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 na├»ve 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?