There’s going to be a Virgin Active Collection opening soon in Cape Town. If you are not familiar with it – it is the premier range of Virgin Active health clubs. With fees of R1,900 a month, it is bound to bring all sorts of luxury you won’t find anywhere else. Because this club is literally next to my office, I decided to sign up… and I am convinced I will find my future hubby there. Just think, anyone willing to fork out almost R2k a month on a gym membership is bound to be somewhat affluent (considering the normal price for a standard Virgin Active is less than R500). Plus, if he is spending time at gym, he’s probably fit and healthy. I figured my upfront investment would be worth the long term returns.
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It’s rather apt that this booked arrived at the start of suicide week in the U.S. as that’s the over arching theme of the novel. A theme that was captured so beautifully and tragically by Jennifer Niven. I’ve struggled for a long time to find a good, sit-for-hours-and-not-leave-my-bed kind of book and I’m glad I found this one.
All the Bright Places is about two teens brought together by fate. They met on the ledge six stories above the ground at the Bell Tower in their high school on a rainy day… I think that is a rather beautiful encounter.
A lot of people dislike the book because they say it is too similar to The Fault in Our Stars. But, I don’t think it has to be an original story to be an enthralling read. Perhaps if I’d read The Fault in Our Stars, I would be less excited about All the Bright Places, but in a way it was nice to read something without comparing it to another. I can appreciate its merit on its own.
What I love about this book is the simplicity. Nothing irks me more than a novel with 15 different story arcs and I end up so confused at the end that I don’t quite know what’s plotting and I spend more energy figuring out who’s who than immersing myself in the characters.
Finch and Violet are both easy to relate. I think that is possibly the key to a good novel. If it can get the readers to imagine themselves in the shoes of the characters, then it’s got the right hook. They’re quirky but they seem real enough that makes you think the quirkiness isn’t just something drawn upon by the author to differentiate her protagonists from the rest. They are emotional, powerful, raw.
Before I die I want to know a perfect day.
Niven really captured the struggle of a boy on the brink of losing hope. He was fascinated by death in his every waking moment. As for Violet, she was battling to reconcile with the death of her sister and couldn’t find meaning in her own life. The two of them made a wonderful complement. The story unfolded in many little ordinary events that built up to a crescendo. The ending was one of the most heart breaking moments in all of the literature I’ve read.
Today is officially the last day of my probation period. I can’t believe I’ve been at this amazing company for 6 months already! I still remember the anxiety of my first day where I knew almost nothing about asset management. During this last 6 months, I’ve worked with brilliant minds and patient souls who’ve put up with my stupid questions and silly mistakes. Every day I walk into the building and I am eternally grateful for being given this opportunity.
I already know I can be at this company for the rest of my working life. They truly value the well-being of their employees. I have worked for and at big corporates before and none of them come close to having the offerings my company has:
- Free lunch
- Free gym with personal trainer
- Subsidized breakfasts / coffees
- Really good remuneration and bonus package
- Large pool of intellectual talent (i.e. really smart people)
- Snooze rooms (!!!)
- Massage services
- Dry cleaning services
More importantly, I love that my company tries the utmost to do what is right. For their clients and for everyone else.
For the first time since I started working, I can confidently say I have a good work life balance. My stress levels are fairly low, and I’m able to sleep again! I’ve also made some incredible friends along the way.
This job is a dream and I’m gloriously living it.
Just over a month ago, my best friend broke off our friendship of 6 years. It was around the same time Barry and I started falling apart. As you can imagine, it was a tumultuous period – losing my best friend and my boyfriend at the same time was pretty shit. Now that some time has passed, I am starting to realise that perhaps it was for the better.
The last message Lauren sent me was this:
You’re probably thinking what could have prompted such a reaction? It must’ve been something serious? Here’s the thing: I didn’t think the friendship breaking event was a big deal.
It all started with certain members of our friendship group not pulling their weight in terms of contributions. When Lauren hosted pre-drinks at her flat, they would show up empty handed. When we organised dinners, they would never bother to phone the restaurant to make the booking. When we went to places, they hardly ever offered to drive. As such, Lauren thought they weren’t good friends and needed to be called out for being free-loaders.
I, on the other hand, didn’t think the free-loading was such a big deal. Certainly not something I would break years of friendships over. Friendship should never be a tit-for-tat kind of thing, and we certainly should not be keeping a log book of everything everyone’s done so that we can do a side by side comparison at the end of the year to see who’s contributed the least.
I thought it was rather insulting of her to say I only have 2 good friends. Lauren and I use different metrics to measure friendship. She places value on tangible things whereas I place more value on the intangibles, such as: good conversation, entertainment and the general ability to get along. To me, those things are far more important than a few packets of chips, bottles of wine or tanks of petrol.
Lauren is extremely hard headed and once her mind is made up about something, it’s impossible to change it. In a way, I am also very stubborn. I didn’t see why I needed to choose a side on an issue that had nothing to do with me. And so, Lauren couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be on her side. That was what ultimately broke our friendship.
My life hasn’t changed too much since the break up. I am still enjoying my time and spending them with my friends. I realise now I have much more in common with these bunch of people than Lauren. I don’t have to worry about choosing a restaurant that’s vegetarian friendly, gluten free and lactose free. I don’t have to worry about people fading early because they can’t drink or they have a headache, or some other excuse.
Yes, I lost a dear friend. But life goes on. I am making new ones and creating new memories that are just as good. I am making space for better things to fall into place and I am perfectly okay with that.
You know how in My Best Friend’s Girl, Dustin asks his friend Tank to go on a date with his crush and be an absolute dick so that she realises what a nice guy Dustin is? Well, I feel like I’d just been on a date with Tank (a far less attractive version of Tank). Okay, so there was no gangster music or a stripper pole but sentiment was the same: that of the worst date ever.
I used to think I’m a pretty good judge of character… well, after tonight, that thought got extinguished pretty quickly. To be fair, he wasn’t a dick at all. He was quite nice but just… weird.
When he got up to greet me, I thought he was about to fall over. He was just that wimpy. It was like his body was a giant liquourice stick, floppy and spineless. Just as I got over the initial shock, I was met by another. The way he spoke was too slow and deliberate, it was like talking to a serial killer who was about to prep his prey. Within the first 2 minutes of getting there, I’d already wanted to leave.
We spoke about the usual things people speak about when they’re trying to get to know someone. At this point I found out he:
1. Lives at home
2. Doesn’t have a degree
3. Doesn’t really party, and when he does, it’s in the Northern Suburbs
4. Works as an account assistant for a tax consultant
He sort of berated me for not remembering his profession. To be fair, he said something along the lines of “I am in finance, just like you”. Okay, firstly, I’m a CA working at a top asset management company. I don’t think his career is anywhere like mine. But I digress.
The food came and I did a little celebratory dance as it meant there was something to distract me from him and that the time to leave was drawing closer. I finished my sole in record time and patiently waited. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and made a quick excuse to go to the ladies. While downstairs, I flagged down the waitress in a state of panic and desperation. “Please! Just bring the bill. The date is going horribly.”
The waitress was top notch and brought the bill ASAP (thank the pope). He didn’t offer to pay which was expected. He actually studied bill for quite some time and with a lot of intensity. Not sure why, there were literally four things on the slip… Eventually I got tired of waiting and took the slip from him, at which point he made some remark and I couldn’t remember what he said but I got the impression that he thought I was not doing a good job of adding up the bill. Seriously?
I literally could not make my getaway any faster. I felt so relieved when I walked out of that restaurant. He mentioned something about seeing me again and in my head I was just thinking, oh hell no.