Sunday, December 27, 2009

I so have it under control. Do too.

  • 50 bottles of wine. Check. Two of the three visitors arriving early tomorrow are related to me after all.
  • Enough meat. And by 'enough' I mean enough to sustain a small, yet moderately wealthy (none of that third world stuff for my New Years, thanks, I'm saving that for Easter) nation of a sizable bear-of-a-man population, such as Finland. NOT in Check? What is the Hubs playing at? Panic! 
  • Deodorant and a toothbrush for the 'hobo-ish' bro who'll for sure be arriving without neither. Check. Maybe some socks and clean underwear too...? 
  • Pent up need to speak Finnish loudly to people who actually understand it. Check
  • The will to criticize everyone around and the will to delight in the fact that no one will know it's them we are talking about. Check. Like so check.
  • Presents! Check. And not all of them are from me to me either.
  • Plane tickets to Cape Town, hotel reservations in Cape Town, and a restaurant reservation in the Cape Town Waterfront for New Year's eve. Check. I assume. The Hubs is dealing with all of the minor details. I just worry about the drinks, and the hair staying blue. Which is incredibly tough to multitask, but oddly gratifying at the same time. 
  • A way to freak out the visitors. Check. I'm picking them up from the airport by myself. In the big car. And the hobo-ish bro still doesn't believe that I can actually drive. Little does he know... Muahahahahaha.... (Go right ahead and imagine me doing that thing Mr. Burns does with his fingertips, only with more flair and less liver spots. Go ahead. I'll wait, I won't mind.)  
  • Multitudes of food. Check. I accessorized the hall with a giant bowl filled with just-in-case-someone-should-feel-peckish-at-all-times power-bars. Looks totally snazzy. And only a tad trashy. Hmph.
  • Freshly baked stuff in the form of chocolate balls (giggle, giggle) I made myself (technically by heating up some cream [measured and heated up by the Hubs] and then mixing it with chocolate [grated by the Hubs] and forming it into balls [ALL ME]. So no actual baking involved, but that's what I'm going to call it anyway. Don't hate). Check.
  • Plans. The Hubs says: "Check."
  • Random problems getting the spare bed to play nice. So check I'm almost embarrassed to admit it here. Think: problems with the soft box (which still hasn't been folded)...
  • Excitement over the visitors. Check. Like totally psyched. 
I'm just so prepared it almost hurts. Wish me luck.

Go ahead, have a ball!

See you in the New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Instead of saying something Christmassy, since it wouldn't be real anyways, I'm just going to say this:


Now I won't have to write anything scathing about the salon after all, and my Harry Potter days are over. I think I'll miss the wine-spells though... And HP did give my personal evil eye that extra-oomph it was always missing. Oh well.

Still, everyone jump of joy with me, won't you, and all that other blue-haired goodness too.

Big kisses to all of you folks, and everyone pretend like I sent out some Christmas cards (probably with my own face on them, illegible gibberish, and the addresses all screwed up, which is why they're only arriving in a few months). Thanks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My baby's all grown up, and wordy too.

It seems that milestones (I can't believe I just spelled that liestones, Dr. Freud?) are just coming at me left and right. Today my blog, this here one y'all gazing at right this very minute, is one year old. Post-wise that is, not in terms of how long I've had the account, but anyhoo.

One whole year of babble.

I know that's a piece of stinky cheese and not cake, but on its birthday the blog gets what the blog desires, so it was really out of my hands...

I have very little insight as to why I started blogging in the first place, or really, what this whole 'being a blogger' has done to me. So I thought I would combine a little random and highly inconclusive list-type-of-a-thing-a-ma-jiggy-dealio to chart my experience some.

So really, I'm just talking to myself here, people. Because I have nothing better to do (Yes I do actually, but we all know how I can procrastinate, yes?).

Blogging Pro (Blop):  All of my grand ideas on whatever I thought of farting on any given day of the past year are on file.

Blogging Con (Bloc): Sometimes my big thought of the day came down to meat, or possibly what was in my thrash can. I also believe that shoes were mentioned. More than once.

Blop: Instead of having to send an email to people confirming that I am, contrary to general belief, still alive and the weather is good in SA, I just update the blog.

Bloc: Apparently that's not enough. Mother.

Blop: I have something to do while I'm drinking my morning coffee, so that I don't just sit around in my bathrobe all morning long and stare into the distance.

Bloc: I have something to do while I'm drinking my morning coffee, when I really should be getting myself psyched to begin working. Or, you know, to get into the shower.

Blop: I have met an incredible amount of cool folks on the internet. I have been inspired, horrified, moved, disgusted, touched, envious, entertained, bored, flabbergasted, amused, informed, and made to think. And sometimes something completely different, or nothing at all.

Bloc: They all live somewhere far away. And are unwilling to travel to South Africa just to look at my face. Even if I'm buying the wine. Can you believe the nerve?

Bloc: And I've come across a few ignorant assholes too, who have just made me really, really sad.

Blop: I have managed to write something almost every day for the past year, which sort of, in my book, and in this parallel universe that I inhabit and that I like to call home, makes it okay for me to call myself a 'writer - sort of'.

Bloc: I have neglected to write anything that I was supposed to have written because I was busy updating my blog and being a blogger instead.

Blop: I have discovered how incredibly supportive and loving complete strangers can be when there's a need. And how quickly they go from being strangers to friends.

Bloc: See above point on how no one is willing to confront me in person. Even if I really am supplying all of the wine.

Blop: I generally love to Blog

Bloc: I generally love to Blog.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Communication schkommunication

On Sunday, yesterday, it was my 31st birthday. Now, I've always gotten shortchanged in every birthday-turn as long as I can remember on account of that Jesus-fella hogging all of the attention around this time of year (no one ever gave me myrrh, or even Body Shop scent), so I haven't really paid that much attention to my birthday, apart from that milestone-ish 30, in years.

But as luck would have it (how? why? what luck? I don't understand.) we had dinner plans for Saturday night. With some lovely folks, namely our golf coach and his girlfriend. After a rocky start of me thoroughly sucking at golf for months and him telling me just that on a weekly basis (though in diplomatic ways) we have recently bonded over our love for proper tequila. And drinking lots of it. Often.

And what could be better on one's birthday than an hours-long conversation about golf, all of its aspects including the value of an athlete and in what universe would the amount of women he has slept with affect his backswing (we mused about Clinton even) over two bottles of Kanonkop Pinotage 2007?

Really. Practically nothing.

Apart from a sideshow provided by the exciting rapport between I and the waiter - Anthony.

"Anything to drink?" says the man with an impressive head of braids.

"Yes, I'd like a bottle of sparkling water while I look at the wine list, thanks," I begin.

Anthony looks at me blankly: "Sparkling wine?"

"No, sparkling water. Water.... WAH-DER," I spell the word out, as the golf coach's girlfriend chimes in with a far more South African accent.

Anthony looks at the golf coach pleadingly, while the Hubby stifles a giggle and coughs loudly in his hand instead.

"Water," says the coach calmly while he too suppresses a smirk, "and do you have any tequila?"

Anthony lets out a thankful sigh: "Yes man, gold and silver?"

"But what kind?" I demand.

"Gold... and silver...?" answers Anthony pleadingly to the coach.

"No, I mean what brand? The brand?" I enunciate, and make a sign with my hands that to me expertly signifies the, admittedly rather abstract, concept of 'brand', but what to Anthony probably looks like I'm threatening to slit the throat of his pet turtle, or possibly asking for a ride to downtown.

"BRAND," I try louder, and without gestures. Maybe it's a question of volume?

Anthony looks scared.

He looks at the coach: "Man, you're going to have to help me with the accent."

"Now, that's just unfair," I exclaim to the table, "I know my accent's not South African, but at least it's generic American."

Anthony turns to look at me and smiles: "Thanks very much. I really appreciate that!" and with that he is gone.

We had no tequila that night. Neither gold nor silver.

I have no other pictures of cake. And none of Anthony, which is a crying shame.  

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Now what do you say to that?

So the person who normally picks up after me, does my dishes, irons my clothes, and cleans my toilets didn't show up this morning.

She sent someone else instead.

Who has now been here all of four hours cleaning?

In those four hours she has managed quite an assortment of things, but as far as I can tell cleaning is yet to be one of them.


She got lost on the way from the gate to our house.

"The people, they not help me," she said as the first thing when I opened the door to her, and I smiled and shrugged and invited her in. Which she took as an invitation to enquire me about whether I had children, how old I was, and why I didn't have children.

"So you not interested in home." she finally told me after giving me a hard stare, and poured herself some of my coffee.

She then proceeded to ask me for a cher, which I provided her with in the form of a barstool, which she then piled dirty dishes on because it was in fact something completely different she had asked me for. To do with dirty dishes. But also possibly the singer herself.

I didn't interfere.

Instead, I saw my chance, escaped to upstairs, and claimed to be working. Which she took as an order to jimmy open the locked garage door and mop the concrete garage floor.

"Too many spiders. Ugh. So I clean," she informed me when I finally decided to venture downstairs, take the maid by the apron-strings, and find out why she was opening and closing the electric garage door as if it was a fun new toy.

"So what you do on Christmas day?" she engaged me as I was reaching for my keys in her hand before I could sprint back upstairs.

"Oh nothing. Just working. Here at home. We don't celebrate Christmas," I told her in the hope of making the sentence long and winded enough to carry me up the stairs.     

"BUT Church?" she managed before I was even halfway up.

"Ah. Er. Uhm. We don't go to church. We're atheist," I said as I saw her fingers go to the gold cross around her neck. I couldn't move.

She looked at me thoughtfully and slowly opened her mouth: "Ah. That's why you not have children, and why you not like holidays."

An uncomfortable silence has reigned ever since.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reconciling and reclining.

Albuquerque sky back in August.

Not a cloud in the sky. Good book awaits in the barcalounger in the back garden. And sitting by the pool does not seem like the worst thing one could do while one waits for this thing made out of Coca Cola, J-man, white hair, gift-related blood-pressure issues, and red and green sugar swirls, which some of you like to refer to as Xmas, to slowly inch its way closer.

Not at all.

But why am I sitting by the pool with the husband? Naturally, the whole trophy-wifeism explains why I'm there (since I do nothing at all, but wear the bikini-uniform of all trophy wives everywhere, with makeup on, my nails and hair done, and with a glass of chilled Chardonnay in hand, while I veritably glisten in the sun. Oh, no, wait. That's an 80s movie. I sit by the pool with oodles of sunblock on, sweating like a pig, and hoping the sun will bleach some of the black off the hair and help in making it blue, and read intermittently while sweat stings my eyes. Oh and it's not like I can even glisten, what with the unshaved legs. Yup.), but what about the Hubs? Shouldn't he be sweating away in the office, since apparently, as soon as most people are away on their summer vacations they turn off the air-conditioning to save money? But this could also be a pity-fishing ploy on the Viking's side. Hmm.

Why is it that we're planning an evening braai this time around?

Good thing there's Google. And wi-fi in the garden. Makes fact-finding so much easier. Even for a busy, completely randomly sweating, and unshaved trophy wife.

Turns out today is the Day of Reconciliation in South Africa. In the New South Africa, that is. In the Rainbow Nation of the beloved Madiba.

In the old South Africa this day was celebrated because the Afrikaners beat the shit out of some Zulus in the battle of Blood River (or did they?), but also because the African National Congress (ANC, the ruling party now) decided to take up arms in their fight against apartheid.

So really, this is a public holiday that has done a complete 180. This day used to be about killing, having killed, attempting to kill, and then some more killing. With a twist of blood and suffering.

And now it's about reconciliation. And pools. And braai. And the impending Christmas and some hardcore shopping. Definitely sounds like something I can totally get on board with. And something that makes all the sense in the world.

Observe the spin:

Christmas is linked to shopping by that whole deal of those guys who went and found myrrh (and how much was that?), gold and whatnot and made a present of all that to the newborn. The babe in turn connects the whole Xmas deelio to the institution of braai by the fact that he was appropriating for a bed the dinner plate of a bunch of sheep and cows and some other animals (Would you believe that I have actually read the whole Bible? I wouldn't. But I have. So. Yeah.). So plate + lamb = braai dinner. The pool comes in the picture by way of the concept of entertainment area in South Africa, which is never used to signify your living room, or anything inside your house for that matter, but your patio with your braai and your back garden with the possible pool and some palms and plants and such (I could also connect palm fronds to the man of the hour, but I won't mix it up anymore. And that's more Easter anyhoo). And finally, reconciliation comes into the picture by way of sitting by the pool around Christmas time simply being something a Finn and a Dane must reconcile themselves with.

Ha! And it all comes back to me. Huge surprise. Totally. And I can't believe I just wrote that whole thing. There must be something wrong with me. Surely.  

But no worries. I'm sure some sun will clear my head. Or not.

Happy reconciling everyone! And big drunken smooches to all!

Monday, December 14, 2009


In the past few days (okay, a month intermittently, but a few days sounds more efficient) I have been going through the clothes and shoes I own.

I'm not certain why.

Perhaps because in not so many days I'll really, truly be in my thirties as opposed to thirty, or because we're expecting that slew of house guests any day now and I've come to the realization that to pass this place off as remotely home-y and/or cozy I should probably unpack (What? We've only been here a year and a half? What's the rush?), or because my ever so slightly more controlled guzzling of vino (so that my si-sis can keep her liver in one piece a while longer) has seen the pounds come off (had it been beer, I would have effectively been on the 'man diet'), or because I was procrastinating with a certain photo-job that I'm now desperately bringing to a close as the deadline looms uncomfortably and I find myself wishing I could take half of the photos over with a polarizing filter. And someone else's skills.

To tell you the truth, I don't have any idea why.

But I do know one thing.

I'm one lucky woman.


The outfit I wore when I met el Grande Vikingo (a.k.a. the Hubs) for the first time ever:

Yes, those are glued on sequins on pink animal print, and that is indeed pfleather. And no, I was never employed as a stripper or one of those coyote-ugly chicks. I wore that of my own free will. I did. In fact, I done brought it in that outfit.


And we wont even mention the freakishly big woolen sweater that covered half of my face that I was wearing the second time that I met the big V. Or the giant Mickey Mouse T-shirt I insisted on wearing to bed the night I moved in with him (also known as the third time ever I met him) that I'd purchased as a souvenir from Disney World in 1994. Silver lining to that shirt is, I see it now, that I was unable to locate the matching silk boxers.

Thank Z for missing silk boxers. Those might have been the tipping point.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to end up blacklisted by your workplace security:

By following these easy 20 steps you too can have your name on that special list of difficult and dangerous people at your place of work.

It helps if you are already late on the first day of your assignment. And sweating profusely.

  1. Leave the exact information of the location at home, and instead, whilst telling the guard who to inform of your arrival, call whoever it is that you are there to see by the wrong name. Have the guard wait while you access your hotmail via your cellphone to find the correct name, but only after he has already called another person.
  2. Assume that when the guard, after your arrival has been confirmed, circles behind your vehicle, you are meant to drive forward, and to be ready for the boom to lift.
  3. Ignore his yells as you do this.
  4. When you do realize that what he wants to do is check your trunk instead, in a disoriented panic lift your foot off of the clutch and make the car jump forward making the guard jump also. Avoid the boom by a hair.
  5. Shrug and laugh a little at the other guard peering angrily at you from the booth.
  6. Ignore the first guard's pounding of the trunk and quietly wonder to yourself whether you should unlock the doors or what for the trunk to open.   
  7. Start the car again. Get very spooked at the loud Rihanna song blaring from the loudspeakers. 
  8. Put on the emergency lights while trying to turn off the radio. 
  9. Turn off the radio. 
  10. Finally unlock the doors.
  11. As nothing happens, turn off the ignition and get out to check what is wrong. Remember to shrug, giggle nervously, and look at your watch repeatedly. 
  12. Ignore the people behind you in line honking their horns angrily.
  13. Try the trunk. 
  14. Try the trunk again. More forcibly and with grand gestures.
  15. Stare at the trunk for a little bit until someone honks so long that it begins to annoy you.
  16. Turn to the first guard, stare at him in disbelief, and articulate clearly "For fok's sake, what in the fok did you do," and add for emphasis, should you so feel inclined: "FOK."
  17. Realize what you have just said, smile, shrug again, and giggle more nervously than ever.
  18. Get back into the car and put your sunglasses on. Cower with embarrassment.  
  19. Start the car as the boom goes up. 
  20. Drive out of sight. Quickly. And explain the confrontation to the person who hired you and who wants to know why you're unloading your camera bag, tripod and lights by taking down your backseat, in very different words.  

Sometimes the answer is 'walk'.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I'm already out the door

I blog best when nothing happens. I have come to realize that. I also wouldn't want to use this space as my diary, or as a place to organize my thoughts. I would rather write something you all some of you would enjoy reading.

But today I'm all about excuses and explanations, and very little of actual blogging.

So in short, too much is going on.

I'm having jobs, all of them actual photography gigs, thrown at me thanks to some incredibly serendipitous turns of events, and seeing as I know most of them are beyond my current abilities, there's quite a lot of stress, lenses, and general tripod-wreaked havoc going on. And plenty of me faking a capable photographer with chatter about portfolios, lighting, composition, and photoshop (by which I mean iPhoto, Elements, or Lightroom, since the actual Photoshop completely eludes me, but no one [apart from you, my lovely bleeps] needs to know that, and we are, after all, still more or less under the same-ish umbrella. No?).

There is also an incredibly cool project that Lynne of Wheatlands News is launching in the new year, I've managed to get myself involved in, and that I want to keep participating in to the best of my abilities. After all, the project enables me to do one of the few things I do, and have always done, extremely well - complain. In writing. For all the world to see. Thank you Lynne for this awesome opportunity to project my snark out there for all to enjoy read!

On top of that, new classes will start after Christmas, right when we are getting visitors. Three sets of them. Some of them my in-laws (there is a comment just aching to come out right here, but I have promised to Hubs to be respectful and nice[ish], so just insert your own baggage here please). Back to back. From three different countries. Who'll all be coming to South Africa for the first time. The first group of visitors arrives in little over two weeks, and the only thing I've done so far to prepare, is going out and getting 50 quality bottles of wine, and don't really see myself extending far beyond that either. Whilst they are here I'm confident I'll comfortably fake a hostess and a tour guide.

There is a clear connection between wine and the birthday boy after all, and if I can fake a photographer, I can surely fake a hostess/ tour guide. No sweat. This way, please. To enjoy the body of the man of the day, in largish quantities.

And it's summer. And the sun is shining, and the pool beckons with its turquoise water and the possibility of an afternoon spent reading a good book while sipping on some pale variation of the body of our savior. With ice.

I have excuses. Even religiously motivated ones. Surely I'm off the hook?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

You just put them on your feet, you don't take photos of them. Duh.

When in doubt, there are always shoes to blog about.

Well, shoes and the eradication of such evils as war, famine, sickness, and poverty. But sometimes just shoes in all of their complexity are enough. When that other stuff gets to be too much. Shoes; the ones in your closet, the ones on your feet, the ones you really want but can't afford, the ones that you were wearing when you met that special someone, the ones you wore to bury your grandma, or quickly slipped on your feet to rush out after that phone call, the ones that didn't quite match your wedding dress but you were beyond caring at that point, the ones that make you 3 inches taller and thus oodles more powerful, the ones you take off every night, or the ones that give you horrible blisters but look divine, and the ones you paid through the nose for but have never worn.

Or the ones that are surprisingly comfortable but that don't go with anything, but that you've regardless worn to every single shindig in the past 6 years requiring more than 5 minutes of standing up.

Or the ones you had to own in every color they came in, but have only ever worn the black ones.

Or the ones that make you look like a weirdo and always earn you comments and/or someone suspicious talking to you about your shoes.

Or the ones that you'll wear to that superimportant fancy-pants gala. That you will totally attend. As soon as you're invited. Sure you will. Soon.

Or the ones that could totally take all the other shoes. Hands [heels?] down.

Or any of the ones from your impressive, yet simultaneously extremely disturbing, collection of Converse and Birkenstocks. That you just love and wear all the time. Like right now. And sometimes to bed when you forget to take your shoes off and fall asleep on the couch. Or especially when you sleep on an airplane because there is nothing quite like the friction offered by the rubber soles of your chucks when the only thing that will allow for at least some circulation to your lower extremities is to wedge them onto the armrest of the annoying, smelly guy sitting in front of you.

Shoes shouldn't be forgotten. But embraced. Do you know what's going on with your shoes today? Do you even know where they are?

I don't.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Just ashes and water and a few helpful tips

Just to set the mood. This is the closest to a picture of 'snark' I can find in my iPhoto. 

So lately the Hubby is a huge patron of the performing arts.

Which in lay terms means that a few months ago I had a huge tantrum over not having anything to do on the Saturday nights, and that South Africa sucked because everyone I know has children (when will this fad be over?) and they couldn't get sitters and so couldn't come out to eat with us (and to answer that look in your eyes: No, I don't want to go out to a fancy restaurant with you and your offspring), drink nice wine with us, play night-golf with us, go to concerts with us, or do any of the kind of fun and cool wasting time stuff childless couples in their thirties spend most their time on. Or at least their Saturday nights.

South Africa was boring me. I was getting the urge to relocate, and had my mind set of Bolivia.

Don't you just love the sound of that name? Bo-LI-vi-a... (Yes, that is what I base many of my life-altering choices on - how things sound. What else?)

Imagine the panicked Hubby who still has a whole year of his contract left here in SA. And combine his desperation with an ingenious invention called Computicket.

Move forward a few months, and find out that we have already been to see the Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Cinderella on Ice, and we still have tickets for Saturday night performances of Stomp, Grease and Mamma Mia.

All local productions. Sure. Which until now has signified unintended humor and Cats dying (the Beast included). Metaphorically, yet extremely painfully, on stage for two whole hours. Except of course for the latest nightmare, Cinderella on Ice, which was mainly performed by Russian, Ukranian, Latvian and other skating hasbeens and neverbeens.

While it was about 30º celsius outside.

On a stage that was roughly 30m x 20m (i.e. miniscule for any attempts at skating), and that by the beginning of the second half had become more of a puddle than actual ice to skate on to awkwardly move on whilst wearing skates.

But that eventually offered plenty of Saturday-night entertainment in the form of:
  • A possible drinking game based on the clap-happy South African audience who obviously feels that anyone who can turn on skates deserves a round of applauds. Whenever that person turns on skates. Yes, every single time. Every. Single. Time.
  • Another kind of potential drinking game based on checking out who in the first couple of rows is hit by the sludge coming off of the skates as the performers manage pirouettes. And what parts of the body are hit. Face of course meaning a double-shot.
  • A possible drinking game for the people around me based on the numerous times I turn to the Hubby to have the following exchange: 
Me: Ha! I can do that! I can. I totally can. And I can do it better!
Hubby: Honey, you're Finnish. All Finns can do that better.
Me: Exactly! How much are we paying to see this again?
Hubby: Just watch the damned thing.
  • A different kind of potential drinking game focused on the guy playing the prince/ mayor's son getting his light-colored pants wetter by the second from the puddle he attempts to skate on and guessing how long it will take for his pants to be wet all the way to his crotch and reveal the part of him he, according to the program, doesn't normally reveal to Cinderella but to the evil stepmother instead, who he has a son with. This game can, and possibly should be extended to the numerous times the prince/ mayor's son checks out his wife's 40 kilogram body and clearly isn't turned on by the sturdy thighs (or any other sturdy/hefty/ample body part of your choice) of our poor Cinderella.    
  • A possible drinking game based how many times all of us will have to admire someone's russian panties. (Really, aren't these people supposed to wear a sort of leotard if the audience is going to be exposed to their undergarment area? Not panties underneath a pantyhose? because the latter just doesn't somehow spell Cinderella to me. It spells Victoria's Secret and just leads me to wonder whether Heidi Klum can skate and whether she ever could, what with those enormous wings they make her wear at all times, but maybe that's just me.)
  • A fun drinking game involving making up professions for Heidi Klum where the wings would be a bonus and not a hindrance, while giving the other people in the audience dirty looks for coughing something out there that very well could be H1N1.
  • A slightly off drinking game based on the parts of the clock (?) emerging onto the stage, and how many dirty ways one can find to describe what goes for their 'costume': A helmet-type of contraption that any sadomasochist enthusiast would find orgastic indeed combined with what can at best be described as Captain Kirk's Sunday best. With sequins. 
  • A devious drinking game involving flapping bingo-wings during the standing ovations (I'm at the brink of losing all faith in South Africans' common sense.) and a weapon of your choice. be gentle and only aim for the wings. You know that is the right thing to do. 
So all this to say: Should you ever feel forced to go see Cinderella on Ice, or anything on ice for that matter, especially if there really isn't that much ice to speak of (outside of your glass), bring at least one bottle of tequila, an assortment of shot glasses, a print-out of this here post (since I've already done the coming up with shit part for you and you can just proceed straight to drinking. Thank you very much.), and be ready to drink. A lot.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. These games may induce nausea, sleep, and hate mail. But generally, we're cool with all that shit, so no worries.

Friday, December 04, 2009

All roads lead to Namibia

I have never insisted that I have any sort of social graces, or that I'm one of those people who others are easily drawn to or want to confide in, and all that fuzzy goodness some people seem to possess.

Instead, upon meeting someone new more often than not, especially if I'm outside of my 'professional' context (literary theory, tequila, coffee, or wine), I say the wrong thing when I don't mean to, come off as arrogant (which I sort of am too but that is completely beside the point and actually has to be considered one of my endearing qualities because there is nothing I can do to change it), manage to insult the other person's values, beliefs, teeth, spouse, television viewing habits, hight, taste in music, children, hobbies, or some other less definable thing, or make inappropriate jokes that are not at all understood as humor. At all.

Sometimes stuff just pours out of my mouth, and well, you would know what that can be like if you've been reading this blog for a while. Stuff just pours out.

But there are some people I instantly click with, and then many more I really wish I would instantly click with but with some effort manage to grow on over time, arrogance, inappropriate humor and all.

Now I'm trying to grow on Lynne who was brave enough to visit me yesterday. At my house. She even ate something I had warmed up in the oven. And that is true bravery I tell you.

And I wish I could take back the ten whole minutes I kept talking about the road-system in Namibia (where I've never been), had asked some nice questions instead, and perhaps also nipped the incoherent babble about riding an elephant in the bud, and talked about something interesting. Like my hair. Or the municipal governance system.

But like Lynne guessed, I was on my best behavior, trying to contain the opinionated crazy lady, and for some reason that apparently meant talking about roads in Namibia. I mean, once you think about it, it makes thorough sense: Why not the roads in Namibia?

They are, after all, roads, and in Namibia, nonetheless. So yeah. Uhhuh.

This is NOT a road in Namibia. Also, it's not a road either, it's somewhere between a path and an alley. I think.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

There will be a completely random picture of a snail below

First of all, thank you so much for all of your lovely comments. They do make my day. Every day (and I do wish I could hang out with all of you in real life, so what's up with not wanting to come to SA for a blog camp...?)

The comments also kept me thinking for a whole glorious unbloggable day about this business of 'becoming cold'. And made me realize that, while I didn't perhaps get across exactly what my main fear about the whole thing is, it being the supposition that I'm becoming (because it is always going to boil down to ME at some point) a little too heavy and unpalatable for those whose day to day bears no resemblance to mine (i.e. How can I ever even think about someday returning to Europe without  thinking that I'll alienate everyone by talking about the things close to my heart - while I already do that to quite an extent with talk about farts and such, and, you know, just by being the very humble and non-confrontational me that I tend to be), there are people out there who will understand. And listen. Even when I chit chat about the statistics that show that one in every three females in South Africa is raped at least once in her lifetime. And will attempt to help rectify the situation and, if nothing else, raise awareness about it. Or at least wont ever, behind my back or otherwise, refer to me as 'too heavy' in its dreaded denotation: mentally (Physically? Who gives a shit? Not me. That's who ...not? who doesn't? Err...).

But there's also something else going on. Something to do with the joy of blogging and the good things that are the result of this world of threads, connections, and links. But that has made me, very oddly indeed and in a way that has scared the Hubby in ways not expected, clean the house. By which I mean organize the growing pile of random stuff on the dining room table and the kitchen counter, that are off limits for the maid, and move most of the piles - now organized/repiled - to random places upstairs, closets, and just generally away from the field of vision of anyone entering the house through the front door. Should anyone choose to enter through the balcony, well, that would be a different issue.

Like meeting someone, who I feel like I already sort of know because I've been reading this person's awesome blog for a while (and reread most of it the previous day), and feel like there is so much to learn from this person about the land, her land, that I am residing in. Also, I'm really happy to be meeting this person, because, frankly, she is someone I really respect, and someone who was sort of part of the struggle back in the day and I really truly wish that all of the people I keep meeting in South Africa would be like that, while unfortunately, they really truly are not.

So welcome Lynne of Wheatlands News. May you find this Tuscany-infested, backwood-plagued estate we call home without hitting one single traffic cone at the side of the road, which seem to be there just to make us then, in June 2010, when we are ready to scream because of the FIFA World Cup-induced traffic, appreciate the time when all we had to worry about were all of the loose stones on the road, the horrendous potholes, the ubiquitous but completely superfluous traffic cones (that do NOT mark the potholes), and the roads that just stop suddenly without any warning because someone thought of ripping the road apart and just building a new road a couple of meters to the side. For the World Cup.

Welcome. To my, now pileless, home.

More on this story tomorrow...

Let's imagine that the above is somehow relevant and that I'm not too busy to blog. And let's also pretend that I didn't forget to take a picture of Lynne, because I did and now I'm a little ashamed. Bad Extranjera! And let's also state that the above is nothing like the energetic and bubbly Lynne, but I'm off to chat to someone on Skype and all of this is a little haphazard and random today. Sorry folks. I just like the picture.

Thanks so much. Love and airkisses to all. I promise to get my focus back soon.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Expatriate life - The other side of the coin.

Something seems to have happened to my sensibilities in Africa.

No, that's not a euphemism. I do actually, completely honestly, mean my sensibilities. As in 'a person's delicate sensitivity that makes them readily offended or shocked'. Not my boobs. My boobs are as fine as they've ever been. Well, there have been some visits from this unfortunate concept this Newton guy came up with, that have happened seemingly overnight, but nothing that a good bra won't sort out.

So boobs good. Sensibilities not so much.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a causes kind of a gal. Easily incensed when I feel someone or something is being wronged purely on the basis of that someone or something's accident of birth, physical being, nationality, mental attributes or state, beliefs, coat, or traditions. I have always felt strongly about equality and personal choice.  

As a teenager in Finland I hopped on the 'Fur is Murder' wagon, protested, campaigned, and went vegetarian quicker than you could say soaking lentils overnight gets tiresome quickly, but looking menacing with too much eye makeup and purple hair while holding up a sign is every teen's dream. I belonged to and campaigned for both Greenpeace and Amnesty international. When I and the Hubs first lived in Greece I used to cry at the sight of every single roadkill, and once attempted to scale the wall of a closed off cemetery to save a little pooch who I deemed was bound to die of heat exhaustion if I didn't get it out in time. I dreamt of that dog for years. In Mexico I and the Hubs stopped at the site of every car accident and even 'accident' we came across regardless of being told several times not to even drive with our car doors unlocked, and we also seriously contemplated adopting a three-year-old boy with fetal alcohol syndrome until we found out that his grandmother, regardless of having stuck him in an orphanage, would never relinquish custody.

But that was then, and this is now.

I think the eroding of my Finnish sensibilities began with the 60 'orphans' in Mexico, and their backgrounds of abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, violence, extreme poverty, and death. Amongst other things, my job was to direct and raise funds, as well as channel and train volunteers for the orphanage, and in order to do that I had to learn about the children. About how wrong someone's starting point in life could be, and what unfortunate circumstances could really signify in relation to a little life.

I couldn't save everyone, or even most, tears made absolutely no difference, and no matter how hard I tried there were always going to be new and worse cases, and that was just how it was going to be.

I had to be cold about it, and stay focused on the difference I was making instead of the difference that could have been made had we only had "a few more people", "some more funds", "a little more support", "a little less politics to deal with", "a little more time," and a "little less indifference."

And then I came to Africa.

Today, on December 1st, is World AIDS Day.

I look at the World AIDS day website and a quote jumps at me: "I was diagnosed with HIV seven months ago. It has made me more conscious about my health and made me realise what is important. No matter what - life goes on. I don't suffer with HIV, I live with it." This is Gary's story, and I'm sure he's right. He won't die of AIDS, at least not for a long time. He's in Europe, he'll be able to live with his chronic condition for many years yet.

"Good for Gary," I find myself thinking, when, really, I should be incensed, I should be livid, I should be campaigning and protesting so that World AIDS Day is never again a day when what jumps at you from their official website are success stories of lucky Europeans or Americans who are at peace with having this horrible disease, coping with having to take medication every day, and having to reconcile with always using a condom during sex.

What should jump at anyone looking at the website is the number, almost unbelievable in today's modern world, of the daily deaths of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. That number is around 4100.

Approximately 4100 people die every single day in sub-Saharan Africa of AIDS.

I should also be annoyed beyond belief and readied for some serious action by the fact that I had to go to seven different websites and actually do some math myself to come up with that number. When it should really be the first thing one sees on a HIV/ AIDS website.

And one should be driven to help out. Right away.

AIDS still kills in Africa. In Zambia selling tombstones is a lucrative business.

But AIDS is only one in the vast ocean of things that should make me cry and jump into action every single day on this continent.

Instead, I trudge on, helping, but every once in a while forgetting completely the miserable reality that for many is their complete existence here in Southern Africa. I live in the hope that the "Good job! You could be the teacher," followed by a soft pat on a little shoulder in response to a perfectly written 'Miss Extranjera's camera is black' will stay with the growing mind that thought up the sentence, and someday maybe bear fruit. I don't kid myself about making a difference, but allow for the possibility.

(Okay. So they don't actually call me Extranjera at the school, they call me by my real name. There are some people, out there in the real world, who do. Honest.)

I don't cry anymore when I find out that someone's mother died of AIDS. For a short time I'm reminded how unfair life can be, then I buy kilos and kilos of rice and beans to help tie the poor family over for a while, but quickly go onto wondering whether a new 7-iron would improve my game. The other day I drove past a cyclist on the ground who had been run over. A crowd was waiting for the ambulance to arrive. As I drove past the crowd I glanced back. Half of the cyclist's skull was gone, and I doubt he was going to make it. I didn't dream of him.

When I'm in Europe or in the States I'm often met with awkward silences or looks that clearly plead with me to shut up already, because I'm off on a monologue about the lack of improvement in the welfare situation complete with examples to make the lecture more touching, more personal, but that clearly make it unpalatable for many, or I'm making chit chat about the ubiquitousness and causes of rape in South Africa, and quickly reaching many a person's tolerance point.

It's just that there is often an overload of misery and injustice, and I'm slowly becoming numb to both. I'm becoming cold.

I am cold.

Something seems to have happened to my sensibilities in Africa.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Aguamenti and Aparecium (while I'm at it)

It is a gorgeous Friday afternoon. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I don't need to pee. All is well with the world. I quietly hum a little tune to myself as I walk into the salon.

I remove my sunglasses, adjust my eyes to the light, and I'm instantly greeted with multiple " Hello, would you like some coffee? Or some wine?" The salon staff knows me so well. I opt for coffee. Life seems good.

As I sit in the chair facing the mirror and the stylist behind me attempts to flip my hairspray and gel stiff hair this way and that way, and under his breath wonders how much product I go through every month and why am I not buying it from his salon, we chat about the different blues in the world.

Because that's what I want my new hair color to be - blue. Radiant blue. Bright blue. Shock blue. The kind of blue that is nothing but blue.

I invoke the sky, the Blue Bulls, Kelly Osbourne, that woman from all of those cheap-o cable shows like 10 years Younger in 10 days, and that one where they swap salons (although that one gets a blank stare from the stylist), and what's her face who has/had blue hair. You know, that rock chick.  

I tell him how I hate purple just because, and never want to go purple again, and how I couldn't stand the black hair because I looked like one of those monks with that little bald spot on top every time my hair grew just a little to reveal the very blonde roots, and how I would just like for the hair to be blue. End of story.


So first he dyes my hair purple:

Which would have been fine were I over 60, owned one of the really fancy walkers, kept hard candy with me at all times in case my grandkids unexpectedly dropped in on me, and had asked the stylist to get rid of all of the grey in my hair no matter the cost.

But I specifically asked for no purple. I hate purple. It ranks right up there with orange, lice, snakes and war.

Then, while in a smidgen of panic (I can be an extremely frightening woman) the stylist decides he needs to add on a little more dye, allows for the hair somehow to turn black, and consequently enables me to channel Harry Potter for months to come:

All I need now is a decent wand and Accio Wine it will be. All the way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Laughing all the way to the bank

I can't really say I've been thinking about Thanksgiving, and what it really means to be thankful and such. It's not my holiday, regardless of having 'celebrated' it often enough, and well, I've been far too busy yelling at the fiber-optics people who will hopefully give us better internet eventually (at some distant point now that we've sent them packing for being filthy) for leaving dirty fingerprints they were unable to remove all over my Mexican Sand-colored walls, and trying not to laugh while having a serious discussion with my maid who accidentally managed to glue a box of tissues to my bathroom counter, and then tried to remove it first with butter and then with rubbing alcohol, of all things imaginable. But let's not go there. Let's just not.

Because I have been thinking about giving, about generosity, what it really means, and how far we'll go to avoid being generous. How far we'll go to avoid equalizing the situation for everyone on this earth.

As Christmas dawns in the horizon, two things become extremely noticeable in South Africa, or at least in my part of Joburg: increased security and beggars. To me, these two speak of the same thing - desperation. Being the highly westernized (by which I mean Coca-Colaized, McDonaldized, and Oprahized) and religious nation this proud nation is, Christmas is a big thing. It also happens to take place smack in the middle of the big summer vacation, which easily makes it the biggest holiday in South Africa.

People want to celebrate, they want to provide, they want to give and receive presents, and they want to eat good food with their families. Or at least many of them do.

To achieve this, most of them work hard the whole year. Some of them decide to rob a grocery store, hijack a car, steal a delivery of cellphones, or break into a house and empty it of cash, electronics, and jewelry, as every year before Christmas the number of all of these crimes goes up. And some others decide to stand at intersections and ask for money. Sometimes with their children or a blind person in tow for sympathy.

Many of them don't have any other choice.

In my time in South Africa the subject of begging has come up quite a few times, and I've heard many an explanation on why one should NOT give any money to beggars, and none too many on why one should, or even why it would be okay to do so. I've also heard plenty of, what I consider to be nothing but stupid urban legends with absolutely no truth to them, stories about someone living large off of the few coins they beg for at a stoplight. I've also seen real beggars getting nothing while windows roll down for white matric students (those finishing high school) who 'beg' for money at a crossroads to fund their matric trips to some beachside town.

From the media in Finland I know that my own nation (oh the shame) is trying to outlaw begging, or possibly already has, and seems to consider such a phenomenon, which is quite a recent addition, a huge disruption of the Finnish society perpetrated by a bunch of Romanians (the tabloid version, but the proper media is not using terms much more complicated) who come for the summer and establish tent-villages, which Finland also feels should be eradicated. Like right now. There are also urban legend-ish stories (circulated by the mainstream media also) of how these people who make it to Finland from Romania for the summer aren't poor at all, but just out to leach on us and use us to make more money in addition to their already good incomes.

A pure load of bull, I'm sure you would agree.

Here's what I feel is closer to one kind of truth. To a truth about an everyday life here for many South African citizens.
  1. Begging is hard work. It is not an 'easy way out', or something one does out of being lazy. It's hot and dusty, cold, dangerous, monotonous, uncertain, and you probably get if not physically, then at least verbally abused quite a bit.
  2. No one has ever gotten rich from begging, or even moderately wealthy. 
  3. Not everyone, or even many, of the people who beg are drunks or drug-addicts. Especially in South Africa or Finland. And even if some of them are, that does not mean that all of them are.
  4. Regardless of hearing numerous stories on begging-rings with big bosses behind the whole operation there is no hard evidence anywhere of such activity.
  5. There simply aren't jobs for everyone. Or at least jobs that will keep a family afloat. 
If one has more than enough to cover their own basic needs, shouldn't some of that go to covering the basic needs of one's fellow humans? And if the government cannot get a system based on paying taxes to do just that to work properly, isn't physically giving that money to those who need it the next best thing?

Really, I just can't fathom how it could be any more complicated than that. I just can't.

And if you're not cool with just blindly believing every word I write here (as you shouldn't since I am certainly not an authority on anything else besides what I think is right, tequila, coffee and wine), here are some of these awesome mansions these beggars who make hundreds of dollars every week live in. Obviously.

Thoughts? Nice ones.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Please read me carefully and comment on me, as I tend to drip and wallow...

There is ample reading material in my photography school's bathroom*.

"Please handle me gently and lift me up after flushing," the lever on the toilet tells me as I go to push it.

"Make sure you close me tightly. I tend to drip..." warns the cold water tap as I turn it to wash my hands.

"A little of me goes a long way," reminds the soap dispenser as I push on the button to extricate some of the pink liquid soap it holds in its innards.

"Please don't throw me in the toilet, I can't swim!" exclaims the paper dispenser as I yank on the paper to dry my hands.

Signs. Everywhere on the walls of the bathroom. Inanimate toilet fixtures** that I have been more or less successfully utilizing for quite a number of years, now come with instructions given by the fixture itself.


No. Not even close.

Weird and unnerving?

Very much so.

Out of place?

Appropriate for a primary school.

Every time I enter the school, I walk past the front desk. Looking at the receptionist behind the desk and at her actual cutesy-wutesy (hey, being scientific here) workspace, I'm almost certain that I am also looking at the culprit behind the dubious toilet-signage.

Every time I pass her I want to tell her: "Get a life woman", but then I remember that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Or cliches around flippantly.

So I won't.

And then I get home to my sorrowfully sighing and eternally melancholy fridge, the washing machine that threatens me when it doesn't get its way (Yes, the un-torched one too), and the house that was born a fridge in a house's outer shell, and I'm filled with gratitude that my toilet has thus far kept its thoughts to itself.

I deal best with complaints when my pants are not around my ankles.

Now, this is a sign I can get onboard with, and relate to.

* It is actually a bathroom, since the school is located in an old mansion. And really, there is nothing nicer than taking a quick bath in between classes. 
** Not that there are animate ones here, the stupid not-Japan this place is.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holy word-vomit Batman! I can't even do a short photo post correctly.

I wish I was one of those bloggers who are cool with just posting a photo or two accompanied by a few lines and then calling it a blogging day. Because, oh boy and all of his friends and relatives and maybe even his pet turtle on a leash, what an activity-filled/ all-kinds-of-weird-running-around/ me-driving-other-women-to-places-in-the-Viking's-green-monster-and-scaring-them-by-hitting-every-curb-in-sight-and-then-laughing-insanely-about-it-to-"lighten-the-mood"/ me-being-stuck-in-traffic-for-two-whole-hours-and-consuming-much-too-much-coffee-in-the-process day it has been (and then some, but I have no more grammatically inappropriate or otherwise suspect word-strings in me. At least none that make the kind of half-sense the above ones make). And I still have a golf-lesson to get to.

But it's either writing a post or writing an email to my parents who use my blog and the frequency of the posts on it to gauge how alive their eldest daughter, me, is (Did I ever mention how crap I am at staying in touch? Might have. Yup.). So unless I get to publishing something here soon, my dearest ma and pa will quickly be on the phone dialing away to alert some sort of Finnish authority, who would without a doubt, since the Finns are at the least excruciatingly effective when it comes to such matters, knock on my door in a not so long a time followed by billing me an exorbitant amount of money because I dared to be alive, and then put me on the cover of the biggest tabloid with a headline saying 'A Finn thought dead in Africa alive after all' accompanied by a story filled with the potential horrors of the oh so violent South Africa. And well, I don't like writing e-mails either.

I'm also thinking of all of you who read this stuff voluntarily (i.e. are no relation or bound in marriage to me), and just might be wondering whether they put me in jail because I finally accidentally drove over one of the guards at the gate (I didn't but touch him softly with the side mirror which to me screams affection and not jail time and he came out of nowhere without looking anyhoo, but then we both laughed about it heartily and I wasn't even giving him the stink-eye), or whether I discovered and consequently was pulled into that black hole somewhere in this house where the warmth, most of my underwear, as well as my wineglasses must have been sucked into (don't ask about the underwear, because I'm working hard to repress, as I did with the toothbrush and how it is being used by the maid. Just don't ask.), or whether I went ahead and finally sought help (I know! For what?).

So in the best interest of me everyone, I'll just become one of those bloggers for today and post some pictures from my hectic morn and call it a blogging day. Tell me what you think. And go ahead and ignore the stuff above I still somehow managed to write, although I thought I couldn't. Thanks.

Ever wonder how it would be if Santa's elves wore black and could really control a crowd?

Ever wonder how Santa would look if he were a Swede and not a Finn and had a pillow positioned uncomfortably in his shorts instead of that bottle of vodka? Or how a Christmas tree would come out if you planted it into a cooler box?

Ever wonder what stuff would mean if you didn't have that much of it?

Ever wonder how it would be to really stomp the night away? 

Or what would happen if you stuck your hair underneath an elf hat for longer than necessary? 
Nothing! Muahahahahaaaaa. I have finally beat my Finnish flat-hair genes! Or am possibly singlehandedly saving the world's hairspray and gel industries from the recession. Could be either.  

Random. I know. But what else is new?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heartfelt sentiment

My husband just might be the most romantic nerd on the face of the earth. And I have proof.

He's also finally been able to keep a secret from me for longer than it takes him to dial my number on his cellphone, so really, I urge you to duck and take cover, and watch out for those flying pigs. They fast and sneaky, and I hear they just come out of nowhere, completely take you by surprise, and then there you are staring at a pair of fangs going for your jugular.

Or perhaps I'm just getting far too wrapped up in all of this New Moon hype. Far too early on a Sunday morning. And I don't even like Twilight. Hmph.

But just watch them pigs soar high above the clouds, and keep an eye out for any that might be getting some funny ideas. Probably should have bought that pitchfork when I had the chance. Now, all I'm left with are a tripod and a statue the husband brought from Malawi. Not exactly close-combat ready.

But why are these creatures violating our airspace this time around?

Yesterday I received my birthday present. It is not my birthday for another month yet, but this is what happened:

I look through a jeweler's catalogue in Finland, during the summer of 2008: "Oh. Oh. OH. Oooh."

"What is it honey? Maybe you shouldn't have had that last glass.... Or all that cheese.... And maybe those 4 pounds of strawberries weren't such a hot idea. I mean look at your lips woman... You know you're allergic. Sigh..." The Hubby looks at me suspiciously.

I push that catalogue at the unsuspecting husband's face: "No! It's not that. It's just that I want, want, and neeeed this heart-thingamajiggy-pendant-shiny-thing from Swarowsky. Look at it. LOOK! It has a flash drive inside. Isn't it the cutest thing ever?"

"And you need a crystal encrusted flash drive to hang around your neck on a chain because...?" the man responds in a dry tone.

"Well, er... Duh," I roll my eyes.

"Because all of your friends have one?" he quips.

"NO! I'd totally be the first. That'd be so cool," I'm too taken by the badly reproduced image of the heart to understand the sarcasm.

The Hubby looks at me as if I've once again overindulged the materialist Extranjera: "But why a flash drive? Do you even know what that means?"

"Of course I do. It's like a USB thing. For stuff. To use with a computer. For stuff. You know," I roll my eyes so hard they actually make a screeching sound.

"I know, but do you?" he smiles back at me.


Yesterday while touring a Johannesburg mall I spot a shop: "Oh. Oh. OH. Oooh."

"What is it honey? Maybe you shouldn't have had that last glass... Or all that meat.... And maybe all of that coffee, black of all things, wasn't such a hot idea. I mean, look at your hands woman.... You're shaking like your high on something. Sigh..." the Hubby looks at me suspiciously.

I drag the unsuspecting husband towards a shop with a dark blue front: "NO! It's not that. It's just that they have a Swarowski shop here. And I, like, urgently need a flash drive to move my photos around. And you remember that cute heart-one they were selling in Finland? I neeeed that. Now."  

We step into the shop and I enquire for a "heart-thing, that like comes apart, and then there's like a thing, for, like, the computer and stuff, inside there?" while I draw a heart in the air and in grand gestures mime taking it apart. But we get a quick, and a slightly condescending "I'm sorry, that was a limited release product."

There is nothing to do, but leave the shop.

I look at the Hubby and contemplate embarking on the mother of all guilt-trippings: "Damn. Now I really wish I'd gotten one back then in Finland. Uhhuh. I really do. I do," as the Hubby attempts to gently maneuver me in the direction of the exit and the car.

The man distracs me with yet another cup of coffee: "Maybe we can just get a chain for it and look for it elsewhere? Some other time?"


"Can I distract you for a second?" the Hubby inquires late yesterday night.

I quickly glance at him, but return to a furious (and rather one-sided to be frank) battle I'm having with burning my homework on a CD that obviously wants to stay virginal.

"What?" I glance at the man again.

He hands me a little box: "I was supposed to give this to you on your birthday, but you're saying you need it now, and that you need it empty, right? But just in case you want, there's a folder on my computer of pictures of us, our music, and some emails we sent to each other, that I was going to upload on it, so that you could always have all that with you."

"Like a modern locket," my man tells me.

My viking really is the most romantic computer-nerd ever. At least in my world.

Love you man xo

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ousting the ugly stepsister

"Oh Summer, where art thou?" she exclaimed into the frosty air, while wearing her winter coat indoors.  

Just as I, and everyone else in our neck of the sticks of Jozi, finally thought that the summer had come to stay for the entire, well, summer, the big S decided to sneakily abscond overnight and leave us with her unkempt, rainy, cold, and not that nice stepsister, whom I like to call Notmer, in the spirit of that Paris Hilton flick, the Hottie and the Nottie (or something to equally stupid effect), which I will refuse to see until I see Hitler skiing down our driveway.

(HA! The joke's on AH and PH. Our driveway is uphill. HA! Although, it being a complicated wittiness neither of them might get it, in which case the joke is wasted on both Adolf and Paris. Oh well.)

And Notmer, like all ugly stepsisters in the history of fairy-tales, is up to no good. She clearly wants to punish all of us for something horrendous that we've done, and freeze our asses off. Which in theory sounds like an easy and quick way to lose weight, but in practice involves much suffering and a steep drop in the libido department, as no one wants to grab a cold butt cheek, a butt cheek that might come off in one's grasp at any moment, or worse yet, some cold air at where the backside used to be located, only to find the backside on the floor beside the bed, completely out of reach.

Or at least I don't.

So what is there to do to cheer up? To at least warm the brain, if the glutes (as my physiotherapist calls the derriere, and consistently fools me into wondering what that Indian butter-derivative was called again and whether there is any chance that instead of talking about some non-existent muscle on my body, she might have switched to talking about cooking instead, which then turns out to be pure wishful thinking when she stretches my gluteus in a way it wasn't ever meant to be stretched, and just creates despondency on my part and on the part of both of my glutes) are just beyond rescue in the warmth department?

A list. A random list

Of course. When in doubt, what could save the day like a random list of sunny things? Nothing, I tell you. Or maybe a cheeseburger, some wine, and some sun, but writing that would just be facetious. And that is something I just cannot be associated with. I might lose my credibility for good. A credibility I've worked so hard to build and hold onto with my cold fingers as hard as I can.

Ag, shame.

But the list of sunny sunniness:
  • Google (An attempt at suck-up to see whether that does anything for the unfortunate weather. A sort of virtual prayer in disguise. Dear Google, do you really want to see me assless? I think not.)
  • Coffee. Black. First thing in the morning.
  • Brad Paisley
  • Wine and drinking it in good company (preferably with Brad Paisley, but also the Hubby will do, unless his ass has already fallen off at that point). And especially if it happens to be a bottle of Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 which has got to be the best wine ever, and which I still hold 4 bottles of and will only enjoy in my own very good company.  
  • Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved.  
  • Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, American Dad, and all of those bottomless wells of inspiration for a dirty, twisted mind. 
  • Loretta Lynn, the original Coal Miner's Daughter
  • Coffee, especially filter coffee.
  • Puppies
  • Posters of puppies on someone else's wall providing an additional layer of warmth to the basic warmth of puppies, because you will be able to laugh at that person for having one of those weird posters of puppies on their wall, which is just plain old pathetic, if you ask me, and I know you didn't, but when has that stopped me from stepping on some toes, not ever, I tell you.
  • Skype and people, like Ph.D. Mommy, willing to use it to listen to me say "I fokken hate working with people" in severel different languages.
  • Coffee. And plenty of it. 
  • Learning isiXhosa through tweets
  • 3-minute eggs, unless they are organic, because that apparently means that they look like eggs but taste like fish gone bad with a twist of wet towel. #Brandfail Woolworth's (What? I'm not on Twitter? Since when?) 
  • Golf
  • Coffee, and especially lattes.  
  • Blogging about nothing.
  • Elephants. And one rhino.
  • Not having to ever do any math anymore, yet having enough money not to be later pissed off about accidentally tipping someone 124%
  • making pointless lists.
  • The guy who always packs my groceries into my car and his funky hat.
The list is obviously not complete, but I need to pee and that involves removing several upon several layers of clothing and, well, there are no guarantees that I'll soon be back from that journey, so I'll just go ahead and publish, and hope that some of you will be kind enough to list your own sunny sunniness right here on my comments or maybe even on your own blog, or maybe on the phone to your mother, or even Twitter. Who knows? I won't, unless you tell me. And you should.

I'm totally confused now. See you on the other side of the toilet? I guess.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lame see, lame do

I seem to be a tad bloggily blocked.

Words to live by.

Or, actually, since this thing is all about being honest and shit, and I have long since crossed any kind of border to a land I love, but which with the invention of social media (whatever the hell that means) has become quite the tourist trap - the not quite proud or that independent Republic of Too much Information, I might as well tell you what I've really been doing.

Apart from having a very long and civilized discussion with my Danish BFF over Skype that meandered from literature, the staple in our relationship, to how much we hate it when people talk about their nails, to vitamins and how many we each take daily and what they might be called, to smells of the townships and how smelling those smells would create a new level of awareness for my friend, from a post-post-colonial, or perhaps rather globalized, point of view naturally, I have been doing something I probably shouldn't admit to.

What you are to take away from this description of the discussion is that I am in fact smart. Perhaps you should remember that little tidbit of important information when I reveal the rest of my doings. To put things in balance. Because I am smart. Really.

Am too!

Since yesterday afternoon, upon learning of its existence and only taking a respectful break to let in the maid (who now thinks I talk to my computer and rolls her eyes accordingly) and to focus on talking to my friend, I have been pretty glued to Lamebook.

I know it's lame (Duh. That's even in the name...), but I've read 62 pages of it, and I can't discern any light at the end of the tunnel. I'm hooked on stupid teenagers writing about their stupid escapades and then having to apologize to their uncles, or grandmas, or mothers, who they forgot were amongst their Facebook friends (Really?). I'm addicted to the pure stupidity that is status updates about bowel movements, herpes, and badly executed infidelity. I'm addicted to people's lack of common sense and common courtesy. I'm addicted to lolz that go with everything, even a dearly departed. But most of all, I'm addicted to a degree of stupidity, I have to admit, I didn't even know existed.

I'm baffled by a trend of adding vowels to the ends of words, and what the possible purpose of that practice might be (Heyyyy girlyyyy?). I'm intrigued by how mean some people are to others and how they still appear to be Facebook friends with each other. I'm outraged by the rampant bad spelling, but equally disgusted by the number of people who feel that it is okay to correct other people's grammar or spelling in front of all of their friends. I'm amazed at what many people seem to 'like', and weirded out by how much verbal violence there seems to be out there. It's a big jumble of ugly, disgusting and pathetic and I can't stay away.

I feel like an explorer charting an unknown territory. I'm amused, frightened, sometimes bored, and I can't stop. I need to know what lies beyond the next hill hacked status update by a jilted girlfriend. I'm hooked.

I admit I love laughing at others. And admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get away from me

This morning when I left to do my thing of meetings, planning and putting together some marketing material and goodie bags, I was planning a rather compassionate post about the ubiquitous beggars and the various attitudes towards begging in South Africa. But that will have to wait.

I need to vent.

Today I was reminded of how much I hate working with people.

And how I should never be put in a position that involves me giving my honest opinion. Because eventually someone will cry. Someone always does.

It's not that I (always) try to make people cry, it's something that simply happens. Oftentimes when I think I'm actually being pretty nice, and not even coming at them full force. Every once in a while I'll even do that 'criticizing by pointing out the good things first' tactic someone once told me to use as a buffer - to my personality - and ignore that little Scandinavian chick in my head that keeps saying: "This is not fokken high school. Pointless pats in the back belong in fokken high school. Don't fokken waste time. Just say what needs fokken changing and the working parts will be fokken implicit. For fok's sake."

Of course when she says it, being a Scand and all, it goes more like this: "Tää on ihan syvältä tää koko paska. Uusiks vaan koko homma. Mitä sitä jahkaileen. Mitä toi nyt tossa itkee? Voi helvetti," or like this: "For helvede. Det her ting sutter totalt. Det hele skal laves om. Hvad græder hun nu om? Fok."

The Scand in my head is a total bitch.

But she's mostly right.

And today I had to use up all of my energy to keep her silent. To everyone else than me. And without even completely succeeding in that, just the effort to constantly bite my tongue has exhausted me to no end. When I got back, I had to stop myself from SHOUTING at people on Twitter who had tweeted things while I was gone that I didn't agree with, or things that touched a nerve, or complain-y, negative, and inane things, or stupid things, or things I wasn't interested in, or, you know, things and shit, which pretty much summed up my entire Twitter-feed, and sent me to a tailspin that could only be cushioned with one of two things.

And since I couldn't be bothered to open wine, I made some coffee.

So what is it exactly that's gotten inside my head and by the feel of it laid a sizable number of eggs too?

Well. I guess it can be summed up with a little story of a minor detail I discovered about myself when I was taking psychology classes back in the day when I thought I might become a psychiatrist but then discovered that they weren't just going to give me the white coat and a cute little wild-haired patient of my own if I could confidently discuss the history of schizophrenia, but that I would have to take all manner of courses and classes that would involve complicated mathematics, and, well, that was the end of that.

But I did learn that I'm a man in a woman's body.

Not the kind who was born a male in a female's body, but the kind many of whose behavioral patterns are typical to those of males in what can be, in a very broad sweep, called western cultures.

I don't commiserate, I try to offer a solution, I don't make nice, I compete, I automatically challenge, I don't see disagreement as a disruptive element, I don't ask, I tell, I confront, and so on.

Ergo, according to many a theorist, I behave like a man.

Now whether that is just complete and utter psychobabble can and perhaps should be discussed at length (just not with me), especially taking into consideration how it seems that 'male' in this equation and many more like it seems to come across as the 'norm', and thus implicitly somehow as the better of the available possible categorizations, while simultaneously, me behaving in the way that I do, in this male-like way of the supposed norm, makes me a bitch. Especially in the company of other women.

So any which way, I'm screwed in the pleasantness department.

Which is exactly what happened today. And made me want to shake more than one pair of shoulders, drink a whole bottle of wine and then top it off with some amazing tequila, go hit some balls on the driving range, rip someone's head off (or actually, again, more than one), and just generally keep telling people to fokken shut up.

I didn't. I really did manage without a definite, relationship forever-altering blowout.

But I don't want to go back either.

I fokken hate working with people.

AAAAAAAAARGH!!! Now what's this guy so happy-go-singy about? 

So what's your take on this? Am I a bitch or just a man with a penchant for costume jewelry, and great Sauvignon Blancs? Or something completely different? What are you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whose car is it anyway?

I'm descending the narrow and steep passage we like to call our staircase while hugging a mountain of dirty laundry, when, suddenly, as I shift my grip, a pair of underwear seems to slide in from somewhere inside the belly of the gargantuan beast in my bear-hug, and almost succeeds in sending me into a universe of delirium-inducing smells no one should ever visit, and nearly blocks my vision. I stumble, crouch ever so slightly in a fierce battle to regain my balance, manage to steady myself by leaning my forehead and a pair of jeans onto the wall at my right, and ultimately make it down the stairs in one piece. Shaken by what the paramedics would have found had I fallen, and smelling like laundry forgotten in the never-used hamper in June, but otherwise in good condition.

However, my near death by laundry has given me a novel idea.

I go over the possible discussion in my head.

"I'm in the emergency room. Nothing serious though. Just fell down the stairs and sprained my ankle," I would say all nonchalantly.

"Oh no! Glad you're alright! Don't you worry about class, I'll have the secretary email you your homework," my teacher would say with a note of worry in her voice.

And I would make a mental note to limp next time I saw her.

But then I remember how much I enjoy going to class once I'm actually there, and I harden myself for what is to come. I have, after all, donned my hobo-chic wear, in my mind suited for a photographer, I have dug out the almost dried mascara and applied it (mixed with plenty of water) with rigor, and even smeared some foundation on my face to cover the raccoon-ish, golf-induced sunburn on my face. I'm ready.

I can do this.

I grab my purse, my camera bag, my sunglasses, my house keys, and then I see it. It is the only thing left in my pile of things I'll need to remember to not leave the house without. A key that doesn't even seem to fit in my palm comfortably. A key almost as big as the engine that it was designed to start. But I extend my hand one last time as I hear the garage door slowly rattle up and I grab the key.

"You can't drive back in the dark in the Daihatsu, honey. That's suicide," had the Hubby said to me in a grave tone of voice, making the name Daihatsu sound like a swear word.

I aim the key towards the green monster parked in the garage near where my own little silvery shoe box normally stands, and push one of the buttons on the key, but get no response. I try another, but nothing happens. In dismay, I turn over the key in my hands, but find no other buttons, nor any other markings indicating how to unlock the vehicle. As a final attempt, before dialing the Hubby in Malawi, I try the door handle, and to my surprise, in one fluid movement, pull the door open.

I adjust the seat, the mirrors, and briefly wonder how to turn the radio off, or even just lower the volume, while knowing I'm increasingly pressed for time. The rush hour is slowly closing in on my departure.

I try sliding the gearstick to reverse, but when I try the gas, the engine just roars at me. I slam the gearstick back with my hand, and the car miraculously moves.

I narrowly miss the side of the opening as the left side of the car rises up on the curbing and probably crushes a fair portion of the flower bed immediately beyond the curbing. But crushed flowers are the last thing on my mind. In the rearview mirror, as I turn the wheel to avoid backing the entire car into the flower bed dividing our and the neighbor's driveways, I glimpse the quickly approaching garden wall. This car must be double or triple the size of my own.

I hit the break, and hear a soft thump.

Blood escapes my face, but I check myself quickly. I reason that metal simply doesn't make thump-like sounds, and put the car in first gear. I need to be on my way. I shouldn't be late. Not this time.

I drive to the first gate, and then I realize what I've forgotten. I stop the car, and quickly jump out and run back to our driveway with my house keys and push the button that closes the garage door. With the rattle of the door sending me on my way, I make it back to the car and start it again.

I make it through the first set of gates, and slowly roll my way downhill towards the next set. The tough set. The set with complicated dividers, narrow lanes, booms with stop-signs, and the need to get the car close enough to the fingerprint machine to be able to reach it from the car window, yet not close enough to take the machine out with the side mirror.

I turn the wheels towards the lane marked 'Residents'.

I hit the curb slightly, but not enough to make the car rise onto it. I glance to my side at the workmen waiting to leave the compound, and see them all turning to stare at me. One of them smiles. Or is that a smirk on his face?

I check my rearview mirror. There's no one behind me. Once again, I slam the car in reverse, and carefully maneuver myself and the vehicle away from the direct course with the divider. I attempt entry again, and succeed, albeit with so much space between me and the fingerprint scanner that I need to open the door ever so slightly to reach it.

While I'm waiting for my fingerprint to be recognized as my own and to be let out of the complex, I hear a voice call out to me.

"I drive my father's car," it seems to be saying.

I turn my gaze away from the words that read VERI-FYING PLEASE WAIT, and I'm met with a broad white smile from the car-free visitors lane. It's a guard smiling and waving at me.

"I'm sorry?" I say as I nod to him politely.

"I AM DRIVING MY FATHER'S CAR?" he articulates and his smile broadens.

I stare at him unsure what to say, until, from the corner of my eye, I see the boom lift.

"Actually. I'm driving my husband's car," I yell at him, and make him laugh out loud. I can see him double up with laughter as I make it to the other side of the dividers.

Note to self: No Danish Christmas cookies for the guards this year.  

My thoughts exactly.