Friday, June 20, 2014

His. Story.

You stare.
Into my soul.

Like no one has ever done.

You stare.

As if seeking every cell in my body.
Every atom in my being.

As if knowing me inside-out was your goal, your mission.
As if studying me was equivalent to vision.

And I feel you accomplishing it every ticking second I’m in your presence.

In your sight.
Surrounded by your humility and might.

No cave could provide enough darkness to hide.

For you’d find me.

Not by a torch or a flame.
Not by my scent or shadow or frame.

But by your knowledge of me.
The way you’ve learned me, the true me, the me that even I don’t see...

Because you’ve sought me for longer than any other in this lifetime.
Years of never giving up.

Never ending. Never stopping. Never altering.
To every response of rejection.

You soldiered on, gritting your teeth, wiping the sweat.
Staring at me as if we’d just met…

You fought with every fibre.
You revealed your heart before I could even feel.
And unlike the one’s before you… you never gave up.
Never considering another route or thinking “Wow, Faye is too much.”

And now, as your fingers intertwine with mine.
Your lips conceal the gentle hint of a smile.
Not satisfaction at a prize or a win on your side.
Not in arrogance or assumption or pride.

You stare. 

You take me in.
You know me better than my own skin.

And I think you smile because you know.
We’ve got a love that’s going to grow.

We’re a team, a small gang.
We’ve got swag and a good thang.

But in the midst of head-back laughter,
that echoes through dusty corridors of endurance.
Is this sense of surety that doesn’t fade.

It’s as if My Creator God is whispering:
For each other you were made.

Because our hearts unite in love for Him.
His motion, breath, touch and gaze.

I feel this is His story,
being written for all our days.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Be near.

When what I have known is now not.
When we struggle to matter on this pale blue dot.

Be near.
When the past, the present and the future seem hazey.
When we are only forever chasing safety.

Be near.
When my shell of self-esteem cracks like paint on old Romanic wall.
When my vapour of understanding leads to an imminent downfall.

Be near
When my intellect and reason remains galaxies apart from yours.
When I seek to find significance in man’s approval and applause.

Be near.
When the mystery of family or friendship seems to be a futile affair.
When my faith appears to have become old and threadbare.

Be near.
Oh I pray be nearer still.
Be nearer than my skin and deeper than my soul.
My need of your intimacy is a cavity only you can fill.

Be near
To me always. 
I ask.

Send a dove or quail or even part the sea.
But please, my Lord…
Be near
Be near
Be near

Saturday, January 12, 2013


So, we are basically done with the second week of the first month of this new year. The grand collide of family, holidays, gluttony and bad sunburn is gradually fading into the background as the flustered faces of fellow colleagues begins to filter into your everyday vision. It’s the slow phasing out of one year into another. Letting go of what was and could have been and holding onto hope in the potential of what the next twelve months could hold. A process of perspective.

I have a friend who is working on a project that seems excessively massive. However, she puts up a post every now and again to chronicle her process, and this draws me to think about my own process and feel a little more brave about it. Most of us spend our days in some process or other, and I want to share what that process has looked like for me lately.

Sitting on the edge of my seat as I was asked to go up and make an impromptu speech on a word I’d genuinely never heard before. A Toastmasters meeting at the Italian Club in Bedfordview.  The Portuguese lady next to me began telling me about her son (Pedro) who was in South Korea teaching English. An idea like a flame was lit. A moment in March 2012 that seemed senseless, awkward, insignificant, soon to be forgotten… like any other.

But our lives are always more than that.
Made up of dots that somehow connect looking back.

“When there’s a burning in your heart, an endless yearning in your heart. 
Build it bigger than the sun. Let it grow. Let it grow. When there’s a burning in your heart – don’t be alarmed.
When there’s a burning in your heart, and you think it’ll burst apart. 
There’s nothing to fear. Save the tears. Save the tears. When there’s a burning in your heart – don’t be alarmed.”
(Death Cab for a Cutie – You’re a tourist)

From that moment at Toastmasters to sitting on the edge of a small seat on an SA Express flight with my backpack on my lap and eyes as wide as a frightened deer. Not knowing a single person in a land I never imagined stepping foot into.
My car, fridge and bed sold.
My sentimental life stacked into a couple of boxes.
My heart beating to the sound of adventure.

I knew it didn’t make sense to some or most. I am 27 and should be “settling/ed down”, climbing a corporate ladder, positioning myself to meet a good, christian South African boy to marry and begin having kids (my gran reminds me of this often enough). But I’ve always known my life would look a little different. I’ve always known I’ll dream of the impossible and pursue it. I have learnt to follow my heart as God whispers into the areas I am yet to tread. I know I’m far from perfect and will bump my head more than once to live without regret. However, I am ready to risk it all. I am no longer afraid of the stuff that used to weigh so heavily on my shoulders. I was not pursuing some romantic ideal. I know culture shock is real but I had no intention on backing out “the first time I cry”. I didn’t hold some great mission to save Asia or be a rockstar gangham DJ. I wasn’t going to simply pursue adventure or travel. I was going because each day this aching conviction grows within me that LIFE IS SHORT. And I’ll do anything to feel alive.

It began with survival of the 9 – 5. It began with wanting more. It began with a realization. It began with an idea.
I allowed the idea to simmer since early March 2012. The idea moved from zoning in on a number of things to having its place onstage. I filtered through the research and cut out the most important and interesting parts. Then it had begun coagulating. Like a soup that starts thickening, a story started emerging. Shortly after completing an online TEFL course - I resigned from my rather comfortable job at an environmental company and began selling, shifting and moving. I moved home (Eastern Cape) for a month or two, hoping to confirm a position at a school in South Korea as soon as possible. It took a little longer due to the overload of paperwork required (ASIA is passionately fanatical about documentation). I eventually received a position in August for an academy in a small city named Gumi. I passed the rather intense two-hour interview and was told I got the job. The next part of this process was finalizing the rest of the complicated and rather dramatic documentation, which entailed driving to Port Elizabeth and Pretoria and sending a few costly DHL packages over to South Korea. I had to be there on the 28th October for training on the 29th in Seoul so it was a race against time. I only received my final documents on Thursday 25th October and had my flights booked on that same day to leave Friday morning 26th October. I spent a load of cash on all this, including doctors appointments, vaccinations, buying toiletries to last a year (blame it on the paranoia about toothpaste and face cream that leaves you ugly), a good quality backpack and camera, buying dollars and all the other odds and ends one needs to think about when moving overseas for a year. I packed on the Thursday night (with the help of both my parents) over two bottles of good wine. We played house music, chatted and tried to squash as many items of winter clothing that could fit into my case.

I woke up at 2am on Friday morning, unable to sleep with last minute ideas. We headed to the airport at 8am and I booked my luggage through from East London to Inchon (South Korea). As I was standing there, a curveball was thrown in my direction and landed perfectly in the middle of my chest… BOOM! Instant adrenaline-rush of fear.

I received an email from the academy I was going to be working for. It was a basic outline of what training would entail and how I would need to do an online test on Sunday before I began their training on Monday. At the end of this email they stated that “depending on the outcome of your training in Seoul we will decide as to if you are employed with us or not”… I read those few lines as if I’d been given a life sentence in a Syrian prison. Pure panic. There I sat with my tickets in hand, waiting for my boarding call as the hair on my neckline stood on edge. Going to a foreign country in Asia, YES ASIA, not knowing anyone and being highly dependent on this job to be the real-deal when I arrive. However, there was nothing I could do about it. As much as I wanted to, I could not back out or run away.

I bid farewell to my parents and seated myself on the small SA Express plane whilst my over-analytical brain began creating headlines: “South African girl left to fend for herself in the streets of South Korea.”; “Teaching English Scam uncovered through misfortune of SA girl.”; “Scandal uncovered as SA girl fights to survive in South Korea.”


As I sat there, I closed my eyes and began to pray. I asked God to stop this entire thing if it was wrong or if I was making one big mistake. I asked HIM because it is all I could do. My mom said that as my dad and her were driving away from the airport she also prayed that God would do something big if it was wrong. She said she kept reminding herself, “No man, God is so big – of course she can trust that.” About 10 minutes of sitting on that plane an announcement was made that the starting engine of the plane wouldn’t start so they would be “rebooting” the plane. A flight full of businessmen sigh in unison. Time was ticking. There were important Friday meetings in Jozi they had to get to. They attempted to restart the plane three times, and as they switch everything off for the third time – I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, God was in the midst of this...
The next announcement sent shockwaves of muttering rippling through each passenger, “Please disembark and collect your luggage as this plane will not be able to leave East London until we receive further technical assistance.”
Everyone hustles off the plane to collect their luggage. The absurdity was that I felt complete relief. My phone wouldn’t work so I asked some random guy and his girlfriend if I could use their phone. He gladly offered it to me and allowed me to call my folks. As I handed the phone back to him, while we were all still waiting for our luggage, he asked me to explain where I was supposed to be heading. I described the general outline of it all while he seemed to stare blankly at me. As soon as I had finished talking he said, with a dead-straight face, “Wow, so you are Jonah! You’re the very reason we are all standing in this airport.”

To a man in a whale, the world is a whale’s stomach.

As comical as that may have seemed, something within my heart was beating to the drum of this supernatural and divine story that was unfolding before my eyes. I’d been spat out the whale. I was confused in this stormy water, but relieved at what was going on.
I went to customer services and requested assistance as it had been announced that the flight that was meant to leave at 9:50am was now going to leave East London at 15:00. There were loads of businessmen and women all complaining that this had never happened before. The consequences of the delay meant my missing the flight from Johannesburg to Dubai which was due to leave at 14:10 that day (and then from Dubai to South Korea). The service centre for SAA could not assist me as the agency (who purchased the ticket) were required to contact Emirates directly. They also stated that they could get me to Dubai but not to South Korea before Monday (when the training was due to begin). I spoke to the manager of SAA and requested he draft a letter stating what had happened for me to send to the agency (needing proof of what was going on).

The end result was my not being able to go to South Korea.
No newspaper headlines.
No foreign country.
Just the process of reaching dry land.

It is a strange thing. We plan our lives and attempt certain feats. We work, save, eat, exercise, board planes, and yet, God is always at work. I know that everyone has an opinion on God and his reality or existence. I know everyone holds certain convictions about the amount of control He has over our lives. I have seen his fingerprints all over my life and known his intervention in crazy and impossible situations. There is no silly coincidence. It is all about Him. Life can seem messy at times. Things don’t always turn out as we expect or plan or desire. However, I wanted to write this down, this way-too-long post, because I believe that as much as there is mess – there is beauty. And I really hope that this year finds you tumbling down a rabbit hole of seeing His reality in your life. In the words of Switchfoot:
“Born for the blue skies – we’ll survive the rain;
Born for the sunrise – we’ll survive the pain.”

Friday, January 11, 2013



Tender hands
The sweetest of words
Self- Assured

Amidst the crowd she roams,
Through every guest list,
She moves in and out,
Like a moonlit mist.

A composition of Picasso,
Beauty that beckons.
Melancholy blue tones
An abstract expression.

Her demeanor changes.
You can’t hold her down.
She belongs to the hurricane.
In this small town.

Glances turn to stares
Glasses turn to bottles
The stakes are raised
Conservatism topples

No sleep, no walls.
Smoke, bass, sky falls.

Wringing hands, a broken shell.
Loss of inhibition, singing to Adele.

Adjusting her side ponytail,
You can’t hold her down.
She belongs to the hurricane.
In this small town.

Bittersweet indulgence
A tragic plague to some.
Pacing turns to stumbling
The judgement has begun.

An outlet, a seeking,
The unintentional decline.
They cheer her on,
Stained lips, red wine.

She’ll smoke you out if you lure her in.
She’ll ignore your weakness if you dismiss her sin.

You can’t hold her down.
She belongs to the hurricane.
In this small town.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

bleu. de. Genes

A staple in every wardrobe. A classic symbol of the American West.

With boots, slops, heels, sandals. Go casual. Go corporate. You can always (yes ALWAYS) rock them. Once you know what you love about them – you can buy a new version, cutting-edge colour, or exuberant print.

I don’t stop fantasizing about them through spring, summer, autumn and winter. Any given day or month – someone out there is wearing them. They are my absolute clothing obsession. I have tried on, washed, studied, pulled, opened up, dissected, conducted fit tests and compared brands of jeans.
And I don’t stop falling in love.

Jeans are just trousers made from denim or dungaree cloth. Jeans were invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873 and they were a particular style of pants called “blue jeans”.

The word ‘jeans’ comes from the French phrase ‘bleu de Genes’ meaning ‘the blue of Genoa’ which was made in Europe. The material, called jean, was named after sailors from Genoa in Italy, because they wore clothes made from it. In the 18th century workers wore it because the material was very strong and it did not wear out easily. It was usually dyed with a dye called indigo which made jean cloth a dark blue colour. In 1853, a man called Leob Strauss left his home in New York and moved to San Francisco where he started a wholesale business, supplying clothes. Strauss later changed his name from Leob to Levi. At that time a Nevada tailor called Jacob Davis was asked to make a pair of sturdy trousers for a local woodcutter. He struck upon the idea of reinforcing them with rivets and this proved them extremely durable and were soon in high demand. Davis realized the potential of his product but couldn’t afford to patent it. He wrote to his fabric supplier, the San Francisco merchant, Levi Strauss, for help. This is what he wrote (no jokes):

“The secratt of them Pents is the Rivits that I put in those Pockots,” he said. “I cannot make them up fast enough… My nabors are getting yealouse of these success.”

Levi’s, as the patented trousers became known, were made in two fabrics, cotton duck (similar to canvas) and denim. Denim sold because it was more comfortable, the denim changed as it aged and the way it wore reflected people’s lives. Because of its fading quality, denim was sold raw, unwashed and untreated, and each pair began telling the story of the worker and his work. Danny Miller, an unstudied anthropologist who published Blue Jeans says, “Jeans are the most personal thing you can wear,” says Miller. “They wear the body.”

In the 1930’s, Hollywood made lots of western movies where cowboys wore jeans. This made them popular amongst Americans. In the 1950’s denim became popular with young people. It was a symbol of the teenage rebel in TV programmes and movies (e.g. James Dean in his 1955 Rebel Without a Cause). A subversive counter-culture. Lynn Downey, who is an archivist and historian at Levi Strauss & Co says, “They freaked out the establishment of the United States because they were not conforming and they were wearing jeans.” Some schools in the USA even banned students from wearing denim. 

During the 1960’s jeans had also spread to the American middle class. Protesting college students began wearing them as a token of solidarity with the working class – those most affected by racial discrimination and war. Jeans were a symbol of democratization and put different classes on an equal playing field. Affordable, hard-wearing, looked good old or new and didn’t have to be washed or ironed often. This is where I believe jeans began being all things to all people. In the 1970’s, as regulations on world trade became more relaxed, jeans started to be made more and also became cheaper as workers were paid very little. In the 1980’s jeans finally became high fashion clothing as famous designers started making their own styles of jeans, with their own labels. Denim took to the catwalks and sales went up and up and up….

Levis. Guess. Sissy boy. Calvin Klein. Diesel. True Religion. Wrangler. Lee Jeans. Rider Jeans. Legendary Gold Jeans. Lee Dungarees. J Brand Jeans. Rustler Jeans. Black Orchid. DKNY Jeans. RedEngine. Rockstar. Stitchs. WESC. Antik. DenimofVirtue. Monarchy. Yanuk. IronArmy. Chloe Deschanel. Gridlock. Rock Revival. Brown Label Jeans. Ed Hardy Jeans… AND the list goes on…

The constant quality of creations, the obsessive attention to the fit. Preppy, edgy, styling, elegant, basic, durable, skinny, loose, high waisted, maternity, vintage washed, straight leg, super stretch, modern wide, tapered, flare, boot-cut, classic or flattering fit. Not dependent on height, race, intellect or athletic ability.

George W Bush and Tony Blair went out on the street in denim during their first summit meeting as they wanted to state that they were just regular guys. Not sure it worked very well (I can’t picture that at ALL) but the fact is that jeans can still be used to make a statement. For instance, Rockstar jeans have an ethos I love:

“Rockstar was born out of a never say die attitude and a belief that being a rockstar is an attitude not necessarily reserved for musicians only. A rockstar is someone who has an iconoclastic approach to the world. Rockstars follow their own path and do things their own way.”

I tried the rockstar thing in highschool. I decided to do something completely different with a pair of non-branded jeans I loved but was oh-so-bored with. At the time I was busy with a very detailed pen-and-ink piece for art. Hence, I decided to simply draw on my jeans (haha). I did a rather random design on the one leg and fell in love with those jeans all over again. My incredible workmanship got everyone asking where I’d bought them from which was a glorious surprise – specifically because East London is small and it can be tricky to find clothing that doesn’t blend into every other teenage girl.

I’m all about kick-ass, sexy, superb fitting, stylish looking, completely SWAG jeans. They must make me look skinny and my ass look amazing. Their quality should be off the charts to make their expense worth it. I have established a new standard of looking good and feeling good in jeans. Jeans reflect us and they reflect the lives that we’ve had in them.

In the words of Brooke Shields, “If my jeans could talk I’d be ruined” (1980 Jeans advertisement).

So here’s to the cowboys, farmers, teachers, doctors, mothers, students, retired folk, skaters, supermodels, presidents, hippies, punks, politicians and housewives…
Here’s to the jeans we wear.
Here’s to the stories they tell.