TheFifteenthSunrise

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“Paying rent in hell.” That longsuffering we all do so much of – because we’re just absolute suckers for punishment. We’re habitually quick in reminding ourselves how bad we’re supposed to feel about our shortcomings. And celebrating the successes? Not on your life.

The New Year brings ‘new’ lists by legions of people who promise to be better, lose weight, give more and work harder. So, what a list like this is really saying is that you are not good enough, your body isn’t (someone else’s idea of) perfect, you’re selfish and lazy. Nice. And it’s from there that you expect to take over the world?

Mm.

That whole it’s always darkest before the dawn thing is really real though. Things have to get worse before they get better (otherwise they’re just staying the same, right?). You have to hurt before you heal and can move on. But to move on, you have to Move. On. You can’t stew on a list of shortcomings (that someone else compiled, anyway).

So…

Coming out of TheFourteenthSunset, I said: New Year’s Resolutions? None, but to remember that good things can still come from dark spaces, big things from small places and loveliness will surprise from the most unexpected faces. I said no resolutions, because maybe we should rather take stock of what we learned, and therein what could do with a little remodeling so that I become the remake – of me. So there, with that spirit, I listed 14 of them.

1 | I am not just a drop in the ocean. I am the ocean. You are yours. And terrible or terrific – those are tides, and they will. Each tide’s value is tantamount to what you take from it. Transience is the only constant.

2 | There are autopilot-assholes everywhere. And they’ll be saying the same when they look at you or me. Here’s the deal: one man’s delusional is another man’s deity… That’s all good. These are the days of our lives.

3 | Who’s to say how many cooks should be in the kitchen? Who cares? Insist rather that cooks be accountable for their cerebral contributions. Add value or don’t offer to cook.

4 | Armchair activists will only offer opinions they can enter into a status bar on Facebook. The confidence to commit to confrontation when it matters will always show the courageous from the cowards. Fickle futility is rife.

5 | Consistency is crap. And anyone who tells you to be consistent is crap. It is just another manipulative tactic used to make you feel bad about things you do or have done that weren’t what someone else wanted from their exchange with you. You are not a catalogue. You shouldn’t allow yourself to be catalogued. Don’t give anyone credit who wants you to believe that inconsistency is a flaw.

6 | Living by other people’s lists makes me feel like a loser. Must stop doing it.

7 | Fearless fucking-up is not a stain on your soul – no matter the scale. Its sincerity is its silver lining. The ratio of people whose fear-fuelled inertia versus those who refuse it, is probably the only fear that’s worth anything. Dispassionate dorkism is unforgivable.

8 | Salute sunsets with a conscious conscience that you didn’t treadmill time. That yours was spent accelerating your heartbeat because you used it to get: To get happy. To get angry. To get loved. To get hated. To get admired. To get ignored. To get fucked. To get asked out. To get stood up. To get broke but get rich because you got it – and you get it. Your heart is a happening. Let it.

9 | There is only the moment – and then the moment is gone.

10 | The value in learning to domesticate your darkness comes from how you value your Light.

11 | The difference between your Sacred Duality and a Duality you’re scared of is sacred in itself – but is a) a journey you should journey on your own or b) someone else’s you can’t get involved in. Some leaves live to be lost in the wind. Choose the journeys you choose to join – wisely.

12 | The unholy war is the tug between who you are and who the world wants you to be. You can recognise a war is on without having to commit to its carnage.

13 | Never don’t-care. Even when the sweat from passions-persisted seems never offset by the returns. And then still care enough to find better places / people whose passions persist closer to the ways yours do.

14 | The real volume in loving the wrong ones will only be heard when you eventually find the right.

Sun up! It’s TheFifteenthSunrise. Be unprepared for anything.

Picture courtesy of Dave Luis.

#WritingStoriesDifferently

 

© Dylan Balkind

 

 

An open boy letter to boy Australian Prime Minister man

Tony

One offers one’s sympathy.

No idea about the winters but – by God – you must have schvitzed like a mo-fo through those long summers in that barn you were raised in.

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No Gender December

The Greens senator Larissa Waters has launched an awareness campaign called No Gender December about the consequences of gender stereotypes (via toys) in the lead-up to Christmas.

Monsieur Abbot said: “I certainly don’t believe in that kind of political correctness. Let boys be boys, let girls be girls – that’s always been my philosophy.” He then took his eye of his joey long enough to further stump, and added: “You wonder why the Parliament is difficult when you have people like that with the balance of power in the Senate.”

Listen sausage, if you wanna know what a difficult Parliament looks like, have a squiz at this:

Me thinks Tony is just upset because Waters is really just proposing that people think for themselves which, if you know Australia or any Australians, is not something they can genuinely list as a strength. It is the ultimate nanny society; a setup that guarantees an eventual, completely brain-dead population who have had everything done for them – including their every decision, some made by the likes of this charmer: Tony Abbot.

#winning

Stupidity is its own punishment. You will inevitably come back around on that track you laid and sooner or later have to swallow what you spewed. It is the very realising of your own stupidity that results in – whether coward or cunning – a deft swapping of sides.

This is why Julius Malema is no longer shower-head‘s yapdog.

At University, this Abbot bloke studied Philosophy (among other subjects) and was awarded two Blues for his achievements as a heavyweight boxer. As a vocal student opposing the then dominant left wing student-leadership, he was once beaten up at a campus rally.

Right.

So, attended classes? Yes. Learned anything? No.

He is:

  • not a very good philosopher
  • not a very good boxer

#shame (#bless if you are non-Saffa)

As a butch, hunter-gatherer, God-fearing, hot-blooded male, I want to stand up, look Abbot in the eye with hand on my scarlet-sequinned heart and say I may have, just that one time, played with a My Little Pony toy. And as you can see… there’s zippo wrong with moi.

So to you and your theory uncle Ton’s, I say:

You are a stupid.

Thanks.

PS: Stagnation is, like, sooooooo 80s mate.

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“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life.
The only completely consistent people are the dead.”
― Aldous Huxley

 © Dylan Balkind

39 million

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39 million people are gone.

Because of a virus our divisions have allowed to ascend.

If the Holy Bible is to be believed and 2014 is the number of AD years we’ve existed, we’ve had plenty more than that to learn just one thing: united we stand, divided we fall.

Through thickness and thin.

In sickness, and in health…

But we haven’t united, have we?

Holy Bible – or bland book of bullshit –  either way: we divide habitually and without fail.

We ridicule. We shun. We spit at. We turn our backs on… to the point that, that which takes aim to divide us – can win.

Like HIV.

So I wondered… what words this combative cultivator of cunctation would say if it could… It’s our selfish spite and stupidity that gives ‘it’ such a convincing case.

I am where fear is trumped in the search from love’s lost
I am where mortal humiliates the humiliated-already – them men who look like ghosts
There you go like ants before the queen, ordered to safeguard secrets…
– all your advances are flushed as expendable by your gathering greed’s digress

How there goes your distance with untouching, formidable feast?
Something your rioting righteousness won’t see as Mark of the Beast
You did it. You do it. You are it – at best
But blindly convinced of your stay deserving on God’s floating nest

You handwrote my invite and put me on your VIP list
Now that door is one you can’t close for that never-would-leave guest
I’ll wither. I’ll weaken. I’ve galloped in here on Trojan Horse
To humiliate the humiliated-already, them women who look like ghosts

Pharmaceutical. Untactical. Expendable. Digressed.
Incubated by fear within islands between love’s lost
It always was, has … and always will be –
Those you call rebels who teach posthumously

Your Bible brought stories from around campfires at day’s rest
All you had to was listen to pass the soul’s Truth-North test
Compassion by connection is all you have left
But you’ve shunned it to gun it and bowed deep in greed’s feast

I’ve withered. I’ve weakened. Arrived welcome on Trojan Horse
I am the fears you discarded – I am the Mark of the Beast
Not something physical nor mineral that you can touch
But because you turned on each other, denying love from love’s lost…

Helen of Troy – I am not female nor boy
My gender grotesques through my dodging and ploy
I sirened as I weakened and withered your rebel-best
So cowards be left to live with me, I am Mark of the Beast 

It always was, has and always will be –
Those you call rebels who teach posthumously
You say idols are bad, goats interrupt goading piously
Your gadgets are 666 that underpin your Boxsciety

I’ve felt my backbone bend before I mix and contort
I’m running out of islands as you defend last resort
I too searched the darkness for compassionate companion
I found none in your nest, so here I am: your Armageddon

Your cavalier disconnection from your neighbours in the nest
Is what your mirrors – though full – have failed to reflect
I sirened as I weakened and withered your rebel-best
So cowards be left to live with me, I am Mark of the Beast

So cowards be left to live with me, I am Mark of the Beast

 

#WritingStoriesDifferently

 

© Dylan Balkind

REASON\ADINE

I am the giddy aphonic, un-cool catatonic, rubbernecked note-taker of this trip, propelled by the generous honesty of these raw-tellings from a heart that can roar because of how it was ravaged… My arrival as a writer – from 1995 and to date – is care of one storyteller, like none I have known or found anywhere … or in anything else…

Here, with trembling trust, the third in the Alanis trilogy for
#WritingStoriesDifferently

Passion really is the outcome of both joy and pain.

Thank U

© Dylan Balkind

REIGN\ADINE

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While I thought I had this military-mapped in my mind (currently being driven mad by the blunderous bandwidth), I receive a note from ‘my’ Nundi. She’s invited me to open something* I’ve never seen before, and when I do — Kismet! The first two words I see there are tantamount to what I was hoping to tangible (tangiDyl?) here…

JUST LOVE 

Ecstacy is your birthright.

You do not have to earn your freedom.

Our history’s done its best to show us otherwise though… hasn’t it?

Ergo ~ ‘can blindly continued fear-induced regurtitated life-denying tradition be overcome?’

Intimately? Internationally?

To be okay with someone’s passive when I am aggressive ┉

To believe in the beauty of how it just is ┉

I

We

Us

Here

It’s hard though.

It’s hard work.

It’s heavy work.

The point — I think — is that there is no fail.

There is only the moment and then the moment is gone.

And that whatever we did or felt or said there — has its place in the boundlessness of (our) beauty — whether benevolent or beneath…

Before we break it down ┉

Before we beat our brows ┉

Before we bend ┉

Before we bulwark ┉

Before all this — we are just effortlessly cool.

Where confidence holds the door open for arrogance and ignorance…

And when, if we can’t be that then, it’s still a perfect day… and the superlative supreme never need be under rug swept.

Any of it.

There’s courage in finding yours. Fuck! There’s courage in just thinking about wanting to.

And — as this pretty smart guy I know once said: courage like that is catching.

Another pretty smart guy is Carlos Ruiz Zafón. He said: “Time goes faster the more hollow it is. Lives with no meaning go straight past you, like trains that don’t stop at your station.”

That’s effortlessly cool, don’t you think?

Because:

“If a train doesn’t stop at your station… then it’s not your train.”
— Marianne Williamson.

Here’s the second in the Alanis trilogy for 
#WritingStoriesDifferently

Thank you to the effortlessly cool Catherine — my kinsperson.

Your creative-kindness is soul food.

I salute you for your house you’ve fully decorated in that sense.

 

© Dylan Balkind

www.daniellelaporte.com

DIVIN\ADINE

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On June 13, 1995, a then globally-unknown Alanis Nadine Morissette released her first international album: Jagged Little Pill. Its raw reverberations reflected in the record 33 million copies it sold. One of 33 million made its way into our home – purchased by my sister in the very spirit of divine sisterhood-defiance that drove the album’s success.

I was in Standard 9 that year. Seventeen. Closeted and conservative as far as matters of the heart went, so that jaded lover that was jaundiced by the jilt of some joker who decided to do ‘better’ elsewhere, wasn’t something I knew about, personally. My experience of this came from watching my sister belt the crops of this woman’s burnt and broken.

Its airplay lived long (unlike the churning of music’s ornaments today). Even 13 months later and in the July of 1996 – when my German exchange student joined our choir – we sang Ironic a million times to Ballito and back in my sister’s green Citi Golf. Even though our knitting only happened a little later, my amplification by way of hers couldn’t be clearer (to me).

Post Jagged Little Pill’s deathless days – and amidst a planned hiatus – Alanis saw the rough-cut to City of Angels. Virtuoso vocalised, the unplanned Uninvited was born and arrested her audience/s once more – myself the most! – or so it always seems when you’re inside of intimations by artists who share that which fuels our “…ohmygawdthatisexactlyhowIfeel…” stories.

Quite simply, it stoked the starving for Jagged’s follow up – a famish which was finally fed in November 1998 when Alanis dropped Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.

I remember lying on my bed and pouring over each page of its CD-booklet. Right out of the gates, Front Row floored me. Layered lyrics that sung two stories simultaneously. The wakening of those words woke something in me: I’ve always maintained that Alanis taught me to write. Other people tell me I always could and my connecting with hers simply helped.

Nudge or nucleus, how she wrote her voice fuelled me finding mine.

On the last four days of December 1999 – just before calculators, world computers and every/anything run by a date were supposed to implode – our extended family ‘roughed-it’ and rowed eight rafts down the Orange River in Namibia. One afternoon – I’m not sure which – and in the respite between rapids, I lay buoyant on my back as the water I floated in slowed to almost still. Out of the corners of my eyes, banks broke the river’s edge before climbing into the cliffs that considered us as we floated by. The voices of the other 15 subsided and the closing lines to No Pressure Over Cappuccino sirened through my head… over… and over… and over again.

God bless you in your travels… in your conquests and queries…

Be who you are – at any every cost.

Something about the combination of that message, its meaning, my place on the planet in that moment and its imminence to some sort of (hyped) historical magnitude… It was the closest to peace I have ever been.

I cannot forget that.

Quite something then to learn that ‘Alanis’ means precious awakening.

She is mine.

My lightning in a bottle.

My spirit animal.

The rarity of the thread she’s sewn between few others and myself is as special as it is sparse.

Not to everyone’s palate… but one that pulled Catherine Jenkin and I together; one of four willful women I contemplate consistently in the Alanis context. Pam Doyle Pillay, Kerry Ellis-Williams and Gillian Read are the other three.

After the other #WritingStoriesDifferently mixes I’ve made, Cat requested I do an Alanis one…

Thank you for launching an absolute labour of love!

Ergo, it is as unfinished as one should be, right?

Not to everyone’s palate.

But, if it is to yours too, then here ~ feast on this:

© Dylan Balkind

MTN: Smugly shirking service

Day12You’ve heard this story before… because this is the world we live in.

Monopolised. By mongrels.

However – and the irony is – that which sustains this system is us. The money earners, money spenders, account payers… Sadly though, when that which we are paying for is derailed, our querying and solution-seeking reveals the starkly substandard, defective and senseless approach that brand custodians employ in order not to do their jobs. On a good day and with sense of humour in tact (now absent altogether), I view my musings with MTN like a badly-produced soap opera – albeit far more painful and without the excessive sex. On a bad day, seeking resolution from MTN feels like it would if you were drowning… and someone handed you a baby.

MTN Drowning

Just like any good soap opera, this crisis has more than one storyline running concurrently: Incompetence renders new iPad inept and The Vacuous Value of having MTN handset insurance.

The Vacuous Value of having MTN handset insurance

Monday, 6 October

My iPhone 5S was damaged in an unfortunate car-swapping driveway accident that left it looking like this:

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I went to the MTN Service Centre in Morningside, Johannesburg to proceed with the claim, where I was advised that it would be better to call 083 123 6084. That they would come and collect the phone from me in order to process the claim and issue me with a loan-phone in the meantime. Sounds great, right?

Try calling that number. The waiting time is longer than Katherine Kelly Lang has been Brooke on The Bold and the Beautiful. Hint: it’s a really long time. She still holds the role she first kicked-off in 1987.

brooke-logan-beautiful

Without a cellphone, I decided it would be a good time to get a new iPad on a 3G contract – so as to stay in contact that way and then have that too once my phone was up and running. Now pay attention, because here’s where the Incompetence renders new iPad inept storyline kicks off – and the two run concurrently.

Sunday, 12 October

Upon completing and submitting my ID that was copied and attached to the application1 – and successful vetting of my details – I was handed a new iPad with a credit card-sized SIM holder and shuffled on my way (it was the weekend and the store was closing). At home, I realised I had been issued the incorrect sized SIM for the iPad… so I would have to go back and get that sorted…

MTN April 13

I work. So doing that is not as easy as it sounds. It comes down to trying during lunch which, coincidentally, is when everybody else is at the Service Centre too.

Monday, 20 October

I went back to the MTN Service Centre in Morningside to attempt strike 2 at the insurance claim and to table their simple-minded-SIM-issue, with the hopes of getting the correct sized SIM for the iPad applied for and issued. There, I also raised the issue of not being able to get through on083 123 6084 for my insurance claim…  The consultant called into the helpdesk from her MTN-issued phone. We spoke to Patrick Mfelang (Patrick.Mfelang@mtn.co.za) who assured me he would email the insurance claim form to me and we could try that route.

After (re)submitting my ID that was copied and attached to the (re)application2 for the correct SIM (but without any apology for the inconvenience of the incorrect SIM issue, nor the time or petrol used to make them aware of their error), I was issued with the correct-sized SIM card for the iPad issued.

Back at the office, I had in fact received Patrick’s email; completed, submitted and received a response apologising for the potential delay, and that I would be contacted within 5 days.

5 days

Monday, 27 October

In the coming days, it was clear that no data was available (on the iPad), even with the second SIM issued. The MTN-SA icon appears in the top left corner, but without a signal and no internet connection available. Based on an application process that was “approved” on Sunday, 12 October – but one that had resulted in a 0% success rate and therefore no usage of said device – it was brutally clear that the employees appointed by MTN who work at the MTN Service Centre in Morningside are uninterested in / incapable of performing their roles.

So I tried the Social Media route:

SM post 1

And… with no Yello from the insurance department, I sent this email, to the insurance queries email address:

27 Insurance Qry

Responses: 0 

MTN April 14

Tuesday, 28 October

With still not a Yello from the insurance department… I sent this email, to the insurance queries email address:

28th Follow-up
Responses: 0 

Wednesday, 29 October 

I try social media once again, regarding my handset insurance claim: SM post 2 - 29 Oct

I also reply directly via my inbox message, hoping to have some luck that way: 29th Follow-up Both

After much, painful answer-seeking, I was told that my contract was on hold for a RICA issue: they needed a copy of my ID to effect the final approval… My ID (yes, still the same one) that they had taken, copied and submitted twice so far.

Further to furnishing the required details for the iPad SIM activation, and only to compound the issues at hand because I am obviously a) nuts, and b) a complete sucker for punishment, I further requested that my iPad contract be credited for the pro-rata charges from Sunday 12 October to when it would come online – for obvious reasons.

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Responses regarding that query? Take a wild guess.

Thursday, 30 October 

Hallelujah Houston! We have a Yello! The iPad situation was resolved – a mere 19 days after the application process began – and thus concludes our Incompetence renders new iPad inept storyline.

30th iPad SIM resolution

Traction seemed infectious. On that same day, I received this (well written) communication from the insurance department:

30th email from insurance about call
I replied, just to confirm (further to a note on the actual claim form and through correspondence on Facebook) where they should reach me:
30th reply with landline number

Sadly… that traction was short-lived.

No response regarding the credit note, and no call regarding my insurance claim have yet been received.

But… then this………

*drumroll*

Saturday, 1 November

I received this message (via Facebook) from Devan regarding my insurance claim:

Phone off

I’m not quite sure what else to say or do at this point. I’ve provided my work number to them three times, knowing full well that they wouldn’t be able to reach me on my cellphone…

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Thanks to the inefficiency of people who don’t (have to) think further than what they’ll do with their hair on the weekend or how what they do in a role that pays them a salary, affects the men and women whose custom keeps them there, I am now literally at the end of my rapidly frayed rope.

Jules

Ergo, I am smart. I am a writer. And creating work that builds brands is my playground.

So here we go… Today, this blog goes out and its link gets sent to one Paul Norman (to name but a few), Chief Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Officer at MTN.

Let’s see, shall we?

MTN Speechless

Stay tuned for more from this beguiling albeit completely pointless soap opera. Pointless because if consultant #1 had done what they were supposed to do… we would not be here.

1 First time ID was successfully received by MTN
2 Second time ID was successfully received by MTN

© Dylan Balkind

Seven Billion Stars

Charles Bukowski said that, if something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it is your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Funny, because that’s really how things go!

Then, from your ashes – and after the wound-licking that we love to do – we rise and ready ourselves to have our passion and purpose burned all over again.

This periodicity is how passion ebbs and flows.

Our endless rhythm’ing as we Phoenix from the Ashes.

And from each hell that we rise from, we say: “Hello world. It’s nice to meet you!”

Music mixed by me, for me – and you :)

#WritingStoriesDifferently

Atman | Woodkid | Madonna | the Moon landing | Lykke Li | John Williams | Charlie Chaplin | Thomas Newman | Sara Bareilles | The Cardigans | Ewan Mc Gregor | Nicole Kidman | Lighthouse Family | Ellen | Colin Farrell | Foxes | Aloe Blacc | One Republic | Oprah | Paulo Coehlo | India Arie

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Let the Light in

#BendItLikeBukowski

We get hurt. We hurt ourselves. We hurt when we realise we’ve hurt someone else. Life just fuckin’ hurts sometimes… But it’s also pretty and happy, and hella good sometimes.

Here’s the thing: if some thing or someone makes you sad – be sad. But don’t get stuck there. Learn to domesticate your darkness because of how much you love your Light.

Remember that it is still there.

Remember that you can know it again.

And you should know it again because – and this I promise you – You are beautiful!

 

 #WritingStoriesDifferently

© Dylan Balkind