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.