Thursday 20 December 2012

What about them love handles!

As the year draws to a close and end-of-year celebrations draw near, everyone
looks to home, some go home for Christmas, some go home for Hanukkah, others just go home whilst others stick around and watch as the city empties of its occupants.
We indulge in the party season with good mood, love, guilt-free relaxation, encouraged binge-eatingand old jumpers. We think about the lapsing year, of our achievements, mistakes and experiences, look over the new year’s desolutions resolutions we set ourselves at the beginning of the year with great enthusiasm, you probably can’t remember any of them and can’t find your diary either, maybe the dog ate it.

As you see from the illustration above (another one of my creations)they tend to be vague and unquantifiable, they are designed that way by ourselves, we set ourselves vague, unrealistic and usually immeasurable resolutions not because we think so highly of ourselves and our abilities but because, quite the opposite, we think ourselves too small players in the quest of our own goals then we fail because we expected ourselves to.

If you think about it, if you are hungry, you don’t “resolve” to eat dinner, you just find some food and put it in your mouth, the same if you want to lose weight, well you just stop putting so much shit in your mouth. SIMPLES.

We live up, or rather down to our own expectations, through the never ending pool of excuses perpetrated through everything else we strive to achieve in life, such as: I am too busy, too fat, not creative or not smart enough; we simply cannot trust our abilities to achieve through our cynicism.

This is the bit where I show off about how much I know: A 2007 study by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning1

So why set resolutions when you know they go in one Year and out the other?
We humans are such conformists, despite what the economics of gym memberships illustrate, we like to blend into the January-gym-crowd, join the organic-eaters movement and the group of “we like to learn something new this year”, then our cynical side takes over and that short lived enthusiastic wave disintegrates usually around a massive burger and chips, leaving a deflated, discouraged and probably depressed self as we simply give up and dive into a tub of ben&jerry.
As a result, we become guarded and think small, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, we’re used to hearing told you so” and your friend with a smirk would always say “I knew it!!”
Unfortunately, the cynic may come across as cool, analytical and smart in a society where cynicism is encouraged and proclaimed savvy but there’s no inspiration in cynicism and all our resolutions will be buried by February if we don’t drop the cynical act.
If you’re not sure whether you’re a cynic or not, here’s a pointer: on New Year’s Eve, do you stay up until midnight to see the New Year and celebrate it; or to make sure the old one leaves?
The word resolution in itself became a trigger for pessimistic thoughts of failure and stoppage, somaybe if we altered our vocabulary and used goals or targets or something we are used to completing or closing in our day to day life, this will trigger thoughts of self-belief and achievements within us, it reminds us of something done in the past, not the impossible and the unfamiliar (just not losing those 10 pounds then! dammit).

These goals need to be small, measurable and actionable like lose 5 kilos instead of 10, learn one language not 2, remain obnoxious (piece of cake), loud and semi-sociopathic (I am there)learn to play an instrument or at least locate the chords (meh), find a soulmate (I did his name is David Copperfield), lose five (or 15) pounds, read at least 50 books this year and finally apply for new job before bonus time.

I came to the conclusion that our brain will compute smaller goals better (don’t say it’s obvious because you obviously didn’t think of it), it feelsmore achievable and therefore we will stick to it, but don’t underestimate the cynic in you, besidesthe gym is full and there’s a joining fee, classes are overcrowded, there are queues to use the machines and not enough time to wipe the sweat off them apparently, it’s too cold to exercise outdoors and frankly who can be bothered, trains are overcrowded, it seems cycling to work was not on anybody’s new years resolutions list.

Slimming World and whale weight watchers are raking it in; I’ll give them until March.
Sales are on and your credit card has a life of its own. The universe is conspiring again us.
Is it just me, or does everyone suffers from this schizophrenic fight between the cynical and the optimistic side of us?
So the plan is by the time you get to the next year, you will enjoy a whole new you, with a new set of skills and a few pounds lighter, because each and every one of us is a different person every year. I am done patronising and will now let you ponder this quote by Thomas Edison* “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
I pondered it and decided I am going to be hopeful, it’s not a resolution it’s more of a decision to alter my subconscious and let my closeted hopeful self come out for a bit, see if she’ll do any betterFeel free to join…you have until the 21st Dec 2012 2.

Dz-Chick ….on the verge of a breakthrough
He created the light bulb, remember?
Trusted wiki
2 Mayan Apocalypse

Friday 14 December 2012

Ah now you notice me!

The Algerian Cultural Collective which was the driving force behind the recent success of the Algerian Cultural Festival that took place on the 20th Oct in London, has contacted me for an exclusive (oh yeah) interview...You can find it on their Facebook page 

The Algerian Cultural Collective brings you an exclusive! The first interview with Algerian London-based blogger DZ-Chick. For those who managed to miss it, her now infamous blog "Dilemmas Of A Single Algerian Girl in London" is a witty, critical, fresh (and never without controversy) exploration of love, singlehood, relationships, marriage, gender issues, identity...never short of new ideas and insightful observations. In this interview DZC tells us her story and that of her writings. So grab a cuppa, get comfy, and start reading! (and why not you ask your own Qs at the end?) 

Q: Who is DZ chick :)?

A: Thank you ACC for the opportunity and the chance to take part in this fantastic event that is the Algerian Cultural Festival, I mean I think over the past 5 years of being Dz-chick, I repeated the word Algeria/an so many times, If you didn’t contact me, I might have had to do a sit-in protest.

For me Dz-Chick is this side of me who gets to say it as it is (as much as my actual self allows it), I started blogging one November day in 2007, I was bored and it was the beginning of the financial crisis, so many mixed feelings were raging within me and I needed to let them out, there was no obvious platform for me to use, so I thought about blogging. I don’t even remember if the word “blogging” meant anything to me back then. The pseudo Dz-Chick just came to me and I simply started writing.


Dz-chick and myself are the same, thankfully, the only differences probably lie in the easiness of Dz-chick’s language and the way she is protected with anonymity. She built herself a thick layer of skin and learned not to take things personally, which I think my actual self is envious of. I am jealous of Dz-Chick; she’s way cooler than I am.

This all sounds very schizophrenic, but in actual fact, it’s very healthy to step away and let the inner self take over and say what your inhibitions and peoples’ reactions hinder you from expressing so freely.

Q: DZ Chick, where did it all start from?

A: That fateful November gloomy day, I guess I was on the verge of losing my job (I didn’t), it was raining (major factor) and I was single (nothing new there then), maybe I just needed a hug “laugh”, but something within me just wanted to jot things down and I started writing and I never looked back really since.

Nowadays I write more to help point out or put into words certain social inadequacies and situations I witeness and know for a fact to be flawed or wrong, most people notice them but cannot or perhaps don’t have the inclination to put their finger on the problem, I tend to take one step further by over analysing and pointing fingers.

Q: How do you describe your blog?
A: Ah Dilemmas of a single Algerian girl in London, I think remains relevant as ever, not only for me but for many Algerian and non Algerian ladies and gentlemen out there.

The issues and topics tackled are always related to the words: Algeria, single, girl, London and dilemma but in no way restrictive, I always strive to make it a free space where people come and express themselves, be it encouragements, thanks, anger, frustration or whatever damage the latest post had caused. Ooops!

Q: Do any of DZ chick readers know who she is? What are the advantages and disadvantages of blogging anonymously?  

A: You know people like to talk; gossip is a universal sport it seems.

Yes some people know the real girl behind Dz-Chick, people I told by choice, others found out through other friends who can’t keep a secret (you know who you are GRRR) and most of my readers don’t know or at least aren’t curious enough to dig.

I chose to write anonymously because I use a lot of my own experiences to tackle any topic, experiences I don’t wish to be known as mine.

I find writing anonymously imparts a freedom you cannot have if writing under your own name, you can be as blunt and as controversial as you wish and if it rubs anyone up the wrong way (which is the case a lot of the time) then my anonymity acts as a shield, the same applies to all the anonymous readers who themselves hide behind their anonymity to comment, mostly negatively.

Advantages: Freedom to say what others feel but cannot put into words, it is fun and it’s safer.

I feel resentment when I hold myself back from writing certain truths because the more people know who is behind Dz-chick, the more shackled I feel.

Disadvantages: I can’t think of any disadvantages to blogging anonymously, except that perhaps when I am very proud of one of my pieces and I can’t claim it. So I spread crazy rumours about Dz-Chick, what does she know anyway!

Q: What has been the response to your blog?

A: Overall, I think most of my readers are big fans and I love the regulars, they make the blog after all otherwise it’s just me babbling on the blogosphere.

I managed to get some kind of notoriety and a lot of followers over the last few years. I cannot discount how many negative and insulting comments I received from anonymous trolls who think I should only write as an Algerian if I am to represent Algeria and Islam adequately. I wasn’t aware I had this huge responsibility on my shoulders. The views of a blogger are his/her own.

Q: Do the hateful comments affect you Dz-chick?

A: Ah the haters, where will I be without them :), before I developed this thick skin, some comments were so personal and so awful, I was reduced to tears many a times, but now, I laugh, and every time I receive one of those, I know I must have done something right.

Q: Any projects to compile your blog into a book?

A: A book! Sounds like a nice idea but frankly never really contemplated it. Of course if there was an interest in my posts I would publish it with the Algerian flag as front cover ;)

If I publish maybe I can finally come out and write under my own name, especially since I am writing a book Safia (title is temporary) which I half published on my blog, work in progress though.

Q: According to you what is the role of a blogger

A: I blog, therefore I am.

The way I see it, blogging is a kind of illicit journalism, we bloggers have no restrictions, no employer policies to abide by, and we can tackle ANY topic from any angle. I sometimes read articles in the press and can almost read the words they typed and erased, that’s my queue, to go and elaborate and say what hasn’t been said. Blogging is the epitome of freedom expression. 

I believe that bloggers can be very influential and their views should not be discounted.

Q: Dz-Chick, why do you always say you exclusively want an Algerian man?

A: “NERVOUS laugh” I am lazy.

I think it has a lot to with family, culture and religion, every time I see how frustrating it is with Algerian men, I think that’s IT. Give me an English guy anytime, but then I see someone else and think No this is what I want, I feel Inter-cultural couples have a lot more chances of making it work, of sustainability and Algerian men are just so funny especially when they play up to their Mediterranean/Arab macho image, makes me want to pat their heads and say calm down dear it's just your hormones. : P

Q: Is your family aware of your blog?

A: Yes my family knows about the blog, but obviously not everyone can read English, though they follow my writing, I think they’re just relieved I am more interested in writing than in drugs. Ha ha 

Q: Has Dz-chick ever been happy single?

A: Yes extremely but will be lying if I said all the time, but most of all, yes absolutely, I am happy with what I am and that’s enough for me, of course meeting someone who when ready to show up (take your time BTW), will only add to my happiness.

Q: Do you think the title of the blog “Dilemma of a single Algerian girl inLondon” might be hindering your chances of getting into a relationship; is it like a self-fulfilled prophecy?
A: I thought about this before, I do think that my desire for continuing to write the blog as the single girl might have perhaps stopped me from pursuing the man when he showed up. Perhaps it felt like I was cheating on my blog.

Q: What author do you aspire to be like?

A: I know you're expecting some great names of literaries but i always preferred thrillers, I love to read Clive Cussler, I love the intricate details and research he puts in and the inevitable romance that always adds a bit of soft edge to the very rough story. I don’t go to the gym so thrillers are my only heart-rate riser, but overall I will read anything with words in it, except for the Sun.

Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist? And why?

A: When I was 12, I remember overhearing two women talking at a wedding I was dragged to, one of them said to the other “yes he is 45 and can only see from one eye and she’s only 23 and beautiful but you know he IS a man and men cannot be faulted” whilst the other woman nodded in agreement. I remember I shot them evil looks and ran to my mother to tell her what I overheard with disgust, she just laughed and gave me a hug. I thought; was that a pang of feminism I just experienced at such young age? “laugh”

Yes I believe I am a feminist (one who believes in keeping her bras safe and away from fire), I believe in and stipulate equal rights and opportunities for women in education, employment, sport, politics and to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment and assaults, because as much as we’d like to think, a high percentage of women all over the world remain victims of unfair treatment, unequal rights and discrimination. I do not however think myself a feminist activist, unless you consider this blog to be a contribution.

Q: Sometimes it seems you are highly critical of all men, with no discrimination towards the 'few good men' out there (let's take your last post as an example ;) - what would you say to that? (and what if the roles were reversed? how would you react to a male blogger writing about women in this way?)

A: Everything has to be taken at the 2nddegree; I make preposterous generalisations and most of my posts are generally self-deprecating, humorous with a touch (or two) of home truths, I am very critical of men yes, mea culpa. But I am a single girl who instead of looking at why she’s single, she prefers to have someone to blame, in this case, the unattainable Algerian man, whom she builds and reduces to nothing within the same post. He’s my side kick :)  See the latest poem as a perfect example The Algerian Man .  

I encourage any man out there to start blogging and let it rip, about women, about those acne years at Uni and the girl he could never have and let us hear your views for once, along with thick skin I (dz-chick not me) learnt to take criticism gracefully and see the funny side, so I say bring it on.

Q: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

A: Tough question! I see myself somewhere under the sun, with someone to love and a book to read with an occasional job to do. What could be better than that?

As we say in Algeria: ana hchicha talba m3icha, not really a hchicha, perhaps more like a flower, a tulip even :)

Q: What happens if DZ-Chick gets married?

A: ha ha ha that’s a question I haven’t heard before! If Dz-chick gets married (ha ha) she will divert to blogging about her husbands’ bad habits and dirty toe nails and how she misses her single life. Some people can never be pleased. 

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