Log #007

Dear reader.

I am not an actual insomniac. A bit of a plot twist, ain’t it? Well, maybe not if you’re one of the three people who only knows me from this mostly inactive blog alone but if you’ve heard me rant on Instagram or Facebook before about never being able to sleep, this may come as news to you. I haven’t been diagnosed with insomnia at any point in my life but I did almost certainly have a case of sleep deprivation as many nights in 2017 would pass where I would never get more than two hours of sleep for whatever reason. But as of recently, I’ve found that not only have I been relatively well rested but that I might even be getting too much rest… let me explain.

On the 25th of May, 2017, there was an attempted break in at my place. It was just one guy, a tall man dressed in black, who tried to get in through my bedroom, the only bedroom downstairs in the house. I woke to the sound of him trying to pick the lock, saw and understood the severity of the situation, triggered the alarm from inside and watched as he went running. There was a temporary panic in the house as my dad was out of town and no one knew exactly if the man had left or if he was still somewhere in the yard but eventually the security company arrived and confirmed that we were safe. Naturally, we fortified the house to ensure no further break in attempts would occur. That would have been that, problem solved, but I found that for many days after I was unable to sleep. Here’s the thing; I have what I like to call ‘situational paranoia’ meaning at random times, I can feel as though anything can go wrong at any moment. It also plays in with my irrational fear of death and how sometimes I may be too afraid to cross the street as I don’t trust drivers on the road, even if the lanes are clear. The paranoia came into play at night now as I felt the need to stay awake and keep my eyes on the curtains to see if I noticed the silhouette of another potential burglar so I could react in time instead of being caught unaware and murdered in my sleep. During the day, I would be aware of how irrational it was but at night, it made perfect sense.

Even after the paranoia died down several months later, the inability to sleep persisted. It was one thing to be kept up because I was afraid that every creaking sound was the devil himself trying to end my life but it got to the point where it would be 10:30 at night, I’d fall asleep, randomly wake up at 1am, and, for the life of me, could never fall back asleep. You’d think it would be worse on school nights where I needed to be well rested to get through the day but being half asleep at school was never something I cared too much about. It was the weekends, my time for writing and being productive, when I really suffered. From midnight to 5am, I would be wide awake and then all of a sudden, just as the sun would begin to rise, I’d fall unconscious and sleep until 10, completely chowing into my daily schedule. For most of 2017, my body clock was a mess, coffee was more common in me than blood, and my nights were spent sitting awake looking at my phone as I would be too tired to work but not tired enough to sleep.

But that was only in 2017. Around the time when final exams finished and I was finally free of high-school, I started sleeping through the nights again and waking up at 7:30 like a normal human being. I theorized that maybe all the sleep deprivation came a subconscious attempt to deal with my conscious ignoring of homework assignments, a feeling similar to stress but not nearly as stressful. It was my mind telling my body, “Listen, I’ve bought you time to finish those assignments,” and my body responding with, “Mind, I chose not to do those sodding assignments for a reason. Just let me be!” I still don’t know if my theory is true or not as, once again, I haven’t done enough research on my condition to know how it works but it quickly began to escalate beyond what I thought it was. Soon it didn’t feel like the stress was over and so I was getting the right amount of sleep again. It began to feel as though my body was making up for all the sleep that it lost in past.

I’ve started sleeping in until 9am! And I’m still only falling asleep at maybe 10 or 11 o’clock at night. I mean I wanted to get a decent amount of sleep but I always thought seven should be my maximum and five my minimum. Now I’m even starting to make it to ten hours of sleep plus a bonus hour of just sitting in bed at the beginning of the day. For some people, this is normal… in fact, I’m sure this is normal for most people on vacation. But for me, this is outright sinful! I’m a busy man ((not really))! I don’t have time to waste being unconscious. I should be awake, writing books, designing campaigns, consuming media, and doing all sorts of semi-important stuff. There was a point in my life (2015 and 2016) when my body clock was superb. I’d sleep from 11pm to 5am consistently, waking up naturally in the early morning each day. It was great in the colder seasons as I could watch the sun rise from my desk by the window as I sipped my morning cappuccino and started to work on whatever it was I was working on. Now instead of sleeping only six hours, I’m unconscious for ten and still feeling exhausted when I wake up. I think I might even prefer my insomnia over this.

There were times when I could power through the night and manage to work on assignments or scripts or little essays I wrote for myself during my insomniac days and those nights always felt like they were better spent that ones where I’d simply get well rested. Obviously, it wasn’t healthy but I’m not here to care about my health. I’m here to be productive! This likely relates once again to my fear of death. Sometimes I feel like I have so little time to be alive that I need to make optimal use of the days I have. Thus, spending more than a quarter of my day sleeping always feels like an absolute waste of my time. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to sleep. I’ve never been the type of person to romanticize falling asleep like my peers or to love my bed more than I care for its function. Sleep, in my opinion, is an inconvenience. It breaks a streak, takes away from the time I could be spending living, and ultimately feels like it achieves nothing…

Yes, I know I should be glad that I’m finally getting some sleep for a change but there’s something sad about waking up and seeing the sun already risen and hearing everyone in the house already up and moving. It’s like I’m late to the new day and I prefer to be the first to arrive. I miss the days when I couldn’t sleep. Despite the dependency I had developed on coffee and how it stemmed primarily from a fear of home invasion, it was preferable. At least I could watch the sunrise every morning… IDK, maybe I’m just being dumb.

Sincerely,
Andile Joshua

Advertisements

Log #006

New Year’s Challenges

Okay, so I know I haven’t really updated this blog in a couple hundred years – thus fulfilling the prophecy I wrote of in my first log of how I’d likely forget about the site later – but I’m thinking about getting back into this. I got the inspiration after seeing someone else I knew from back in the day, someone who I didn’t even know had a passion for writing, had a blog of their own with months’ worth of updates all over it. I thought to myself then, Andile, if [insert name here] can do it, so can you! You keep telling people that you spend your free time writing but you never post anything. Let this be your outlet to share your thoughts, your daily happenings, your ideas, and the insignificant things that other people put on their blogs. And so here I am again.

Today is New Year’s Day. I’ve never been much of a guy for New Year’s Resolutions as you can see well enough from what I wrote way back at the beginning of 2015 and 2017.

2015
https://www.instagram.com/p/xTYt4pjk7_/?hl=en&taken-by=andile_joshua
2017
https://www.instagram.com/p/BOqwyekgS8H/?hl=en&taken-by=andile_joshua

But those past years were in my Andile 2.0 phase – alternatively known as ‘The Philosopher’ as was written on my matric jacket – and with my recent epiphany from about two months ago wherein I decided to sacrifice my objective, cold, and ‘raw logic’ form for a more subject, artistic, and ‘all around more tolerable person’ form I feel the need to make more of an effort to write more, socialise more, and become what I like to call Andile 3.0. Yet I still refuse to call these things ‘resolutions’ per say and would rather call them… challenges. Yeah, that’d be suitable. So here are my new daily challenges for the new year.

1: TRY TO MAKE AT LEAST THREE PEOPLE LAUGH EACH DAY

In the absence of penicillin, laughter is the best medicine. Get people addicted to it. Not for them. You’re too selfish for that. Do it for yourself. The only feeling better than laughing is the feeling you get when you’re the one who made other people laugh. Not laughs of courtesy either. I’m talking OG prime-cut ‘face-looking-like-an-emoji’ type laughter, capiche?

2: GET INTO THE HABIT OF DAILY WRITING

I would put a minimum requirement onto it like two pages of verdana 10 per day (I freakin’ love that font) but let’s be honest, Andile, you’d find a way to mess that up. So just be sure to write something. Anything. And try to have it done every day. You plan to make a career out of this skill and all artists need to practice their craft. I don’t care if it’s your journal, your blog, or one of the millions of books you never get around to finishing. Bleed ink.

3: READ EVERY DAY

Okay, Andile, I can already see you’re going to give up on this one before the end of January so we’ll have to spice it up to make reading more interesting for you. First, always read loud. You like the sound of your own voice so it’ll help. Second, try different accents for different characters in dialogue. It’ll keep you mildly entertained. Finally, find someone you can read to. Befriend a bookworm or read to Caleb until he gets annoyed. Doesn’t matter who. Just find someone.

4: DEVELOP A SOCIAL LIFE

You’ve actually already gotten started on this one. Good job, Andile. Now we have to take it to the next level. I’m talking one hang out session every two weeks. I know, hectic right? Don’t worry, we’ll build up to it. Your high-school peeps are scattered now so you’ll have to make new friends. Preferably nerdy ones who like talking for hours about fictional media and playing D&D. Also, try learning how to have non-controversial conversations.

5: MAKE OPTIMAL USE OF YOUR TIME

You tried to make a consistent daily schedule in 2015. Look how well that turned out. Instead of assigning certain times in the day to do certain things, just tell yourself that by the end of the day you should have had certain things done like: 1 hour of writing, 1 hour of reading, 1 hour of practicing one of those skills you never take seriously like playing the piano or drawing, and 1 hour of doing some daoist stuff like tai chi or levitating or something. These are just examples but the idea is that you don’t waste each day when you’re not working just walking around aimlessly in the backyard, thinking up stories but never writing them down.

In truth, New Year’s Day is just another arbitrary day that simply marks the next page on a calendar. These challenges are things I’ve been trying to do for the past couple of weeks already and this new digit added to the end of the year isn’t going to change anything or magically make me a better person. I guess that’s the problem I’ve always had with the whole #NewYearNewMe. There isn’t a moment when you change and become better (or worse for some). It’s a gradual progression. Hopefully these challenges will help me gradually progress to become the fully made Andile 3.0 and hopefully your resolutions will do the same for you, reader. Happy New Year.

 

But before I leave, I want to just drop one more past post of mine from just after New Year’s Day last year that I still think is relevant for everyone to consider today.

Log #005

Dear Reader

It is no secret that the life of a freelancer has always been one idealised in my mind. Writing is the one thing I claim to be talented at and one of the few things I’m willing to make a career out of after all. Couple that with my refusal to work for anyone but myself and my somewhat hipster-ish lifestyle and it is easy to see how freelancing writing is more my style than most careers. I’ve had the perfect image of what I deem to be ‘the life’ in my head: a small apartment in the city not too far off from a cozy coffee shop where I have my regulars each morning, a park for me to chill in during the afternoons, and naught else to do in the day but either completing my own personal projects (novels I’d like to publish or scripts I’d like to translate to film) or handling tasks assigned to me by temporary clients. It is a beautiful life… god only knows if it’s sustainable or not.

Being 18, I now have to deal with the fact that next year I’ll be in university and won’t be as reliant on my parents as I am now. Money will be an issue as everyone keeps reminding me. If I do find myself living on my own anytime soon, that rent won’t pay itself, nor will the internet connection and of course, something I often forget about, there’ll be the daily challenge of finding something to eat. Money is always something people want to ask me about when I tell them I’m applying for a Bachelor of Arts. All of a sudden everyone’s like, “Well, I guess he’s going to be a barista for the rest of his life,” and “We won’t be seeing him at the ten-year reunion.” Parents, teachers, and peers alike always have something to say about the dangers of the life I want to pursue because of financial sustainability and I’m always there thinking, “If journalism, media curation, freelance writing, and film are such dangerous mediums to be in, why is the industry as successful as it is?”

It’s more than just the lifestyle of a writer that I’m aiming for. I have always been a storyteller and since I was 15, I’ve been a fan of intellectualism and spreading information as well. As I deem it, my role in this world is to entertain and to inform, yet everywhere I turn I meet people telling me that there are more stable careers to go for. Everyone in my fancy private school is interested in law, medicine, engineering, and starting their own businesses, things that if parents heard one was interested in, they’d probably celebrate knowing that their child has a financially stable future. But that life ain’t for me. I’m a storyteller, educator, writer, director, creator, artist, and philosopher all rolled into one human being. And whether or not people find these careers to be fitting for a private school student like myself should not matter to me… at least that’s what I tell myself, anyways.
That’s enough about my tomorrow for today, I think.

Yours Truly,
Andile Joshua

Take The Night Off

Conversations with myself

AJ:  Andile, why are you still awake?

AG:  Well other Andile, I was just thinking about whether race will always play a fundamental role in South African crises and social issues…

AJ:  Dude, we said we’d fall asleep two hours ago. This isn’t the time for politics.

AG:  Yeah, but we’ve been talking about this for so long at school that-

AJ:  Nah man, I’m cutting you off. We need to start regulating the use of our rational mind before we lose it entirely. You haven’t slept properly in three days. Take the night off.

AG:  But I haven’t reached a conclusion yet.

AJ:  No one has, Andile. Think about us for a moment. We can’t continually operate like this. You need to sleep.

AG:  Maybe you’re right, other Andile.

AJ:  Hell yeah, I’m right. I’m the smart one.

AG:  But what will happen when I stop thinking? How will these issues ever be resolved?

AJ:  Dude, the world won’t stop turning because you took a day off. Just rest for a while, alright?

AG:  Alright. Goodnight, Andile.

AJ:  Stop talking to yourself, Andile.

Debate Club (Part Four)

In regions with widespread violence against women, THIS HOUSE SUPPORTS Acts of Vigilante Justice in Response to Gendered Assaults. At first, when the team heard this topic we were feeling rather good about ourselves. I had debated something similar before. The topic was ‘This House Would Arrest Batman’ and I was on proposition, meaning I just had to drop a bunch of Joker quotes and refer to how the GCPD felt about him back in Year One. But the debate became a problematic one during prep time as soon as it came to that opening line, ‘In regions with widespread violence against women’.

We were team opposition which meant that we would have to be responding to the definitions of proposition – and unlike previous debates, we couldn’t just assume how they would define the argument. Were these vigilante acts of justice in response to assaults to women exclusively? Were the regions referred to in the topic sentence so broad as to include South Africa? And how would they define vigilante justice? We found out pretty soon that most of our argument would be entirely dependent on what they define everything as. But we couldn’t just sit there wasting time so I thought, why not define the topic for ourselves?

And so we made the focus of our debate explaining the nature of a vigilante (and the harmful effects they have), discussing the nature of the hypothetical society where vigilantes are allowed to seek retributive justice, the undermining of police forces, and other things that fall under these. We were not feeling too confident about this one at all, I’ll admit. We could have used a few more points as what we had by the time we were done was barely enough for two seven minute speeches. I was to be first and fourth speaker so I was quite concerned about how it might turn out. When it came to the actual debate… well, let me say now that I was surprised upon seeing who we were debating against.

I had met them before. In fact, I lie. I hadn’t met them but I had seen them debate before. At the beginning of last year, all the new debating students attended a masterclass where four students from each school squared off against each other on stage in front of students from a ton of different schools. They were gifted speakers – two of them even reminded me of some of the smarter kids back in primary school – and now here they were a year later, debating against the B team. The fact that they were good enough to speak on stage as a demonstration last year and would be debating against a team of people having either their first or second debates made me extremely nervous. Once we actually got started, we were in awe.

Turns out they interpreted the debate completely differently from us! In their definitions, they limited the aforementioned regions specifically to places where the law was not in the favour of women, they defined a vigilante as one of the abused women who was simply taking retribution, and they emphasized that they weren’t condoning killing by law but just supporting aggressive revenge in theory. We had not expected that at all! We were assuming that the vigilante could be absolutely anyone, that the regions could be potentially anywhere where attacks against women were commonplace, and that they were in unconditional support of the idea of a vigilante. After their first speaker spoke, I saw two options: either we change our debate as much as possible – essentially making our seven minute speeches impromptu – or we could disagree with their definitions and stick to the plan. Naturally, we went with the latter and the result was probably the messiest debate I had ever seen.

We were arguing two different topics and both claiming that the other had misunderstood the motion. It was absolute calamity. It was difficult going up as fourth speaker to explain why I thought we won. To be honest, I didn’t think we won. I was almost 100% sure we were losing this one at that point but I stuck to the script. But ya know what really sucks? When that mess of a debate was over, they didn’t even tell us who won! “The results will be revealed during the week,” they said and sent us out waiting to hear that we had lost.

Now I liked those first two debates but that last one left me feeling bleak. They were an unstoppable force and we were doing whatever we could to be an immovable object. Meanwhile the A team was busy raking in trophies, medals, and other such accolades. I found it interesting how the first debate was a guaranteed win, the second was an ambiguous loss, and the final was a definite fail. I guess it’s better than having it the other way around – that first win did lift our spirits after all. But at the end of the day, we were pretty sure we lost two of our three debates.

Still, I didn’t let that last confusingly argued debate ruin my day. I actually did quite enjoy debating three times in a row with the rest of my team. It actually is nice to step up in front of a crowd (cough, two other people, cough) and share my political opinions (cough, they weren’t mine, they were just the sides assigned to me, cough). I still did look forward to debating again another day… but not today! Damn, I need to take a breather. Damn near lost my voice doing all that talking.

UPDATE:

Just got the results back and apparently (I actually can’t believe this) we won two of our debates… which only means that this last debate that I was just ranting about was actually a win for us! Maybe team prop did misinterpret the motion… or maybe it’s because we accidentally wrote our names on the wrong column and the adjudicators forgot to correct it, I don’t know. This is cause for celebration! Next round is on me!

Debate Club (Part Three)

THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT the South African Government Should Prohibit the Use of Self-Driving Trucks by Large Companies Operating in South Africa. Upon hearing our second topic, I was immediately glad that we were assigned to opposition. Arguing in favour of safer self-driving cars, the rights of companies in a capitalist economy, and the movement towards technological developments was the easy side from where I stood and so our preparation time was probably going to be more productive here.

I was slightly prepared for these debates beforehand though. In my bag I had packed Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. A few people found this amusing. Here I was in a friendly debating tournament between high schools and preparing for it using a book of Chinese military tactics. Well laugh all you want but that book gave me a genius idea.

LI QUAN: If you have your own arms and take food from the enemy, then even if the campaign takes you far afield you will not lack for anything.
-Sun Tzu (The Art of War)

Way I interpreted it, if we have create our own argument while also feeding off of the enemy’s, then even if our argument fails us there will be enough on which to continue the debate. And so during our silent prep, I assigned one of our non-speakers to only think of arguments for Proposition. Reader, this turned out to be the smartest thing we did all day!

Our argument was fully mapped out and it was an easy game from then on. All we had to do after a while was assign each point to either me (Opp 1) or Opp 2. I had been fourth speaker before so this time, Opp 2 would take the role of fourth – something I was glad to be rid of. We walked into our second debate venue casually feeling somewhat good about our preparation. But that was until team Prop walked in.

One of them in particular, Prop 3, had the look of the world’s most confident speaker to him. One thing our coach wanted us to consider was that the adjudicators love to see a speaker with their own distinct style and with that in mind, I had adopted the style of a casual character with a smooth dialect and pen sitting comfortably in my afro. But Prop 3 had the mannerisms of none other than the Great Gatsby himself. He seemed a class act and spoke with flavour and finesse, even accepting POIs with the words, “Why not?” as compared to the usual, “Accepted.” His confidence was what really shook me.

By the end of the debate, we had a few minutes as the two teams to talk with one another before the adjudicators called us in to give us feedback. Turns out he wasn’t too bad a guy – despite debating against us like he was our worst enemy. But unlike our previous debate where we were confident that we had won, this one was a bit more difficult to deduce. When we were called back in and told that Prop won by the skin of their teeth ((a curious metaphor, I know)) we weren’t terribly upset. It was understandable after hearing our criticisms. Perhaps if I spent less time preparing for their POIs and more on elaborating on our already established points, things might have gone differently.

But now we were in a pivotal position. One debate left and we had won one and lost one. The next would decide if we would go on to the next round. We had discussed this as a group. Opp 2 was keen to go into the next round, as was our Opp 3 of the first debate. Everyone else, including me, just seemed okay with the idea. But I knew that this was bigger than me. If our A team didn’t make it through, we’d need a backup. So we agreed to try our best to win the next one. There were five of us in the B team, four of whom were allowed to debate, yet me and Opp 2 had done both debates before. We were intent on rock-paper-scissorsing to see who would drop out for the next match but when we decided to take the game seriously, we both agreed to stay. The game was on. I will let you know the details in my next entry. Arrivederci.

Debate Club (Part Two)

THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT Cabinet Ministers should be Criminally Prosecuted in their Personal Capacity for Negligence in Their Departments… reader, I had never heard anything so nerve wrecking. We were so used to debate topics with fewer big words that this one sent us into quite the panic (and by us, I may just be referring to myself). But as the leader of the debating B team – a title that isn’t really that significant as it turns out – I could not let my fellow debaters see my weakness. So I took a few breaths and actually looked at the topic for 5 minutes of silent preparation.

Wow, turns out it wasn’t too difficult a topic after all. As the Proposition side of the argument, we were making the case for why the motion should stand and we actually did come up with a lot of useful key points. The problem with the motion was the words ‘Personal Capacity’. What the hell did they mean by that? It seemed like everyone in the group interpreted it in their own way and when it came to writing out the definitions – which is necessary as the Prop side – we would use all our different interpretations interchangeably. We had decided to just go with whatever suits us at the time of the argument itself.

As Prop Speaker 1, I was going to be the first one up in the whole debate. I was nervous because I knew this was only my second debate (and in the case of everyone else on my team, their first) and we were going against more experienced B teams from other schools. But once it came time to speak, my nerves washed away. Quick side note:

Reader, I have this strange trait about myself whereby the nerves I experience before something like a debate or speech or public speaking event or anything along those lines immediately vanishes as I begin to speak. All of a sudden, Andile and his personal insecurities ceases to exist and all that remains is the action being carried out. That is exactly what happened in this debate. I was on a roll.

As I mentioned in the previous entry, I joined debating for the sake of really improving my conversational speaking and I feel as though this first debate was a nice step in that. I was confident, went through all of my points efficiently, handled the POIs and got the debate off to a good start. In fact our entire team seemed to do well in this first round – however I was not prepared to do my reply speech at the end as I had no sodding idea what a reply speaker did and how it was different from the third speaker’s rebuttals and stuff. And at the end of it all, we won! I wasn’t surprised by this and I doubt the rest of the team was – or our opposition. We walked away after receiving our positives and negatives feeling like champs. I must admit reader, that first debate put me in a good mood for the next one and the entire team seemed less like a nervous B team shaking in their boots and more like a semi-confident B team… maybe even more than a B team, A.5 if such a thing exists. I will return with news of the next debate soon enough. Au revoir!