friends


I know, most people have read this one already. And you know me and my girls… They are my life.  But they also remind me of The Little Girl In The Blue House… Is there someone missing her? Someone talking to her each day? Is she waiting for someone? Is she okay?

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The Little Girl In The Blue House

I always walk the same way to the train station. I take the shortest route. I have too. Way too early to walk one meter further than I have to. Or one minute longer than what is needed. There is another route. Slightly longer. But all the time in the world if it is so bloody early in the morning. My normal route is an easy walk. Turn right, then a quick left and straight down to the station. A quick and easy 20 minute stroll.  And who said I don’t get enough exercise… But today I had to go the slightly longer route. Turn left, turn right and down the slightly longer walk to the station. Not by much. Just about 5 minutes added. But sometimes the longer route brings more than just a longer walk. And this morning I got more than I wanted. Another reason why I never like walking that route. A reminder. A memory.

My oldest daughter always does the “left turn” walk. Her friend from across the street walks with her to the bus stop. They pick up another friend along the way and off they go. But not this morning. The girl from across the road didn’t feel too well so she couldn’t walk with my daughter. Dad duties called. I am the backup. So off we went. On our left turn. 

We were joking as we walked. Doing our “home boy” walk down the street. Me doing funny walks and funny voices to show her how I was going to embarrass her in front of her friend who has never met me. Doing my typical dad stuff. We got to the house. I gave her a hug and a kiss and watched her walk to meet her friend. And off I went. Taking my right turn down the road. The slightly longer road.

I put my iPod on and was listening to A Fine Frenzy when I walked past the blue house. And it brought back memories of the little girl who lived there. The little girl in the blue house.

She was the first friend my oldest daughter made at her new school when we moved here. They were in the same class. Hung out together. I saw her often. At the school. Or at the park. Or just in the streets when we were walking. But she was always there when we took my daughter to school. Running to great her friend. She was scrawny just like my daughter. But she was a little bit too thin. A little bit too pale.

In summer she always had just a t-shirt on. And in winter. A very worn and tatty thin little jacket. And trust me. It gets damn cold over here in Boston in winter. I remember seeing her with her arms folded to try and keep some heat in that little body of hers. You could see she was cold. But that was all she had for winter.

Her mother was always well dresses. With the latest fashion. Clothes and accessories she bought at the mall. She looked well looked after. And warm. Not like her little girl. But we didn’t see her at school often. Or anywhere for that matter. She didn’t walk with her little girl that often.

And they stayed just down the road from the school. It looked like a pretty house from the outside. That blue house where the girl stayed.

I often took my girls to the park at the school. And we’ll see her there often. On her own. On the swings. And she’ll be so happy to see my daughters. She was always so good to my little one. Running up to her and giving her a hug and a kiss and playing with her. She was a nice little girl. That little girl from the blue house.

My daughter always told us about her friend. And how she shared her snacks at school with her because she never had snacks. So my wife put in a few extra snacks for two. Never mentioned it to the little girl. Didn’t want her to feel odd. My daughter just shared because that is how she is. It was her friend. No questions.

And one day she told us that the girl was so exited about going to visit her dad in Arkansas. Her parents were divorced. And she lived with her mother and boyfriend in the blue house. The boyfriend had a nice BMW convertible. Nice car. Pretty new. They obviously had some money. Just not always for the little girl. But she was excited. She was going to visit her dad.

And then we saw her during the holiday. When she was meant to be at her dad. It was the first time I really saw her sad. The smile wasn’t there. She spoke to my daughter in a low sad voice and I didn’t want to ask too many questions. Didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. I just wanted her to be a little girl. Playing with her friend. And having fun the way 10-year old girls are meant to have fun. So I let them talk and watched as they started playing and giggling. And the smile started coming back. She was with her friend.

The odd thing was that apart from that day I always saw her smile. A big old child smile. I never heard her complain. Not in front of me in any case. She always looked happy. But you could see that there was something missing. You just had to look carefully.

I always hug and kiss my girls. No matter where we are. When we drop them off at school. When I say goodbye in the morning. When they go to sleep at night. Or just because we feel like a hug and a kiss. Which is often. No matter where we are. And this little girl saw this. Saw how I hugged my girls. And she wanted one too.

I used to see her looking at me and my daughter when we hug. And then one day she came up to me when I took my girl to her school and asked for a hug. She was a little bit shy about asking. But I just gave my girl a hug and she looked at me with her tatty top with the long sleeves and peeked at me. “Can I get a hug please?” “Of course!” I said. I gave her a big old hug. And she hugged back. Hugging maybe a little longer and harder than what I expected. Almost as if she didn’t get a lot of hugs and would like to get hugs more often. She was only ten.

And that was how it was. Whenever she saw me she would come running up to me and give me a hug. And I’ll hug her back. And I’ll give her a smile and ask how she was doing. It became a standard thing. I never really thought much about it. I knew she wanted a hug and I gave her one. We can do with more hugs in this world. And I didn’t think that she got too many hugs elsewhere in any case.

And then one day she was just gone. Just gone. Her mother packed their bags in the middle of the night and just disappeared. Gone. Not even a goodbye. Not even a last hug. Just gone with her tatty little top. We never knew what happened to her. How she is doing or how she is feeling. Is she with her dad? Is she okay? Is she happy? Is she being a kid? Did she get a warmer jacket? Is she still smiling those big old smiles of hers? Is she getting any hugs? Or is she still playing alone in the park?

Time passed and memories started fading. We’ll mention her every now and again and just wonder.

And then we started looking at buying a house. And one of the houses that was on the market was the blue house. The blue house where the little girl stayed. So off we went to look at the house. Thinking that maybe we can buy it and make it our little house. Until we opened the front door and walked in.

My wife and myself just looked at each other when we walked in. I knew what she was thinking. It was my thoughts to.

The house stank. It was dirty. So dirty. Everything was a mess. Stuff lying on the floor everywhere. Clothes. Plates. Old food. Ashtrays overflowing. Wet spots. I have never, ever seen anything like this anywhere. And I have been to some places… It has been like this for a long, long time. Our shoes got stuck on the sticky dirt that was on the floors. All the rooms were in a mess. You couldn’t even see what color the walls or carpets were. It was brown. From dirt and cigarette smoke. I felt nauseous. Sick. The ex-boyfriend was lying in bed downstairs watching something on a big screen television. On his huge water bed. With plates and empty bottles and cigarettes lying all around him. A pig in a pigsty.

We went up the stairs to look at the real bedrooms. And we walked into the room that would have been that little girls room. It was a mess. Just a mess. No place for a little girl. Any little girl. Dirty. Filthy. Disgusting. You could see little things she must have tried to do to make it a little girl’s room. A little picture here and there. A ripped out poster. A wonky little table where she must have tried to study. Some girlie jewelery lying on the floor amongst the dirt that she must have forgotten to pack in the haste. But it was covered in a floor that ran skew. Holes in the floors and roof. And cold. And this was in winter. No heating. This was the room of the little girl with the big smile.

My wife and myself just looked at each other. We knew what each of us were thinking. We just wanted to get out. Just wanted to forget that we ever came. That we ever knew that little girl. And that she lived there. Her little room in the blue house.

We sat in the car and just stared at nothing for a while. And then she said it. “She lived in that house.” That’s all that needed to be said. We knew. The little girl in the blue house.

And walking past that house this morning reminded me of her. That little girl in the blue house. Made me think. Again. How did she do it? How did she manage? How did she remain a little girl in that house? How long can she be that girl with the big old kid smile? How long before she falls through the cracks? Is she strong enough? Where will she find the love she needs? The hugs she deserves? How is the little girl from the blue house doing?

The little girl from the blue house. I hope you remember me. I hope you remember those hugs. I just wish I hugged you a little harder and a little longer.

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It's a fight for my freedom to love...

It's a fight for my freedom to love...

I am pissed. Really pissed. I can’t believe that another piece of bigotry was allowed to be written into law. By those pseudo liberals from California. Actually, those pseudo people from California. No Californification for you then.

I mean really. Get off it. Let people love who they want to love. Why can’t you live with that? Why can’t two people who love not marry each other? Sorry. I guess you don’t believe in a happy marriage and would rather continue with the “woman barefoot in the kitchen” style fake love marriage you have. How about those pregnant teenagers then hey? Or the wife beating? Like the child abuse going around?

Actually, that is unfair. That can happen to anyone. But my point is that marriage is nothing sacred to protect for a group of men and women partners only. Really. What the hell is so sacred about it? This country gets divorced left right and centre. We have loveless marriages. We have arranged marriages. We have rape in marriage. We have child abuse in marriages. We have all this crap in marriages.

And none of that can be blamed on gays! You stupid… argh! You did that. Not me. And not my friends. You killed marriage. With your stupidity and superiority complex of failure and violence. Dip…

You know what? I love my wife. More than life itself. And I look around me and see very few marriages actually working. And guess what? Those marriages where people actually focus on each other and how much they love each other? They don’t give a damn what you call it or who else are allowed to get married. As long as (i) you don’t f*ck with their marriage and (ii) you have a chance of having the same love as they have. We want people to get married for love because we want to save the idea of being married.

Dammit…

Let my people marry!

Clean your own house. Clean your own church. Clean your own crap before you tell other people what they can or cannot do. This is how we get into trouble each and every bloody time. Someone somewhere deciding that their way is the only way and let’s go plant a bomb / start a war / execute someone / torture a few people / etc. Look inside and fix that you stupid… argh… I promised my wife I won’t swear.

No one is telling you who you should marry. No one is telling you what you should do. So shut the hell up about other people. Okay…

Let’s play this game.

You are not allowed to have a sense of fashion. You are not allowed to be happy. You are not allowed to smile and laugh. You are not allowed to be gay – in the smiling and laughing way I mean. You are not allowed to be flamboyant. You are not allowed to be an actor. You are not allowed to watch a movie with ANY gay actors or characters. You are not allowed to love.

We’ll leave that for us. You have your stinking marriage and put it where the sun don’t shine. You can kill marriages like you have done over the last 1,000 years and more. But you can’t kill love.

Let there be love. Let there be love…

Today I hope that my daughters will one day be gay. This way they stand a better chance of finding true love and see true tolerance in life.

Take your marriage and go flush it down the toilet like you have done since you “owned” it. You are killing it but you can never kill love. That’s what we have to offer. We didn’t plan on killing your holy marriage. You didn’t even know it but we are here to save the concept of marriage. To let two people who love each other make a lifetime commitment to each other. Respect each other. Honor each other. Love each other. Always…

You are flushing away the chance of saving this beautiful practice of marriage. Because you covered your eyes with your blinkers of hate. Well done. I hope you are proud. But not as loud or proud as us.

May God be ashamed of you and what you stand for.

I know I am. And I am bloody “straight”. You are not one of me. You don’t represent me. You don’t represent what my marriage stands for. You never have and never will.

My marriage is one of love. Somehow you just don’t get that.

The right to love. The right to marriage. It’s basic human rights.

It’s simple. You’re stupid.

Now go and leave us alone.

You know what I am really afraid of? That my own marriage and right to love will be next. That this limitation on marriage threatens my marriage. You never know when or where bigots will stop. Their history tells me they won’t stop anywhere we would think they would stop. Guantanamo Bay – they did this. Torture – they did this. Iraq – they did this. It’s always them. Those who look at others and find ways to hate and discriminate. Who forget to love and live first. This fight for my friends to marry the one they love is a fight for my right to stay married to the one I love. And a fight for my daughters to marry someone who will love them the way I love their mother. With no strings attached. Just pure and perfect love. I am fighting for my wife and my daughters. For their happiness. And their life. This fight is my fight. Our fight. A fight for a life of love.

Let there be love.

Dammit. Liberty, justice, freedom and equality for all.

Just add love…

To you bigots out there. Here is a nice little song for you. From the bottom of our hearts…

______________________

To Vanessa, Mark, Randy, Steve and all my friends. I am sorry. I am truly deeply sorry. But I will never give up this fight. Never ever. We beat Apartheid and we’ll beat this crap as well. Remember: Justice, equality, freedom and liberty ALWAYS wins. We are right. We will overcome. We will win. Today is just a little bump in the road. Tomorrow we fight again. We will not be defeated. We might lose a battle but never the war.

starbucksiv

I’m just a guy. You wouldn’t take notice of me if we walked past each other in the street. I look like anyone else you might see in your life. Someone sitting at the airport waiting for their plane home. Sitting next to you on the train in the daily commute. Just a guy.

I love what I do. I love what I do at home and I love what I do for a living. But I am a guy who doesn’t believe in a job in the way many people would think of a job. I am my job. What you see in my work is what you see at home. A little crazy but I love what I do. I seriously love what I do. And like my life because of the people around me. People who make me think and push what I do to the edge. How can we do it even better? How can we push the boundaries? How can we make a real difference? How can we make it better together?

That ubuntu – I am because we are. It is so true. I am at work because of others. They inspire me and they drive me. They ignite the flame inside me that makes me who I am in life and in work.

This is really difficult to explain… Let me put it in another way…

I am pretty good at what I do. I know that. I know that because people tell me so. And I know I am good at what I do because I have no clue why I think the way I do! But I also know that I am good at what I do because I challenge myself constantly. And I somehow always find an “angle”. I am proud of what I have achieved and I am proud of what I stand for. But not proud like in full of myself. I know I am only who I am because of others. I would not have achieved a thing without others. Every person and every team made me better and taught me new ways of thinking. Ebrahim Patel was a genius who taught me how to think on my feet. How to find new angles and solutions to problems that no one else even considered. Martin Kalungu-Banda taught me about being humble and a manager at the same time. How to be subtle about leading others by inspiring them and finding the best in them. Oh man, so many people made me better and made me who I am today.

The names just flash by – Adrian, Demba, Sophia, Sumi, David, Patricia, Cunningham, Herbert, Chris, Gordon, Vernon, Sahra, Robert, Jane, John, Siviwe, Peter, Themba and so many others. Names to you. More than just people and faces to me. They made me.

I hardly said thank you. But I hope that me just being me and opening up to them showed that I did appreciate every single minute they gave to me. Every single day that they helped make me who I am.

I love what I do because of some of the people I have had the pleasure to work with in my life. They are not clients and they are not colleagues. They became friends. They are people I want to have coffee with. People I just want to hang out with. And sometimes it happens that they want to hang out with me as well.

They are me. No. They make me better than what I am.

Here is another thing. Most people go out in life and find things in other people they don’t like. That is easy. It is easy to find the things that we don’t like and the things that are different from ourselves. It is easy and it is lazy. It is life with blinkers on. The people I have met along the way have taught me something else. Finding the things in people I like and building a relationship based on what we have in common. And celebrating the differences as the bits that make us unique. Those differences makes up the rainbow of life – flavors and tastes for everyone to share. It is one hell of a way to meet new people and learn from others. I am one lucky guy to have been able to celebrate these differences with others. One damn lucky guy.

But I can only do this by being myself and being true to myself.

All we can be is ourselves. Nothing but ourselves. We can hide behind a mask or be ourselves. I picked the “be myself” way of doing things. I don’t think about it. I just do it. I don’t think of the consequences and I don’t think of the reasons. I just do it by being myself. Like breathing.

But we all have good times and bad times. And sometimes you doubt yourself and your style. Should I not be a little bit more like this or a little bit more like that? Should I wear a suit more often? Ha! But you sometimes question your style and the way you work. Do I need to be different? But it won’t work. It’s just not in my blood. All I can do is be myself. And I like it that way. I am who I am. And it works for me.

Hell, I really don’t know how to write this…

So I go through life and I make friends. It’s just one of those things. I make friends because people inspire me. They truly inspire me to be the best I can be without even thinking about it. They inspire me because their genius touches me and teaches me. And I can only have these relationships because I am who I am. And you never ask whether it will pay back or whether it has any benefits. You just do it. You are just you.

And then you get an email from someone that really makes you realize that we live in a pretty good world with damn fine people in it.

I left out many names in that list at the start of this blog. Recent names. I did that on purpose. I am to sh*t scared I leave someone out! But there are many other people who have touched me and who have become friends of mine. People I hold close to me no matter what the distance is between us. Good people. Geniuses who make me better.

I got an email from someone not on that list who would in another life be seen as a “professional relationship”. But she isn’t. She is a friend. A good friend. And she emailed me and had these really kind words about me. It was really a bit of a shocker as I don’t do what I do to get credit or to make myself feel better. I just do it because I like it and I like most of the people that go with my life. They all somehow made me a better person for just knowing them and having worked with them. She reminded me that who I am is what drives me. I am a better person because of people like her. People like her allow me to be just me.

I won’t share the whole email but these words really hit home. I’ll give you a little bit from her email. Edited of course…

“small world my friend.  i was having dinner the other night with some folks at X…  i was ranting to them about all sorts of things we need to do…

somehow i mentioned your blog and X said — “wait a minute, you know (him)?”  then he told me they had been talking with you…  i of course waxed poetic about your big brain, smart savvy approach and your ability to get (people) to think about how to push to the ‘brave place’ rather than just the easy place.

seriously, it was a glowing endorsement.  …and we could light things on fire.”

That last sentence says it all for me. “… we could light things on fire.” It’s about the “together” isn’t it? It’s not about me. It is about us. I am because we are…

I wrote her a thank you email. And this is part of what she wrote back…

“you don’t owe me, you earned it.  it’s the whole kizmet / karma / destiny paradigm. you… make real connections and it all comes back to you.”

She reminded me of the good people I have met along the way. And she reminded me why I enjoy the hell out of what I am doing. She reminded me that I do what I do and I am who I am because of people like her. To that person and everyone else I have met along the way. Thank you. Thank you for being my friend and my teacher. Thank you for allowing me to just be me. A guy who likes what he does and who likes hanging out with people like you.

I owe you a life of living. You are my ubuntu – I am because we are.

Now let’s have a coffee together…

Make mine a four-shot skinny Venti latte. (I’m getting all fancy and checking my weight!) A Starbucks Ethiopian Sidamo, please and thank you. Strong and deep like Africa with a fleeting aroma of floral left behind from the men picking flowers when they return from another hunting trip. A little spicy and a touch of chocolaty taste to go with our sweet tooth. Hum… Some of us also recognize a bit of wine in there! And to give it a bit of a bite and round it off nicely, the best Sidamo coffees have just a hint of lemon. Who said us Africans can’t have a feminine side? First sip… Aah… That’s much better. Wait! Better still. Just hook it up to an IV and I’ll be just fine…

 funnygirl2

I have been blessed with a loving sister. She cared for me and always treated me as “the special one”. I had special names for her and she had a special name for me. The two of us. Bliss. She used to play with me and make me my favorite food. Pour me a little drinkie when I needed it and dressed me in my best clothes for Sunday school. She taught me about love and caring. She loved me and looked after me. My sister… She was my angel. My special one.

And then I have this other sister. Man… You think Freddie Krueger was bad? He wakes up screaming from the bad nightmares she gave him. She used to ride the “mares” until they pass out at night. If she didn’t pass out from the alcohol consumption first. She was the kid you warn your kids about. And that you pray to God you never get. She was the kid that the bogeyman told his kids about to scare them. She was the kid that people refer to when they say “I heard this story about a kid…”. She was the reason why cats stayed indoors. She made grown men cry. She was the reason why social services was created… for parents. The Chucky movies was based her favorite toy. When people spoke about “those Fockers living down the road” they weren’t referring to a family by that name… She was the Nightmare on Our Street.

You might have seen a few comments from her over here. Just go check out anything by a certain person called Marlize in a few earlier stories. The last one – Fat Kids and Stupid Parents for instance. She made a few comments about the lovely food she used to lovingly make me. Yeah right… More like force feeding. She has the cooking skills that is equivalent to my dancing and singing skills. And you know how awesome that is. Actually, she does bake extremely excellent tarts. But then, she knows a lot about being a tart. Baking tarts is not that huge of a jump for her.

But let me tell you a few stories of my sister from hell. The kid the devil rejected as “just too much to handle”. And what I am about to write is 100% true. I kid you not.

Yes, she did make my food almost every day when I grew up. My mother and father worked so it was up to her to feed me. Feed me and food might be a bit of a stretch, but there isn’t words to say what she did and “cooked”. But let me rather say that she “made” my food and not made my food. I need the “made” to qualify her “cooking”. But wait, let me first tell you the story of me chasing her down the road with a fork…

She commented in the previous story that I chased her down the road because she made me fish fingers with syrup and cheese on it. That is a complete lie. I did not chase her down the road because she made me fish fingers with a syrup and cheese topping. Never did that. Complete bullshit.

I chased her down the road because she made me a Big Jack pie and stuck the bloody fork in it. And that was just the start of something bigger…

I had a choice of three dishes. Actually, it wasn’t a choice. She decided which of the three I would get. And these were my “choices” for most of my life until I managed to escape her claws. I could have a Big Jack pie with some All Gold tomato sauce (ketchup), fish-in-sauce or fish fingers with syrup and cheese on top.

Now Big Jack was (and I hope was and not is) a soggy and doughy pie from a box in the fridge that tasted like cardboard and never had anything inside no matter what the box said. I think the box might have tasted better if we only tried it once but my sister was too lazy to give me that. And the box most likely had a higher nutritional value as well. It was crap and my sister had a special way of making it taste even crappier. (Note to sister – Next time just follow the instructions on the box please.) I don’t think that the instructions said that is should be burnt on the outside and frozen in the middle…

Fish-in-sauce was even worse. It was a piece of “fish” (or fish by-products most likely) in a bag of sauce. Three flavors – green crap, yellow crap and brown crap. I liked the yellow crap the best. If you want to call it “like”. I have blocked most of the details from my memory and sitting here and just typing about it makes me break out in a cold sweat and the shivers. Let’s just leave it at the fact that it was pulled off the market and declared a WMD by Saddam himself. And yes, I do have a certain “glow” at night like one of those light sticks. You never recover completely from it and I still get my tetanus shots daily thanks to my one-time consumption of fish-in-sauce when I was a little boy.

And then there was the fish fingers. Another fish-like by-product. If you take an old fish head off the rubbish dump and cook it for a few hours and then leave it for a week to cool down in the African heat outside in the middle of summer… The stuff you can scrape off the top is what fish fingers are made of… Including the flies and other “additives”. My sister tried to hide the impact of the smell and taste by smothering it with Golden Syrup and grated nameless yellow cheese. The taste of that will stay with you forever… For-effing-ever I tell you. I can taste it now. Hali-bloody-tosis! (Gotta go brush my teeth quickly…)

So those were my choices…

And then we had the fork-down-the-road scene. My sister-from-hell made me a burnt-on-the-outside-frozen-inside Big Jack. Again. For the fourth day in a row. It might have been a chicken one. Or steak and kidney. I can’t remember. And you couldn’t taste the difference either. You only knew what you ate if you opened it up. Chicken was a gooey yellow with chunky dog meat inside and steak and kidney was a gooey brown ball of crap. It all tasted the same. And on this day she emptied the full bottle of tomato sauce on the pie-like lunch. And I just had it with crap food.

(The kids at school was laughing behind my back and pointing fingers at me because I always had to go to the bathroom and smelled a bit even though I bathed every time I brushed my teeth. About six times a day. You can never get that crap out of your system..)

So I said, “No more”. Actually, it could have been in Afrikaans and something like, “Jou moer“. Translated roughly into “F-you” or “your mother”. But the message was clear. I wasn’t going to eat it. And she said, “Yes you will”. And I said, “No I won’t”. And she said, “Yes, you will”. And I said, blah… blah… blah. This went on for about 60 or so exchanges. But I think the language might have been more colourful the longer we went on with this “argument”.

Then she stuck the fork in it. In my pie! Or whatever you called that thing on my plate.

And that was it!

I said, “Now I won’t eat this effing pie!” And she said, “Yes. You. Will!” And blah… blah… blah… I think we stopped when I got up and tried to escape… I mean run away. And she started chasing me around the kitchen table.

Picture the scene…

We had this big kitchen with this big table in the middle that could fit about eight people. Nice 70’s style yellowish top table. Formica or something. And matching chairs. And cupboards everywhere. On the open half-wall was a Japanese picture my mother liked. One of those that could roll up and had the doves on the lake scene. A narrow wooden-stripped roll-up painting. Hand painted. Remember that. Now back to the “chase scene”…

So I am running around this table trying to stay away from her slapping me on my head or something and she is chasing me all the way. But I was small and nimble. No way she was going to catch me because I could take the corners quicker. She can beat me in a straight run – being older – but no way could she catch me when there were turns and twists involved.

We did about twenty or thirty laps when she started to get tired. And thank God I noticed. I realized she was slowing down and turned to look at her on the other side… and ducked just in time. The pie was about an inch away from my face when instinct kicked in and I hit the floor. I looked at the pie going past me in Matrix style slow-motion and watched as it hit the Japanese painting. Right where the two doves where flying. They were fried. KFC thank you.

The pie just stayed there for a few second but it felt like minutes. And then it slowly started to slide down the painting and eventually hit the floor. Right next to me.

I stood up slowly and kept on staring at the picture with the pie marks. And then I heard a “whoosh” sound and felt a stinging pain in my left buttock. I turned around and saw the fork stuck in my backside! She threw the fork so hard it got stuck in my arse! WTF?

I was pissed.

I pulled out the fork and shouted, “Now you are going to get it. I’m going to effing &%^@# you to pieces!”… And I charged at her. Like the Light Brigade. No, I was a Zulu impi and I had my spear. I’m gonna get me some revenge on this colonialist tyrant. Charge! For country! For freedom! For liberty! Viva La France!

(Juluka playing in the background.)

She looked at me and realized she was in deep shit. Little baby brother is about to kick some ass. She turned and ran. Out the front door.

And I was right behind her screaming and shouting.

Down the road we went. She just laying it down flat as if she was running the 100 meters sprint like Flo-Jo in the ’88 Olympics. And I’m the mad man with the fork trying to get her. Eyes blazing, screaming that I was going to take her out this time. Man, we were crazy.

We must have run about 400 meters down the road when both of started realizing how stupid this was. What must the neighbors think? I am sure I saw a few people peeping through the curtains and calling their kids and dogs inside. Again. But we just kept on running. And then we started laughing.

It was stupid. But it was fun. We stopped and just laughed and laughed. Me and my stupid weird and crazy sister. Lying in the middle of the road and laughing our asses off.

That’s the story of the fork-in-the-road incident.

But let me just give you a few other stories of my sister from hell so you can get a clearer picture of her.

She is older than me by three years so she was already well known in high school when I entered the same high school. There I sat in my first class on my first day. I had no clue that she had a “bit of a reputation” at school. The teacher introduced himself and started asking each kid to give their name where they came from. No problem. I can do that. The teacher smiled and pointed to me when it was my turn. I was chuffed to stand up and announce my name with a big smile. The teacher’s face just dropped. He kept quite for a little while and then asked, “Say that again? Are you the brother of Marlize?” “Of course!” I said with an even bigger smile. They know my sister! Great! Right…

“Come with me young man”, said the teacher and turned around to go into his little backroom. I followed. A little puzzled, but maybe he was going to ask me to help him carry some pencils or books or something. I followed him into his little backroom and saw him standing there with a cane in his hand. He looked at me and said, “Bend down”. I lifted up my school blazer and did as he said. He caned me six shots on the arse.

Why? Let me quote you using his own words – translated. “Because your sister is Marlize and just in case you turn out to be anything like her. And for what you might get up to later today”.

WTF?

Yep, that’s what happened. I was a nerd in secondary school but got my first taste of corporal punishment on my first day in high school all thanks to nothing more than being the younger brother of Marlize. Thank you sis…

I quickly learned that she was a “special needs” kid at school. Every single class had a table and chair right next to the teacher’s table. Facing away from the other kids. That was her special table and chair. In every single class. So that she couldn’t disrupt the class too much. As if that helped. Just because she couldn’t face the other kids didn’t mean she couldn’t do anything. Those ink pots had a special meaning for her…

That’s how my time in high school went. I got canned often just because of my lovely sister. She was also the only girl I know of that got canned the way boys got canned at school. On the backside. And boy did she deserve it.

But she did teach me a thing or two. Like how to hang out the windows of the top floor to shout and wave at her when she was down in the courtyard doing PE. Or rather, skipping PE and having a skelm smoke instead. My teachers had a few heart attacks with that one but I trusted in the builders having done their job. And it was cool to hang out the window on a hot summer day and feel the wind blow through your hair. Three stories up…

She also taught me that throwing a handful of certain chemicals in the big fish tank outside the headmaster’s office will allow just enough time for you to go in, get your daily caning and “the speech”, walk out and then run when you hit the corner – just before the fish tank explodes. I bet that was what they used to make those fish fingers…

Oh, and because of the mess they never gave you a hiding for the fish tank on the same day. That had to wait until tomorrow…

She was horrid. My sister. No idea how she passed any of her exams. To say she scrapped through would be an overstatement. A string of DNA could not fit in between her scrapping through school year after year. I know the UN has been investigating just how the hell she managed to pass since 1982 and are no closer to getting an answer. It’s also what Stephen Hawking has been studying since he wrote A Brief History of Time. I think he based his black hole theories on some of her exam results.

And she could drink… At school. She used to skip classes and go to the bar down the road and ask for a shot of everything. No, I don’t mean a shot of brandy and a shot of whiskey and a shot of tequila. I mean a shot of every brand in the bar!

And she stole my dad’s cars a few times… To go for a spin. And a few drinks. He never noticed the dents and marks left on the car. She added them slowly. One at a time. Little by little. Until it looked like those old stock cars from 1980. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

And oh, my parents once decided to send her to boarding school. Yeah, like that worked out pretty well…

She got kicked out after 2 weeks. And she was home for the weekend that fell in between those 2 weeks! I still have no idea why she got kicked out so quickly. And I don’t think I will hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from her either. Ha! My parents were so stupid that they gave her her yearly allowance for hostel as she started her first day there. She came back with… Nothing! She blew it! In two bloody weeks? I wonder if her getting kicked out and blowing her allowance had anything to do with each other? Mmm… Was there a bar close by?

Man…My sister. Here is another one.

You know the sign on the back window of the bus that says “Push out in case of emergency?” Guess what…

My dad got a call one day from the bus service complaining about my sister. Again. Why? Because she kicked out the back window. My dad just shook his head and asked in a faint little voice, “Why?” Her answer? “Because it was hot and for me that is an emergency.” She eventually wasn’t allowed on the bus either and my dad had to drive her to school each day. A 30 kilometre drive each and every day. Here is the clincher. My dad was the boss of the bus service in his role as head of the prison service where we lived. Yeah! She managed to get kicked out of something my dad was in charge of!

Or how about the time she kicked a hole in my room door because I didn’t want to let her in to beat me up?

Think of the worst thing you can think of for any kid to do just short of getting caught and going to jail. In her infinite wisdom my sister has done that and upped the ante to a level where you need bottled oxygen and a space suite just to breathe and survive the pressure. She lived in a rare space. A planet just for her. Population? One…

She made me take my first ever cigarette. I was six and she was nine. She was already a full time smoker. (Yes, you read right – 9!) And I caught her smoking with her friends in the park. What did I say? “I’m so gonna tell mom and dad!” Guess what she did?

She forced me to take one puff of a cigarette. One small little puff that made me puke my lungs out. I was still busy being sick all over the park and all I could hear was her laughing and shouting, “You can’t do anything now because I’ll tell mom and dad that you smoked as well!” Dammit. I was so stupid.

She used to rip me off as well. Trading my silver money for a gold money. She just polished her pieces of copper and “traded” it for my money that was “so worth so much less”. I could have been a millionaire by now if I didn’t trade my 50c for a 1c. Dammit. Again.

And she used to play “horsey” with me. Let me explain. She’ll come in and say, “Let’s play horsey. You are the horse and I am the cowboy. And then we’ll swap.” Guess what. We never swapped. I was always the horse and then she always had an excuse for why she could not be the horse. She fell off the horse and hurt her back. She had homework to do. Yeah right! I never got the chance to be the cowboy.

Or when we were on long trips and stuck in the back of the car. She used to tease me endlessly. She always told me that I was adopted and that my real name was Sareltjie Visser. Just a stupid common name in South Africa. And she would not stop until I cried and my parent threatened her with death.

My sister. Hell on two legs. There are so many stories I can tell you about her but some might still land her in jail. I know no one else who can touch what she has done and still remain more or less sane and stay out of jail. No one. Tell me your best story and I promise you I can tell you an even better one about my sister.

I promise you each and every single story is true. Not a single little detail is exaggerated. She was the worse of the worse. And she taught me everything I needed to know.

She taught me to always try things at least once. And never do it or taste it again if you don’t like it. I don’t like Brussels sprouts.

And she taught me the most important principle of them all…

Never back down. Never ever fucking back down. That’s what she taught me. To never back down when you know you are right. And to never back down when you see something is wrong.

Maybe that is why I am the Angry African. Still pissed after all these years.

I like my sister. She might have been a nightmare and the naughtiest kid to have walked this earth, but she is my sister. My effing crazy, mad, weird, delinquent and “special needs” sister called Marlize.

I love her very much. And I miss her very much.

She is special. She is crazy. She is full of shit. And she makes me laugh and love. She is my sister. And I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks sis. You have given me memories I will never forget. Even if I still wake up screaming at night. It was worth it. I love you.

Your proud brother who managed to survive your best shots.

Sareltjie Visser

 myfirstjointmr51

(Note: Sis, can you send a few tarts and some biltong this way? Oh, I mean the tarts you bake and not your friends…)

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I love Saturdays. Come on, don’t be so cynical! No, not only because it is weekend. See, Saturday is my day at the dancing with the little one.

My girls love to dance and they are always off at some dance class. The older one does tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, modern, post-modern and existential. I think the last one is a bit of a rip-off. The teacher only shows up if she wants to and it is a continuous hit-and-miss as you never know if you want to go in any case. Even if you do, you pick your own time to show up anywhere you believe a dance should take place. I think Jean-Paul Sartre’sinterpretation of the Nutcracker hurts in any case…

Wait… Where am I? Oh yes, dancing and Saturdays…

I miss all the dancing sessions of my oldest daughter. Her classes are during the week when I am at work. I don’t think she would like me there in any case. Dad’s cool but also a little bit embarrassing. As you will see…

My lovely suffering wife lets me lie in a little bit on a Saturday. Just for a little while for the little one to hop into bed with me and for the two of us to play draw-on-the-back. I draw a picture on her back with my fingers and she must guess what it is – and she does the same on my back. Heck, it’s the only way I get a bit of a back tickle in our house. I don’t know whether it is the hairy back or just a girl thing, but none of the girls likes giving me a back tickle – including my lovely suffering wife (Yes, the same one that gets a back tickle almost every single night.) I’m not too picky, but I do think that my daughter is cheating. How many times can you draw a ball? A round one? And how many times can I say, “I don’t know what that is. Draw it again!”

Anyway…

We lie in for a few minutes and then it is a rush downstairs to slurp down some serial – Coco Pops! And for me to get my coffee fix. Then we race upstairs (with a giggle or two) to brush our teeth and for me to get rid of some of the coffee…

And then I dress the pretty ballerina.

That takes a while. First I rub her body with some cream so that the stockings and ballerina outfit don’t make her itchy. She’ll stop half-way through with me still trying to get her clothes on – she stops just to do a little twirl and to shout, “Look at me dad! I’m a pretty ballerina!” We are now officially running late. Again… It happens every Saturday morning. We always run late. We always have to work out an excuse for being late while rushing to at least try and make it in time.

“Hurry up you two! No time to play!” That’s my wife reminding us that it we really don’t have time for this. Especially not this morning. It’s a special day at ballet today…

My wife does the little one’s hair while I put on the rest of her clothes. The ballet tag team. I’m not good at hair but can do pants and shirts. Done! Get jackets on. Hats. Gloves. Scarves. And anything and everything else we need to face the cold outside. Then we jump in the car and rush down to ballet class – swearing softly (and sometimes loudly) at the slow driving oxygen thief on a site seeing cruise ahead of us.

I usually go on my own to the dancing with my little one. We are not allowed inside “the room” to watch in any case. So I sit outside in the hallway and read a book and listen to my iPod. I sometimes even blog from there. But not today. Today I can watch! And…

Every now and again the family can come in to watch. And our gang always goes in full force with all the troops accounted for. No one left behind. Today was going to be even better – A special holiday show just for us. The Nutcracker!

Only the little ones and a few of the older and more experienced dancers to show them the way. Always a ball. They were all there – the Nutcracker, Clara, the Mice, the Russian dancer, the Chinese dancer, the Spanish dancer and the Arabian dancer. No, I don’t mean that the class is very international – I think it is a bit of a twist of the original one. I laughed my ass off so many times that my wife had to tell me to shush a few times. And to tell me and the oldest one to keep quiet because we kept on whispering and giggling while pointing at the little one. She was just so damn cute. Our little ballerina. What fun. What a Saturday. And with any luck, it might just get even better for me today…

And then came my moment. The one I have been waiting for. I was made for moments like these. All my years of training. Just for this. Deep breathe…

“Any of the dads want to volunteer to come and do some dancing with us?”

Yeah! Wait…

Play it cool…

Don’t look to eager…

Let them beg just a little…

“Oh, come on dad!” from my kids and the teacher saying “Come now Mr H. We know you want to!”

The big African-American guy sitting next to me gave me the “look” and laughed. The look of you-are-not-really-going-to-do-this-are-you. I laughed and noticed that he never took off his Timberland boots before sitting down. Amateur…

Ha! I took my exact matching pair of Timberlands off before I even came in. I left it outside knowing that I can’t dance in them. I came prepared…

I shook my head as I got up “reluctantly”. A few laughs from the crowd – especially from that section where my gang of girls were sitting and my new boet sitting next to me. I went over to my spot and took a deep breath. Closed my eyes slightly to compose and then… First position…

Or what I thought was first position. The “proper” guy dancer looked over at me and gave me the “sorry sod” smile. He’s a nice guy. But he is about 16 and I am turning… hum… slightly older tomorrow! (Yes, 14 December is my birthday!) He was going to “lead” me through my steps. As if I needed any instructions or help…

Plié.” WTF? Oh! No. Wait… I know this one. Bendy knees!

Head straight and bendy knees. Done. Just look at that composure!

“Again!” Damn… I hardly got up from that last one…

“Again! Three times and then a jump like this!”

What? Who? Where? Hey!

Bendy knees and a jump. And again. And again!

I started losing track of the stuff we were doing. Changement de pieds could have been one. And fouetté rond de jambe en tournant must have been one. The twirling around 360 degrees. No problem… (Getting slightly tired and maybe a bit of huffing and puffing…)

Running around in circles and jumping those scissor jumps or whatever they call it. It looked like I was doing hurdles unsuccessfully. I was losing track of what the guy is shouting at me. More of the jumping in the air and bendy legs stuff. And all I heard was, “Again!” I couldn’t really hear much else from all the heavy breathing and wheezing…

Damn! I was actually enjoying it. But that young dude sure had a wicket little smile on his face. Did he like seeing pain like this? Better watch it buddy… Hope you can handle pain when I grand sas d’action or frappé him in his Nutcracker…

Me? I saw glimpses of Mikhail Baryshnikov whenever I saw a bit of myself in the mirror. So gracious… So composed… So stupid!

I love it. I love watching my wife and kids look at me making a fool of myself. Hearing the other dads (and moms and kids) laughing at the stupid guy doing the silly ridiculous attempts at ballet. I just love it and kept on doing it with a big stupid grin on my face.

I’m a pretty ballerina…

Okay. I’m not.

But boy, do I love doing it. I love it when it was done and I did a little curtsy to the parents and to my danseur. The big smile and big shiny eyes I see from my little one. The high five and giggle I get from my oldest one. The smile and you-silly-you-I-love-you look I get from my wife.

Yes…

I love being the stupid dad that always “volunteers” to go do the silly stuff. That’s me. Just call me Volunteer Dad. Anything to see those faces and feel their love. Anything. Especially when I can be silly and have a laugh as well.

Next time you see the guy doing the stupid thing in front of his family – that’s me.

You should know this by now. Remember Things To Do Before You Die? Or When Dad Came To Watch? That’s me. Stupid, silly and madly in love with my gang of girls. Anything and everything just for them. Because it is also for me.

And me dance pretty…

ballerina-plate

hello

“Hello.”

And then a big smile and a wave.

I just loved it. Just loved it. My oldest daughter used to walk around greeting everyone in the streets. It doesn’t matter who they were. It didn’t matter that she didn’t know them. She just smiled and waved, and said hello. We do that in Africa. Walk around like a bunch of happy-clappies waving and greeting and smiling at people we don’t know.

It made me feel part of something bigger. Just knowing that they are my people. We are one big family. Really. You should see how we greet each other. Not just a little nod of the head or lifting of the eyebrow. No, not us crazy Africans. We go all out. We say hello as if it is our best friend that we haven’t seen for years. The long lost brother. The sister that went to college. The Biblical son returning. “How are you?” “I’m great thanks! And you?” “Great! Cheers!” Crazy Africans.

We have enough shit going on in Africa to enjoy the little things like greeting each other on the streets. Just acknowledging that it’s okay. That we are okay. That we are somehow connected.

It didn’t matter where I was in Africa. I can be walking in the streets in Zimbabwe and people will greet me and I will greet them – with a smile. I’ll sit in a bar in Zambia and someone will walk over and start talking to me. Asking questions about where I’m from and what I’m doing in Lusaka or do I want another beer. “Hey buddy, why don’t you come with us to the Green Frog?” Aah… The Green Frog. Dancing and drinking with people I’ve never met and will most likely never see again. The market in Bamako (Mali) and the guy walking with me to show me around and help me out with the French spoken at the stalls. Guess what. He didn’t want to get paid for it. He just wanted to show me his town and maybe have a beer with me.

It used to drive my wife crazy. I’ll walk into a bar and “check out the scene”. Searching for my next victim… I mean “friend”. Anyone that’s alone. And I’ll start talking to them. It is especially good when it is a foreigner. Just talk and hear their stories. Where they are from, how is their mom and dad, what they are doing over here, what beer do they want. You name it and I’ll talk about it. I’ve heard some great stories thanks to these strangers. And then we’ll say goodbye and never talk again. But I’ll remember them and I hope they’ll remember me. The crazy guy from Africa. They were African for a day or two. One of us. All of us. And it started with a simple “hello”.

And I miss that.

I miss the warmth. The sense of humanity. The acknowledgement of each other. The small moments of happiness. The connection of life and living.

And I miss seeing my daughters do that.

My oldest daughter was just a few years old when we moved over to the UK. She still walked around greeting everyone. Thank God we stayed in a small village of about 2,000 people. They got to know her. The crazy African kid who greets everyone. At first people stared at her and then slowly looked up at us parent, thinking that she must be a “special needs” kid. Some even gave us the “shame, poor you” look. Feeling sorry for these parents with the backward kid. But the little one didn’t care. She just kept on greeting.

And slowly but surely she won them over. The older people were the first to come around to her way of thinking. They loved seeing her greeting and waving at them. Shocked at first and then just a huge smile thanks to this skinny little girl with the big eyes and even bigger smile. And the looks they gave us parents – that was just all that was needed for us to know that we were okay as parents. They would look at us and greet us as well. With a big smile and a thank you in their eyes. And sometimes a little “What a nice little girl” comment to go with that.

My youngest one – born in the UK with the American accent (but South African passport)? Well, I don’t know if it is in our blood. But she greets people. She’ll stop to talk to people as we walk to the park. Especially if they have a baby or a dog. “Isn’t she cute dad?” Me? “Hi, sorry about that. She just loves babies.”

When did I lose my “hello”?

I really can’t say. I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was the continuous looks I got in the UK. Or the stares in the US. Maybe I started switching off after too many blank returns and rejections. But I don’t really greet strangers anymore. And I miss that.

We don’t accept peple for who they are anymore. We are too scared. Scared shitless. We reject people for who we think they might be.

I am not crazy. I am not a rapist. I am not a child molester. I am not a sex offender. I am not a maniac. I am not a murderer. I’m not a mugger. I am just me. Living a life and trying to be as good as what I can be. I live Ubuntu. But Ubuntu isn’t always around.

Must I wear a banner around my neck to say who I am not?

I see little kids and sad grown-ups around me. All I want to do is stop for a minute and ask them how they are. Maybe give the little one a hug and a kiss. Tell them that the world will be okay. Just go and be a kid and enjoy going down the slide for a while. Swing low and swing high. Go around and around on the merry-go-round. It a bit like life. But without the worries that go with it.

But I can’t. Because of others.

I have to pick my battles. Be friendly to the person behind the counter at Honey Farms. Smile at the girl in Starbucks. At a push, talk to the person squashed in next to me when the train is packed like sardines. Hug a client I got to know really well. Or kiss a friend I haven’t seen for a while. On the cheek, of course. Oh so European.

What have we done? What the fuck have we done? To this world and to our lives?

Why can’t we even stop and talk anymore? Or just greet each other?

I know some things are cultural. Where I come from we kiss on the lips just to say hello. Men and women. Okay, more women than men. But I kiss my cousins on the lips when I see them. Men and women. I kissed my father on the lips even though we hardly spoke. And my brother. And my brother-in-laws. Even my ex brother-in-law. I kiss my best friends. On the lips. It’s just a hello.

I don’t want anything more from them. I just want to feel the link. That we are one. That we love each other. In a different way than when I kiss my wife. But so many times I just want to kiss the person I am friends with. Say hello in the way I know best because it means I open myself to my most vulnerable self. Take my lips. Our eyes will be close for a minute and the connection is confirmed. Just a kiss hello.

But I can’t. We can’t. It doesn’t fit in with our culture. At best I can get a hug. Or a kiss on the cheek. And I can live with that. It is easier because I know them already. We are already friends. There is already some connection. And with time it will grow. I hope.

But I know I miss my hello. When talking to strangers.

I have become one of those who worry about my kids. Not like when I was young. I could play in the streets and talk to strangers. But not today. Not in the life we live and the craziness that goes around.

Even that little girl in the blue house. I gave her hugs and ruffled her hair. But I always had to check who was looking. Just to make sure they don’t think anything funny was going on. She was just a little girl. Needing a hug. And I had to check that no one thought anything else.

How did we become like this?

We can say it is because of all the weirdos out there. The rapists and the child abusers and stealers of kids. I know they are out there. But somewhere along the line we allowed them to win. We allowed them to define who we are. And how we say hello.

How did the hello start to hurt us? How did the hello become a way to divide us? How did the hello move from love to scare?

I struggle with this every single day. How do you bring up your child to love everyone and still know about the danger out there? I don’t know. We all play it safe. We tell them not to say hello. Not to talk to strangers. Not to trust people they don’t know. Not to just say hello to everyone.

And slowly but surely we kill ourselves as we kill the hello inside our kids.

Talking to strangers.

How did we become the strangers?

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bigots

This might be a little touchy… I tend not to write too much about religion around here. One of those sensitive areas that get people all worked up. But maybe it’s time to dig a little bit deeper. Bigots tend to hide in “high” places and behind big claims… And, of course, a lot of the things I want to write on religion comes back to haunt me. Am I doing what I accuse other people of doing in the name of religion. Well, tough. I’ll do it any way. Bigots beware…

Let’s make this clear. This is not aimed at any specific religion. I don’t care if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist – or anything else for that matter. I don’t care if you are mainstream or somewhere hidden in a sect in the mountains. The rules stay the same. If you are a bigot then… Well, let’s just say that either your religious beliefs are warped or your God is warped. Your choice.

Tell me, what does your God teach you? Does he teach you to hate? Does he teach you to make war? Does he teach you to discriminate? Does he tell you that you are better than the next person? Or that those who look like you are His chosen people and the others are out of luck – and it’s open season on those out of luck? Well, buddy, you suck if you believe in that. And your God suck if He tells you that.

I don’t claim to be much of a religious expert. I believe and I know I am pretty pathetic when it comes to sinning – we all do really. All I know is the basic stuff – don’t do this and don’t do that. You know just the basic generic stuff. They’re all the same rules – more or less. Don’t kill (or murder) is pretty much in there somewhere in most (if not all) of the major religions. Yeah, for those who don’t know – the Qur’an (5:32) says, “….anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people.” Thoseguys who flew those airplanes? Straight to hell. No matter what the mad man in the cave has to say.

Talking about mad men in caves. We know the one with the grey beard hiding up in the mountains is as crazy as bat shit. But he isn’t the only one who claims to “lead his people” who might just be more than a little crazy…

Is your spiritual leader telling you that he speaks to God? Or that God speaks to him? Well guess what… The voices in their heads have a medical term attached to it. I think the correct technical term is… Crazy. Insane. Nuts. Loony. Sorry to disappoint you, but God doesn’t talk to the big head standing on the pulpit preaching. He doesn’t have the Verizon network.

Why the hell do you think He would talk to your guy? Because your guy says so? Well guess what? Why does it generally go with something you have to do instead of the liar leading you? Did Osamathe Coward fly the airplanes? No he didn’t. Did the preacher say that you should give him some money instead of the other way around? Did he say don’t sleep around but then got caught witha prostitute around the corner? Do they drive a nice car and have a nice house while telling you to donate to the “work of God”? Do they spend money on lobbying for policy changes while people are dying of hunger? Are they paying for ads against gay marriages while people are losing their jobs and livelihoods? I think God will most likely pick someone witha little bit less mouth and more character. Someone who cares about being good and doing good more than what they care about how other people are behaving…

Ask yourself this question… Why the hell is your religion so interested in controlling what others are doing instead of what the hell they themselves are doing? You beat your wife? You look at that girl down the road and wouldn’t mind a piece of that? You keep that $10 mistaken change because it’s your lucky day? You think that car of your neighbor is pretty cool and you have just a touch of jealousy? You rather watch the game on Saturday or Sunday or go shopping instead of taking it easy as the Book says? You sometimes say “Oh my Gawd” or “Jeeze” and never thought where it might actually come from? You like the big screen telly a little bit too much – almost like it is your god instead of the God you claim to follow? You break thoseGod-given rules so often but still think it is a much better idea to “fix” thosewho don’t believe in your version of God? It’s fine to throw stones at those who don’t attend your church? But you can’t stick to your own rules? Believer on a Sunday and a bigot the rest of the time? No. The bigotry starts at your church.

That’s what we call bigotry of the self. When you look at other people and throw stones at them instead of getting your own house in order. You want a voice on gay marriages? Then why don’t you first start by solving your own teen pregancies, divorces, wife beating, family murders, forced marriages in one way or another, multiple partners and other forms of moral corruption before you come and try to throw your weight around here.

You remind me of the same big government you apparently despise so much. Big mouth but once the shit hits the fan? Then we have to clean up after you. Get your house in order. Learn to be “just” according to your beliefs before you tell other people how they don’t “comply” to what your God said they should comply with.

For God sake. You can’t even stick to your own rules. Who fuck are you to tell other people to stick to your rules?

About those rules…

Did your God say that you should judge others? Or did your God say that you should first sort yourself out before you open your big mouth?

And if your rules says that other people shouldn’t have certain rights… Then stick your God where the sun don’t shine. Yes, you heard me right.

Why should I care about your God if your God doesn’t care about me? Huh? Come on… Tell me. Why should I care if you tell me that He doesn’t care?

If your God tells you it is just fine to be a bigot… Then He isn’t much of a God or you aren’t much of a follower.

Your God tells me more about you than what you tell me about Him. If you claim your God doesn’t tolerate gay marriages then I don’t tolerate your God. Why should I? If you claim that your God doesn’t tolerate equal rights for all then I don’t tolerate your beliefs. If your God tells you that you believing in Him makes you better than others and allows you to take out your “righteousness” on those “others” then I don’t listen to Him. If your God tells you that you should give more money to the preacher shouting those words of hate then I will shout back even louder. If your God tells you it is okay to kill others in His name then I will defend those who you attack.

Any bigotry coming from your God via your mouth means nothing. It remains bigotry. And you remain a bigot. And the words of your God remains full of bigotry if you spew out your bigoted lies.

So take you God. And live your life with Him. According to His words. I want nothing to do with you or your God. He is not my God. And you are not my people.

Actually… No.

Your God is a figment of your bigotry. And I am taking the true God back.

Don’t think that your God is my God. He is not. You can call Him by the same name but He is NOT your God. Better still… Why don’t you just use another name. I don’t give a shit what you call Him. Just leave my God out of this. I am taking Him back. To where He belongs. With us. He is ours.

Because he is just. He is compassionate. He is tolerant. He is he is respect. He is life. He is love.

He knows how pathetic I am. That’s why He laughs at me. And smiles at me. And why He loves me. Because He knows I am pretty pathetic. But He knows He is mine because of how stupid I am. He knows I don’t like you because of what you do to others and He doesn’t like that. But He is tolerant and forgiving. Thank God for that. But I am not. He knows, that’s just me. Because of us.

And it is time to take God back.

You have used and abused His name long enough. No, you have used and abused Him long enough. Your hatred and bigotry from the crusades to slavery to the Klan to flying airplanes into building to strapping bombs to your chest to denying equal rights to others to beheading and stoning people to… to… to everything that you have done in His name. Stop it right now.

Stop. It. Right. Now.

Time to take God back.

He is not yours. He never was. You just abused Him like you do with your powers and your hatred and your bigoted way. You just used him like a rag to clean up your mess you left behind on the counter of life each time you spilled and spewed your bigotry.

Each and every bigot talking about how God does not stand for this equality or that justice and his freedom or her liberty. Stop it. You are raping God the way you have raped this world for centuries in His name. No more. He is not yours.

No. More.

He. Is. Not. Yours.

My God is the God of Mother Theresa and Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela. The God of peace and happiness. My God believes in love and life. My God believes in freedom and justice. My God believes in equality and liberty. My God believes in compassion and passion. My God believes in goodness and doing good. My God believes in me and in us. Because, with God on our side, I am because we are.

My God believes in love not war. My God believes in understanding not hatred. My God believes in compassion and not bigotry. My God embraces before he declares war. My God believes in living amongst everyone before he kills anyone. My God is a liberal who cares about others more than what he cares about Himself. My God believes in us and not you.

So…

Stop using Him for your own selfish reasons. You’ve had your time. And now your time has come. My God is not your God. The only God you know is the hatred in your heart and the bigotry of self. And that is not God.

I am taking God back. We are taking God back.

Now go. My God has no place for bigots. God has no place for bigots.

gandhi20playing20with20a20child

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(Note 1: I know the gaping hole in my argument. I am telling people not to judge but live according to the principle of God and not the bigoted God some are trying to sell them, but at the same time I am judging. Oh well… At least I am judging based on what their own beliefs are saying and if they don’t agree – just don’t call him God because he isn’t the same God as mine.) 

Note 2: Before someone attacks me for referring to God as a “He”. I just didn’t feel like writing Him/Her or He/She the whole bloody time. It’s silly. Argue the bigger point and don’t nit-pick minor details. Just swap the Him for Her and see if it changes anything. I can’t live with a God that is bigot – male or female.)

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