Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's delight

I have ten minutes, then C, G and I are off to catch the train into the city to meet Pop and Shuzie for lunch, a New Year's Eve lunch. I have never been an NYE fan - the searching for the best party, the feigned excitement, the slobbery kisses from strangers at midnight. Sometimes I have a braai at my house, last year I had something resembling a party, with people I love. This year, it's a DVD, and sleep, probably way before midnight, and a fresh, clear, 1st of January 2011.

I have a feeling about 2011, I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but it's expectant. I don't think I've had that before. What I wish for, for us all, is happiness. Happiness like that I have seen in my 17-month old little nephews over the last ten days - undaunted, unstoppable, crazy-shit happiness that makes them giggle amd squeal at small things. What a treat to have them here, they are delicious.

So, yes, a quick note. I have much to tell of those squeals, of the fascination of one nephew with his grandfather, of watching the bond develop, tight as tight can be, of Christmas lunches and family, of friends, and love, and a little tinge of sadness, but mainly of those delighted squeals. I'll be back soon, as soon as I have time. Right now, peak-a-boo, buzzing like a bee and pointing at the butterflies that hang from my roof, all to elicit that delight, is way more important.

Wishing you all out there a delight-filled 2011. Remember to giggle and see the joy in everything.

Shiny x

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I. Can. Not. Wait.

Wowee, time flies this time of the year. It is my last day of Real Work today, thank goodness, and as we speak, my sister, N, and the two baby nephews are winging their way towards The City Beneath the Mountain. I. Can. Not. Wait.

I have been desperately baby-proofing The House in the Middle of the Street. This is far from an easy feat as I am, to put it politely, a hoarder. Luckily, though, I am not a hoarder of extremely valuable or extremely breakable goods. My taste lies in the cheap and shiny section. Therefore, my house is Child Heaven and Parent Hell, despite my constant reassurances that little hands are welcome to touch/play/move all treasures found. This applies to friend’s children. My sister, on the other hand, knows that I am not just saying it, so my nephews’ four little hands will be everywhere. I. Can. Not. Wait.

The tree is up, there’s tinsel scattered about the place, two stockings hang from the mantelpiece. They’re ancient family heirlooms at this point, having existed since my sister and I were tiny tots. The boys are still a bit small for Father Christmas but they’re there, waiting. Did I tell you, they’ll be there, in The House in the Middle of The Street, today when I get home from Real Work? I. Can. Not. Wait.

In other news, I received a parcel in the post yesterday from a country way over the seas that is covered in snow. It was just a plain, brown, envelope but as I ripped it open I smelt the sweet scent of chocolate. I tipped it on the kitchen table – three slabs of chocolate, deliciously wrapped in wrappers with a foreign language (how exotic), a little bag of Christmas chocolates, and a decoration for the tree. What a wonderful treat, sent from Angela, over at Letters from Usedom. Thank you! This blog world is so wonderful, isn’t it?

Oh, did I tell you that I. Can. Not. Wait?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brown or white?

Here on the tip of Africa we have some Nasty History. There was a time when Horrible Men (and Women) did despicable things to people who share this country, just because they had the wrong colour skin. I was young when those awful times were at their peak. I was there, and aware, but it was on my periphery because, well, ludicrously, I’m white. Therefore I wasn’t subjected to Pass Laws and inadequate (or no) education; to segregation and violence; to being treated as inferior; and to having any opportunity taken forcefully from me. We couldn’t even go to school together.

Thankfully, that is a thing of the past and things started turning as I went to university. I think my parents are eternally grateful for this too, not only because they were Anti-Apartheid, but, more personally, they knew that I would’ve been politically active and, more-than-likely, in trouble.

But, yes, we were all saved from that, over 15 years ago now. Everybody walked on shells for a while, and sometimes still do. It was all about 'political correctness'... Be careful what you call people, how you say things, how you write things. Everybody was hyper-sensitive and ready to flare. 'Racism' was bandied about and flung back and forth and shouted at any hint of anything. Sometimes unnecessarily. Understandably, it was a difficult transition, from all sides.

How time flies. We almost have the first generation of adults born in the Free South Africa. Now everybody goes to school together.

This brings me to my point, a conversation G and I had with her 7-year old nephew in the car on Monday. He’s a sweet, blonde, mostly-bare-footed Afrikaans boy (like we all were... urm... some years ago) who has just moved with his parents, brother and sister, from a farm to a small town which, in the bad old days would’ve been, well, bad. Unless, of course, you were white.

Nephew: Benj was in the school play. (Benj is his younger brother, Benjamin)
G: Oh wow, who was he?
Nephew: Joseph.
Shiny: Jesus’ dad?
Nephew: Yes.
G: Who played Mary?
Nephew: Brown Hayley.
Shiny: Brown Hayley?
Nephew: Yes. She's brown.

G: But isn't that rude?
Nephew: No, why? There’s two Hayleys in the class, one is brown and the other is white, so we call them Brown Hayley and White Hayley. Otherwise it’s confusing.

Well, yes, indeed. This was nothing to do with racism, this was logical, like referring to your red t-shirt and your blue t-shirt, and I smiled a huge, happy, smile, to hear it. It seems our country has grown into its shoes - the terrible past, the uncomfortable teenage years of adapting and finding our feet are done. Now we can just be. How wonderful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Absence due to jollification

Oh bugger, how did that happen? I’m trying to be a good blogger and write lots and lots. Not daily, mind, but often. Like in maybe everyday and then, all of a sardine, it’s been five days since my last post. Five? Surely not. That time flies thing? I think it might be true.

I’ve been busy you see. This entails not so many hours type-typing away on my computer and many more hours spent doing so many other more fun things. Like drinking cocktails full of crushed mint while the sun sets, turning the sky brilliant pink and The Mountain hazy purple, while seagulls fly above laughing at the ice cream lickers below.

And sitting in a garden that feels like a small oven in the Summer sunshine while a big boy cooks meat on the braai and a little one throws brightly coloured balls into his sandpit-without-sand and then into his pool-without-water. There’s no water in it because otherwise he will never get out. Ever. Not even at bedtime.

Or sitting amongst the warm happiness of a large family, celebrating birthdays in a hidden valley on a stoep next to a very much loved herb garden while the children zoom about, swinging, climbing, and the adults drink wine with lots of ice in it.

Then there’s the taking out of the Christmas lights, checking that they work and getting the box of decorations, old and new, from the top of the cupboard, and persuading my father that he really, really, does want to go and buy a tree from the guys next to the racecourse and put it up in my house. A smaller tree this year, though, not one which reaches the roof like he always gets me, which I love (despite my mother always telling him to get me a smaller one.) No, this year the tree must stand on a table, slightly above 16-month old twin boy height because… THEY’RE ARRIVING, next week, for Christmas! My beautiful nephews, and their mothers.

First though, tomorrow, is my annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party. When people pass through, some stay a half hour, others all night, with their children, their friends. There’ll be food and Christmas songs and everybody who walks through the door has to put at least one decoration on the tree, from the box.

See now, why I’m being a naughty blogger? I’m busy jollifying.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The crush intensifies

Okay, I don’t mean to go on too much about it, but thought I should just update you on my crush, after I Google-stalked him. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’m the poster-girl for Google. At this point I must just mention how hard it is to Google-stalk somebody called Christian Love. My search came back with, literally, hundreds of hits for religious websites ranging from the zealous to the over-zealous to the sublime. I pursued though.

Turns out The Light of my Life (no pun intended) is the son of the main Dirty Old Man Beach Boy, Mike Love. His name is Christian Love, 42-years old, and he has his own band too – 5 Alarm. I searched and searched, but could find no mention of relationship status so will now assume that he is completely-and-utterly in love with me. Of course.

When I saw that he is 42-years old, my immediate reaction was ‘Oh, he’s old.’ Then I remembered that, in fact, even though I was acting like a 16-year old groupie, I am 35-years old, so 42 is just perfect. Strange how our minds can play tricks on us.

I leave you with a picture of my Heaving Crush, and let me just say that it doesn’t do his ravishing good looks justice, at all:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I have a crush on a Beach Boy

There were couples dressed in matching Hawaiian outfits, some headband-toting aging hippies and a smattering of youngsters. G and I felt young, being about 30 years younger than the majority of the audience. The place was packed, though, probably 90% full. I was pleasantly surprised. And a nice crowd it was. Very civilised. To be expected, I suppose, with an average age of 65+.

G took me to see The Beach Boys last night, and I loved it. We sat a row behind the front row, so when the old men (only three of the orginals, and three ‘newbies’) doddered on, we could see them very, very, well. They must also be in their late sixties but boy, they can still harmonise beautifully, and it’s hard not to to beam a huge, happy, smile when they’re singing songs of surf and California sun.

While we waited for them to start, I listened to the conversation behind us – three couples all terribly excited about the fact that they were seeing their beloved Beach Boys AND that Neil Diamond is coming soon. I say no more. It was fabulous to be there and get swept up by the excitement.

The band – well – the lead singer, in all his late-60’s glory, still thinks he’s the god’s gift to women so spent a lot of time making eyes at women in the crowd and doing a vaguely disturbing ‘come hither’ pointing finger thing making him look very much like the definitive Dirty Old Man. Then again, looking and listening to the swooning (older) ladies around us, I think he probably could’ve had his way with any number of them! I avidly avoided making eye contact with him but secretly wished I’d taken a pair of (granny?) knickers to throw on stage.

They sang all the favourites, the crowd roared with delight and clapped and wolf-whistled and I’m happy to tell you that one of their new additions is an absolutely gorgeous young fellow who I have fallen head-over-heels in crush with. Yes, I’m the original groupie! Luckily my crush is not one of the old ones. That’d just be weird.

I never thought I’d see Good Vibrations performed live. I’m really glad I did.

There’s nothing wrong with having a crush on a Beach Boy, is there?

My weekend

We should have known from the show times – Friday 6 pm, Saturday 3 pm. We went expecting physical theatre – bodies being thrown to each other, bending in ways you didn’t know they could to music that buries itself deep in your tummy.

Instead, we got High School Musical – a lively bunch of pretty young things prancing about on stage singing (some with beautiful, skin-pricklingly clear voices, others not) while teaching us all about the angsts of adolescence – from poor body image to cutting to HIV to abortion to anorexia to the dangers of listening to rap music (WTF?), it was all there. I loved it – it was full of poppy little songs that I wanted to sing along to, including a rousing rendition of Pat Benatar’s We Belong.

After that, dinner at a Mexican restaurant owned and run by a real Mexican family with the best margaritas I have ever tasted and delicious food. The waiter greeted us with: “I am Arturo Garcia. I am from Mexico”, in the most gorgeous Spanish accent, before showing us on the map exactly where in Mexico. Did you know that Mexico has 32 states and each and every one has its own version of the cuisine? Me neither. It was yummy and Arturo reminded me of that dude in The Princess Bride who says over and over: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I must watch that again, I loved it.

Saturday brought with it an ill-advised trip to shopping mall hell. We were clever, however, and just snuck through the maddening crowds and into a dark cinema, where we watched The Kids are All Right. Fabulous. Watch it. You must. Then home to watch Caramel, a film set in Beirut. Also fabulous.

And Sunday I had lunch with H, my varsity friend, at a beautiful place in the middle of a vineyard. Fantastic. A good weekend, filled with culture.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The larney dinner

It's one of those places where there are terribly polite, slightly disturbingly obsequious people around every turn, wanting to open doors for you, offer you drinks, carry stuff, wipe your nose. Okay maybe I'm taking it too far, but you get the idea. It starts when you drive up the driveway and park next to the extravagant water feature and two dudes in suits rush up, one to open the door and one to offer to take your car away for you to some unseen garage. The only cars allowed to stay in the vicinity are big and black, with tinted windows and huge price tags.

You walk into a triple volume (possibly even quadruple) room with an enormous chandelier thingamy above a bar and little groups of chairs huddling around small tables on which to set your designer drinks. It's all very gracious and stylish. One whole wall is glass with a view of The Mountain (the one I refer to in the phrase The City Beneath the Mountain). It's beautiful. Here, too, many men quietly ambush you with menus, drinks etc. I had a Rose Petal Mojito. It was as beautiful as the decor, filled with blood red rose petals and deep green fresh mint. Very Christmassy colours really.

Then next door to the restaurant where Aubrey, our waiter, placed an enormous file on the table - the wine list, all gazillion pages of it, complete with index. Now, here I need input. The wine could be bought in a number of formats - 50ml, 150ml, 250ml or a bottle. Honestly, who drinks 50ml of wine? Do you think they give it to you in a syringe, like you give babies muti? I went for the 250ml, expecting a carafe. I got an enormous glass, into which they poured it. I kept looking to see if there was a goldfish in it.

The menus were printed on large pieces of paper, embossed with the chef/owner's name. Next to us, a married couple sat, looking not-too-pleased to be there. What a waste to go to such a special place and not enjoy it. That's beside the point though, the funniest thing happened. While Shuzie and Pop discussed the merits of the wine list, and I glazed over (I'm a pleb when it comes to wine), I suddenly smelt burning. The not-so-happy-man's menu had caught alight on the flame of the oh-so-stylish little candle on their table.

The food was sublime, I asked many questions about what was what, it had lots of unpronouceable-but-delicious-sounding things on it, as predicted. The company was even more sublime, and we all ordered different things and classily handed them all around the table so we could taste everything. C's order of pork belly was the ultimate winner - delicate medallions of pork, each with a little jacket of perfectly crisp crackling.

G managed to join us for pudding, leaving the monster boss behind. She chose the 'Lemon and Olive Custard'. I was pleased because I'd been intrigued by it. That's what it was called and beneath its name it said 'Cocoa crumble, chocolate mousse, chocolate tile'. It came in a large creme brulee dish - yellow-looking, half the top covered in dark chocolate (tile?) with a small ball (mousse?) covered in edible (I hope) gold paper. It was horrible. Tasted like... well... olive oil. Turned out the crumble was underneath.

When Aubrey came back we discussed this with him. Unfortunately somebody else took our pudding order and he sympathetically told us that he would have warned us against it had it been him! It did not detract from a fabulous evening, though, the beginning of my Jolly Season and we left, through the door opened by another dude-in-a-suit, satiated with delicious food and good company.

Who could ask for more?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Tis the season to be jolly

Okay, that’s the Pity Party done for the year, black jelly beans and stale Cheese Curls all eaten up and I’ve left the party, with not a glance backwards. ‘Tis now the season to be jolly. Tinsel and sparkley things. And jolly I plan to be.

I’ll be starting the jollification process with a very delicious sounding meal tonight, at one of those very smart, very in, restaurants where I have to ask the waiter a million-and-one questions because I don’t understand the menu because it's filled with oh-so-fashionable-but-unpronouceable ingredients. Normally in the form of a foam or a jus. I can always see them shaking their heads and rolling their eyes when they turn away, at my ignorance. I’m persistant, though, and normally have them on my side by pudding.

I’m going with three of my favourite people. It was supposed to be four, but G’s boss is a monsterous ogre with fourteen arms and one eye and she has to work late and is not allowed to come. I shall attempt to smuggle out a small something for her, probably unpronounceable, but which, I’m sure, will taste delightfully delicious. I’m sure they won’t mind washing out my lunchbox from work lunch (tuna stir-fry) and putting it in there. Why would they?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fourteen years

Today is the day I feel naked, unzipped, unhinged. Silly really, but there you have it. Fourteen years ago, today, The Tragedy happened. Around about exactly now actually. I commented to G this morning that in all those fourteen years, each 1st of December has dawned as bright and blue and sunny as that one in 1996. I normally take the day off and do something beautiful. This time, I’m at Real Work. Feeling naked, unzipped, unhinged. The clouds are coming over. Weird. Maybe it’s because I came to work. I will do something beautiful over the weekend.

Everything just seems so close to the surface when I think about it. It’s watery and bare and it stings a little and it feels like yesterday that I lay on my dig’s carpet in the room I had packed up into a couple of boxes and a suitcase – four years of learning, living, loving, completely carefree (except, of course, for some good doses of teenage angst) into so little material stuff and so much wonderful ‘internal’ stuff. I listended to Eddie Vedder sing Off He Goes loudloudloud on my Walkman and cried fat tears for leaving that life behind. It feels like yesterday, but it was yesterday fourteen years ago.

Little did I know how big and fat those tears were. Maybe I did know. Maybe that’s why they were bigger, fatter, hotter. Or maybe they’ve just turned into that in the time that has passed since.

I am still here.

Off He Goes, Pearl Jam

Know a man
His face seemed pulled and tense
Like he's ridin' on a motorbike
In the strongest winds
So I approach with tact
Suggest that he should relax
But he's movin' much too fast

Said he'll see me on the flip side
On this trip he's taken for a ride
He's been takin' too much on
There he goes with his perfectly unkept hope
There he goes

He's yet to come back
But I seen his picture
It doesn't look the same up on the rack
We go way back
I wonder 'bout his insides
It's like his thoughts are too big for his size

He's been taken...where, I don't know
Off he goes with his perfectly unkept hope
There he goes

And now I rub my eyes, for he has returned
Seems my preconceptions are what should have been burned
For he still smiles... And he's still strong
Nothing changed but the surroundin' bullshit
That has grown

And now he's home and we're laughin'
Like we did, my same old, same old friend
Until a quarter to ten
I saw the strain creep in
He seems distracted and I know just what is going to happen next

Before his first step, he's off again

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thirty Days of Truth: Complete


TDoT(30): A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

Dear Shiny,

I love that you’re you. A so-very-you you that nobody else could ever be you. I’m pretty sure nobody else really wishes they were you, but that’s beside the point. I love that you try to smile at everybody, or acknowledge their presence. From your Big Boss to the guy begging at the traffic lights, I love that you truly believe in the common human spirit.

That worrying thing? I love that you worry about worrying too much, it just shows how very silly you are. I love that, every now and again, you actually lift your head above the water and realise that most things have a funny side and it doesn’t all have to be So Serious or So Dramatic.

I love that your lips look good when you put lipstick on. Would you, please, finally, realise that and maybe make a bit more effort with it? You’re 35-years old, you can stop feeling like a child playing with her mother’s make-up when you use blusher or paint your lips. I love that you don’t feel the need to slather yourself with make-up every day.

I love that you’ve surrounded yourself with lovely friends. Some who’ve been around for many, many, moons; some not-so-many, yet. The fact that you know they’ll also be here for the long haul makes me love you more.

So your body’s not exactly something which is going to grace the cover of Sportman’s Illustrated (or, for that matter, even the inside pages), it’s still kept you going all these years, so I love it too – it’s fine-tuned little mechanisms for breathing, digesting, blood flowing etc, they’ve had their problems, but they’ve all pulled you through, and I love them for that.

I don’t wish to inflate your ego, so let’s leave it there.

You x

Monday, November 29, 2010

TDoT(29): Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.

I'd like to change my worry button. Not necessearily turn it off completely, but just turn its volume down a bit. I wish that I wouldn't worry so. I can lie awake for whole nights worrying about things, mainly my precious people.

I'm that person that insists on a phone call from you if you’re driving anywhere at night, to make sure you’re safely at your destination. I worry until I get the phone call. If I don’t, I’ll call you, to check. I'm the one who panics if I phone you, and there's no answer.

I’m not saying that this is, necessarily, a terrible thing, but it is emotionally exhausting. I’d like to just be able to relax it, just a little. I’m just not sure how to do that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

TDoT(28): What would you do if you were pregnant?

Urm, well, that's an interesting one for me. If The Tragedy had never happened, well, then, I would eat well, not drink, take my supplements and grow the little thing as best I could. Then I'd have it and adore it and bring it up to be the best person it could be. If I'd gone along with my youthfully rose-tinted vision of yesteryear, I'd be having four more to join it.

That, however, was not meant to be.

What would I do now? I'd be devastated by having to make that decision. To carry through with a high-risk pregnancy, not knowing if everything was going alright, putting myself and the baby in danger?

I am completely pro-choice when it comes to abortion, this would not be a moral decision from that point-of-view. I think women have the right to choose not to have a baby (preferrably before conceiving, but let's face it, accidents happen) and to make informed decisions on whether or not they are physically/mentally/financially able to bring another child into the world.

Stepping down from the soap box again.

For me? I, honestly, don't have an answer. And I hope to never have to have one.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

TDoT(27): What’s the best thing going for you right now?

I'm writing. I'm really writing. It's something I've been wanting, meaning, to do for years, and now I'm doing it. I'm making myself sit down and write. Stuff. Maybe stuff that'll turn into a book, maybe not. But I'm happy to just start with Stuff. Wierd that I don't count this blog as writing, isn't it? I must've written thousands of words by now. Is there a way of counting?

Waffling here. I can see the light at the end of the Thirty Days of Hope tunnel. It's nearly done. I've enjoyed it, I've hated it, it's been therapeutic. It's made me shed some things, or just face them head on, leaving space in my head, to write that Stuff. This is the best thing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

TDoT(26): Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?

Who hasn't? I've never collected the supply of pills or tied the rope into a noose, though. I've been through some pretty depressed times in my life, surely we all have? Life can be a bloody difficult game to play and everybody has their struggles and, sometimes, when it all seems too dark and dreary, I've thought about throwing the proverbial towel in.

I've even got to points where I've thought I've needed to get some help, before I start collecting those pills. Then I've got the help I needed. From friends, from family, from opening my eyes and seeing the bigger picture.

I've always believed people have the right, though, to take their own lives. This is a big statement that needs much quantifying. I am not saying that severely depressed people should be allowed to spiral into a tunnel from which they can't escape. There is help for that, and every avenue should be explored. But. If a person is truly tired, and feels their time on earth has reached its end, in a rational and thought out process, I feel that, as intelligent beings (most of us), we're allowed to make that choice.

The argument that it's selfish to everyone left behind? Yes, I agree, it's not a nice thing for those left in the wake, devastated, asking themselves "Could I have stopped it?" But selfish, it's not. I speak here only about the kind of suicide I mentioned above - a rationally-made decision. Desperate, sadly spiralled types are different and devastating and I'm not even going to go there. It's hard, really, to make a distinction, isn't it? I hope you're getting my drift.

Back to the "Could I have stopped it" feelings of guilt. There we need to stop ourselves from the intrinsically human habit of turning everything into something about ourselves. In this case, it's not. If I decide to drive off a cliff into the sea because I am tired of it all, it is NOT about you. I have chosen to stop, that's all. Rejoice in the life that I had, rejoice in my finding peace which, obviously, if I've driven off a cliff into the sea, I didn't have.

I didn't really answer the question properly did I? Instead, I got on my ranty soapbox. Let me step down now, I have Christmas shopping to do.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

TDoT(25): The reason you believe you’re still alive today

How funny. Why do I believe I'm alive?

Literally, because I can see myself breathing. Because people tend to look at me and speak back to me when I speak to them. This lets me believe I’m alive, and not a ghost flitting about. I’d think those are both fairly obvious signs of my aliveness. There are more, lots more, but I think I’ve made my point.

Metaphorically (which, I guess, is what they're aiming for here) , I think I’m here to do my bit. To live, laugh, and love as much as I possibly can, leaving behind only good things when I go. Before I start sounding like a self-help book, let me stop there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TDoT(24): Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)

Honestly, these Thirty Days of Truth things are all so serious, it’s exhausting. Therefore, instead of making some soulful list dedicated to a long-lost love/friend I miss/other dramatically tragic character, I am making a Happy Playlist, for everybody who’s had to read/listen to my whines and whinges while doing it. It’s not (quite) over yet but, in the meatime, here’s some fun music for you to wiggle to:

Any number of people – Good Morning Starshine (from Hair)
How can you not start the day smiling with this? I regularly sing it oh-so-tunefully to friends I phone early in the morning.

Katrina and The Waves – I’m Walking on Sunshine
Because it reminds me of the story of my four best University friends singing it for karaoke at a bar in Ireland and that makes me smile. It’ll make you wiggle your bum too.

Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun
Again, wiggley bum, dance around wildly, stuff.

The Jungle Book People – Bear necesseties
Because I don’t know the difference between bare and bear, but I’m okay with that.

They Might be Giants – Birdhouse in your Soul
My favourite band, my favourite song.

Mr Jones - Counting Crows
Watching somebody else wiggle their bum to this made me smile, broadly. It sticks in my mind.

REM – Shiny Happy People
My second-most fvavourite band (as you know) and the title has ‘Shiny’ in it, therefore it must be fabulous.

Seven. That seems a good number. Oh bugger, I’m supposed to write a letter too.

Dear Readers (both of you),

This is for you, in thanks for your patience while I’ve showered this blog with gushings of truths splattered about with lashings of tragedy and a smidgeon of drama. I hope I haven’t exhausted you as much as I feel exhausted. Just in case, this list is of happy, hoppity, songs. To make you smile and wiggle.

I’m afraid pure, unadulterated, laziness has prevented me from linking to Youtube videos of them. You know me.

With much love,
Shiny x

TDoT(23): Something you wish you had done in your life

For this, I must use bullets, the list is long. That makes it sound like I have huge regrets. This is untrue. Of course I have regrets, but they don’t rule my life, I try not to let them overwhelm me, and I do my utmost to fill my life with things which I can say I HAVE done, as opposed to wishing I had:

  • Danced more. More wildly, more carefreely, all of the time
  • Sunk my feet into that wet bit of sand that the waves break over at the seaside more. And let more welks walk over my feet while I did it
  • Had more sex, in more places. Admittedly, I have some stories to tell, but I’m shy about telling them. I’d like to have more
  • Spent more time completely alone, preferably travelling to wild, desolate places
  • Stuck my finger in the little whirlpool thing the water makes when it falls down the plughole more
  • Swum more. I’m not sure that’s entirely possible, as I was Labrador-like in my affinity to water
  • Lain on the green summer grass, despite its itching the backs of my legs, and watched the clouds above more
  • Made a living being a novelist

Oh, wait, there’s one I can still aim at. In fact, there’s plenty. This list is making me sad, and I’m premenstrual, so I think I’ll stop it there. As I said, the list goes on. Equally, the list of things I still want to do, the perfectly possible ones, is just as long, so best I get my head turned in that direction, before the black hole gobbles me up.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TDoT(22): Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life

That little flick; that tiny, stupid, thing to do; that youth-filled-idea-of-immortality-induced mistake. The one that changed everything.

I wish I hadn’t done that.

TDoT(21): Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?

What a silly question. I don’t do conflict and can’t, ever, say goodbye without resolving an issue, if there ever is an issue, so this is highly unlikely to happen. However, to answer the question: I’d go to her, immediately, make sure she’s okay, hold her hand, hug her, take her flowers, sit by her, bring her food or a toothbrush or a book to read or a pair of pyjamas… whatever’s needed. Who wouldn’t?

TDoT(20): Your views on drugs and alcohol

I love a cold beer on a hot Summer’s day and I’ll happily drink a tequila every now and again, make the tequila face, and be the Energizer bunny of the party (and not be able to sleep after.) My tolerance, and desire, has diminished for sure. Gone are the carefree university days of R2 Tequila Tuesdays and still being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Wednesday for lectures. Then there was R10 for five beers Wednesday, Thursday Sundowner Specials etc.

No, in my middling years, I find the hangovers last longer, are more severe, and make me want to cry. I'm going for the drink or two option these days. Sometimes I get it wrong. Of course, I am still waiting to learn my lesson, and stop. My overall view, though: each to his own. I’ve seen the scary side of alcohol, I know the dangers, I’m (generally) okay with it. Those who aren’t (poor sods), should avoid it like the plague.

Drugs? Well, yes, again, each to his own. Experimenting… cautiously; having fun… occasionally: no problem. Giggling like a schoolgirl with your friends, who have shrunk to the size of fairies, in a safe, beautiful, place… wonderful. The frightening thing is, though, that you don’t know if you’ll be the unfortunate one for whom ‘occasionally’ is not enough. I’ve seen people crumple into a heap due to drugs, dragging those who love them into a terrifying black hole.

Oh, and people doing coke bore me. As much as I say ‘each to his own’, pleasepleaseplease, don’t put me next to the guy who’s a cokehead at the dinner party. I am not interested in how amazing he is, nor do I want to listen to him sniffing in my ear, or getting edgy about phoning the dealer before his coke-induced personality fizzles into a little puddle of white powder on a mirror next to a crumpled banknote. I’ve never understood why it’s necessary, especially at a dinner party. I blame it on boredom. Come on, people, you’re far more interesting without it.

Did I say each to his own? Look at me being all judgey.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Green beans

I love green beans. Green beans make my tummy hurt. I, therefore, avoid them, so my poor little tummy doesn’t hurt. I’m at a point, though, where there’s a hole in me that I can’t seem to fill. I just ate a whole bunch of green beans for lunch. This is not good sign for where my head is at right now. Not at all.

TDoT(19): What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?

Ooo, controversial, this one, isn’t it? Do I do religion? Or politics? I’m not a lover of either, to be honest, but the fact that most politicians are fat cats puts me off that completely. Religion it is then.

I’m not a fan of organised religion but I believe each to their own. I think it’s safe to say that, through the ages, religion has been the source of some pretty nasty things and that’s the religion I’m against – the one with the idea of “My religion is the only right one, therefore I will spend a lot of energy convincing you of that and, possibly, resort to violence to enforce that fact.”

The one that encourages community, love, human respect – that I can see the point of. I don’t need to go to church for that however, I don’t need to concentrate my efforts on defining one superior being, or another. There may well be a higher power of some sort, I don’t feel the need to define it. In saying that, those who do, are welcome to do so, as long as they don’t use it to give themselves permission to judge anybody else.

I taught Sunday School at high school, would you believe? Admittedly, it was the toddlers we looked after, and we spent the time getting them to draw pictures of their family, who they love and such. I guess I’d already worked out my affiliatons by then.

Horrible news

My best friend lives in Sydney. Her mother lives here and survived breast cancer about five years ago. I’ve just got an e-mail from her saying her mum has it again, possibly in her lungs. She’s waiting to see the oncologist this afternoon. It’s at times like this that I hate the distance. I mean I always hate the distance, but even more so now. I’m sure she’s hating it more than me, though. It’s just crap.

It’s one of those things where there is nothing you can say or do to make it better. Makes me feel helpless, and I hate that. That helplessness thing again. Cancer is so very, very, frightening. Monstrous. And it makes my heart break.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TDoT(18): Your views on gay marriage

Ooo, I like this one. My views on gay marriage... Let's see. I am completely pro. Luckily, because my sister is married to a woman, so it would've been very hard had I not been. They are one of the most stable, loving, couples I know. This is not an easy feat with 18-month old twin boys, but they're doing it, and I admire them for it. We'd all be so lucky to find love like that. Would I still be pro Gay marriage if my sister wasn't gay? Hell, yes.

People who love each other and wish to commit to each other, in whatever way or form they so wish, should be allowed to. It makes me seethe when I hear that politician's and religious leaders get to choose who is allowed to love who. Who the fuck do they think they are?

Surely we should be over the moon about anybody who loves somebody enough to want to make a public commitment to another? It is love that'll allow this world to continue, and only love. The moment we start trying to kill that off, we're doomed.

Funnily enough, I'm not that concerned about the actual institution of marriage. I don't see it as a necessity in a relationship at all. Commitment? Yes. Faithfulness? Absolutely and totally. The papers and legality of marriage? Not so much. But, for anyone, be they boy and boy, girl and girl, boy and girl, who wishes to partake in the ceremony of it, they should be allowed to, freely and safely.

We are lucky to live in a country with one of the most progressive and open constitutions in the world but, make no mistake, there is still incredible prejudice amongst it's people. Horrible, dangerous, violently scary prejudice. It is that that we need to fight against, tooth and nail.

So, my views on gay marriage? Happy, lovely, wonderful. Let's clink champagne glasses to happy, loving, couples. All of them.

TDoT(17): A book you’ve read that changed your views on something

I think, honestly, every book I read changes my views on things, shifts my brain slightly left, slightly right, shakes it up a bit (this is starting to sound like the Hokey Pokey, I'll stop there.) I'm a fan of fiction, often of the fluffy sort, but not always. Even those open one's eyes, always, to something one hasn't thought of before. One that's not fluffy, The Blue Notebook, didn't change my views as such, but rather made something known to me that previously I hadn't realised. A chilling, sad, monstrous truth. And that's just one example. I'm going to warp this topic a bit, though, and not go on about one, specific, book.

Okay, they're not, by any stretch of the imagination, books, but you'll get my point... Women's magazines. They're also not high on my list of desired reading matter. I'll happily read them in a waiting room but I would never buy one unless it was under dire circumstances. I have always had great faith in humankind. I think, intrinsically, we're all good people, and have the greater good at heart. Even if some people don't try very hard to show that, I'm certain it's there.

Then I read women's magazines, and discovered a whole population of people to whom The Outer is the important bit. You will never find a man unless your toenails are pedicured, your face is covered in a layer of make-up (and, preferably botoxed, collagened, stretched and tightened surgically) and you resemble a stick insect in a bikini (preferably designer). God forbid you're seen outside the home without the latest Vuitton/Gucci/Balenciaga handbag. The world might crumple in on itself.

My views changed, I realised there is a vast majority out there who are completely driven by the material, the labels, the outer beauty. So I stopped reading them. There are, also, a bunch of people, apparently, who can bury their head in the sand, and pretend it's not happening... Me? Never.

TDoT(16): Someone or something you definitely could live without

I could happily live without helplessness. I've mentioned it before, my intense dislike of it in others, and now my having it thrust on me, unasked for, unwanted, hated, but immovable. I am the type who, if something needs doing, I like to get it done. I was a light bulb-changer, a toilet roll thrower away, a cook dinnerer.

It changed in a matter of seconds, a crushing sound of metal, some thorn trees. And I could definitely live without it.

TDoT(15): Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it

My hot water bottle. It's like a security blanket. Without it I struggle to sleep. I have tried to not use it, hearing the jeers of my friends. I had to have it back. It has to be above 25 degrees (celcius) for me to not want it. Seriously. This is Thirty Days of Truth. I cannot lie.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In between TDoT, my heart contracts

Every now and again I find myself in a spot where I am embraced in a place, as public as it is, by people who love me. The ones from forever ago, and the ones I know will be forever there, and my heart contracts. Driving home, the music loud, my heart contracts more...

TDoT(14): A hero that has let you down

Oprah. I love her, but she let me down. Not on purpose of course, but she promised me, oh, years ago now, that if I visualised and mantra-ed about something it would happen. And it sort of did, but then it didn't.

Dear Oprah,

I'm a huge fan, and please don't let this letter make you think I'm any less of a fan now, but I just must let you know that I feel a little let down about something. It's not huge, and I wouldn't ordinarily have bothered you with it, but I'm doing Thirty Days of Truth you see, and this one's on 'A hero that has let you down' and I promised to write on the first thing that came to mind, and that was you, and this.

Many, many months ago, you did a show on visualising what you want, and saying it to yourself first thing each morning. You and the expert on your show that time (sorry, I can't remember their name) promised that, if I did this, it'd come true.

Well, I thought very hard about it, and created my mantra, and repeated it each morning for many, many moons. Then something happened, and I thought it'd worked. Then something else happened, and I thought it hadn't. Now, though, as I write this letter, I realise it did, but perhaps just not in the way I'd thought. Makes me think of the saying 'Be careful what you wish for.' Except that I'm not sad that this is what I got.

Oh, blast, I just talked in a complete circle. You're my hero, you let me down (in a very roundabout way) but now I see maybe you didn't.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Lots of love,
Shiny x

TDoT(13): A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days (a letter)

This is a hard one, there are many people I'd need to write to - Eddie Veder, Tori Amos, the guys from The Shins, but the one who's seen me through most, who, if I had to pick one band to play my soundtrack, is REM, so here goes:

Dear Michael, Peter, Mike and Bill,

You have consistently, through the past 20 years (shit, how did it suddenly get that long?), provided a soundtrack to my life. I remember listening to Nightswimming at full volume on my Walkman, walking up a quiet, moonlit street at university, tears pouring after my first boyfriend (not first love, just boyfriend) had broken up with me. Those spattered teardrops on the pavement with that song filling my head made me feel okay.

Months later, lying on the carpet of my First Love's parent's lounge floor, we listened to What's the Frequency Kenneth. Loud. It coursed through me. I still can't listen to that song without feeling the carpet on the backs of my legs, his fingers on my stomach.

And then the happy, dancey ones, that made us shake our little booties, even if we were heartbroken or tired or just gatvol - Stand, Shiny Happy People, Near Wild Heaven, even Losing my Religion. The list is endless.

So thank you boys, for the music.

With love,
Shiny x

TDoT(12): Something you never get compliments on

I've never been complimented on my nose. Probably because it's a nose of the type that has a good appetite. Kindly put, I'd call it big-boned. Not the whole way, just at the bottom, it's fleshed out. Good grief, it sounds revolting.

When my sister was born, her nose was disproportionately big and my mother made my father promise that he'd pay for a nose job for her when she was older, if she so wished. She's still allowed to take him up on the offer. It's not necessary, though, she grew into it beautifully.

Being the second-born, by which stage my sister was as cute as a button (seriously - looking at her photos I'd swear they made up that phrase for her), they weren't perturbed by mine when I popped into this world, and so I don't have that promise bestowed on me. Not that I'd use it anyway. It's really not that bad, and I'm quite fond of it even if it's not compliment-inducing.

TDoT(11): Something people seem to compliment you the most on

I used to get complimented on my smile, all the time. It has slowed down though, now that I'm thinking about it. I wonder why? Is it because I'm older? Isn't it a nice smile anymore? Or, how terrible, am I not smiling as much?

Now there's something to think about. I try to smile a lot you see. I smile at everybody. It just seems so much nicer to do that than to just look vacantly through people. Admittedly, I don't smile at everybody, all the time, because sometimes I'm just in my head and am not actually noticing things in this world. If I am in this world when I see you though, I'll smile.

Hmm, maybe I need to think more deeply about this. Maybe I'm spending too much time in my head, so not smiling enough, so not getting the compliments anymore. How complicated. Only thing is that I need to work out how to stop thinking so hard about it (and dwelling in my head) so that I'm available to smile.

Friday, November 19, 2010

TDoT(10): Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know

Wow, do people have those? Really? People you wish you didn't know? Surely not. Maybe I'm just ultra-blessed, but I like all the people around me. Not all the time, of course, but mainly, when I feel like I wish I didn't know them, it's because I'm grumpy, not them.

Okay, maybe that's not entirely true, there are a couple of people I have needed to let go. One, who I wished I didn't know in the early hours of a Monday morning some years back, was Scrabble Boy (SB). We met on Facebook. Playing Scrabble. I love Scrabble and love even more that, on Facebook, you can just join a game, whenever. Which is what I did with SB.

First, we just played Scrabble, then we started chatting in the little box next to the board. He was funny, I liked him. He called me 'linguistically seductive', a sure winner in my eyes, especially as he spelt 'linguistically' correctly. Then we e-mailed, Skyped (he lives on another continent), we got to know each other. He was honest and sweet and told me all about the messed up situation he'd found himself in, with the unfortunately nasty mother of his very beloved young daughter, living in a house with her, purely so he could continue fathering his child.

Then it progressed to SMS-ing, trans-continentally, trans-time-zonally. It was fun, it was exciting, it became decidely naughty. He had experiences I couldn't have imagined, things that made him sound so... well... suitable. He kept talking about coming to visit.

To backtrack a little - I have always been extremely dubious of any kind of internet relationships. I was very clear with him about not wanting to ever be 'the other woman', even though we had never, physically, met. For me, a mentally-stimulating affair is just as bad, if not worse, than a physical one. He was upfront each time, explaining his relationship with this woman was non-existant, save for sharing a house. She sounded awful - vindictive and hateful.

You know where this is going... one Monday morning at 1am, my phone rang and on the other side was an extremely angry and rude woman who demanded to know who I was, and why my number was all over her 'husbands' mobile phone. Honestly, I went cold, denied any knowledge of who/where/what/how, and hung up. She tried to phone again, I turned my phone off. I e-mailed him the next morning, saying she'd contacted me and that this whole thing was over.

He e-mailed, he called, I didn't answer. I let him go. It was sad, because we got on so well, in so many spheres. I still don't know whether or not he was actually married. I have to admit, though, that I still believe he was being honest about her nature, regardless. I hope he's worked out by now that sticking around is not the answer, and will definitely not make for a good environment for his beloved daughter to grow up in.

TDoT(9): Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted

I think the person this probably applies to most is my First Love. It was almost storybook in its perfectness. I was 19, he was 17 (yes, yes, cradlesnatcher blah blah) and our first kiss, after much dancing about each other with knowing looks and stars falling from the sky in great meteoric showers, was on the beach on a moonlit night, waves crashing below as we wrapped ourselves in each other. See? I wasn't lying. I said it was storybook.

We remained wrapped in each other for almost two years, growing up together, he was the first person I slept with, it was gentle, beautiful, storybook (again.) I realise, now, after hearing other people's stories that I was incredibly lucky. We did everything together and were truly, youthfully, happy. He got me, I got him. Every bit of each other. As is the case of many relationships, the happiness got less and we eventually (after much angst, pain, and to-ing and fro-ing) called it a day. We were very good friends still, though.

Well, we still are, but the drift came in. We fell in love with other people, moved to different towns, life happened, he moved continents, we got older, exchanging sporadic e-mails that became more-and-more sporadic until they are, now, reduced to an occassional comment on Stalkbook. I never meant it to happen, but it did.

The good news, though, is that I am pretty sure (as sure as one can be of these things) that, when he returns to these shores, he'll still get me and I'll still get him, and that friendship will return.

Busy busy on holiday

See what happens? I make these wild statements of finshing Thirty Days of Truth before the end of November and then, suddenly, it's the 19th and I've been busybusybusy (on holiday) going to wonderful galleries with high ceilings and white walls and beautiful photos; having lunch at a friend's hole-in-the-wall restaurant filled with happy people and healthy food and love; wandering around the city seeing the throb of life there; popping in to the Reserve Bank; walking the fan walk to my beloved stadium, a sea of yellow people, to watch Bafana Bafana against the USA (I saw the president!); being sad at the arrival of the period of a wanting-to-be-pregnant friend; celebrating the birthday of another friend in a Cuban bar full of people talking and laughing and smoking cigars.

And writing, writing, for my course. But now, I am going to write, write for me. This weekend will be filled with TDoT's - truth spouting left, right and centre. Because I want to be back with writing about what's going on in my life. The people I saw, the conversations I had. But first, let me get through the self-inflicted therapy of TDoT.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TDoT(8): Someone who made your life hell

It was years and years ago, but I still can't think of her without shuddering and being incredibly happy that she is no longer anywhere near me. She is one of a sprinkling of people who I would specifically and determinedly avoid if I ever saw her in a supermarket. It was surreptitious at first, but as her personal life unravelled she became overtly aggressive and downright nasty.

I found it all the more difficult because, in a personal capacity, she was really nice and we got on well and, honestly, I think she had so much shit going on in her head and was really a "Little girl lost" and I'd have loved to have been a friend to her, but I couldn't. Not after how she treated us.

She was my boss, a very pretty woman who wore strangely inappropriate clothes and had the work mentality of a corporate boss of a bullying oil company. This did not, by any means, suit her position, but she didn't notice, and she bullied and bitched and was downright mean in an (strangely inappropriate - see the link?) officious manner. Not even sure that sentence makes sense but I like the word 'officious', so it's staying.

I know now that I would never put up with that again. After two (or was it three?) years of a frantically down-spirally work environment, two of us went to the big boss and said it's her or us. She resigned and we breathed again. I literally dreaded work. What was I thinking?

It was hell and, even now, so many years later, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I hope that she's learnt to be happy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

TDoT(7): Someone who has made your life worth living for

Another tough one. There is no way I could narrow that down to one. I am blessed, I count myself as one of the luckiest girls in the world, honestly, because I am surrounded by people I love and who love me back.

I have a mother and father who gave me everything a child could need, and by that I mean in the emotional sense, not the material. They loved us and nurtured us and didn't force us in any direction but guided us quietly (I see now) toward what they saw we loved. Don't get me wrong, I went through stages (mainly teenage-induced ones) when I despised them... curfews etc, but they certainly made my life worth living for. Well, essentially, they created it. Eeugh, sis, I'm not sure why I brought that up. As previously discussed they have only ever done 'that' twice: once to make my sister, once to make me.

My sister kept me in line. Now we keep each other in line. She is ferocious in her loyalty to me. We loved each other and hated each other when we were younger, now we just love each other. There is four years difference and when I, aged 10 wanted to wear the same clothes as her, aged 14, it didn't go down too well. Now she's a mother herself to two little boys who also now make my life worth living for. And a damn fine mother she's turning out to be. Both of them - her and N, my sister-in-law.

And my friends, the intricately woven group of people who keep each other going. The people who I can cry with, laugh with, love with. The one's who's hearts I hold so carefully in my hand and who do the same for mine. The long Sunday lunches, the quick coffees, the e-mails back-and-forth, the phonecalls and the visits.

That all makes life worth living for.

Let's catch up, shall we?

As you can see, I'm going rather faster than one post a day for Thirty Days of Truth. There are a number of reasons for this, the main ones being:
  1. I wish to write a book
  2. Anything which allows procrastination is taken up with vigour (see point 1)
  3. In order to get to the book-writing I need to finish Thirty Days of Truth (see point 2)
  4. I am obsessive-compulsive about finishing things (see point 3)
  5. I am on holiday this week allowing for large amounts of vigorous procrastination
  6. I wish to finish my Thirty Days of Truth by December

I hadn't realised how hardcore the whole thing is. I didn't read the entire list before launching myself into it with vigorous fervour. Silly me. However, I'm putting my Big Girl Panties on and doing it. Vigorously. Fervently. In far less than thirty days. I've never liked being told what to do. I shall do it in, urm, twenty-something days. Before December the first, that being a big day for me. I wish to be done with the truth-telling then and return to the safe coccoon of my vaguely truthful storytelling.

Back to point 5. I'm on holiday and it's Summer and one of my old varsity friends and I are visiting galleries around the City Beneath the Mountain this week. And lunching. Today we wandered off to the seaside, a small place full of eccentrics where I met the postman and discovered he's about the nicest man there. But back to TDoT. Sigh. What's next?

TDoT(6): Something you hope you never have to do

Shoo, that's a difficult one. There are those things that are inevitable but you wishwishwish would never happen. I hope I never have bury the one's I love, but I know it has to happen at some stage. Well, no, I won't have to bury them, literally, we're of the cremation types, my family, but you know what I mean.

Hoping I don't have to do it, won't change the fact that I will. Perhaps a better hope would be to hope that I never have to say goodbye to anyone I love traumatically or tragically. Anybody who reads Family Matters (fabulous blog) will know what I mean. To die peacefully, surrounded by family and love and still graciousness, that's what I hope for. For all those I love, and me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TDoT (5): Something you hope to do in your life

I hope to write a novel. In fact, I'm closer to that dream than I have ever been before. I'm almost finished the writing course which has been completely intimidating but really good. The majority of the people on it have novels written already. They're 'tweaking' them.

Me? I've found a character through the assignments we've done that I really like and think maybe I could turn into something resembling a book. I just need a plot now and to make myself sit down and write. I'm supposed to be doing just that now but look, I've procrastinated myself into doing thirty posts revealing my truths. Good grief.

I am busy writing something that will either turn into a synopsis of the book or just be my character's background but it's becoming something. It's starting to wake me at night and occupy my early morning thoughts... where she is, what she's doing.

So yes, I hope to write a book. It'd be cool if it got published too.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TDoT(4): Something you have to forgive someone for

I can count them on the fingers of one hand, not using all my fingers even. The people who have broken my heart. It is such an exhilirating, wonderful, excrutiatingly scary place, that one where you offer your heart, in all it's squelchiness to somebody. I don't regret doing it, but I need to forgive those who threw it back to me battered and beaten and, somehow, smaller.

Nobody did it on purpose, I'm lucky not to have entrusted my heart to anybody who'd do that and, I guess, that makes it slightly more easy to forgive. I said slightly. The wounds from those batterings and beatings last, they seep, they get scabs, the scabs drop off, but they leave scars.

Miranda did a beautiful post on scars, I hope she doesn't mind me linking. I suppose it's the scars that make us whole, beautifully imperfect, and that's why I need to forgive those who gave me mine, they've made me who I am. If only it didn't hurt so. Still.

Friday, November 12, 2010

TDoT(3): Something you have to forgive yourself for

Not being perfect. I know, I know, I've heard it - nobody's perfect so why should I be? Exactly. I've heard it, I know it on surface but I still haven't 'got it' and I beat myself up regularly when I fall short, make mistakes, get things wrong. I need to forgive myself.

For not providing my parents with the suburban dream of a husband and two kids (which they have never asked for,or shown any disappointment about, it's all me), for sometimes just feeling too drained to pick up a phone and see how people are doing, for covetting what other people have, for drinking too much sometimes, for forgetting somebody's birthday, for feeling angry at people who's fault it isn't really, for acting like a teenager when my mother's around, for still occassionally wondering what it would've been like had it not happened, would it have worked out? The list is endless.

I need to forgive myself for my (numerous) imperfections, to remember I'm human, and as humans we fuck up occassionally and it's okay.

TDoT(2): Something you love about yourself

My hands and my heart. The first literally, the second in the more metaphorical sense. I suppose that's obvious, though. It's not like I've ever really seen my heart, although I have seen others. I saw the first transplant hearts, both the one taken out and the one put in. They're in jars ar Heart Transplant Museum. I stray. I do, of course, appreciate my literal heart. It's done a damn fine job of pumping blood in and out and round about for over thirty five years, and for that I am grateful. Straying again.

My hands - I've always loved them. I was genetically blessed with long fingers and slender hands with fragile-looking skin and good nails. Oh, that sounds so braggy. This truthfulness thing is not so easy! People always commented that I should play the piano. I never did. I played the recorder, attempted guitar and used my long fingers to grab onto the things I held dear, caress the ones I love and hold open books I read.

My heart - well, it sometimes makes life very difficult for me, screwing itself into a little damp ball of sheer sadness but, in the main, it fills up with happiness and beauty and love and makes me smile and I love that it does that. It makes me play The Smiling Game which I do often, much to the embarrassment of friends. The Smiling Game entails me grinning (maniacally?) at everybody we drive past in the car. It's fabulous and is, mostly, greeted with similiar smiles from strangers in other cars.

My heart also allows me to love with an intensity that sometimes I fear will make me spontaneously combust. In a good way though. It has caused heartbreak too but I wouldn't change its propensity for love one iota. That kind of thing, those emotions that my heart allows, that's what makes me love it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Days of Truth: Day 1

Thirty Days of Truth

Day 1: Something you hate about yourself.

That I can’t walk, or swim in the sea, or dance about wildly, like I used to. I don’t mention it on here often. Well, surreptiously or cryptically I do, but that’s not what this blog is about and I don’t want it to become about that either, so it won’t. For anyone who is confused and wants to read the whole sorry story, go to The Tragedy Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. For this prompt, though, I must. It’s just that, when I saw this first 30 Days of Truth topic, it was the first thing I thought of. And I promised myself I’d try to write about the first thing that came to mind.

So, yes, I hate not jumping out of bed in the morning to have a shower, walk down the passage, make some tea. I hate not being able to drive down to the seaside, willy-nilly, just because I feel like it. To feel the sand between my toes, to body surf in the frizzing, frothy waves. Swimming. I hate not feeling water over my entire body, that weightlessness. I hate never being alone. And I hate feeling alone.

And I hate that I can’t do anything about it. Helplessness has always been way up there on my list of things I don’t like. I have always been particularly intolerant of people who insist on acting helpless. Maybe this is my lesson?

I could go on but it’s all the same stuff I hate not being able to do, both the everyday and the not-so-everyday. So I’ll stop it just there because it opens the biggest, blackest hole in me that makes me frightened. And I hate that.

Thirty Days of Truth

I am, in case you hadn’t noticed, making an effort to write more and, in the pursuit of keeping the momentum going and in bringing this blog back to me, trying to pry open my shell and stop writing about everything else except for me, I am going to attempt to do 30 Days of Truth. Probably not in thirty consecutive days, but I shall work through all thirty prompts.

I’m not sure of the whole origin of it, I searched and searched, but only got to The List, which I hope is the original, but might not be! Apologies if I'm not acknowledging the right origins. The internet is a spiderweb. How profound am I?

I will, also, attempt to write about the first thing that springs to mind when reading the prompt. I promise to push through my (oh-so-blasé-by-now) privacy issues and write completely honestly, no holds barred. Or maybe just one or two holds barred. Or is it bars held? Buggerit I don’t even think the saying ‘no holds barred’ makes sense.

You get what I’m getting at, surely?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Swing

It is beautifully warm today, a real Summer’s day with the hot African sun blistering through already, despite it being only 7 am when I leave home for Real Work. I take off the little cardigan I’d put on, being unsure of what today would bring after yesterday’s chilliness and rain. I won’t be needing it today.

On my way to work in a small side street that we take to avoid the traffic is a swing. It hangs on the branch of a huge, gracious tree, above a patch of green grass, facing the road. It is one of those children’s drawing swings – a wooden plank with rope handles. They’re particularly long rope handles, tied to a big branch high up in the tree.

I am fascinated by the swing. I see it each morning, sitting there, quite still, watching the traffic drive by. It moves slightly if it is windy. I can sometimes see children sitting on it, even though they're not there so early. I guess it's just the imprint of the ones who use it when I'm not there. When it swings, it’ll swing right out into the road and I wonder if it’s high enough to be above the cars?

I hope so.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The house with two numbers

It was Small Town South Africa of the 80’s at its best. Our telephone number only had four digits – 3583. I lived in Beatrix Street for years, first at number 11, then number 33, but they were both the same house.

I’ll explain. At the end of the street was a large piece of veld with nothing on it except a huge rain drain that ran through the middle. During summer thunderstorms children would go down the roaring rapids that would appear suddenly on blown up tyres. Unfortunately, the rapids would disappear just as quickly, leaving us sitting on our tyres on the concrete floor of the drain.

About five years into our stay at number 11 they extended the road into the veld and built a whole bunch of little boxy houses down there. The problem was that number 1 started that end. But, my little Small Town South African Small Town didn’t let that get in the way of expansion. They just tipped it all over and started with number 1 at the opposite end, changing ours from 11 to 33 (and everybody elses from whatever to everwhat).

For years we got the previous-33-er’s mail and the previous-11-ers got ours. Essentially, it turned into a really good way to shake the street up and allow everybody to meet their neighbours. Then again, in Small Town South Africa, we knew everyone anyway.

I was just thinking, though, perhaps it’d be a good idea in The City Beneath the Mountain. While I know my neighbours, it is in a vague-wave-hello kind of way, as opposed to a may-I-borrow-an-egg-here’s-a-slice-of-the-cake-I-just-made-send-your-kids-over-here-while-you-shop way.

I wonder if I should send a letter to council suggesting turning the number chronology around of streets?

Early Saturday morning

I was woken on Saturday morning by the crash-bang of my bedroom door against my dressing table. The Big Black Dog entered the room looking sheepish. I know this even though my back was to the door and I was happily sleeping (until the crash of door against dresser) because I have known The Big Black Dog a good, long, time. I pretended to remain sleeping. The Siamese Princess was curled behind my knees, probably dreaming of paper bags and boxes (her favourite things.) She too awoke with the crash of door against dresser.

I know this because she greeted The Big Black Dog like a long-lost friend that she hadn’t seen for years, climbing onto my legs to gain some height and meowing her greetings in her not-so-melodious-Siamese yowl. She then walked along the length of my body to my shoulder, as if I were the Great Wall of China. On my shoulder she paused to stretch, yawn loudly (this I could see because her left paw was almost on my chin, and hear because her little Siamese mouth was about 2cm from my ear.)

At this point, The Big Black Dog was pushing her snout into my back. I know what she wanted – food, love, attention – pretty everyday The Big Black Dog desires. I closed my eyes quickly, feigning sleep, even though she could only see the back of my head. The Siamese Princess hopped daintily from her perch, landing with a surprisingly loud thud for such a small cat and I heard her pitter-patter through into the kitchen where she ate some breakfast (she has surprisingly loud chewing sounds, too.)

The Big Black Dog followed her and I lay wondering whether, when nobody is looking, The Siamese Princess juggles a couple of her pellets and throws them down to The Big Black Dog. They are very good friends, considering one is a very small and old Siamese, and the other is a big-boned (ahem) black labrador of middle-age-but-puppy-temperament, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

Ah, yes, life in The House in the Middle of the Street is not half domestic, is it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Free the chickens!

I did it. I stopped all the ridiculous hours of messing around on a fake farm on Stalkbook which I have been doing for months years now. No, I didn’t have time lying around like puddles after a rainstorm, I was just neglecting real stuff that I should have been doing. But from today, it’s done.

I let all of my animals out of their hocks (shock! I had battery hens, despite my having not actually eaten chicken for three years in protest against such things.) I liked to think that inside the little chicken coop which held my sixty chickens was an enormous, comfortable place full of overstuffed couches on which happy chickens contendedly laid eggs, chattered, and did, well, chickeny things. See? Not only did I spend physical time, but mental too.

I have harvested all my crops, except the pineapples which will be ready just now and then I’ll free them too. I tilled the soil to allow whatever wants to grow there to grow and I have left my vast orchards that range from olives to gingko trees to cashews for all the freed animals to eat (cows, pigs, horses all released too, to join penguins, turtles, llamas and various other wonderful creatures I’d collected.)

I have visions of them building a little bar in the nursery barn (now that I freed all the baby animals), harvesting cashews and roasting them in the bakery oven, for bar snacks, all of them cramming in, a piano in the corner on which Bob, the Boer Goat, sometimes plays old Irish songs, when he’s had a toot too many. The chickens will then put on their suspender belts and do the can-can on top of the piano.

I know, I know, all the intellectuals got all high-horsey about us who devoted oodles of our time on such a frivolously time-wasting activity. Well, I’m an expert now, I can tell you why I found the time for it. It was a fabulous stress reliever and, even though it’s all in cyberspace, there is nothing more satisfying than planting seeds, and something grows. And, as you can see, it was a whole world into which I could become absorbed, away from Real Work and the real world.

But it’s time for me to let them all free and, in doing so, free up my time to do what I so desperately wish to get myself doing: write.

And it looks like it may be working, doesn’t it?

Aqua aerobics mirth

It was one of those perfect Blue Sky Saturdays as we drove away from the city, its string of cars pulsing out bad breath and loud noise. We waved them goodbye as the road stretched before us, through golden wheat fields full of hawks swooping above as, I’m sure, little mice gathered sheafs of wheat below. Or picnicked. Maybe mice picnic amongst the wheat when it’s waiting to be harvested. And play mouse cricket, with a tiny bat and even tinier ball. Whatever they were doing, I hope they were paying attention to the birds of prey above.

We went to stay at a beautiful old farmhouse on the edge of a little village with a big mountain backdrop. It’s one of those villages that is full of the artistic, the eccentric, and the trees whisper of secrets and goings-on that happen when the sun sets behind that mountain and fairy lights begin to flicker in the trees.

The owners are retired from The City Beneath the Mountain. He started a string of security businesses here at the right time, knowing it would become booming business as crime stats gripped at our throats. Before that he was a publisher, and even before that, he was a musician (while he was ‘courting’ her). They burned themselves out over 30 years of it and now live idyllic lives there, in a little piece of paradise.

We went into the village to watch the rugby. Well, G watched the rugby, while I read Huisgenoot (I’d left my book at the guest house and Huisgenoot seemed apt) and watched the people – the wholewheat family at the next table, six adults and an endless supply of children doing a very good job of ‘communal parenting’ – pizza slices, dummies, bottles and Daddy’s laps being shared.

At the next table a girl who looked young, but apparently isn’t, drank herself silly on the local cocktail, the Italian Stallion (my mother should do some cocktail naming for them), which, on tasting, contained a mixture of alcohols with, I think, Sparberry (fizzy raspberry) – alcopop to the extreme.

Then home to bed in our house with a wide passage and stories of a ghost donkey who runs down the road with its tail on fire (purely fabricated by our proprieter apparently – he says it’s the most brilliant security measure). The morning brought with it a brilliant blue sky and the still heat of the Swartland. The lady of the house persuaded G to do aqua aerobics in the beautiful pool as I sat in the shade of the wide stoep overlooking the vineyards beyond the pool.

Our proprietor busied himself playing old show tunes and languid French-sounding love songs on the piano in the depths of the cool house while I laughed at G cheating at her aqua aerobics and the lady of the house pirouhette and dance in the pool. My best bit though, the Chinese face exercises which included various sticking-out-tongue-while-raising-eybrows manouvres:

Lady of the House: Okay, now rub the tip of your nose with the palm of your hand.
G: Like this?
LotH: Yes, it’ll make you sexy.
(Snorts of mirth from Shiny on the stoep).

They were lovely and tried to get us to stay another night, on the house (and in the house, snigger). We’d have loved to, but schedules didn’t permit. With sighs we drove back toward the mountain, playing music loudly all the way to push back any creeping Sunday Blues.

Honestly, what can be better than a Blue Sky Saturday?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The old man

He smelt of jasmine, an unusual smell for an old man, and not his normal one. Normally he smelt of, well, old man, like my grandfather used to smell: a warm, comforting, knowledgeable smell like a mix between old chests of drawers filled with treasures and shaving cream. Yesterday, it was jasmine though. He kissed me hello, as he does every Tuesday, and I smelt the jasmine and it made my heart swell.

He’s had an air of sadness since his beloved wife died eight months ago. It had been a whirlwind office romance, years ago, before I was here. When I started working here and met him for the first time twelve years ago I knew I’d met a kindred spirit. He’s an oddball, no mistaking. His passion (beside psychiatry) is Oscar Wilde. He’s writing a book about the man. When he retired, he made me cry at his farewell, mentioning me in his speech. I felt his affection for me.

I think he would’ve been gay in a different time, like now, but he loved his wife, with all his heart and it shattered when she died. His weekly visits to us showed a thin, sad, man, his Grandpa smell tinged with heartbreak. Each time he came, he seemed to be a little more transparent, as if he was slowly fading into nothing. I wondered if he’d come back to us.

Which is why his jasmine smell yesterday made my heart swell.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

PMS... of course!

Why didn’t one of you lot say something? Hmm? Couldn’t one of you, just one, look back and see that last month, around this time, I became as gloomy as the velvet-nosed but not-so-happy Eeyore? And the month before, and the month before that. You see where I’m going with this? I’m shifting the blame onto you, my two readers. It’s your fault that you didn’t pick up a tinge of PMS. God forbid, however, one of you had actually picked it up and told me that. I might’ve bitten your head off. Or, more likely, burst into tears.

Okay, I’m not denying that there is some shit going on my head, completely non-hormone-related stuff that is making me very sad but, mostly, I can push it back down into my murky depths. I know that’s not the healthiest way to deal with such things but it’s the only way I can at the moment. And what’s the point of having murky depths if you can’t push things there?

So here I am, feeling slightly better (slightly being an operative word here) after realising that, perhaps I’m not spiralling into a deep depression from whence I will never come back (drama queen, me?) but am, instead, just going through the motions of being a woman.

It’s been twenty years already. You’d have thought I’d have worked it out by now, wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Losing equilibrium and fighting monsters

I keep bursting into tears. Well, not bursting really, more like drizzling into tears. My nose runs, my eyes get all teary, and the lump in my throat makes it hard to breathe. It’s like there is a miniature storm brewing, just below my surface. It seems that there is nothing under my skin but salt water and it is expanding and sploshing around. I need to keep very still not to let it spill.

One minute I’m fine, the next I lose some equilibrium (see something, hear something, think something) and it starts leaking out of my eyes and nose. I know all the probable reasons for this leakage, but I push those little monsters back, swatting at them with whatever is near – a plastic fork, a broom, I even threw the little baby food jar that contained the balsamic vinegar for my salad for lunch at a particularly ferocious one earlier.

And, simultaneously, the hollowness echoes in my terrarium, making the sploshing salt water that makes up my being so loud it almost blocks out the sound of the wind howling outside the Ivory Tower. I know the gale is there, though. I watch the birds trying their hardest to fly into it, being bashed backwards by its power, and that makes me leak again. I can relate.

I wonder how I can make myself keep completely still, so the leaking stops?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unattached in a terrarium

Sometimes I just feel like I’m looking at the world from inside an aquarium, but without the water. So maybe it’s a terrarium. That is the one with the lizards and chameleons in it, isn’t it? I digress. I’m looking out, feeling a little sad, but not knowing why exactly. It’s just like there are thin threads of heartbrokenness swirling up my nostrils and down my throat with every breath I take, and I feel detached. Even the sounds I hear seem muffled.

They cleaned our windows today in The Ivory Tower at Real Work. It’s been a year, and the acid rain had deposited a layer of dust so thick on the outside that, after they were cleaned, my colleague exclaimed: “I can see cars!” She overlooks a four-lane highway. We are blessed with huge, 8 x 6 pane windows that stretch up two metres, so cleaning them changes the light completely. It’s suddenly crystallised.

Oh, you see? I’m making no sense, I can tell, but I’m too far detached from earth to be able to do anything about it. I’m sure the clean windows are explaining my terrarium feelings, but the sad detachment? Where’d that come from?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Birthday Party

There were a whole bunch of Jilly Cooper-style riders, hard hatted and holding crops; a roller skate girl so tall and skinny, the boys drooled as she rolled around; a sweet-faced boy in an American football outfit, war paint and all and numerous Bjorn Bjorg-esque tennis players, skinny white legs sticking out of too-short white shorts, sweatbands pushing their fringes out of place.

It was held at a rugby club on the slopes of The Mountain of The City beneath The Mountain. The decor has not changed there since the 70's but the view over the city is spectacular and The Moon had put on her party clothes too and was shining her silvery full moon light over the clouds that scudded by - children's drawing clouds - making the night sky look like a painting.

The regulars at the bar looked on, staring, at this motley crew of happy revellers, realising only when a guy dressed in a wetsuit arrived that it was a sporting theme. They didn't mind, as long as roller-skate girl continued shaking her li'l bootie around.

Great music, cocktail sausages with blocks of cheddar cheese and gerkhin on toothpicks, pineapple candelabras, a faux-Hawaiian backdrop for photos and noise! The noise of people talking, laughing. Old friends catching up, new friends being made. I met a boy from my Varsity of old - a dear, sweet boy. We chatted for ages, talking of people we know in common, I asked him how long him and his boyfriend had been together and he indignantly said: "I'm straight." And then we laughed and laughed.

The American football player, with the sweet face, is an artist, passionately so. We spoke about me putting his art into words or him putting my words into art. I got his number, we'll see. I watched one of my best friend's husbands in deep conversation with his wife's ex-boyfriend, my oldest friend (longest-standing... I've known him since I was born, our mother's being friends since their days at the same Varsity that we both went to.) Finally. They got on really well, unsurprisingly.

It was all in honour of another of my oldest friends' birthday (we worked out yesterday that it's been 17 years - we've known each other almost longer than we didn't, if that makes sense.) She is the one that I always said if the world ended and I was allowed to take only one person to live with me on another planet, it'd be her. That's why it was no surprise that, for her birthday, there was a room full-to-overflowing with people who adore her.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A very personal letter

I am 35. Middle-aged. It’s okay, I don’t see the point in fighting age. I mean, honestly, what are you going to do about it? There is no youth serum. Botox is poison and I wait for the day when medical science wakes up and suddenly realises our vanity is, literally, poisoning us. Let me not stray into serious medical argument territory though, it’s Friday afternoon and I’ve had a hurley-burley weekend of emotional roller-coaster for some reason.

I just came here to write a quick letter, you know how I love them. This one is personal. Highly so. I had not realised, when hearing people speaking of ‘Middle-aged Spread’, quite how literal it was. Good grief. Thus, the letter:

Dear Shiny’s Thighs,

You have been shining (ahem) examples of thighs for the past thirty five years and for that I am truly thankful. In my teenage/early twenty years you even got some pretty fabulous compliments from various admirers, especially after a long summer in the sun when you turned a fabulous golden-brown.

However, this new thing of yours of spreading, like large gloops of peanut butter and syrup off the edges of a hot slice of toast, as I sit, is completely unacceptable. At no stage, ever, in my life have I literally spilled over the side of any chair and I'm not happy about starting now. I fear that you and our butt (also a compliment-elliciting feature in its heyday) may be in cahoots with this – it sliding around to help you out…

Frankly, I wish to hear no apportioning of blame. I would just like you to stop it. Immediately. If not sooner.

Your ever-loving,
Shiny x

P.S. Please pass the message on to our butt too. Thank you.

I wonder if they'll listen?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I woke in the night from one of those terrifying dreams that make you gasp awake and lie for a while trying to get your breath back and order the tangle of thoughts flying around your head back into reality. It was all betrayal and sadness and, well, paralysis, but of the emotional kind.

The kind man’s death of the previous post is weighing on my mind. I keep going through the phone call from my mother, thinking of what I was thinking as she told me. And what it was, was this: I kept wishing the sentence would end: “Childhood friend called (please stop), her Dad fell down those treacherous stairs (STOP, please) and he had a terrible head injury (for fuck’s sake, stop now) and he died.” Deflation, heart break.

I wrote Childhood Friend an e-mail this morning but words sound so hollow at times like this, don’t they?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Heartbreak and joy

The father of one of my childhood friends from the dusty Small Town in the Free State fell down a flight of stairs yesterday and died. He was a wonderful, caring man who was always kind and gentle. He reminded me of Father Christmas. I am so very sad for them all. A reminder, again, of how fragile we all are.

My mother’s call to tell me this came after a morning of sinking feelings as Real Work dealt call after call of horrible, suffering-filled stories, mostly involving children. My heart breaks a little more with each one I deal with and, on one hand, I long to run away and leave it all behind where I can’t see it. Then I remember the man I spoke about above, and the good he did and force myself to be grateful that I can do something, despite having to hear it tearing me apart. Over and over.

And then I am constantly reminded of the whole cycle – my beloved friend, Pop, halfway through chemo, doing so well, pushing through. She is beautiful in her hairlessness, she seemed almost translucent when I went to take her some trashy reading yesterday while she sat, looking small, in the big Lazy Boy, the chemo dripping into her veins, chasing that monster away.

Another friend is in labour as we speak, her baby boy being oh-so-comfortable still, having waited over a week past his due date to start making moves towards joining us here in The Big Wide World. I am sure the wonderful man’s spirit is watching it all from above, smiling and also feeling the joy of the circle of life. Here’s wishing that little boy a safe ride in (and his mum a not-too-painful delivery of him, it’s been almost 24 hours of labour already!)

To heartbreak and joyousness and the celebration of life and my managing to keep my head above water.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Springtime letter

It was The Sweetest Day over the weekend. It’s a lovely thought, and non-commercialised and of quite large significance to me. It was a lovely day, too, in honour of it, sun-kissed and warm-aired. It’s always good to take a little step back and be grateful for those you love and those who love you.

Something, however, I am not loving at the moment is pollen. It has inspired another letter:

Dear little dustball-pollen-thingamies floating in the air,

While I am very appreciative, and quite aware of, your very important role in the whole pollination-reproduction-stamen stuff of plants and how much buzzing bees love rolling in you and covering their sticky little knees with you, could you please stop using my eyelashes as monkey bars? I am not a bee.

I wouldn’t mind so much if I weren’t allergic, but I am. And, honestly, the I’ve-Been-Sitting-on-the-Couch-Smoking-Weed-and-Playing-Playstation-for-Three-Solid-Weeks-Red-Eye look, is neither pretty nor professional. Neither is the incessant rubbing of my eyes to get you little buggers out and to stop the itching.

So, if you’d be so kind, please stick to the birds and the bees (snigger).

Love in the Springtime,
Shiny x

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Looking inward, literally

I lay watching my insides this morning. My liver, pancreas, kidneys, hiding behind each other, under my layers of skin, like children behind their mother’s skirts. They were simultaneously inside me, and on the screen. At one point she turned the colours on and I could see my blood pumping furiously through them, willing them on to stay plump and happy. The report was all good. It’s a weird feeling, though.

When we arrived, a panicked man was driving behind his, his flickers flashing. He nudged rudely past as we turned into our parking, then turned around and drove the wrong way back, parking directly in front of the entrance to the hospital. Opening the back door of the car he helped a heavily pregnant woman out. All thoughts of rude man flew out of my head as I saw The Stork fly over. I cried at the thought of such excitement. I’m a sissy that way.

Then I looked at my insides. While I lay there watching them swirl, I realised that this blog has metamorphosised into something it wasn’t before. I’m beginning to write stories about other people, and ignoring those about me. I know what it is. I attended enough Psych 101 classes with my friends at varsity to be able to see through myself.

It’s that privacy thing again. People I know read this. I am always amazed at how other people write so blatantly and honestly on their blogs. I am in awe of that. Perhaps they too, though, are only allowing glimpses into certain parts, leaving others in the dark. I also fear that I may have lost my sense of humour, though. It feels dark in here.

Maybe that’s just me?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tannie Anna and the wheat fields

I loved the window in our bedroom. It was tall and thin, like everybody in my family. Outside the window, which had shutters on the inside, was a white wall with the tendrils of a new, growing creeper peaking up and the branches of a big tree above in which birds tweeted.

That’s all we woke up to, the birds tweeting and the wind howling through the enormous eucalyptus trees in the garden. I could’ve sworn I heard Tannie Anna’s voice too, singing, carried on the wind, notes from her red guitar dancing like leaves on the wind’s breath.

We’d met Tannie Anna outside the Spaza shop when we drove into the town on Saturday. The golden wheat fields spat us out into a tiny town with a good feeling. It was like coming across a kindred spirit. There are fifty houses there, the Spaza shop, a bottle store (synonymous with Small Town South Africa) and a tiny restaurant. If you need petrol, you have to go 20km down the road to find it.

Tannie Anna and her husband are a tiny, wizened pair. They could be 40-years old, or 60. The cheap wine that they sell at the bottle store in a plastic bottle resembling those containing vinegar has turned their skin wrinkled and their eyes rheumy. She carries a red guitar that makes her look even smaller and comes up to the car as we stop. The pair launch into an old Afrikaans folk song, their voices thin, but her strumming beautiful.

That evening I watched dusk come over while I read my book with a glass of wine outside on the stoep and G watched rugby upstairs in the bar with some locals. After the match they joined me, pulling me from my book. Weekend visitors, but they own places there. Lucky fish.

What can be better than a Blue Sky Saturday trip on an open road that stretches as far as your eye can see?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The wind

The wind howled last night. It came from the direction that makes it want to get into my bedroom window, shaking at the window panes, rattling the long arm thingy that keeps it open. I don’t know which direction it is when it does that, but it seems to shake the House in the Middle of the Street to its very roots. My house, let’s put it lightly, is not all that, um, tightly put together – the windows don’t close completely, the door has a gap through which leaves can blow. It’s Africa, you see, we don’t do air tight. I love it dearly though, despite its noisy nature on windy nights.

I was amazed the first time I went to Europe, by how houses became almost hermetically sealed when you closed the two front doors. “Two front doors?” my naïve African-born-and-bred brain questioned, “How weird.” After a visit to the UK one November I got it. That ice wind can sting.

And that’s my story for today. Arbitrary, isn’t it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Schoolgirl crush

It is Summer. This fills me with glee. The air is warm, it’s light in the mornings when I get to work, I am wearing cotton Summer tops. You can see why this would make me happy. The prospects of icy cold beers watching the sun set, at eight! Yippee.

In the meantime, while Winter danced it’s dying dance (until next year, of course), I signed up for a little writing course which is filling me with nervous angst and titillating expectation. I fear I will be exposed by my fellow writing-course-writers as the frilly, over-descriptive writer that I am. There are people on the course who’ve already written novels. Novels they sent to publishers. Real ones. Oh my god, what’ve I got myself in for?

I was in the middle of one of the delightful anxiety attacks you’ve just experienced above, while downloading the video we had to watch for Module 1, which featured our teacher. He's delicious. I have a schoolgirl crush. I just know he made the video especially for me (and not the 100+ other students.) How do I know? Because he was talking directly to me, of course. Looking me in the eyes, his own twinkling at me, his voice lilting with passion for storytelling me.

It’s strange, because he’s not really my type, but there’s something about him that makes him yummy. He has an American accent, an accent which is by no means on the top of my Accent List. Good grief, I didn’t even know I had an Accent List until I wrote that! I find them a little rough normally, but his is... well… perfect.

I guess it could just be his passion for stories and writing that does it for me, but I think, personally, that it’s his little hint of a smile, especially made for me, that is my melting point. So you can imagine how pleased I was to find that he’d made me another one for module 2. My very own little video love letter, downloadable, just to me and 100+ other writing-course-writers , on the beginnings of stories.

I wonder if I need to get out more? The thing is, I need to wait at home, patiently, for Module 3, to see if he’s made me another one, don’t I?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A liitle sad story

She was running, as fast as she possibly could. She imagined that, to someone watching her, her legs would be a blur. She breathed raggedly, sucking in lungsful of the freezing air which felt like it slipped down into her lungs and created tiny icicles falling and piercing her insides excruciatingly.

Attached to her wrist was a red helium balloon which was bobbing comically in the air, trying its hardest to escape from the humdrum of this running-as-fast-as-you-can-standing-stillness. She’d flown away with it, into the bright blue sky, over green fields, but that was before she got concreted. Each time a growling car passed, the balloon bumped and pulled.

Looking around she realised that, in fact, she wasn’t moving at all. She tried to run faster, but she was concreted in that one spot, surrounded by suburban houses trying to outdo each other with higher walls and shinier doorknobs. Cars and taxis whizzed past her, growling, baring their teeth, and coughing their poison gases over her. She smelt the rot of the city.

On the verge was a small patch of grass upon which five children sat, a steps-and-stairs bunch, playing. They seemed to be conducting some sort of experiment with some snails and two ants. She tried to run towards them, her breath shortening, but she remained rooted and they started to blur, first losing their outlines, then their entire beings, until all that was left was a small shadow on the grass, an outline of love.

Her heart was being strangled by the whole scene and she began to realise, while she was concreted to that spot, the balloon wasn’t, so she began to bite through its string until it flew up, carried by that icy wind into the bright blue sky.

She watched it twist and turn and dance and as she watched she felt her substance draining away. A gust of wind blew down the street gathering her fluttering shell up in it, blowing her along the gutter to the rain drain at the corner, next to a Simba chip packet which fluttered disconsolately as she landed on it.