts to ask anyone at the function. When I left I made it as far as the dodgy gas station at midnight, where I had to ask two taxi drivers for R10 each. They gave it to me.

5 years ago, come pay day, every month end I would have to sit at the office until midnight, so that when my salary came through at that time, I could stop at the gas station on the way home and bring home pies for dinner.

I have so many of these stories. Too many, but through the course of 6 years, I learned the value of money.

No. Let me rephrase that, and this is the part were I will look bad.

I learned to hate money. Both having it, and not having it.

I never went out, I never socialized. I simple couldn’t afford to. I had to consider what shopping centre I went to, in case I had to pay for parking.

I’ve ruined friendship by having to lend money to survive, and I regret that so much. I was in such a haze of debt and survival, I ruined the one thing that meant more to me than anything else in this world. My word.

Through hard work, and way too much suffering, I have built myself up, both financially and confidence wise. I gave up my life to fix up our life. And these last 2 years have been better than ever. Sure, I still have the unexpected expense, but I have a good job and people who care, which makes it easier now.

To those who helped me through the tough times. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every cent made a difference in my life.

Of course there will now be those who say I haven’t learned my lesson and headed for a fall again. But let me clear that up right now.

In the last year my love for Poker has grown, and with that, I have gotten god. Real good. I’ve been able to win. Win big…regularly
I make no bones about. I used to spend way too much money on “gambling” when it would have been best served elsewhere. I made mistakes in thinking that would be the quick fix to sort out all my problems, which certainly delayed my recovery by a year or so.

When I started to win big I did the right thing. I paid off every single debt I had, I invested money, I put money in the safe. Heck, I even bought a second fridge and I make sure both are stocked up.

I may still spend way, waaaaaaay, too much on my dvds, but I feel I’ve earned that. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t go out often, so for me, that’s what I love to do.

Last year alone I won over 400k. Of course I would like to have take this money and run, we all know I’m making plans to leave the country for good, but used that money to give my mom and I a better life. A life we deserved, and life I felt responsible for taking away from us. (of course my deep rooted fear of inadequacies refuses to let me believe there were two people who could of made things better, quicker).

Now at the age of 32, I am debt free, and don’t have any commitments. I haven’t needed a pay day for the last 3 months – but its still welcome.

It’s a weird feeling, and a little scary, but it does also put perspective on your life.

I’m trying to repair relationships with those I love and miss in my life. Some are willing, other’s are not, but that’s ok. I understand. I was not an easy guy to be around, I was a desperate man who just wanted to take care of his family.

This clarity unfortunately also highlights how lonely I am in this world now. I got used to being alone., but the lonely part is what kills me.

I don’t want money…at all, I would rather spend it on other people. The bitter irony now, is that I have all this money and nobody to spend it on.

Maybe it’s a guilt thing that I feel I need to pay back the world?

What Would The Neighbors Think? (Part 1)

November 23, 2010

I’ve never been one to give a hoot about what people think about me…which I suppose goes a long way in explaining the many experimental hairstyles and beards I’ve had (and continue to have), but the one thing I’ve often wondered about, is what the neighbors must think about us.

There has been so much drama in my house, even more so than Wysteria Lane. In fact, for the last 25 years, I’m pretty sure this house I live in has provided the inspiration behind everything from an E! True Hollywood Story, to an episode of The Last 48 hours on the Crime & Investigation channel to an episode of Takeshi’s Castle.

It’s hard for me to pick out a single good memory here, although I’m sure there is (right?), but I would like to share a few stories with you dramatic events that I’ve been through.

My Dad The Sharpshooter

The rest of my family always knew about my dads problems, and I guess as a child it was hard not to look up to your dad as your idol. It was this juxtaposition that always left me confused as a kid. I knew my dad could get angry…really angry. Especially when he came home drunk, which he so often did. My mom always did her best to keep my brother and I out his line of fire, often taken the beatings and herself while my brother and I would be hiding under the bed in a locked room holding each other for dear life and blocking the arguing with our tiny hands covering our tiny ears.

One night was particularly bad, there was a bad fight between my mom and dad, and he threatened to take us all out of this world and proceeded to get his gun (ironically the same gun my brother would years later take his life with), my mom fearing for our lives locked my brother and I in the car and then locked the garage so that my dad couldn’t get to us.

My mom had managed to phone our aunt and uncle to come help and keep the peace, as they did on many occasion (a fact my cousin actually recently confirm to me, which made me feel slightly better that I didn’t imagine all of this.).

Clearly the situation got sorted…but I always wonder what the neighbors thought…

Master of The Universe

Beatings were a regular occurrence at home, I guess it was my moms way of transferring the anger and lack of power she felt against my dad against us kids. I’ve already told you about one such beating in my High School confidential, but there was so many more that happened, and even more that I’ve probably forgotten about.

I was always a huge Masters of the Universe fan, and my love for collecting action figures and merchandise went back to those days already.

When the live action movie came out, I was a kid in love! He –Man was real! Along with the movie came a whole new range of action figures. The new range had some cool new characters, and I begged and begged my mom to get me one.

Which she did. As a kid we never really appreciate things like this, and I remember when I opened it I saw that it was a character named Gwildor (yes I’m sure the spelling may be wrong, but go with me on this). Now Gwildor was a dwarf life character whose action figure didn’t do all that much. Being disappointed, I ended up being ungrateful and mocked the toy saying “all he does is twirl his weapon” and I sarcastically twirled his accessory, my mom was so angry that she grabbed the toy out my hand and threw it out the car window.

Then when we got home she beat me with a belt. And told me that I need to pay her back for the toy immediately and for every hour I don’t have the money I will get another beating.

Of course I didn’t have money. I was what…10?

Like clockwork, every hour I got a beating. When my dad got home she told me I better get the money from him.

I told him about this toy I saw and begged him to give me the money for it…My dad always treated me like gold, and said sure, but he’d get me the money the next day.

Phew…probably solved right? Not exactly. My mom continued to beat me every hour until bedtime that night. She would come into my room beat me with the belt and tell me not to let my father hear.

Longest. Night. Ever. but I always wonder what the neighbors thought…

Dad Dies

I remember the day of my dad’s death crystal clear. I guess I’m thankfully that the night before his early morning heart attack, I had in fact spent a loving night with my dad watching wrestling I had taped on the TV. Survivor Series 1989 to be exact. I, as a child does, ending up ruining the ending for him, but I’m so glad I had that moment with him.

In the early hours of the morning, I woke up to screaming by my mom, and as I wondered out of my room there was chaos…my mom running around, one of our neighbors was there, and I had no idea what was going on…until I looked to my left and saw my dad laying dead on the bathroom floor. Suddenly I felt as if I was floating away, but in reality it was our neighbor who picked me up and carried me to the lounge to be with my brother while all this madness was going on. There was an ambulance outside the house, and soon…the coroner.

The next few days, the cars that were parked outside came and went, from family to flower delivery guys, to people I hadn’t the foggiest who they were.

As time does, it moves on…but I always wonder what the neighbors thought…

Wow, this blog is so much more draining than I originally planned it to be.

I’m going to take a break, but I will post part 2 a bit later…so please come back for that – plenty more stories!

High School Confidential: Part 2 – When It Rains, It Pours

November 8, 2010

I didn’t think last nights blog (Part 1 of High School Confidential) would be as draining as it ways. Or make me feel as guilty as it did.

Mmm…doing something that leaves you feeling exhausted and guilty…sounds like something else I do – on occasion.

Anyways, enough with the getting sidetracked. You all wanna hear the conclusion of my story.

If you haven’t got up to spead, I suggest you click here to read Part 1 first .

You may now continue reading.

When we last left off, I discussed the events that led to the night my brother killed himself, and how a few years later I was about to experience something very similar.

As I said, Standard 8 was the year I completely let my mind slip in terms of school work. I was angry at myself for allowing this to happen. After all, I was the guy who was winning academic awards left right and centre in Primary school. Ah, those special book prizes…they really made me feel worth something. And being Head Boy was something I felt truly honored to be.

Sure it was under controversial circumstances, but I don’t think anyone can argue that I wasn’t a good Head Boy. Despite losing my brother and dad within a year, I lead pretty damn well.

High School was different though. I was lost and alone, and even though I felt I had a best friend, I don’t think anyone saw me as THEIR best friend.

Living out the area was tough as nobody really wanted to come to “my side of town”.

As I allowed my school work to suffer, I mistakenly created a snowball effect in my home life too.

Failure was NOT at option. Cliché alert!

But my mom made it clear even after what had happened with my brother that I needed to focus on my school work and if I ever failed, I was on my own…in more ways than one.

Talk about peer pressure.

Of course I ended up failing tests…one by one.

Now back then when you failed something or got in trouble, you had to get your parents to sign your diary or test. (Oh how I loathed those little red books!)

I’m a pretty brave guy…but there was NO CHANCE IN HELL I was going to show my mom a failed test…so, I did the only thing that made sense. I forged her signature on my tests.

Of course it was the worse signature imaginable, but in my head I always though it “looked pretty damn good”.

There was always that weird rush when a teacher checked the signed test. To be honest, I think they knew it was fake, but they had a soft spot for me and always let me get away with it.

It got worse and worse, and I got into the habit of “getting away with it” because it was easier than the alternative of facing my mom.

Till one day.

I remember the day quite clearly.

As I walked out of school one day, I put my bag in the car and got in the front said. As I wanted to kiss my mom hello as I always did, she ignored me.

Uh oh. This spelt trouble.

I asked what was wrong, and she coldly replied “Just you wait till we get home”.

My blood ran cold. What now?

The ride felt like it was over in two minutes and when we got home, the first think I saw was the red school diary on the kitchen counter.

I had inexplicably left it at home!

My mom question the forged signature immediately. I um’d and ah’d and came up with all sorts of excuses.
“what else are you hiding shaun!”

Seething with anger, she through the hardback diary at my face.
Then took my school bag from me and emptied it out.

She found some more forged tests. (why did I not destroy them!)

What I remember most was her finding some little plastic toy pigs in my bag.
My friend and I at the time were on a huge Bill & Ted vibe, and constantly quoted the Ziggy Piggy line in the movie. So the pigs were an inside joke.

Of course, Ziggy became the term that refers to this incident.

My mom became violently angry and grabbed me by my fringe (which was quite long at the time), she dragged me to the bathroom and began to cut the fringe off. She ripped at my fringe so hard that I swear it hasn’t been able to grow long since (because well it hasn’t).

It was about 2.30pm. and what began was one of the longest beatings of my life. Anything and everything became a weapon to my mom.

Of course it had been a rainy day, so what just happened to be laying about? Yup, you guessed it. An umbrella.

This particular umbrella had been one of my favourite things (not after this of course), because it had some decorative dice on it.

My mom proceeded to beat me over and over with the umbrella, until I could no longer stand. In fake the umbrella had bend practically in half by now, and the dice marks were embedded in my bloodied skin on my back.

The welt were so thick, that I actually stopped feeling the pain.

Angry but what “I had made her do” grabbed her car keys and said she was going to go drive her car into a bus.

Smashing ornaments and she left, she locked me in the house and left.

About an hour later she returned, with my aunt.

When she saw how badly I was beaten, she was in shock and asked my mom how she could do this. My mom of course was irrational (as she still is today), and asked to explain the story.

Which I did, and simply just said I was scared to show her a failed test.

The rest of the evening is a bit blurred, and I don’t remember much more than my mom telling me not to dare tell anyone what happens in that house.

Of course the morning, I was battered and blue, but nothing a school uniform couldn’t hide.

At school, I couldn’t hardly talk, let alone move muscle without being in pain.
Thought the excuse escapes me, I managed to get out of gym class.

I think I briefly mentioned something about the previous night’s events to my best friend, but with a casualness that never warranted further enquiry into my troubles.

The cruel humour that is my life leaves me with one moment that still makes me laugh to myself.

Someone said to me “ah man, you cut your fringe off.”

….yes….yes I did.

High School Confidential: Part 1 – NEVER FAIL!

November 7, 2010

They are supposed to be the best years of our lives.
The times when ever lasting friendships are made…

But when I look back at High School, I don’t see any of that. In fact only one word comes to mind when I think of the “old days”…Survival.

I’m touched by the regular comments I get from old school mates about how fondly they look back on me. Sometimes I think to myself…if only they knew the truth.

In the greater scheme of things, “The Truth” is nothing more than the sadness I hid behind in order to make everyone thing I was the funny crazy guy who always had a joke or a smile for people.

Being what can be referred to as a “floater”, I was friends with most everyone. I never judged people by the cliques they were in. I had a group of people I considered my “clique”, but I would speak to most anyone in a heart beat. At the risk of sounding egotistic, I would go as far as saying I was liked by most everyone too.

I went to the High school I did for one sole reason. After my brother’s suicide the year before Standard 6, there was no way I could go to his school. He was a legend there. I’m sure he had his own problems too, but he was one of the most well known guys there, thanks mostly to his athletics records and achievements.

For my own selfish reasons, I could never go there and be judged and have to live up to the stories.

So I went to an out of the area high school, I had a cousin there, and I knew all of 2 people who also went there from my primary school.

It was tough going at first, but I made my way through the years.

What most people don’t know is that I’m something of a genius. So I can get by pretty easily academically. Truth be told though, I was burned out by the end of Primary School thanks to what happened to me, and in High School I did just enough to get by.

The reason I’m giving you this history lesson, is mostly to set the groundwork behind a life changing incident (yes another one) that happened in Standard 8.

As the years went on, I lost more and more interest in my school work, and by Std 8 I really couldn’t handle it anymore. Between the problems at home and the loneliness that growing inside me, I just wanted to get through it all.

That year, I was put in strange class. Comprised mostly of the trouble makers and hooligans of my year, it was by far the misfit class out of all the classes. Nobody could quite understand how I got lumped with them. The class was always, and I mean ALWAYS in trouble, and we got punished as a group.

It took its toll on me, and I battled to stay focused on tests and exams.

Eventually I started failing test on occasion. This hurt me big time. And also set off a mode of panic inside me.

You see, there was a rule around my house. If you failed a test, you better not come home or you would get the beating of your life.

I had never failed before, so this had never been a direct problem….but it was soon to become reminiscant of a tragedy a few years earlier.

Now…for a big reveal.

The day of my brothers suicide there had been a massive argument in my home. My mom had found a lighter in my brother blazer pocket, and this set her off into a serious rage.

Regardless if my brother had been smoking or note, my mom decided to go through the rest of his belongings, and proceeded to ransack his room, school bags clothes etc.

In the end, she found something.

A school test. A test he failed. Crumpled up in his closet, this set of a course of tragic events that changed all our lives.

I wont go into the details (like how she tried to set him on fire…or how she broke a telephone over him), but what I will tell you is this piece of cruelty.

My mom made my brother frame the test and put it in the lounge for “everyone to see”.

Well, later that night. He killed himself.

The next few days I remember in absolute detail. What I remember most was how an Aunt on my late father’s site came to pay their condolences, and while we all sat in the lounge, she saw the test. Picked it up and proceeded to show everyone, asking if this was maybe a clue to what happened. Bingo.

Now…fast forward 4 years later…
Continued in Part 2.

The One With All The Birthdays (Part 2)

September 22, 2010

Well after last nights trip down nightmare lane, I definitely needed a breather before tackling part two of my The One with All the Birthdays Blog.

And I tell you, post 2000, things did not get any better…in fact that slope became that much more slippyer(?)… um…slipperier…(?) …ok, you get the point.

2003 – 25th Birthday

25…a quarter century old. However by this time…I felt about 80yrs old (how does an 80yr old feel? With his hands of course…badda bing) The year leading up to my birthday had been nothing short of tragic. I the last 12 months, I had lost my gran, who died on my late brother’s birthday (and if you remember, her birthday was 2 days before mine) AND I lost my closest cousin who shockingly took his own life. I know right? You couldn’t make this shizniz up.

I was working in a job I hated, and admittedly, I lost all interest in giving my all to the job, especially since the landscape change there had put idiots in charge. And all my standing up for my rights stood for nothing there.

The only saving grace I had was that I was headed to the UK for the month of my birthday to stay with my other cousin who had moved there (who I haven’t spoken to since and miss tremendously)

After an amazing London adventure, (that was ironically repeated earlier this year), I spent my birthday in Leicester with cousin and his wife, and of course British weather does nothing for one’s mood.

Homesick, yet in no hurry to return to my job, I braved my birthday for the sake of survival….not knowing what awaited me when I got back. The biggest screw job of a dismissal known to man. If anyone wants to read the expose I wrote after my firing…let me know…I went out Burg style 🙂

2004 – 26th birthday

After officially being terminated from my job in February of this year, thinks got worse when my mom lost her job a month later. So suddenly from a two income house, we were down to a zero income house.

I took my sudden unemployment as a sign that this was the kick in the butt I needed to follow my dreams and go from 8 years in the IT industry into journalism and entertainment – where my heart truly laid.

Jobs in the industry were few and far between, but I tried for anything that may sound even remotely like the TV, music or media field I was dying to get in.

I got some extras work on TV an minor roles in ads, but nothing significant, and the money began drying up quickly.

Thankfully, I got given a chance to shine as a writer for the website of a reality show that ran for 3 months called Project Fame. The job was amazing and the breakthrough that lead me to where I am today.(I even have a tattoo commemorating the date).

However, the pay wasn’t great, and I remember at the interview saying I would be happy with a bucket of chicken for my salary. ( I think that’s what nailed the job for me)

As all good things, it came to an end. And the next 8 months I sat unemployed, trying to just make it to the next source of income. I lost a helluva lot of friends who couldn’t understand how I could allow this to happen instead of just getting another job in IT.

The night my mom and I had old stale ice cream cones for dinner…I knew that I would never let this happen again.

Anyways, long story short. My birthday came and went without any acknowledgement. No friends, no money, no food.

On the plus side, I think for the first time I reached my “ideal weight”

Wow…ok….my eyes are actually burning from the tears right now…um…I mean the dust…there is so much dust in here (that’s right im writing my blog from an abandoned warehouse).

2006 – 28th Birthday

After spending the last 2 years moving from awesome job to awesomer job, I managed to fulfill my ambitions of working for some of the brightest and best. I forged out careers as a writer for magazines, I worked for TV, hosted shows, acted in a few movies, I gave The Burg life…I had made friends (and enemies) and by October 2006 I was working for my hero in a record label that he helped build. I had made it to where I wanted to be…(for then).

What better way to celebrate, my birthday, than with my first officially Birthday dinner!
I had know my work colleagues for about 2 months. I had known my Myspace friends for what seemed like forever. I had old work associates that promised they would love to stay in touch.

The perfect invite list for a meaningful dinner….

Through the help of one of my new work mates, we organized a good restaurant and booked about 20 seats.

Nervous that I didn’t even have enough money in the bank to pay for myself I knew this would be a disaster…but hey it was my birthday, surely people would pitch in for a dinner right?

I arrived at the restaurant about 2 hours before the dinner was meant to start and ordered a coke light…which took exactly 2 hours to drink.

Let’s do the math again since we love numbers

Out of the 20 people I invited, 15 showed up. That was HUGE
Out of the 15 people who showed up, 5 I had known for less than six months, 4 of them I was meeting for the first time, and 5 of them I am still in touch with today.

My most awkward moment…smsing a friend at the table asking him if I could borrow money to pay for my meal. Yeah, real classy of me.

2007 – 29th Birthday

Ah, this…this was a special one.

During my year I had met the love of my life. I had fallen hopelessly in love with her, and for the first time thought about things I was normally 100% against. Marriage, children, sex in public restrooms….

Ok…ignore that last part.

I had spent most of the year trying to woo her. Yes, I still use the word woo because I’m old skool like that. We had gone out a number of times, I had met, and liked to thing I was like by, her family. Everything was there for the perfect life… except…she didn’t believe in it. She was never sure how she felt about me, she was scared to make a choice…and ultimately, I don’t think she believed I was genuine about the way I felt with her…

They were the most intense, happiest, most painful months of my life…and ultimately, nothing ever happened between us. Not so much as even a kiss…

For months it was like being the boy in the plastic bubble.
I fell for her…hard….and truth is, no matter how bad things became, no matter how much it hurt, I still love her to this day, and she will probably never know how much….

After making her birthday, by her own admission, one of the best ever, she in turn promised me that my birthday would be special too. (uh oh).

By September things had broken down to the point where she didn’t want to speak to me or see me every again. I of course, had to try everything I knew to try and win her heart, but in the end…ended up pushing her too far away to ever get back.

Then come October, I was in the greatest depression since, well, since The Great Depression. I knew I had to get away from everything. With my birthday coming up, it may just be the straw that broke this cameltoe’s back.

The week before my birthday I knew what I had to do.
I had to disappear from it all. I needed to leave in order to save myself.

My birthday arrived, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. Then the morning after I packed a bag, and left home with no money, and no food and headed out.

I drove. I drove from 9am until 2am the next morning. Getting lost on deserted farm roads, almost flipping my car trying to avoid a rabbit in the road, but loving every minute of it.

For the next 11 days, I drove through 5 provinces, relying on the kindess of others to take care of food and accommodation (because I was still dead broke at this time too.)

I had what people call and epiphany.

The whole journey was documented by me and my little video camera, and in fact you can view most all of it here –

When I returned I was a new person. And as always a big moment in my life calls for a tattoo. Now forever on my left forearm, it read simply – “Love Thyself”

2009 – 2010
Last year was actually fairly timid birthday, I endured the singing of happy birthday in our staff meeting, I even left the balloons on my door long enough for the party planners to be satisfied, and the rest of the day I spent it in my office till as late as possible before heading to a late night cd/dvd store to do the thing that makes me happy. Browse.

The question is, what will this year bring? 2010 has been one of the single most eventful years of my life. (Yes! Over and above what you have read up until now) and seeing as though i’m hoping its my last birthday in this country…I even thought about having dinner with some of my nearest and dearest friends…

*it was at this moment the world gave a collective sigh and said in unison….This kid just doesn’t learn!*

The One With All The Birthdays (Part 1)

September 21, 2010

It’s T-minus 3 weeks until yet another Birthday. (Which means the annual descent into misery and self pity has begun.)

Don’t get me wrong, I happen to LOVE birthdays…just not my own. There’s nothing better that spoiling someone to the nth degree on their day of Birthing, and I’m proud to say I’ve done some pretty awesome things for people on those days. To my own self destruction of course, but still, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing I’ve done for others.

But enough about them, let’s get back to me.

I have a fairly storied history when it comes to bad bdays. In fact, I may just qualify for the Hall of Fame of bad birthdays.

People may argue that birthdays mean less the older you get, but my misery seems to go way back to my childhood.

I’d like to share a few of my favourites with you if that’s alright.

1991 – 13th Birthday

Ah yes, the beginning of my teens, the end of my primary school life, and an adventure into manhood! Well, not quite.
The year before I had lost my dad, and now just a few months later my older brother had killed himself, so suddenly in the space of a year…I was the man of the house and I had half a family.
And my mom…well, she was understandably a mess. We had spent most of the year trying to find some sort of normalcy in the insanity that had ruled our lives, the last thing anyone wanted to do was celebrate a birthday. That would be pretty damn selfish of me.

But still I was a kid, and I wanted something for my bday, something simple. All I wanted for my birthday was a box of Trivial Pursuit (the logic that I had nobody to play with never dawned on me…I was a trivia junkie…and Trivial Pursuit was the ultimate fix).

I started playing tennis in my final year of primary school, and loved it. It was a pretty simple sorta escape from life…One afternoon just before my birthday in particular I will always remember.

I left practice and ran toward my mom who was waiting for me outside the school as normal. When I got in the car, the first thing she asked me was where was my tracksuit top, ah damn…I left it on the tennis court! Quickly running back to go fetch it, I was in for surprise. The teacher had already locked up the courts and my tracksuit top was nowhere in site. Uh oh.

I got back into the car and told me mom. She exploded and slapped me so hard on my bare leg that the hand mark was instantly visible. I remember as we pulled away two friends waved goodbye to me (unaware of what just happened), and me always the one to fake a smile, proceeded to wave back with a big goofy fake grin and trying to hold back the tears streaming down my face.

Things were about to get much worse though. When we got home my mom ran inside while I stayed by the car to take my bag out. She came storming out the house and launched a rather large object at my face, which then hit the ground and broke open revealing pie pieces and trivia cards. It was my Trivial Pursuit…aw sweet… she remembered.

By the way, I got my tracksuit back on the Monday, the teacher took it home for safe keeping…

1999 – 21st Birthday

Oh yes…legal in every way! The big 21…no bigger excuse for a celebration right? Well, not if you don’t drink, have friends or party like its 1999 (NICE SEGWAY!)

My 21st was another event that for any normal human being would be a pretty epic celebration, and to my mom’s credit she did try and make it something special. Of course, this meant an entire gathering of the family…or in other words, the rest of the family and us two.

We had a function on the Saturday to celebrate my late Gran’s birthday the following day and my 21st the Tuesday after that. The usual “you’re all grown up” wishes flowed in as each person arrived, then the ceremonial handing over of the 21st Key blah blah blah. Not my scene really. In fact, my speech pretty much consisted of me saying “I don’t think anyone ever thought I’d make it this far”….nothing like awkward silence.

Anyways, Monday was back at work time, and I remember someone special getting me non alcoholic champagne, which to this day was one of the most thoughtful and respectful things anyone has ever done.

It was a short return to work, as I had taken the next day off. That evening however, I became violently ill, and spent the whole night puking….a good solid 15 hours or straight puking. Eventually passing out from pure exhaustion… when I eventually came round…it was 1am….Wednesday morning…I had missed my own 21st Birthday.

Anyways, I went to the doctor that day, and it turned out I had blood poisoning from accidentally cutting myself with a knife when I was eating Biltong…smooth.

2000 – 22nd Birthday

Birthday “parties” are awkward at the best of times. We all run through a set of pretty standard thoughts in our head:

– Do I bring a gift?
– How late should I arrive so I’m not the first one there?
– What’s a good time to leave without being seen as being bored?
– What if Stifler’s mom tries to do me on the pool table?

Since I don’t have the answers to these questions, I tend to avoid parties, and even more so throwing them. In fact, I just don’t have the confidence to even attempt to arrange something. But this particular year, I thought “Hey, new millennium, new me…let’s give it a bash!”

I prepped the invites… I was having a Birthday Braai! (or BBQ for my international friends).

Being at a fairly new job, I only had a handful of people that I would invite there, but I sent invites to old work mates, or school friends I had recently got in touch with. The only thing more impressive that the invite list was the RSVP list…wow…finally I would have someone other than the mailman coming to my house! This was huge!

The new me was looking pretty damn popular.

I even went out and bought some Graca (which I think is wine…right??)…I had brought alcohol to my own party!

The day of the braai arrived…I was pretty damn nervous…as the hours counted down to the start time, I got everything ready….put chairs around the pool, Got the old dartboard ready….took the cover of the newly purchased pool table….this was gonna be sweet.

The first car pulled up, and I went out to check. Nope wasn’t for me, but a neighbour’s guest.

12pm…nobody was there.
1pm (start time)…still nobody

Unbelievable…I couldn’t imagine how impossible this was.
Eventually I got a text message from 1 guest, saying “sorry dude can’t make it.”

4pm – Then 2 guys arrived, they stayed a while until a third arrived. Luckily we all knew each other so that avoided any awkwardness when I went to the kitchen to get snacks.

5pm – one old school friend arrived and stayed for about 30min. If I remember we chatted about how good the cheese rolls from the local café were.

By 6pm, everyone had cleared out.

Out of 30 people who RSVP saying they’d be there, and were even reminded the day before…5 people turned up. 3 people ate. 1 person excused themselves after being over 3 hours late. And the rest …well…the other 24 apparently forgot, or got tied up.

The kids have a word for this today. It’s called a #FAIL

Ill let you catch your breath for a second, but come back to this blog in a few hours for….
Part 2 …..

You Know What I Hate? (The 4th In A Series)

August 23, 2009

There’s one thing that really makes me more uncomfortable than perhaps anything else on the planet.


Such a simple concept isn’t it.
Two people embrace in an action designed to show emotion and tenderness.

Give me a break
The action of hugging is the cruelest invention ever.
Seriously… I’ll never get it.

Ok, maybe it’s a bit unfair for me just to go on a tirade like that…let me at least justify my opinion.

I don’t have anything against the theory behind a hug… I can see what its intention is meant to be, and I’m sure it works just fine for certain people.

For me, the problem with hugging is the fakeness behind it.
I think my dislike for it started back in the days when my family was dropping off like flies. As a 10/11 year old boy, everyone who is anyone would console me with a hug….and accompany it with the words “it’s all going to be alright”, “we’re here if you need anything”…blah blah blah, you get the idea.

There was always such fakeness in it…It just seemed like right thing to do at the time for everyone, because lets be honest, nobody is going to tell a preteen kid the truth. Nobody is going to say “your life is going to be cr@p for a long time now” or “wow you really got the short end of the stick of life kid….good luck with that!”

I would have appreciated that a lot more.

In fact, it’s that same reason that I’m completely honest with people in a time of suffering or sadness, or if someone is not sure what’s going to happen.
I will never hug them and say “everything is going to be alright”. That’s a lie. Life doesn’t always back that false promise up.

Why be cruel?
Yeah yeah, now I know you’re thinking I’m a cold hearted bastich.
But far from it.
Much like Johnny Cash, I’m a walking contradiction.

While the above may be my feelings on hugs, from family, friends and potential strangers… how do I feel about hugs from someone I care a bit more…deeply about?

Quite simply put… I hate to love them.

When I get so much as a hello hug from someone I have feelings for…I crumble…absolutely crumble. To the point where I just want to fall down and watch those cartoon birdies sing their sweet songs all day long.

It doesn’t happen often, so it’s always something special for me, but, sadly, being me comes with a huge design flaw. I over think most every thing in life.

That’s when I start wondering when I will get a hug again…and how could I create a set of circumstances that would result in getting said person to hug me again.

Ultimately…it’s near impossible.
In fact, it becomes a comedy of errors from that point. We could be out at a function, and that damn Irish lawmaker would ensure that every other person in the room gets a hug from her…but me. Whether it is through distraction, or just plain bad luck, it just doesn’t happen again.

I’m also the single worst initiator of a hug on the planet.
If I try and hug someone, it’s a certainty one (or more) of the following will happen.

– An accidental punch in the face
– Knocking of heads
– A pretzel like embrace which may or may not be citizen’s arrest.
– Car keys sticking out my pants pocket resulting in a speedy breakway.

I’m not much of a physical person at all, so please don’t take office from my lack of hugging or cheek kissing or the likes. It’s just one of my quirky phobias that will forever define me. It’s not you… it’s me.

On a side note…I really wish Facebook would feel my pain and disband that “I’m a fan of… HUGS!” group they have…