Friday, July 31, 2009

The Pond

It is Friday so I am in my lovely orange kitchen, The BFF next to me, after waffles. We're huddled by the heater. It has been unseasonably warm and beautiful, but, today, the Winter has returned and it is pouring outside. I think it's The Weatherman being all metaphorical (as opposed to meteorological, snigger). You see The Pond is leaving to Faraway on Monday. Which makes me feel grey, and cloudy, and makes big raindrops of the salty version drip out of my eyes, creating little puddles of sadness on the table and floor. Very much like the weather outside, without the salt though.

The Pond and I have known each other for three years, but it feels like forever (in a good way) and, if I believed in reincarnation I would say we'd probably known each other in many previous lives too. We are, as Anne of Green Gables would say, kindred spirits. Once we'd met, there was a period of almost infatuation... I said I didn't like her (for various, joking reasons) but we pursued each other like primary school children with a crush, both knowing, I think, that we were destined to be solid friends for, well, forever.

There were some wierd coincidences - her beloved brother, who died in a motorbike crash a couple of years before I met her, and I, share a birthday; her mother's birthday is on the day of my Tragedy. Stuff like that. Most overwhelming though, was just that we got on so well, instantly. We just got each other, and still do. We were discussing it the other day - we're like siblings. We love like siblings and, yes, we fight like siblings, and through it all, we are completely and utterly secure in the fact that we will always be there.

In the past three years, we've shared a house, a love for The Big Black Dog and The Siamese Princess, many tears, more fits of happy laughter, a LOT of champagne, secrets, and a mutual adoration.

But now she's leaving and, while I am happy for her because she's going to join her love who I adore too, and I really hope that she is content and happy in Faraway , I just can't bear the fact that she'll be so, well, far away.

Is it bad that each time she packs a box and puts it in the lounge, ready to go, I secretly unpack it and throw the box in the recycling?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A letter to The President (US)

I don't want to bore you to tears with baby stories... Just one thing though. I got all melty and gooey this morning when I chatted to my sister on the phone - she had Griffin on her chest and he was making the sweetest baby noises. Apparently he takes after his aunt and chats. Quite a lot.

I was, however, stuck in traffic this morning and got to thinking of the American president and his pets (as one does). I decided I needed to write a letter:

Dear Barack,

Firstly, I hope you don’t mind me calling you Barack. Please feel free to call me Shiny. I spent a long time pondering how to address you, and decided you must get pretty bored of being called Mr President, or Sir, and probably miss just being called by your name, like before you moved into that big white house you live in now. I apologise if you don’t like it. Feel free to cross out Barack and write your preferred name if it is a problem, I won’t be offended! (I’ve been wondering: do you get bored by all the pomp and circumstance surrounding you, always?)

Let me get to my point, though. This is just a quick note to say thank you. Not for all the great things you’re doing and, of, course, for getting that idiot Bush off the stage (although I am very grateful for all those things too), but for getting a decent dog. He looks sweet, and is so much nicer than the other ‘celebrity’ dogs out there. I mean, really, what is Elizabeth thinking with those silly, short-legged Corgi’s and as for Paris – a dog that fits in your handbag? Good grief. Yours seems solid, so thank you.

That’s all. Hope you have a great day in that big office of yours and that you get delicious biscuits with your tea.

Shiny x

P.S. Just one more thing, while we’re on the subject of Paris (the Hilton one, not the lovely French city)… Could you perhaps have her exiled to, say, an island where there are no cameras or film crews? She really is awfully tiresome and inane. You are the president so, as far as I know, can pretty much order anything. If you’re unsure, I’m happy to do some research into it. If necessary, I’m sure you could even adjust some regulations to be sure of your exile powers. Let me know…

I wonder if his getting a Portuguese Water Dog has increased the popularity of the breed?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Next door confuses me

While in The Big Smoke I made plans to meet some friends for dinner. In fact, it was on the night before I left. It was a Tuesday, and I was staying in a suburb renowned for it's restaurants so the choices, seemingly, were endless (not so easy when you're a tourist, these restaurant-picking duties). I heard via the grapevine that one was especially nice, so in good, organised, me-style I rang Directory Enquiries, got their number and called them up on Tuesday morning to book a table. They were full. On a Tuesday? Good grief.

A couple of SMS's later resulted in second choice - an apparently Brilliant Pizza Spot*. I called Directory Enquiries, got the number, called them. Tuesday, apparently, is Drag Show day. These Big Smoke folks are wierd - it's Tuesday for heaven's sake! The day after Monday. Like in one day into the week. A night on which (surely?) most people stay in, unless there's someone visiting from The City Beneath the Mountain, in which case a quiet, gentle dinner may be in order?

So I SMSed the people I was meeting for further suggestions. Two replied saying Nextdoor, one with a number, which I duly phoned. It was a discontinued number. So I phoned Directory Enquiries again. I was beginning to think we may land up having to find a Macdonalds drive-through and eat in the car - not a spectacularly enticing idea for 6 people, one 5 months pregnant. A nice lady answered:

Nice Lady: Directory Enquiries, Nice Lady speaking, how can I help you?

Shiny: Hello, it's Shiny here, again. I'm looking for a number in The Big Smoke.

Nice Lady: Yes, what number?

Shiny: Nextdoor.

Nice Lady: Next door to what?

Shiny: Just Nextdoor. It's a restaurant.

Nice Lady: Okay, a restaurant. Next door to where? I need a name. I can't look up names of places next door. I don't even know where you are.

Shiny: That is the name.

Nice Lady: Next door?

Shiny: Yes, Nextdoor. It's in Grant Avenue.

Sigh, followed by a deathly hush...

Nice Lady: I'm sorry there's nothing under that listing. I think you need to find it's real name.

Shiny: But that is it's real name (starting to sound a little unsure...)

Nice Lady: I'm sorry.

Shiny: Okay, thanks. Bye.

So we took a drive down Grant Avenue looking for it, up and down, just in case we missed it on one side. But we found no sign of Nextdoor. Instead we discovered a nice little cheap and cheerful Italian trattoria. I booked a table and met up with everyone that night.

Clive: I'm so glad you managed to get us in here. The food is great.

Shiny: This is the place you were talking about?

Clive: Yip, next door to the Brilliant Pizza Spot, that's what I said!

Doh. I wonder if I should call Nice Lady at Directory Enquiries and explain myself?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aunty rules

So the boys were premature, being twins and all, so were popped into ICU after their arrival. This was all dandy until I heard the ICU rules: parents only, grandparents allowed once after birth and then on Sundays, 3:30-4:00pm. That was just visiting hours. The actual list of rules was about 40 pages thick. I scanned through them, trained proofreading eye looking for the word Aunty, or even Aunt. Nada. I rechecked. Still nada.

They'd forgotten to include the aunty visiting hours. I was incensed! I tried to go down and have a stern talking to the medical superintendant of the hospital but was thwarted by the parents and grandparents of my nephews (the ones who COULD go and ogle at them, although no touching by grandparents (rule 1.52, clause 4B)). I guess it's fair enough - they were in a ward with 28 other prem babies (many of whom were not nearly as robust as our two - 2.4kg and 2.6kg). I wouldn't have wanted their aunties breathing on my babies, but still, it was exceedingly frustrating only seeing pictures of these beings who already nestled in my heart.

We were in The Big Smoke for only 10 days so, I regret to say, we made up a little story (some would say we lied blatantly, I like to think it was just a little tale, I am, after all, prone to story-telling). We said I was from New Zealand. Okay, so I'm not, neither have I actually ever set foot there. I do know people who live there, and I know it exists of two islands and that The Lord of The Rings was shot there. I think that's good enough. And it got me 15 minutes of staring googley-eyed at these two little boys who share my genes. Amazing.

Bottom line is, though, that that little glimpse was all I got before I had to come home. Saw lots of the mothers, though, and fabulously, the boys went home yesterday so I shall fly up in a couple of weeks to meet them properly and cover them in kisses.

It all seems a little surreal. I'm having one of those days today, though, when everything seems a little hazy. I wonder if I need to have my eyes tested again?

Monday, July 27, 2009

The babies arrive

So the babies were due on the Friday but at 2:13am on Tuesday, 14th July, I got a call from my sister saying she thought her waters had broken and she was on her way to hospital. Isn’t it funny how, at 8 months pregnant, when watery stuff comes out of your nether regions, you can still have a discussion with your sister as to what it is. I mean, really, what else would it be? But, at 2:13am one can never be sure.

Of course, I was wide awake then, and The Siamese Princess and I educationally spent the next two hours watching a mini-series on American Independence (did you know John Adams was married to a woman who looked very much like Laura Linney?) and SMSing/calling while sister-of-the-large-belly was put on a foetal monitor, and then scheduled for a Caesar at 4am.

I restrained myself from calling everyone on my phone in my excitement and managed to hold out until 3:45am, when I phoned one friend, just one. At 4:15am the boys were born and I had a picture on my phone – the joys of modern technology. I blubbed when I got the picture - fat joyous tears. At 5:30am I sent an SMS to announce the arrival. I was so proud of my restraint. Some of my friends think I wasn’t (quite) restrained enough. 5:30am? And I had been awake since 2:13am. I think I did well.

We packed the car and left by 9am, journeying to The Big Smoke through the beautiful Karoo, to meet my magical new little nephews.

Could my sister and sister-in-law be any more clever?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A quickie

I am back fromThe Big Smoke and I am an Aunt. Officially now. Of two little boys, Griffin and Liam. The two most beautiful, precious creatures, who arrived a little earlier than expected, thus my abrupt disappearance.

I have so much to tell that I don't know where to begin and I am feelng weary and sad and wanting to be back there, rather than here, which is a difficult thing, so this is just a checking in, and a promise of the following stories, so I don't forget (not necssarily in order):

  1. The babies arrive in their own time
  2. A night in Victoria West
  3. Meeting the boys (and a small lie)
  4. A hysterical phone exchange
  5. Nieu Bethesda, snowflakes, and a longing
And now I'm going to distract myself reading everyone else's blogs and catching up. A bit of voyeurism should quell my longing, surely?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rain drops on noses

It rained yesterday. And by rain I mean huge fat drops that poured out of the sky in herds. There was an incredible amount of water. At one point my back garden couldn’t cope anymore, so it filled up with water, creating a rather lovely water feature in which I could’ve thrown some trout. I didn’t, though, but only because I didn’t have any trout lying around. Otherwise I would have.

The Pond and I had a marvellous day in the kitchen while the rain pelted onto the tin roof. There was a vague sound on the ceiling above the stove (which leads up, I think, to the chimney), it was kind of like the sound big drops of water falling onto ceiling-type material would make. Myself, I decided it was some small animal hopping on one foot in a Small Animal Rain Ritual. They happen often you know, those rituals. Lucky it was one of those too, as it means that I don’t have to worry about leaks, insurance and such.

At about five o’clock there was a gap in the clouds, so we took an amble to the pub down the road for a drink. It has wonderful big windows which allowed us a good view of outside. As we arrived, the heavens opened. And they didn’t close again.

A little while later we realised that we had a choice to make – to sleep overnight in the pub, or brave the rain. We, surprisingly, chose the latter, after discussing the (dis) comfort of having to sleep on a wooden table. Even using our mittens and hats as pillows, the prospect did not appeal.

So we hurtled through the rain at first and then realised how lovely it actually was, so we slowed down and turned our heads to the sky, sticking our tongues out and letting the fat, sweet bulbs of water land on them. I haven’t done that for years. We giggled like children and got home, drenched and happy.

Oh, and did I tell you? I might’ve mentioned it (Once? Twice? A gazillion times?) The babies are coming! This Friday! I am leaving on Wednesday for The Big Smoke. Is it possible to get more excited?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Anticipation and the sound of hadedas

There is something wonderful about the sound of hadedas on a grey and rainy Saturday afternoon. It’s just a beautiful sound, an African one, it makes my heart contract. I’m all emotional. It may be the rain, it may be the impending aunty-hood, who knows.

And the aunty-hood is seriously impending. This Friday, the 17th of July, 2009, at 9:30am, if all goes according to plan, my sister will produce two tiny beings who have been growing and squirming in her tummy for the past nine months. It hardly seems possible to have so much love gurgling and swirling in me for two little creatures who I haven’t even met yet, except for their little kicks on my cheek from in the womb, but it’s there already, an overwhelming love.

We will be leaving the City Beneath the Mountain on Wednesday and driving across the country (I love road trips) and to The Big Smoke to welcome them. I’ve organised a birthday cake, we have champagne, it’s all ready. My parents are beside themselves with excitement, as am I (or did you work that out already…) These are some precious babies, much anticipated.

At this point I’m holding myself back and have been speaking to my sister, or N (my sister’s partner, my sister-in-law, and other mother of the twins) about four times a day. She’s taken to answering her phone: “They’re still in.” We end with me saying: “Keep them in.” I’d hate to miss it!

Excuse me now, I need to call her. Oh, and pack. My stomach just did a triple back flip with excitement, again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I could pop, so could she... anytime now

I have the concentration span of a goldfish. And a dim goldfish at that. In fact, a dim goldfish with many exciting things on its mind, like new seaweed in it's pool, and, urm, delicious things goldfish eat. You get the picture. I estimate it to be two seconds, give or take a second, so bear (bare? I've never worked out which one it is) with me.

You see my sister is going to the gynae this afternoon. She of the ever-expanding-belly-filled-with-two babies variety. And the gynae is going to tell her when those two gorgeous little creatures will come out and meet us all. And it'll be in the next two weeks. Yes, that's right, like in TWO WEEKS! Most likely it's the 17th (which would be tomorrow, a week - good grief!) or the 21st. I want to pop with excitement. I do realise, though, that it is not I that will pop, rather her. Well, I mean not literally pop, but yes.

So, you can see why I'd be struggling to concentrate on work and such. All I really want to do is go home, pack my little suitcase, drive that oh-so-beautiful drive through the Karoo to The Big Smoke to hang with my sister and wait, expectantly, with her and N. Her appointment is in an hour.

Shall I swim clockwise or anti-clockwise around my bowl while I wait?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sun and sticky fingers

I attended the first birthday party of friends of mine's child yesterday. It was at their house and, in the garden, they'd erected a jumping castle. There was a pink cake in the shape of a number one and chocolate cupcakes with hundreds and thousands on.

I sat on the stoep with the adults, watching as their children (about fourteen of them, ranging from 3 weeks to 10 years old) bounced themselves silly. Ok, the 3 week old one didn't, neither did the 1 year old birthday girl, but the others did. They ate enormous amounts of bright pink cake, orange chips and chased that all down with vast quantities of fruit juice out of boxes with Barney the big purple dinosaur on them. And then bounced. And bounced. I, personally, chose to stay far back from said very full, very bounced children. It just seemed wise.

I went with my lovely friends D and B and their daughter (one of my favourite people), M, who is two-and-a-half. She joined the jumping throng happily, after announcing that the boys must get off to make way for the girls. I completely agreed with her - the boys were much bigger and playing rough. She, however, then played the hooligan, perfecting the 'head first off the edge' manouvre in three quick tries. Then she, obviously (being a clever cookie) decided staying on the bouncy bit was preferable to having ones head in the sand on the edge. It was at this point she also decided (to her mother's mortification) that it was a far more fun activity in the nude. So there she was, pants-less amongst the other assorted little girls in their princess outfits (the birthday girl's sister) and baby designer oufits, giggling with glee.

So I had a sun-drenched, kiddy-giggle-filled, sticky-fingered, cupcake scattered afternoon. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Tragedy, Part 1, and 100th post

This is my 100th post. Shoo. Who would've thought I'd manage to keep it up this long? My little practice pad for writing. If it was on real paper, I'd have used maybe two exercise books, or even three, depending on how many pages in each, and how big I wrote, and if I started each entry on a new page or not, and... Let me stop there... My 100th post should surely not just be filled with arbitrary drivel? Oh, wait, maybe that's what my blog is?

I've had fun though. It's freaked me out (the privacy thing) and made me laugh (people can be so funny) and provided an outlet for a whole lot and continues to make me write, which was the whole point. I am nowhere near to writing as openly as I had wished, but I think perhaps that is not a bad thing. People know about the blog now and it's taken on a different notion. There are still stories I need to tell, and keep promising, and I'll keep doing that. Perhaps that is what I should use this, 100th, blog for. The Tragedy story which I keep promising.

It was a perfect December day. The sky above the Karoo through which we drove was brilliant, clear blue and the sun was hot, despite it being early morning. My mind was filled with mixed emotions, I was on the brink of something huge and new. I didn't know then, how huge and different.

You see, we were driving away from university, for the last time. Four years of learning (and by that I mean so much more than just acadaemia). The academics were peripheral to, well, the learning to live - coming into one's own... fucking up, picking oneself up (or being picked up by friends) and just being filled with life. Unencumbered freedom. We did as we pleased. We loved without caution, we played without trepidation. It was an incredible time.

And, at this point, on the 1st of December 1996, it had come to an end. I was indescribably sad to be leaving behind friends, and that life, but exhilirated by my plans - to visit my boyfriend in Zimbabwe and then move to The City Beneath the Mountain, into a house with him and another friend to start our time in the Real World for a year before I joined those varsity friends overseas to travel. My youth-tinted plan included those travels 'until I was done', at which point I'd come home, pregnant. With, or without father of said child. I wanted five.

But the universe had other plans. At around 9am, in the Karoo (strangely a place I have always, and still do, love... my heart always clenches and then breathes out a huge pleasurable sigh when I go there), under that hot blue sky, we crashed. We just went off the road, mid-conversation, Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life' playing (I am still unsure if that is true, but in my head, that's the story, and I'm sticking to it). We rolled, it was noisy, glass crashed and metal ripped, over some thorn trees and came to a stop many metres off the road. And then there was a hot silence.

I remember seeing blood on the windscreen next to the rear view mirror. I was lying with my head on D's arm, halfway across the seat. I moved my right hand. Once. And then it wouldn't move again. She was (unsurprisingly) hysterical. I have a knack of going completely calm in stressful situations (this is, sometimes, not a good thing... like when a shelf of books is about to fall and I calmy say, after thinking for a few seconds: "Oh dear, look, those books are going to smash that lovely vase" by which stage the vase is being swept into a dustpan. On this occassion, however, it was a good thing). I got her to get out of the car. She couldn't see the road. I got her to keep turning slowly until she could see a car and then go there and get help.

We were in the middle of nowhere. People stopped. They were wonderful. A guy from Varsity, who we knew, stopped. He was even more wonderful (I still want to thank him for that). It was a long time, with lots of people, before the ambulance came. I remember sipping coke through a straw and it getting hotter and hotter. I also remember thinking that I must've broken both my legs and arms, and calculating that I would be fine by our Graduation, the next April. Graduation was a big thing at our varsity - one last big bash.

And then there was a whirlwind of ambulances, hospitals, a call to my parents (I told them I was fine, the doctor took the phone and told them to come), transferred from Small Town to Bigger Town (where my mother met me) and then airlifted to The City beneath the Mountain. In the Bigger Town, apparently (I heard this a long, long time later), a nasty nurse in the ICU informed my mother, alone, in the early hours of the morning, that, more-than-likely, I would never walk again. She did not tell me, of course. I was to find out a couple of days later.

So, yes, it turned out, that after spending 21 years on this earth without breaking anything (not even a finger), when I did break something, I did it oh-so-properly. I broke my neck. And really well too. The doctors said my spinal cord inside the vertebrae that I broke was well and truly mushed.

Gosh, this tragedy story is longer than I anticipated. And sounds a bit soap opera-ish. I'm prone to drama. It's my thing. Well, at least, one of them. Fuck, I've finally written this. Now, do I click on Publish Post? As is obvious, this is just the beginning of the story, but that was surprisingly draining, and I think I shall leave it there.

And anyway, isn't it time to crack open the champagne and celebrate 100 posts?