Life Hacks

I have read many “how to” articles in my time. Unfortunately, most blogs and websites insist on giving terrible advice that simply rewords the problem. For instance, “don’t hit the ball into the bushes” in a “how to play golf” tutorial is all well and good in theory. But, for goodness sake, who would ever try to hit the ball into the bushes? This advice is entirely redundant and could be likened to saying “don’t do things that distract you” in a “how not to procrastinate” tutorial.

If you were to browse my history, you’d see a lot of “how to hack into your MacBook when you forget your password” or “how to unshrink a t-shirt” and these usually give me good responses. However, when asking about less practical stuff that can’t be reduced to a simple step-by-step guide, it’s less successful. I was heartily disappointed when I didn’t receive any solid tips when I googled “how to make money without doing anything”.

I suspect the reason websites give such crummy advice is because the truth isn’t as glamorous as we would like to think. Responding, “you get paid R500 if you let medical students chop off your thumb and then sew it back on” would probably send out the wrong message to the people of the Internet. It’s true, though. If I didn’t know so many medical students personally, I’d probably go for it. So, seeing as I don’t have anything to lose, I’m going to give you some “how to” advice that’s actually useful.

How to get a med note
No names will be mentioned, but trust me when I say that this has been successful in my friendship group. It’s somewhat crass, a real low point and not very glamorous (so don’t say I didn’t warn you).
1. Go to a doctor.
2. Tell them you have explosive bowels and that you can’t write your test.
3. Graciously accept med note.
I assure you – no doctor is going to demand physical proof with this excuse. Just make sure you either have a few doctors you can go to, or use this excuse wisely and scarcely. Alternatively, you can fast for 12 hours and then go straight to the doctor. Bonus points if you pass out during the consultation!

How to get out of something with a male teacher
Cry. While I’m not a huge fan of emotional manipulation, I can still justify turning on the waterworks and sobbing your way out of a situation. If men are going to insist on being incapable of consuming emotions, then use it against them until they learn. Either that, or invent an excuse that is period related. At my school, male teachers rarely had a full swimming class. If men are going to insist of being terrified of a completely natural human experience, then punish them for it until they learn.

How to get to the bathroom and skip the line
Shout “I’m going to be sick” and push to the front of the line. It works 9/10 times. The tenth being when the person at the front is also going to be sick.

How to get out of a gym class without judgment
I wouldn’t say I’m proud, but I’ve been successful in this many a time. There’s nothing more shameful in a gym class than having to leave early. Those judgey bunnies in the front, wearing nothing but a sports bra and hot pants, are bound to glare you down in your track pants and oversized shirt that you won at a hot dog eating contest. I’ve got a couple of techniques you can use.

1. Run
I was forced to do this once in a Bikram Yoga class. It was 40 odd degrees. I had released such heat that the ceiling was dripping on me. I had definitely caused internal bleeding when I fell onto my face and couldn’t soften the landing due to my legs being half wrapped around my head. I had gone into the downward dog too fast and was excessively light headed. So, I stood up and started rolling up my mat to leave. Unfortunately, Madam Bikram was having non of it. She told me I was allowed to lie down but that I wasn’t allowed to leave in order to absorb the “full spiritual experience”. Seeing as the only thing I was absorbing was hatred and sweat, I decided to make a break for it. I slowly pretended to start stretching, wiped my feet so I didn’t slip on my sweat, got a firm grip of my towel, decided on the route I was taking and sprinted out of the room as fast as I could. I then hid in the bathroom making fake vomit noises until the class had finished so that people felt sorry for me.

An important life lesson: self pity maketh man.

2. Sit next to someone who looks less experienced than you
I realize this is mean and that it calls for some judgment on your part as well as some generalizing. I, however, have managed to convince myself that it’s ok because I know people have done it to me before. Pick someone who you think you’ll be able to beat and place yourself right next to them. I was forced to do this a couple of months ago (the last time I went to gym) in a Virgin Active “Twenty Four” class. In my defense, it’s a truly revolting class which took me weeks to emotionally recover from. The class is only 24 minutes so I admit, I backed myself a little too much. “How hard can it be?”, I asked. Well, hard. That’s how hard it can be. An elderly man came to me before the class started and said “I’m new to this class. Is it hard? I’m not very fit” and thankfully, I decided to sit with him. To my delight (and slight shame), he was terrible. He even cried. The instructor was so mean to him I nearly cried, actually. But it’s the only thing that got me through it and is a technique I’ve tried to use ever since!

How to get a bae
Don’t use the word bae.

Alas – some advice that I hope you will actually be able to use. If you’re ever looking for good advice on how to deal with a situation, I recommend you don’t try find the solution on the Internet.

Painting the town Greeny/Brown

Once upon a time, in a mystical land where awkwardness was unheard of and it was possible to engage with daily life without making oneself a public spectacle, there lived a girl called Meg and she was glamorous and graceful…

The thing about fairytales? Like the one above? They don’t exist. Snow White would have mascara under her eyes and morning breath when she woke up. Repunzel would have knots that no conditioner could fix. Cinderella would have blisters the size of Repunzel’s knots if she was walking around in glass shoes. The point? I’m not glamorous or graceful.

I’m not saying this in a self-deprecating way, but rather just an honest one where I accept that I will always be, for lack of a better word, “awkward”. Or better, as my friends have started calling me, “Bridget Jones” (for, if you really think about it, who of the people you know is most likely to end up skiing backwards down a ski slope accidentally?) I will illustrate this awkwardness through outlining a horrific experience that involved me failing to be cool, calm or collected. This is a story I fondly call “Painting the town… Greeny/brown”.

I don’t know if you know this, but when I’m not busy procrastinating, hosting karaoke evenings that nobody attends, writing essays or watching Game of Thrones, I find time to engage with the spiritual world (ie. I’m psychic). I’ll prove this by telling you what my mother is thinking at this very moment: “oh, no, Megan… PLEASE don’t tell the Internet about another vomit story”. I can also tell you what my friend Ash’s mother is thinking: “YAY! Another one of Megan’s vomiting stories!” (Either that, or “Boo. I’ve heard this one already”). So, sorry, mom, and you’re welcome, Mandy. I present to you a perfect example of how little grace I have.

While most girls glam-up and head to the “jol”, I have a nasty habit of overshooting the mark at Predrinks and proceeding to make a total fool of myself. Whether it’s because I have no sense of my own tolerance or because I’m too stingy to buy drinks at a club is irrelevant, because it happens 9 out of 10 times.

It was Matric VAC. I was a free elf. I had limited money. I bought my first bottle of Crackling.

Thrilled by my discovery, I bounded into my hotel room and informed my friends that I had found a bottle of red wine FOR ONLY R20! Personally, I blame my parents for not teaching me the mantra: “just because it’s in a wine bottle, doesn’t mean it’s wine”. It’s the first lesson I’m teaching my kids as soon as they’ve learnt to use the toilet by themselves (obviously I’ve got priorities). I distributed the bottle between 4 glasses and it took only one sip to realize that I’d made a grave error.

The others wisely decided to leave theirs and resigned to getting drinks at the club. They left me in the room to meet me in the lobby and while they were gone, the devil spoke to me. He said, very eloquently, “Meg. Drink them all”. And so, in a moment of weakness, I listened. I blocked my nose and downed a bottle of Crackling.

A side note for those sensitive readers that don’t know what Crackling is: it’s the dregs of the wine that are (usually) discarded in the wine making process. Also. Stop reading if you don’t want to hear a story about vomit (this is your last chance).

I rinsed out my mouth with toothpaste and planned to leave the room. However, as I left the bathroom, I found an unknown man sitting on my bed, drinking a bottle of vodka. Slightly alarmed, I asked where on earth he had come from and what he was doing in my room, as anyone in the same predicament would. It’s safe to say that the drunk fool, who thought he was in his own room, was unable to explain this to me due to his own shock at seeing a strange girl exit “his” bathroom.

Once the weirdness of his presence had dulled, the facts of the situation became clear. The man, whose name I still don’t know (maybe that would have been a useful fact…), was in possession of a bottle of vodka. As you can guess, I took a few too many grand swigs before darting downstairs to meet my friends.

We got straight into a mini bus and headed to Durban’s third-finest institution (only after XS and UShaka Marine World): Origin. I was sitting in the front seat, alone, because the back was full and instead of just waiting to arrive, I began voice noting my mom.

“Hello mommy. I’m voice noting you because my blackberry is broken”

“What? Then how are you voice noting?”

“It’s only broken on the keys. They keep moving off my phone”

It was at this stage my mom realized I may have been slightly drunk.

We arrived at the club and I got out the car with a swiftness that I’m sure could be likened to Beyoncé exiting her limo. Thankfully, I realised that staying wasn’t going to work out for me. I informed everyone that I was going home and asked that they inform Daisy, who wasn’t going out that night, to meet me outside the hotel on my return.

I clambered right to the back of the mini bus and asked the driver to take me home. However, he insisted we wait until the bus was full. My dear friend, Loren, stood by the door at the front of the bus and kept me company, even though I was seated right at the back.

Suddenly, it was there. Yes. “It” is vomit. I thought it would be a little like my first incident and that it would land on my lap (or at least down my shirt). But no no. It was the most powerful projectile stream produced outside of a fire truck. In my panic, I put my hand, fingers spread slightly, in front of my mouth to try minimize the damage. Most unfortunately for every person in the province, my hand only acted as a spreading device and sent the stream in five finger-gap-shaped directions. Loren got hit (while standing outside of the bus – testimony to its strength. Again: “it” is vomit).

People climbed out the windows. People cried. I cried. The mini bus driver cried. After the crying was done, I told the driver that I would pay him whatever it took to just get home immediately.

On arriving at the hotel, I tried to take the bus driver to my hotel room so that he could “have the money in the safe”, or at least so I’m told by those who saw me expressing my intentions. Thankfully, Daisy and Team-Backup were waiting for me and didn’t allow such Tom Foolery to take place. Between them, they paid for the bus’s cleaning fee as well as the money the driver would have made had he had a full house. I bet he charged a bit for the windows, too, because they definitely took a beating when my victims broke free.

The ironic, symbolic nature of this story can actually be shown quite nicely by how I was treated the next morning. I woke up in Daisy’s bed, with my head rested gently on a towel and my arms wrapped calmly around a bucket, and realised quite quickly that I’d made a boo-boo. I walked into the Spur for breakfast (as one does) and was welcomed by a slow clap. Graceful? Hell yeah.

So, no. My life is not a fairytale, I’m awkward, kind of gross, way too honest and I have questionable alcohol endurance abilities. But I don’t mind all that much, because it gives me something to laugh about, I guess. And I learn lessons sometimes. I can tell you one thing that’s sacred: I have never touched and will never touch crackling again. Seems like a good enough outcome to me!

50 Shades of Cray

Dear Concerned Mothers

I’m writing this in response to the many articles that you’ve been sharing on your Facebook pages after the release of the film, “Fifty Shades of Grey”. You worry, I understand, about a lot – snotty noses, bullies… Nobody underestimates the strain you take trying to keep your little chickens safe. So please, try reading this with an open mind and without taking offense.

Continue reading 50 Shades of Cray

Diet Tricks

Dieting is never easy – never. Even those “lifestyle” or “moderation” diets where you “can have a crumb of cake every second week so you’re actually not giving anything up”. I am such a foodie and will always be regardless of how many slices of toast I deny myself. So, I tend to go for the “lose it all in a week diet” that should actually be called “it comes back… doubled” diet. 

Continue reading Diet Tricks

Meg Thomas' Blog


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