Friday, October 30, 2009

The story of my uncooperative body parts (violent boobs excluded)

As I sit here at the kitchen counter waiting for my brain to do that thing during which all of a sudden somewhere from the confines of my at times grand and other times embarrassingly small mind a worthwhile topic emerges, several random thoughts come to me.

None of which I should probably be blogging about, but all of which beat my initial idea: diarrhea.

Don't ask. Let's not go there. You might say that this post by this funny guy has inspired the shit out of me, but let's not. Let's try to be ladylike. Just this once. Let's just move on.

First, I contemplate writing, yet again, about dangerously teetering on the very uncomfortable barstools (Hihihi. Yes I have an inner 6 year old. Don't pretend like you didn't know that.) by the kitchen counter. About me absolutely having to own them, because they were green, Italian design, and very much said "look at me, I look like I cost a pretty penny, but still give the impression of functionality, quiet beauty, and suggest that my owners are not into decorating, but just succeed in this genre of style everyone who likes them calls 'eclectic', and everyone who doesn't, calls it 'that time when Hugh Hefner, the early 90s, and a Mexican crafts market met for a garage sale and made a killing on these two schmucks'." But then I realize that instead of moaning about the surprisingly uncomfortable (Really? They're made out of green plastic. What is it exactly that spells comfort for you?) chairs at my makeshift workstation in the kitchen overlooking the coffee maker and the washing machine, I should just go work in the study. With the nice chair and table, and good light, and the neighbors pug to stare at.

And then I realize you don't care. And my mind wanders.  

I look around and feast my eyes on this beauty:



Which might now forever grace my living room floor. "Why?" you ask, "Why not fold it up and put it away in the closet?"

Well, my dear reader, it is at this point that my intermittent incapability to perform the most simplest of tasks surfaces, and makes me believe that thing they say about alcohol killing off brain cells at an alarming rate. Momentarily I contemplate taking up smoking pot instead since the negative effects of marijuana pale in comparison with the effects of alcohol - to one's noggin and one's insides that is - but quickly remember who reads this blog and say that I would never do anything illegal, Mother. I will sign as many petitions to legalize marijuana as I can get my hands on though. One needs to do everything one can in order to stop the trafficking of women, children, weapons, hard drugs, and all that horrifying stuff, after all.

Then I look around again, and remember the soft box that I've purchased for detail photography, but am now unable to put away.

The truth is I have absolutely no idea how to fold it back up. No idea. And I've spent approximately two hours trying to do just that. The Hubs is too nervous to even try, and my barking at him "to fokken just fold the fokken thing up. Fok!" has already rattled his nerves to a point of no return as far as this specific task goes. I'm the last obstacle barring the soft box from becoming a very wobbly side table. And frankly, it doesn't match the green barstools (Hihihi).

Yet, in all its blinding whiteness, the soft box defies me and my intellect.

Someone help me, please. My next course of action involves a pair of scissors and will possibly incur the wrath of the Viking, since I'm the one who desperately needed to own this piece of...er... white fabric strung on circular wires.

I cry a little and shake my fist at the soft box that just gazes at me nonchalantly and doesn't bat an eye at my despair, and wait for my brain to come up with something actually worth blogging about, but something keeps distracting me.

What is that fokken noise?

Of course, it is the neighbor's chihuahua. Not the neighbor's pug, nor the neighbor's dachshund, but the forever-yapping when left outside, chihuahua.

I'm constantly amazed (not positively though) by our neighbors and the way that they view their 'pets'. Everyone seems to have a dog or two, perhaps even a cat, and at least one bird somewhere in the corner. At first glance, most or our neighbors seem like your quintessential animal lovers.

Until you look again.

Yes, everyone seems to own an animal or two, but most of those animals never make it into the house. Even the tiniest of dogs, like the little yapper next door, are left outside at least for the entire day, and possibly let into the kitchen/ washing room area during the night, if the owner hasn't purchased a little shed-like creation for his furry companions.

I rarely see much affection towards these pets. Yes, they're fed and look healthy, but really, they seem to have been bought as the cheapest of burglar alarms.

No wonder the pooches do nothing but yap all day long. I would too, if I was only there to do the job of some barbed wire and a little blinking box by the front door one should never forget the combination to, because if one does, one is in deep shit with the security company because they have to come all the way out in the middle of the night to quiet the horrifying wail emerging from that selfsame box.

In deep shit.

Thus the circle of my meandering thoughts comes to a close. Ingloriously with shit.

And once again, as my brain obstinately refuses to cooperate, I'm left with nothing more to show for my thinking efforts than a blank screen with the cursor mockingly blinking at the beginning of the first line that never began. I'm left with absolutely nothing to blog about. With nothing to say.

Damn you brain.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's a holly-holly-day, right?

Halloween approaches once again. Or so I hear, can read from your various blogs, and even see from the ubiquitous orange (the only color I truly and utterly abhor. Just a tidbit of info should any of you feel the pressing need to send me flowers. Or T-shirts and bellbottoms. Or tigers) and black.

I have only one thing to say about Halloween and holidays in general.

I don't do holidays.

But of course I'll need to elaborate. Since I'm not a hater, just an avoider.

I'm not quite sure how or when this aversion started, or how it has reached this momentous stage of complete denial of and resistance to any and all kinds of celebrations imposed on me from above. By which I must mean the calendar, because otherwise I would have to go the route of the church (or more accurately churches), Coca Cola, tradition, Disney, history, Hallmark, the advertising industry, and Hollywood. And that would just make me seem like I'm opposing everything and I'm not prepared to be portrayed in that light. By me.

So I'll just simplify the equation and say imposed on my life by the calendar. M'kay.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm all for the Hubby not having to go to work, because on a certain day a bazillion (or somewhere between 2013 and 2020) years ago someone was born into this world, because a reborn nation wants to unite through meat, because one big kahuna took a restful nap and thus allows me and the Hubs to golf like two crazies every Sunday, because the dead return for one day to have some tequila and eat some corn, because a very young nation came through a grueling civil war, because a guy named Christian from a long line of various guys named Christian decided to collate a bunch of different religious holidays into one and just call it the big prayer day, or because an imaginary harvest is over (Where? In the silicon valley?).

(Turns out that when one Googles 'backgrounds to different holidays', one hits on a veritable gold mine of free clip art and web images and not too much of actual information - I guess I'm not the only one not in touch with what our holidays are all about, or then I'm the only one who isn't and has to Google it. Still, I bet option A.)

It is just that, since I stopped believing in that guy who gave me a pink convertible that my Barbie would only fit into if I took her legs off (she didn't care, she'd lost her spark when I cut her hair and marker-colored it blue and red), holidays have never really said that much to me. At best they've whispered "You can pop that bottle of wine now [but only after I turned 18 Mom!] because you can sleep until 1pm tomorrow should you wish to do so," or "Tonight seems like a perfect night for an all-night Northern Exposure/ Men Behaving Badly/ Black Adder marathon complete with some kind of soft cheese and blueberries in cream. And wine, should you feel so inclined (not ever)." For me holidays are just time with the Hubs and the occasional golf ball.

In the greater scheme of things, many holidays, especially the most popular ones, seem to have evolved into "celebrations" of things, money, people you don't want to see too often but have to because you are somehow related to them, the children of these people who you sometimes in a hushed whisper (or if you're already in the car in a very loud voice) refer to as spawns of darkness or if you're feeling a little more sunny sticky pygmies, and pure, unadulterated marketing.

But that's just how it seems to me. And to be honest, it is not like I wish for a return to a simpler time when Christmas was about a birth, when Sundays were about something other than those elusive 18 holes, or when the Finnish eve of 1st of May was about something else besides a whole country being so intoxicated that even planes have a hard time landing. Or midsummer eve was about something other than an imitation of the previous, just with sauna and people drowning while peeing out of boats while standing up.

See, we don't do materialism to a sickening degree, we do intoxication instead.  

I'm just trying to figure out, publicly it seems, why I would rather have awesome sushi off a conveyor belt in Taiwan than receive a present wrapped in silver-colored paper, or why I would rather hike a volcano in Guatemala than kiss the Hubs when the clock strikes 12, or why I would rather hang out with my bloggy buddies in Denmark than celebrate the longest day of the year appropriately. But I remain a complex holiday-avoiding mystery. Even to myself.

All I know is that you should never try to send me a tiger because it's orange and not because it would have me for dinner, or anything wrapped in silvery paper that says happy holidays. I might turn all Hulk on you. Or something else green. But not the Irish leprechaun though, that would just be contradicting what I've just written here.

Don't send me a tiger. But do tell me what you think of this holiday-hooplah.


 Believe it or not: Morelia, Mexico, Mothers' day celebrations. 

Warning: I may post this crap de nuevo come Christmas, and bum you all out again. Unless I come up with something better designed for being the grouch who stole it all. I do love green after all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Schmulture

This past Saturday, as the Hubby and I were sitting out on the patio in the (finally cleaned thanks to yet another new maid) chairs, with the crackling fire in the braai making a nice addition to the Brad Paisley assortment (I know. No need to say it. I have gone from a healthy obsession with this guy's music to a full blown sing-him-in-my-sleep-without-realizing-it kind of obsession. From obsessed to possessed. But don't tell him.) blaring out through the open window, spending the day with some of our always-good-for-a-highly-intellectual-discussion-over-plenty-of-wine friends from South Africa and Zimbabwe, we got to talking about culture.

Specifically what we termed as 'European culture'. Or as our South African friend, who had just on that very day, returned from Paris, put it, "Where there is all this culture everywhere around you. Everywhere you turn there's something." He had been to the Louvre of course and seen the Mona Lisa, to Notre Dame, to Montmartre, to Champs Elysees, and to the Eiffel Tower.

He felt a little overwhelmed by it all, but desperately wanted to return right away, show everything he'd seen to his wife, and possibly even live in Europe. Except of course for the price of everything. That was the part he wasn't too fond of. But who is?

Also, he did narrow Europe down to the 'mid-part'. Naturally he wouldn't ever want to live in Finland, since "Finns are a strange bunch, aren't they?" and "Isn't Finland really more like a part of Russia than Europe?"

I got a chance to put my magnificent rendition of the stink-eye into action more than once. And I must say, I'm quite proud of my progress too in the area that covers all the different eyes: stink, evil, googly, rolled, red, you know, and I'm sure you would agree.

*stares at everyone convincingly, albeit slightly menacingly*

But as we chatted about Europe, and my and the Hubby's reasons for not wanting to ever again live in Europe if we can avoid it and instead can just keep alternating between Latin America, Africa and Asia, while the best explanation, even pre-tequila, from me went something like: "Europe is just so... European," accompanied by a self-imposed strangle hold on my throat and a less than ladylike flopping tongue, er, flopping out of the side of my mouth (a natural addition to me talkin' smart), I started to wonder about culture.

Why were we discussing white, European culture as the epitome of culture and not as white, European culture, or white, male, continental European, French, or Parisian culture?

Why is it that in so many minds Europe (the proper Europe that is, not the lake-y part attached to Russia)  has ownership over highbrow culture, America of popular culture, and Africa is a continent somehow void of that mess of things that's the definition of culture, and the only pull of which are the wild, the animals, and the wide open spaces empty of traces of human touch? Or worse yet, something referred to as primitive culture.

After all, here in Johannesburg, we live within a very short distance from the place referred to as The Cradle of Humankind, where everything that we now refer to as culture sprung from. Where we, the makers of all culture and guilty of this thing we call civilization, very possibly can trace our existence back to. And all this while living in a highly urbanized area populated by millions of representatives of not only one, but several different cultures, each more elaborate and intricate than the next.

If anything, there is culture in Africa.


Excuses-moi? Does my culture clash, monsieur? 

What is your take on this? I myself am a little cultured out now. I need you my dear readers. Gimme somthang goood!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WTF home? Where you at?

Way back in April I ranted something about where my home was or wasn't. Or something to that effect. Any of you remember that?

Me neither. Not really. But there was a lot of bile, gall - neither of which I or my body have control over on account of that missing gall bladder and my liver being, well, the alcohol preserved piece of dead tissue that it probably is - some brimstone (I'm just throwing that in, because I like the word), and a little bit on books - my first love in this life.

I think my green bathrobe also might have made an appearance in that post. Like it used to do all the time. In fact, we haven't had one of those in a while. What's up with the silence of the green bathrobe? Dude.

(As a distracting aside, now I kind of want to write a book titled The Silence of the Green Bathrobe and Other Adventures about a gang of badass mice who live in the numerous pockets of that garb and rule the neighborhood. But we all know what happens when I hit that 10 000 to 25 000 word mark. Oh well.)

Once again, I'm thinking about the concept of home. Not only because I, again, over a lovely braai with some truly dear friends, had to explain that my home is not in Finland (that's just where my ma and pa built their flesh-colored house. Not kidding about the color, Mom just won't listen. Maybe me writing about it to complete strangers will make more of an impact come the time to repaint. Mom, it is flesh-colored. It is.), but right here in South Africa. For better and for worse, within these Mexican Sand-colored (oh, the irony) walls. I'm not so sure about the military-colored exterior with sickeningly Tuscan leanings though. It's too ugly to be anyone's home. It's why the word residence was invented.

Apparently, I have some issues with certain colors as well. And Tuscany. Who knew?

Well, I did, about Tuscany that is, and people who've never been to Tuscany trying to mimic its architecture and going horribly wrong and ending somewhere between Disney- and Graceland. But not the colors. That's a complete surprise. Wonder what Freud would have to say on that? I bet it would be something interesting and just a little off-putting. Especially when you think of the potential connections that can be drawn from growing up in something flesh-colored to anything that Freud seems to have been very fond of...

But I'm veering. Badly. And to wombs and birth-canals, and such matters of the mysterious underworld. Oh the horror.

Moving on. Clear your mind's palate. And stop thinking of the house that I did some of my growing up in in those terms. Thanks.

I'm also thinking of the concept of home, because in a couple of months we'll be getting guests galore, back to back, from three different countries all of which I've called home at some point in my life. And now, practically simultaneously, we have received questions from each set of guests regarding what we would like for them to bring with them. Something we have been missing.

From home.

Or, in the case of my brothers, the question is more implied in the email that never arrived. Because that's how we communicate. We don't. That's how we know we're related. It's an ancient cycle of Finnish love and affection.

My problem now is that I can't think of one thing that I would want from those nations, let alone need.

I have found that Woolworth's organic coffee is good enough to be buried with, should it turn out that I'm in fact Egyptian and get to take something with me to the big ever after ruled by guys with catheads who walk sideways and wear skirts, so I don't need my fix of Finnish coffee. Woolies will do in cathead universe. Good wine has never and will never come out of Finland or Denmark. Awesomely bad tomato wine has emerged from Finland, but one whiff of that is enough, and I still have half a bottle left back in our little summer cottage in Tampere. France has some amazing, amazing wines, but so does SA and for half the price. So, surprisingly, no java nor bottles needed from anywhere.

I know. I'm just as aghast as you must be. And flabbergasted. And flummoxed. And a little bit gobsmacked. But not overly so. I draw the line at too much gobsmack.

What I do want need are two Brad Paisley CDs from America that Africa seems to have deposited in its black hole and the Danish iTunes disregards in the most terrible of manners, some Lubriderm lotion from Mexico because it would only be fitting that a Mexican lotion would be the most suited for the palest of the McPales, a specific brand of olive oil from Greece because we're snobby like that, some Fudge hair care from England to maintain the spikes spiky, and some freshly brewed STARBUCKS from anywhere. Just anywhere. Anywhere will do.

Anywhere.

The fact of the matter is that quietly over the years, without anyone, least of all me noticing, I seem to have become what I claim to be on my profile, right here on Blogger.

A child of a global world.

And the meaning of home has become something much broader than what it meant when I was first brought home from the hospital by my nervous parents (can you tell I'm the first?), during one of the coldest winter days in that century.

Now, I belong nowhere and anywhere.

What an odd sensation.


In my book this guy would be an undercover police officer trying to infiltrate the mice mafia. he wouldn't have too much luck, but he would always play an entertaining tune. 

What do you think of all this? Does it even make sense? Is the only relatable part the mention of my mother not listening to me when I said they should paint their house yellow and coming up with some excuse about not wanting to paint what was dark brown white? Or Starbucks?

It's been quiet here in the Extranjera command center. And although I can't encourage for the lurkers to identify themselves, since I never do that myself, I will say again that I do love your comments. All of them. And giggle in tune with Brad Paisley when I read them over and over again. So do leave them. Even if you don't normally...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some light rioting

So this morning, before leaving the house in a hurry with my coffee in one hand and my keys somewhere I'm pretty sure I did not leave them the night before but still somewhere fairly normal so I'm feeling quite confident about the amount of brain cells left, I was also busy formulating a cracking little thing about the pros and cons of golfing with an elderly lawyer (I'm sorry, I do believe you mean advocate, young lady) complete with such highly patronizing goodness as, "that's a nice little shot right there," in referral to my with-all-my-might-and-ability, powerful 7-iron swing, and "You don't have to hit it from the bunker, you can just lift it onto the grass. We won't tell."

But then I left the house. And drove to where I was supposed to be.

And somehow, after listening to some high quality argumentation about dress shopping, and how difficult it can be to find just the right dress for the occasion (like taking your dog to the vet), I jumped on the bee-atch wagon and decided to lash out against my own - the proud, mostly undeservingly so, tribe of trophy wives. In my mind I was combining all sorts of evils in the world with ladies who lunch, and possibly branching out all the way to the possible connections between getting one's nails done religiously, opposing the legalization of marijuana, and having voted for Bush.

But then I drove into the township.  

Where there was a protest going on.

With taxis blocking the roads behind us.

Sealing us in.

Which should have made me scared, and leave well enough alone and brewing for a later date the budding hypothesis on the potential correlation between the intricateness of designs on a person's nails and how much time you actually spend thinking "REALLY?...SHE DID NOT JUST SAY THAT?!?! WHAT'S WITH THE HIGH HEELS?...REALLY?...GO AWAY SO I CAN STOP SCREAMING IN MY MIND," and wanting to generally claw off anything on your body to do with perception. You know: eyes, ears, and such. Completely hypothetically of course.

Having the police escort you out of the township means something's up. Something scary. I should have been scared.

It's just that I have a hard time being scared of something real. Something that I can see coming (which excludes epic Jaws-sharks, murderous clowns, chick lit, vampires [unless we're talking the Cullen clan in which case the gag-reflex better describes my true reaction], Godzilla-esque lizards, excess facial hair on women, and having to cook). And today, although I do realize that shooting, which is what took place a few weeks ago in the same township between the police and the protesters, could have broken out any moment, the people just looked like people. The woman you sat next to at the traffic lights not 30 minutes earlier. The guy who pumps your gas. That person who showed you your house. The people you just had over for a braai. Those kids you teach.

They were just a bunch of people. Sad and dissatisfied people. And I just couldn't be scared.

Instead, my biggest headache today constitutes of the kitchen sink being clogged up with something, and me having to deal with it. With my own too hands. with dirty, disgustingly greasy water seeping into the cupboard below the sink.

Now, having to unclog a drain horrifies me.

And makes me very, very scared.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is this thing on?

I may have mentioned this before on a few occasions...

Ugh. She needs to get out more I think. She's beginning to repeat herself. Even she knows that. And she spends an awful lot of time sleeping when she could actually be drinking wine and blogging, er, about drinking wine. And stuff.

Yeah! What's up with her?!?!

...but I'm somewhat of a technophobe.

Or more accurately, I don't like it when technological things change. Especially if more buttons and features, and whatnot are added onto something that's already working fine and that I have just learned to use closer to its full capacity than ever before by some obscure designer entity that is only attempting to make the thing more 'user friendly' (by which they mean targeted to someone who is already bored by the bazillion options out there for spending every waking hour of their day by 'connecting' with someone or something out there).

For me, development and change signal frustration with my inability to perform such simple tasks as turn the thing on (I say, all vacuums should come with a big button that says ON to avoid that awkward 5 minutes of staring and circling the vacuum expecting it to magically turn itself on [They will bring out the kind that can be switched on by the power of thought soon enough. Or possibly by sneezing.] resulting from the button having been relocated to a more 'easily reachable' position making it reachable alright but also practically invisible, and it not being marked with clear letters, but some difficult-to-decipher symbol), refresh a page (why does anyone feel the need to keep moving that icon? All the time?), or send an email (I write an email, I don't compose it).

Okay. We've heard this all before. Now she'll start talking about pulling her hair out, curling up in a fetal position and crying herself to sleep, because someone changed iTunes and she can't find Whiskey Lullaby by that guy Brad Paisley, or because someone moved a button to the tabs bar on Safari and she keeps clicking on that when she means to refresh, and she maintains she's doing no such thing. 

Exactly, I hear ya. It's the world's saddest song played on the world's smallest violin. She's always hogging that thing too. She'll break it soon, if she's not careful...

So imagine my surprise today, when I found myself sending a request in to Google Wave to be sent an invitation to their new interface (I'm not sure that's what it is, since I'm not sure what constitutes an interface and what Google Wave is really about, or much else for that matter, but anyhoo). Somehow, I went from finding out that Blogger had crashed and wouldn't let me edit or even browse most of my blogs, to expertly (So what? I want to use this word about myself. It's my blog.) tweeting about the problem and looking at other report-a-problem tweets come in at the same time, to watching the (Entire! It's 80 minutes long!) demo video of the Google Wave.

And I felt fine.

Waah? She didn't even touch her hair? No tears? No calls to Hubby? 

You know, and this is something I didn't want to mention until I had more proof, but I think she might be a clone.... One of the clones made by the big corporations to market their products.... Only, I had thought that it was Starbucks who'd sent her. 

And then I finally decided to look into what that thing I'd been hearing about called the Sidewiki was, and since it was not supported on Safari, right then and there without any kind of sighing or rolling of eyes all the way to the back of my head, I downloaded Firefox, and Sidewiki too, after which I skyped with the Hubby about it all, and found out that he hadn't even heard of Google Wave yet.

And I felt even better.

She's a clone alright. A veritable Google clone drone. What should we do?

I don't know. I've only read up on the clones sent by Starbucks and Stellenbosch. There was nothing there on Google clones.

I'm scared. I miss the hairpulling and shrieking. At least then we knew what we were up against.

I know. I'm really scared too.

... 

Uhm... Maybe we should just Google her? 


Excuse me Sir? I'm looking for the ON/OFF Switch?

Have a good weekend everyone! Don't Google me while I'm gone!

Or I'll Google you right back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nowhere near to being crippled by it, but there's some indecision in the air

Since I seem to have aired out the more insane ones of my personalities yesterday, I thought that today I would balance the whole a little bit and write about something serious.

And then I started wondering what that something serious might be.

Of course the obvious sneaked back to my mind. However.

Although, I still feel quite out of touch with the part of my brain that's trying to process my friend taking her own life, since I won't be able to attend the funeral in Denmark, and since I have actively avoided dwelling on the ifs, the buts, the possibilities and the inevitabilities of it all, I seem to be pushing forward in the general happenings of life and everything life-related.

And there's so much more to write about with life than with death. Also, there's just no writing away the sorrow and the worry, only time will eradicate those.

Then I wondered whether I should write something about how much more I fall in love with this country and its inhabitants every day that goes by regardless of feeling completely suffocated by it and its inhabitants every so often. How is it that the same blue expanse of sky can so easily one day lounge about above such unparalleled beauty and sheer awesomeness, and then another day such oppressive air and ignorance?

But, I have already unceremoniously sacked, on this blog of all places, much of the ignorance that used to be much too close to home, and since then life has been looking up in many ways, and breathing seems to come much easier every day that goes by.

So that post would just be about weird happiness and might make me look not a little bipolar and that's not something I'm really aiming for.

Then I wondered whether it would be too much to ask from your patience to once again drum up an issue that is just so important to me, and close to my heart, and in my thoughts all the time.

But then I thought: "Nah, you've already figured out how much the education of these children means to me and clicked on all of the previous links and figured out what you can do to help." You're cool like that, after all.  

And that's why I can sleep a solid 9 hours every single night. And not worry about everything.

Then I wondered whether I should write again about how much I love the Hubs, despite of him once again looking more Amish (it's the fokken beard again that he keeps neglecting to have trimmed) than should be allowed, which might or might not have garnered him some credibility in Zimbabwe. I hope they're into believing what folks whose facial hair seems to be leading an entirely separate life from the face it is springing forth from and, frankly, should be controlled, say. But It might be a stretch.

Maybe he gives off that air of a genius who's just much too involved with his 'important research/inventions' to even notice the jungle forming on his chin?

But then I thought of Mugabe and my husband in the same thought, albeit completely by accident, and kind of felt the need to yelp in horror.

I didn't though. I had some coffee instead.

*shakes fist at the world that fuels her addictions*

And then, finally, I thought about whether it is really worth trying to balance out something that or someone who (me) is clearly not about balance or moderation, or the middle of anything to begin with? I'm not saying I'm unbalanced, but it's just a fact that me and the median don't mesh well.

And that's just fine.


Would an insane person go out like this? I think not!
(It does cross my mind, however, that perhaps I'm less of a P!nk and more of someone in the Gaga family...?)


Or let herself be photographed like this? 
Hmm...

Expect versatility (by which I mean those posts that make absolutely no sense).

Love you all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where do violent boobs come from anyway, and why I might have a pair

Or something completely different, which is in no way offensive or creepy.


There are things with heads that you can eat with good conscience. Unless you're a cabbage and then it's just cannibalism if you're eating another cabbage. And I don't know how I would feel about that. A little weirded out perhaps. Nervous. And I would want to distance myself from the actions of the said cabbage. Right here on this blog. Yes, you can quote me on that.

Can you keep a secret?

I can. Most times anyway. But I know there are people out there who just suck at anything like that. They struggle immensely when they're not allowed to tell anyone something they know. Especially if it's something supremely juicy.

Like fake boobs. Which, I must add, time and again, confound me with their juice-value. I mean, they are just boobs. Things you have to harness in the morning so they don't slap you in the face when you hit a speed bump a little too fast. Just unruly boobs.

Or am I talking of the freefalling ones, not the engineered ones?  My education might be lacking in the boob department. I just own them. It's not like I ever take them out intentionally and use them for anything.

However, perhaps the juice doesn't trickle down off of the lumps of plastic at all, but instead comes from someone's need to radically alter something about themselves. That I'll buy. And that is some proper V8 too. With a vodka twist.  

Sometimes it's just hard to keep others' business to yourself, when you yourself have none to speak of. Unless you count grocery shopping as an event. Which, of course it sometimes is, but unless you know how to spin you sticking your asparagus into someone else's unsuspecting cart, or that broccoli not being as nice as it appeared in the store just the right way, there's not much you can do about it. It's either boil, steam or bake, or some other weird method I haven't yet encountered a specifically made gadget for, although I'm sure it's out there. And possibly shaped like a Disney character.

Now, why do I have to make everything so dirty and/or so weird and complicated?

I don't know.

Boredom? Oddly wandering mind? Too much caffeine? Too little wine?

Couldn't keep my carrots in a row? My potatoes in the sack? My cauliflower well tended for?

My cherries were in disarray.

Well, I started out by wanting to tell you a secret. I did. Then, unfortunately, I branched out into the wondrous world of vegetables and from there on everything just sort of unraveled. Now, after the ingenious and not at all rambling and completely pointless build-up - especially the part about the dirty vegetables - has resulted in the secret being quite lame. And not at all vegetable-related.

I don't even know why this story involves any food at all. And none of it organic either.

I think I'll just have to keep my secret to myself, and not bore you any more.

Maybe you should tell me your secrets instead? There are extra dips in the toppings for those who give me something vegetable-related.

Crazy enough to work, né?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dwelling on it

There's a newspaper clipping stuck to my fridge with two magnets. One of the magnets tells me how I would go about making Finnish meatballs, and the other how I would prepare a traditional Finnish pancake. Yup. In Finland you only make one, in the oven, and the stuff you prepare on a pan on the stove is something completely different. We are a culinary people, we are, regardless of what the ass Silvio Berlusconi has to say about our food.

Not that I would ever make meatballs or pancake, but the Hubs at least learns Finnish trying to decipher my mother's elusive, 'secret' pancake recipe, that in no way is the exact one printed on the magnet. Hubs continues to be confounded by the elaborate code that is my mother tongue. And that's just fine. Keeps everyone from understanding what I'm saying when I swear in Finnish on the gold course the magic alive.

But.

Berlusconi = ass. Remember that, elaborate on it, and you will be able to survive a cold winter in Finland purely by leeching off of the Finns. And don't ever tell me this blog didn't teach you anything.

There's a highly sophisticated survival strategy right there for you, should you ever find yourself unable to depart Finland when it starts to snow. Or when the polar bears block your way. Or when Santa ties you to a christmas tree, and then steals your plane tickets to exchange them for ones to the Canary Islands where he'll be the star of a Finnish Christmas under the sun. Whichever happens first.

But. BUT.

The newspaper clipping in between the magnets keeps me grounded in the reality of South Africa. It is a letter written anonymously to a readers' opinion column, but I don't know exactly which magazine it is from. It was given to me by a South African friend who knew I would appreciate it, which made me realize that there is at least one South African out there who totally gets me.

The clipping reads:

Old SA Flags

Okay, you've decided to bail on the land of your birth, leaving the rest of us to fight the good fight and build the dream alone - your choice. But must you shame the non-cowards still enjoying the sunshine at home by waving a poorly designed symbol of idiocy while supporting "your country" at Twickenham? We didn't see a single swastika among the German supporters at Euro 08. You're a doos.

"What is wrong with poor Extranjera's head to be so enamored by this 'piece' of writing? Did she finally connect the noggin with the golf club in a serious manner?" you are probably asking yourself, your poor spouse who just doesn't get blogging and wonders why you care so much about what goes on with a catless catlady all the way in Africa, your spouse who is secretly reading over your shoulder but who doesn't get blogging but really wants to find out whether poor, inebriated Extranjera will ever piss her pants in public (very likely, and I'm not saying it hasn't already happened, I just haven't blogged about it.), that special bloggy someone in an email or a chat, that lady sitting at the Starbucks/neighborhood coffee house for the heretics out there at the next table over because you too are odd that way, or you've just gotten to know me so well that you've either stopped caring or simply decided to go with the flow and have faith in Extranjera at some point actually making an actual point.

It has happened.

I'm not saying I entirely agree with the 'bailing on the land of your birth' part of the rant, because I must say I, if anyone, can understand leaving the country of your birth behind to never to return ('cept for short periods for drinks during the nightless nights in the warmth of summer, good lightly roasted coffee, some quality time with the family, being able to walk around at midnight alone without a care in the world, the fish, and the land of enchantment that borders on the truly strange), but I didn't leave out of fear, discontent, or disappointment.

And I chose South Africa. I chose Johannesburg. We chose South Africa. We chose Johannesburg.

What I take and relish from the above clipping is its complete and utter objection to the past. Because here in SA the past is not something to be honored or celebrated. or at least it shouldn't be. And remembering it as anything else than something to be sorely avoided hasn't done anyone any good either.

If I were German I wouldn't want to live on Joseph Goebbels street, and as a South African I would object to living on Hendrik Verwoerd drive. Especially knowing that the streets were named so in the past to honor the people behind the names.

There are ways to make amends, but once that's done one has to look forward. In South Africa it's all about the future. Building a new nation, not on the ruins of the old one, but completely on a new foundation. I'm confident that the horrors of apartheid will never be forgotten even if every single name reminiscent of that regime is wiped away. I believe that most people need at least the appearance of a clean slate to keep from dwelling on the past.

Or at least I do.

It also gives me great comfort to know that people such as the author of the snippet exist. Here. In South Africa. In my hood. In my sphere. It makes me have faith that although I don't always bump into those kinds of people, they are nevertheless still out there. And looking to the future.

It makes me love this country even more.


The FUTURE learning away.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Forward

Thank you all so much for being there. Reading, commenting, and feeling with my friend and I. There is so much love in the blogosphere that it could power at least one European country if not several. Too bad no one is harnessing it. But at least that leaves plenty for me and mine.

And I do appreciate it.

Thank you.

But life has to continue. And it will. Regardless of whether you'd like it to or not. Time passes and things happen. Good things, not so good things, noteworthy things, and things that make you want to laugh.

And laughing is good.

Laughing is when it all begins to get better. Even if tears are streaming down your cheeks at the same time.

This sometimes elusive laughter can take the form of a joy that comes out of suddenly realizing that amidst the misery and the difficult-to-understand things the discussion has turned to literary groupies and how we, my friend and I, just might totally be some, and whether Toni Morrison, like another author who shall remain nameless but who is totally cool and wrote back in such a nice way, would answer fan mail.

I'm betting on Toni being totally down like that. She wears her hair in dreds after all. And if dreds and a readership of bazillions don't say "Hey Girl, where do I send this personal reply to?" I don't know what does.

The laughter can come in the form of a lousy theatre performance that becomes the thing to see when you see it with someone who appreciates your wit as you chew apart the performance with edgy and inventive (You didn't hear them, so hush.) remarks before meandering onto pithy comments about those people sitting behind you (You didn't see them, so hush.) who never got the memo about a) Cats not being a comedy, b) not all pieces made of the same cloth sold in the store are meant to be worn simultaneously, or c) the one that said putting glitter into your wrinkles doesn't actually make them go away. It just makes them, well, shine.

And then there's my personal theatre-related favorite d) NB! Camel toe should not be seen on a large male in a tight leotard impersonating a cat. That's just too much wildlife in one package right there.

In the words of the Hubby who has been trying so hard: Bad theatre is still theatre. It's just bad theatre.

The laughter can come when you're supposed to keep a straight face. This might happen when a group of boys sends out an envoy to ask you whether you're a rockstar. Because, they maintain, you look like one.

And they're serious about it too. You almost don't want to say no. But then you think about that singing you do in the shower sometimes, and when you're driving around in the car by yourself, and you can't bring yourself to lie. What if they wanted you to sing something? I have understood that 8 year olds would have very little tolerance for "they make it better in the studio." And I wouldn't want to be no Britney either.

I'd want to be P!nk.

The laughter can be embedded in the sigh of relief you let out when you hear that person who you've been worried about say that if anything, the tragedy has shown her how much she has to be thankful for.

And that laughter takes kilos and kilos off your shoulders.


A surprise visitor who very much made me laugh when he/she (how exactly do you sex a cat?) came to visit on Sunday.

Laughter is life-affirming. And even if I'm not completely there, at least I'm trying.

Friday, October 16, 2009

1977-2009

I sit here staring at the blank screen. My eyes are puffy from the tears that seem to come unexpectedly and in bursts. I'm extremely worried about my friend who is both physically and emotionally much closer to the situation than I am.

I inspect the facts over and over in my mind: A young woman, the mother of a 10 day old baby, takes her own life by throwing herself in front of a train.

I wish I could understand, but I can't. I wish there were answers and not simply questions everyone knows will never be answered, because the only person who could ever answer them is forever gone. Perhaps she answered her questions the only way she knew how.

I want to write something funny and inspiring to make the life without her in it just a little bit easier to face for those left behind. I wish I could. Especially for that newborn soul who will now never know the woman who carried him. I wish there was something I could do.

But how do you do anything normal and everyday after someone decides to end their own life? When someone decides to leave everything and everyone behind. Leave this world and her existence in it.

How she must have been hurting.



Hvil i fred min ven.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What is this 'pick your battles' shit about anyway?

"Finish," she says and looks at me, and for some reason stands by the door that is always unlocked, without even touching the handle, and waits for me to open the door for her.

Perhaps it would be good form to look into her ginormous handbag, but that's just not a place I'm willing to journey to. Ever.

"Did you clean the patio and the balcony?" I ask. Like I do every single time. It's like we have our scripted Q & A routine. 

"Yes, finish... FINISH" she replies, and looks at me like my IQ is not quite up to par. Perhaps she should spell it out for me. It's clear to her that this poor white lady with weird hair and much too much metal attached to her oddly shaped ears, who spends all of her time with her nose in or in the vicinity of that computer is lacking in not just one but several different departments. In her brain that is. Mostly to do with understanding plain speech. And what's with the obsession with horizontal stripes anyway?

However, today, the time has come for me to deviate from the pattern.

"But...?" I continue and start walking towards the patio doors.

I see the look of amazement with a coat of disbelief on her face.   

Just this once I'm not going to cave. I will not be bullied. I will get my BarcaLoungers wiped down. Even if it's the last thing I'll do. By gosh and darn and all that jazz.  

I will enjoy my summer in the sun. I am not giving up.

"Do you understand what I mean by 'patio' and 'balcony'?" I ask her while wildly pointing out towards the patio doors and through the ceiling to somewhere where the balcony is supposedly located. At least in my mind. But there are no guarantees. What my signage lacks in accuracy it gains in wildness and bravado. And I'm happy with that. Although, it always photographs as if I'm having a grand mal seizure, just standing up and rarely frothing at the mouth.  

"Ye-es. Fi-nish!" she drags out the words with a look of pity on her face. It is obvious to her that this lady, who, judging by the empty wine bottles she keeps finding from various places and the glasses with the same lip gloss stain on each and every one of them, drinks much too much for her own good, and is slowly losing whatever sense she has left. 

"But you haven't even opened the door?" I tell her matter-of-factly, "There are cobwebs on the door that have clearly been there for weeks now," I continue.

But I can see I have already lost her, and anything to do with 'cobwebs' is clearly not registering. As a last resort I open the door out to the patio and step out. The patio is covered in red dust, and there are strands of dead grass on the table and chairs. 

I walk over to the BarcaLoungers covered in the remains of what must have been one happening pigeon fiesta, and turn to look at her. 

She isn't there. There is no one else but me on the patio. I hear the front door slam shut.

Tomorrow is another day.


Just putting it out there for the universe to settle.

Bring it on.   

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A vintage worthy moment

There is a certain thing that is due.

A tribute. A congratulations. A loving virtual hug. A bunch of roses and a bottle of champagne (Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame and nothing less. Classy is what matters today.). And general happiness and overwhelming joy.

This morning I received an email from one of my very bestest friends in the world, Ph.D. Mommy. She knows me too well and decided to write to me because she gets how passé Facebook has become for us cool kids who blog, and she has yet to discover my actual other lifelines, Twitter and lately Flickr.

Are you telling me she is smart, alive and has a computer, but she's still not blogging, and she's not on Twitter either? What the fok? How can that be? I bet Appadurai and Dasgupta are bloggers and totally viral on Twitter too...

She wrote to me like you can only write to those people you know are your closest and most authentic of friends, giving me the news of her earth-moving (if you didn't feel it, you are obviously not familiar with post-colonial literature studies, which is just too bad for you, because there was a nice sway felt even all the way in South Africa) accomplishment, without a hint of that all-too-common Scandinavian need for self-deprecation in the face of great accomplishments and deeds.

Well. It's not much, and there's just so much else wrong with my life... and it was a total fluke too.  

She wrote to me to tell me how happy she was, and I can honestly say that I am incredibly happy for her, and feel honored to have such an intelligence, among her other good qualities like never giving me a hard time for coming off as practically avoiding staying in touch (My bad. I know. But I don't mean to go underground. Really, I don't.), so close to the core of my life.

As for her accomplishment, it is certainly not the first time she has shone, and I know it will not be the last. There are great things to follow. And if there is anyone who deserves the result she has gotten, it is her. Not simply because the way she has worked on this specific project warrants it, but also because there have been obstacles that would have made anyone with less of a drive quit long ago.

So here's to my quiet, yet fierce friend Ph.D. Mommy, all raise your glasses now, I'm going the way of ancient Romans and Greeks (because I too am smart that way, and know stuff. I do!) and giving you a crown something made out of laurel leaves.


Now the bay leaves are out. I'll have to get the Hubs to make soup, I guess...

You are a true scholar.

Love,
Me xo

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hi, I'd like you to meet my friends Vacation, Darkie and Elvis

I am slowly emerging from the sea of snot. I thank you all for your unexpected well wishes (Loved those! Totally!). Especially the ones instructing me to make the snotty McSnot drunk by means of a hot toddy, something I hadn't thought of, but ultimately had to give a shot to. And voila - saline and tequila (my hot toddy although there wasn't much hot or toddy about it) seem to have done the trick. McSnot's retreating....

And we're onto a more snotless existence. (If I decide to do that Wordle cloud now, what do you think will be the leading word? Anyone?)

But I had something other than snot to say.

Back in August when I was visiting my dear friend Gringa and her incredibly awesome, happening, and lovely family (I'm not just saying that. I really mean it, and am in no way sucking up to them so that they would fit it into their plans and budget [drinks and meat are on me] to visit us here in SA... Who you calling over-the-top-obvious?) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we decided to inject the visit with a tiny dose of my hood in South Africa.

Since Johannesburg is the new Los Angeles.

What? It's not? The new what?

The new Des Moines, Iowa? Just with skyrocketing crime?

What exactly do you mean by that?

So we went to the movies, and saw District 9. Which was simply awesome, sad beyond belief, well done, thought provoking, point driven, allegorical, necessary, professional, a must see for all, and all sorts of good things all movies should always aspire to be. A movie that should definitely be seen by everyone everywhere immediately following the reading of Rian Malan's My Traitor's Heart.

I'm not shoving anything down anyone's throat here, but if I were you...

Then, this morning, I went to take a shower and started thinking about the name of the main character in the movie: Wikus van de Merwe. And about what I had told my friends in the States about it. That it was the quintessential Boer name. A Boer John Smith, Matti Virtanen, Yung Li, Lars Jensen, or Luis Hernandez. This is what I was told, at least.

Okay, so he is the everyman. As he should have been to further the message of the movie. I thought it was a nice touch, to hammer the point home. For South Africans at least.

And then, as I reached for the weird mineral shampoo which I'm allergic to, but that makes my hair feel and look oh-so-good-and-spiky, I had a thought.

What if your name wasn't quintessentially anything. Or even remotely anything. Or even close to anything to do with names.

How would you like to be called Vacation, Innocent, Cornie, Knowledge, Darkey, Wisdom, Doctor, Elvis, Nice, or Happiness as some of the people in my daily sphere are? What if instead of a name the meaning of which has long since become the last mention in the dictionary, your name was Fortune Prosperous Smith? Would you be able to make it in the business world if your business card read Vacation Freedom Johnson? Would you be more likely to strain for Medical School if your parents already named you Doctor, or would Dr. Doctor Williams just be a tad over the top?

I have always been interested in names, and have studied them quite a bit in my previous life, especially in relation to American slavery. And I've been very interested in the at-times flaring up discussion in South Africa over renaming locations: towns, counties, streets, etc with old names that are far too reminiscent of the horrors of Apartheid.

In fact, I live in Egoli, in the proud nation of Mzanzi.

I like to think I understand the power of names and naming. Especially in cultures in or derived from Africa.

I strongly believe that a person can overcome their name, but also that a name can lead and help a person. I believe that there is a suggestive power to names, but also that names are gifts that need to be accepted and then made our own by imbuing them with our personality.

It is obvious that some of the parents of the previously named individuals, most of whom are children, and like the parents of one of the most famous African American authors of all time Ralph Ellison who was named after the poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, are attempting to pave the way for their children. To give them something to strive after, a constant reminder. A new beginning in a nation where they have equal opportunity.

But I'm left wondering.

Where do poor Vacation, Cornie, and Darkie fall in all of this? What was the initial thinking behind their names? Will they own their names, or be weighed down by them, or never even give their names a second thought?


Let's pretend that this is a rose, and attempt upon that quote that is about the name of the rose and how it still stinks the same even if you call it a sunflower. Or a skunk even. Or not.

Thoughts?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The McSnots were a proud family

What does one write when one has snot and other assorted viscous fluids creeping down one's upper lip, and, to be completely honest, possibly also one's right eye.

One doesn't.

One treks upstairs after a rather grueling 18 holes of golf, the first 9 of which could possibly make it into the Guinness book of records as the most random and inconsistent (and the most snotty) holes ever played, involving not one but three accidents either involving a club, the trolley, or the green and one.

And one inadvertent spraying of nasal saline spray into one's unsuspecting and completely unprepared eye.

One simply refuses to write and maintains that the rest of the first season of Fringe is the best thing one can do for one's stuffed up nose.

One realizes that one can just curl up with a hot bowl of soup, a cup op tea one wishes were coffee, some DVDs, that saline nasal spray, and several boxes of crisp white tissues ready for the job of their lives, and hope that the people who seem to be enjoying the random crap ideas that normally pour out of one's noggin (Really? Is that where they come from? Could have fooled me...) in the place of the current snot-flow, will be back to read whatever one manages to come up for Tuesday, and forgive one for not coming up with a proper post.

One's sick y'all. Snotty McSnot from Mucusville. Let's give one a break.

One has meetings to attend on Monday, after all.


There it is, calling out: E-ext! OH, E-ext. ExtranjeeraaaAAA! 

Friday, October 09, 2009

Me squared


Me taking a picture of a mirror me.

I recently read a study where the researchers posited that blogging and microblogging (twitter, facebook, and other stuff like that I'm oblivious to) are making us all narcissists and are actually, in some cases, manifestations of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Alright, so I didn't actually read this study to begin with. First I read about it in a glossy mag called Fairlady  - for women in their prime (over 40, seems) - which likes to do articles with actual substance. Every once in a while. Between articles like In the Mood for Sex about dating your husband and making sure you hire a babysitter and buy lubricant, Bronzed and Beautiful on the exciting yet complex world of self-tanners, and the completely useless staple 30 outfits in 30 days on combining pieces of clothing and accessories with other pieces of clothing and accessories for plenty of pages.

But I like Fairlady. It's like xylitol bubblegum. It's still gum that you chew with your mouth wide open, but it has something in it that actually makes your teeth healthier.  

Then I read about the study on the Psychology Today website, where the focus seemed to be on selling a book titled The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M Twenge Ph.D. and W. Keith Campbell Ph.D. This book is based on a study by Twenge and John Foster, which I have been unable to find.

So yeah, mostly going by what I read in Fairlady. But I also get most of my news from Twitter.

And that puts me smack in the middle of my initial point.

Yes, there's been a point to this the whole time. Just had to justify my reading of a fashion/lifestyle/and other such crap mag. So none of you think I watch Oprah all day long. Which I don't. I watch a mix of Mythbusters (Aren't they just the shit?), and whatever shows we can buy on DVD (recently Fringe, since the 5th seasons of Lost and Weeds aren't out yet).

Disclaimer: I love and respect Oprah for what she does and how she uses her fame, and would never ever cross anyone who might in fact be in cahoots with Google and secretly rule the world and everything in it, and might have already been party to diving the world into ruled zones. A divide in which she got the women, actual tangible products, literacy, and weight.

I bow to her greatness.

Nghhhh....

That's me trying to bow, but being as flexible as a carton of milk (soon to be Oilk?).

Point?

Point.

Is there an epidemic of narcissistic behavior? According to Twenge's definition of an epidemic, most certainly. Since for her an epidemic is "changes among individuals and changes in the culture." Turns out we are in the throes of all kinds of epidemics: traveling, working, eating, marrying, driving, cooking, writing, you name it. And the worst epidemic of all, well, that has got to be an epidemic of change and development.

I'm not denying that NDP might not be the best possible disposition to have in today's world, but I'm also amazed at someone's need to make it into an epidemic. More than ever before, we are raised to be individuals, with individual thoughts and ideas, goals and personalities (some of us even have more than one) which all matter. To someone. In today's world a single life is important and worthy of mention and should not be wasted.

See, for some odd reason I would call that progress.

But no. Because I tweet or blog about what is important to me in my life, I'm manifesting a narcissistic quality. Actually, just thinking that anyone's going to give a shit about these words makes me a narcissist, since I'm not a thought-leader, a politician, a celebrity, an industrial tycoon, or a talk-show host.

Where is the line between a healthy self-esteem and narcissism? Where is the line between narcissism and disorder?

Does it matter? Do I matter?

Closing note: I wrote this whole thing while listening to Brad Paisley's Alcohol on repeat, and especially to that line referring to alcohol that goes ...helping white people dance... which got me to thinking about expectations and stereotypes, which in turn made me think that Brad Paisley is a deep man, but then I thought that maybe he's not, but that I'm a really deep woman, which made me think that I'm a complete and utter narcissist.

Smack bam. Narcissistic slap in the face.

What do you think of all this? Because your thoughts matter to me.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Whodunit?

I'm sitting at the kitchen counter, compulsively refreshing my hotmail, twitter, and doing some light surfing while I wait for the washing machine to finish. So the clothes will be actually taken out and I can avoid yet another episode of 'how to remove mold from polo shirts' (if they're dark enough, no one will notice).

There's a knock on the door.

This is surprising, since I haven't received a call from either of the gates. Who could it be? I briefly consider running upstairs and doing my 'suspicious foreigner' routine and peeking through the hall curtains. But, well, that would mean I would have to run upstairs. And I just don't see that happening.

I unlock the door.

Two men in blue shirts with the emblem of the estate (yes, we're that kind of estate) greet me in Afrikaans and one of them launches into a longer speech.

"I don't speak Afrikaans," I counter as my midwestern alter ego, Betty, puts a little extra twang to the statement.

"Ma'am, do you have children?" the man whom I vaguely remember having a safety discussion with back when we first moved onto the estate, asks me.

"Err... No?" Betty is a little thrown by the opening line. She doesn't speak Afrikaans either.

"Do any of your neighbors have children?" he continues, while the other man circles down to our garden gate.

"Err... I'm not sure? What? They have some. I think." I point to a random direction, mostly towards the driveway. And Betty points to the people who used to shoot at our house with arrows. Betty knows something's up.

"Do you mind if we go into your garden?" the other man asks me.

I'm momentarily unable to remember where we keep the garden-gate keys (in the junk drawer with the vitamins, random trash such as used tissues and receipts, pieces of paper with what looks like code on them but might just be drunken ideas for a novel or a blog post, gum, and a curiously large amount of identical menus to Cape Town Fish Market. Duh!), and am forced to lead the men through the house into the back yard.

However, they stop at the side doors and babble on in Afrikaans to each other.  

"What exactly is going on?" Betty prods. Loudly.

"We got a call from this lady over here, on this side, and she said 'they're shooting at us again'."

Shooting? Did I just hear correctly? Am I finally coming face to face with what so many maintain is an everyday South African reality? Someone is shooting on our estate? With bullets?

"With an air riffle. Can you see they broke her bathroom window." The man points up to the upstairs window on the other side of the garden wall.

I gaze up at the miniscule nick on the frosted glass, that very well could have been caused by anything flying into the window. A confused bird (their bathroom does have bright green walls which might seem inviting to a rat of the sky a pigeon), a ball, something aimed at their forever barking dachshund... Who knows?

"Ah, maybe someone was annoyed by their dog," I blurt out before Betty can do anything to silence my out-loud thoughts.

Both men turn to look at me.

Betty smiles and points to the doors leading onto the patio.

The men finally follow me out into the back yard, and make attempts at seeing over the garden wall as if they're on pogo sticks.

Betty suppresses my desire to snort by plastering that smile she is so famous for on her face.

"That neighbor has children. All girls." Betty volunteers and points to the house whose inhabitants insist on bad Britney Spears imitations in the bathroom, practicing what sounds like some impressive toyi-toying complete with furious stomping and clapping of hands and an occasional Shakira 'these hips don't lie' interjection, and keep their door open. A lot.

"Ah, all girls," the man dismisses Betty's comment as if it would be unimaginable for a girl to even own a BB gun.

"Could have come from any of these windows," the other man points up to the windows of the neighboring house, but is looking directly up at our upstairs hall-bathroom and the guest-room windows.

I blink.

Do they really think that I'm harboring a mischievous boy upstairs? That I lied about not having children? Or that I did some shooting? With a BB gun? Really, with a measly BB gun?

But I'm a girl. By their standards that makes me not guilty, right?

Perhaps they think my swollen ear-alien did it? To be fair, there could be several BB guns and plenty of ammo stashed in there, and I would never be the wiser. I'm not going near that thing with anything besides antibiotics and plenty of rubbing alcohol. Too scary.

Do they think I'm guilty?  


Was it one of these guys? Look at them, all shifty-eyed and avoiding my stare. I bet they were just egging each other on too.

What do you think? Who's the culprit? The noisy girls from the bathroom window with a cousin's BB gun, the compound-bow owning crazy guy from his balcony with a son's air riffle, a confused pigeon trying to find a tree to perch on, the wild neighbor children from their trampoline with a slingshot, or the weird lady with multiple personalities and no other outlet for her rage over a yappy dog from the guest-room window with pure power of thought?

Let's play some CSI. Dazzle me with your scenario. I don't have a clue.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

You've got mail

What a sickeningly sweet header. And sourced straight from the RomCom genre too?! What is that wily Ext up to this time...? Will this be about Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan getting together for the umpteenth time in the history of cinema?

No. He's all about the Da Vinci code and she's all about a trout pout these days. Shame.

This is about mail.

Call me crazy and odd (as some of you already do for various other reasons), but I'm not keen on snail mail.

Nope. No letters, cards, or care packages for Extranjera. No waiting for the mailman, or checking the mailbox. Not for me.

But Ext, receiving a card or a letter or STUFF in the mail is like the most awesomest, bestest thing in the world. How can you not love that?

Ah, but you see, I'm kind of cold. A hermit of the 'leave me alone, unless I feel like chatting' variety, if you will. So it is only fitting that I'm also notoriously horrible at replying to anything. And as it would be, unfortunately, this seems to be all the more true the more effort the 'getting back' requires. So I just prefer not to receive anything in the mail. Especially since what I receive is normally some sort of formal letter from the Finnish government and/or their frightening polar bear squad of trackers telling me to do something or other in very terse tones. Like pay taxes, relinquish my social security card, admit that I'm never moving back to Finland. You know, the usual.

Hmph.

Actually, I'm quite bewildered by the latest boom in Postcrossing. And honestly, can't really see the point of it. At all. But that might also be influenced by the annoying Twitter updates that are, upon anyone engaged in receiving or sending anything via postcrossing, automatically published. There's already so much uninteresting and completely unnecessary tweeting out there. And I'd much rather read that you are going to bed, that you just fished out a lego from your son's diaper, you just had a salad, or that you're super tired and cranky, than that you received a postcrossing postcard from Finland.

Always Finland. Nothing on television I guess.

And while we're on the subject of uninteresting and unnecessary tweeting, if you haven't already, be sure to follow my inanity. Now also on Twitter! Because I never tweet anything stupid. Never ever. It's all current politics and interesting anecdotes. Honest.

And never, ever about coffee or wine.

Oh Ext. You shouldn't say that about yourself. You're not cold. Just extremely lazy with keeping in touch, and easily distracted. You like receiving stuff in the mail. Everyone does. Just admit it.

Well. There is something that actually might just make me alter my point of view. Just a little bit. Just for today.

Like getting an envelope all the way from Canada, that wasn't stolen in the mail, and that arrived mostly in one piece. From my Siamese Sister, the superhero. And contained this.


She made it. With her own two hands. And there is no blood on it, nor any limbs glued onto it. Which is always nice. Yet a little surprising coming from her.

So VEG, this is how far into the world of mail love I'll venture out for you (you should all gasp now): I actually googled 'how to make a heart in HTML' today. Just for you.

This is for you my dearest VEG:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mrs. B

Yesterday I saw an Ear, nose, and throat specialist. On Sunday I visited the emergency room.

And these things got me to thinking about something that I've been doing automatically. For years. Abroad.

I play stupid.

Actually I play stupid American. Not that Americans are any more stupid than representatives of other nations (only some, such as Bush, Palin, and a few other public and not so public figures), but that's just how my accent comes across.

(Wow. Just googled Stupid Americans and spent the next 20 minutes reading this. Ouch! But let's pretend like no time has passed. 'kay.)

It seems that my strategy for surviving a new situation, in which I'm not 100% sure how to proceed, and especially of the medical variety but also sometimes extending to behavior towards wait staff, receptionists, sales clerks, and anybody new I'm on the phone with, is to channel a large midwestern woman, possibly called Elisabeth, but who prefers Betty.

Betty says things like "Thanks so much," "Purrrrfect!", "Riiigght, now I understand," and "So what exactly does that mean?" Betty is kind. She smiles like somebody's glued her cheeks like that, and she is loud and clear.

Above all, she is painfully loud and clear.

The Hubs, on the other hand, channels a British Bloke, whom we could call BB, but BB would just beat us up for that, so Bloke will suffice. Bloke is always saying "cheers", and "mate", and recently, since he's been getting used to the South African sun he might say "How iz it?" to everything, to everyone, everywhere. The proof of his continued Britishness still, of course, being that the correct South African term would be "Howzit."

Oh my, is that Bloke approaching? Should not have made fun of him... Shhh!!! Everybody smile and don't say a word!

But why not be our usual selves? (I know. Which one? It would be so hard to choose just one Ext for a specific occasion. I need multiple just to keep Drunk Ext quiet most of the time.)

Well, while I can't vouch for the Hubs, seeing as Bloke is not always too clear, and sometimes apparently comes off confusingly Irish and/or Australian, what there is to be said for Betty is that the woman gets things done.

D.O.N.E., completed, finished, before Ext even ever gets over the fact that the doctor's receptionist is wearing some sort of a light blue polyester kaftan, has gift wrapped all of her folders in christmas wrapping paper with gold stars on it, and has just asked Ext to complete a form in Afrikaans.

At that point, Betty is already joking with the doctor about a frightening attack of the green pus, commenting on the receptionist's cute 'dress' and her obvious penchant for crafts, and talking to people in the elevator on the way down.

And not swearing even once.

And I, as do all the other Exts, love Betty dearly for her efforts. Sometimes, however, we just wish she wouldn't have to complicate everything by telling people she is actually from Finland. That just tends to  result in an awkward silence and quizzical looks. And she does drink an awful lot. But I think that's just peer pressure.


Not Betty! However, there are some eerie similarities to Ext.

What about you. How are your personalities hanging today?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Flamenco, toecidal wildlife, and a gorgeous piece of man-candy (besides the Hubs-candy, that is)

= The calm before the storm.

Since I'm currently under yet another alien invasion (i.e. my poor ear is impersonating the offspring of Darth Vader sans mask and the Incredible Mrs. Hulk angry and on man-steroids) there really isn't room for much in my mind besides worries about whether this time the infection will mean that they'll be cutting into my ear and getting rid of some of it, so I'll be doing a light, easy breezy post with random stuff and then some more random stuff. And trying to steer clear of the ear. Since no one wants a repeat of the infinite-seeming ear-saga.

English please?

The piercing that I got done in the States got infected. Again. Rather badly. And one emergency-room visit later, I thought I was on the mend, but then gross stuff that should never be blogged about happened (right into the mirror and all over), and I'll be seeing a ENT surgeon as soon as possible.

I know there is a lesson in here somewhere, but I'm still in complete denial, and will instead go with 'what doesn't kill you (or your ear) will make you stronger (but possibly not your ear)'.

**Begin easy breezy and light(er) part of the post**

Snippets of a weekend:

:: Could there exist a nook of South Africa that is in fact more Spanish than all of Spain and any of its former colonies welded together? So Spanish that it seems like it takes all of its cues on Spanishness from every single postcard ever sent from any tourist trap in Spain? And be so utterly Spanish that it spills over to surreality and produces this. Above the dance floor/ flamenco stage.


Why yes. That is a hat the size of a small vehicle, and that is, indeed, a disco ball inside it. Why would you even ask?  

But where the waiters still pronounce paella with two Ls instead of saying pa-a-ya. And where you can chase your sangria with the picture of all things Spanish - a dry martini.

Yes. On Friday night we went, tried very hard not to point and/or stare, enjoyed sangria and paella, and escaped to the bar when the dance floor opened up, following the rather furious stomping of the very fierce-looking flamenco dancers in purple and neon-green polyester.

It was awesome.

:: Would I go to jail if I spirited away, and prepared for dinner (or made the Hubby prepare), the extremely mean and confrontational spotted guinea fowl I came against at the bird gardens on Saturday?

I tell you, that bird was saved solely by my poor choice of footwear. And I like (live) animals normally.

But there's always next time and hiking boots. Not involving any sort of embarrassing panic, squeals, or a too loud: "The fokken bird's following me. Help!")


SEE! The evil bird is angling for my big toe. God's creature my behind.

:: Am I allowed to feel smug about this guy (below, not above) trying to hit on me while the Hubs was in the bathroom? He liked the new honey-colored hair.


Ain't he purty?

Alright, so I'm already feeling way smug. And I don't see a change in the horizon. I need a big head to match the size of my right ear. Turns out, there's a reason for everything. Even strange men hitting on you when you're trying your hardest to nail that shot of the different-colored pay phones outside the toilets.

Totally.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Pelotas. Or was it cojones?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about balls.

All kinds of balls: actual, golf, sweaty, middle-aged, blue, old, soccer, of fire, Ed, basket, juggling, racket, young, billiard, in a vice... You know what I'm getting at.

To put it succinctly, all sorts of balls in all sorts of situations.

This mind-meander didn't come about solely because for some reason I was reminded of the first discussion I ever had with my very first American friend: I brought up tennis balls shriveling up underneath snow if you accidentally left them out for the winter, and she giggled. That cemented our friendship. And taught me about American sense of humor.

I also wasn't thinking about balls only because yesterday, as I was driving home from the hairdressers, I was driving behind this beauty. Almost the whole way.


The Blue Bulls of rugby have Blue Balls. Which is also some sort of illness. I think. But so is rugby.

These balls here have somewhat of a hypnotic quality. Right? Or I'm just mesmerized by balls gently swaying.

Really, could go either way.

I have also been thinking about balls, simply due to the sheer number of them, some sweatier than others and all varying shades of red, I seem to have thrown up in the air. Without really realizing what I was doing, and how many exactly there were in the end.

So far, I haven't dropped any, or lost track of any (or at least most) of them. There are some that might have exponentially grown in size from when I initially threw them up there and which might very well break my back and other assorted bone-y parts of me when they finally come back down. And then there are some that were thrown in the mix by other people, when I wasn't paying attention. But really, I threw most of them up in the air because I felt like it, and I guess I was missing some excitement and some deadlines. Without actually remembering what that really meant.

Anyhoo, I really must cut down on wine crawling the web, and keep better track of the balls I handle, since Some of them I would really, really hate to drop. But I will be back in you comment boxes and IMing drunk as a whole litter of skunks and all of their cousins too, before you know it. And swearing like a sailor. And confusing your blog with someone else's. And making obscure biblical (and really from the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy) references. And spelling poorly. And... Don't you miss me already?

The lesson for today: After handling sweaty or otherwise wet/dirty/greasy/burnt/oozing balls use your right hand, so that your brand new, immaculately white golf-glove doesn't become tarnished. Since abstaining from golf is neither a viable, nor credible option, simply use proper protection, and you'll be fine.

(Okay. I lied. I haven't really been thinking about Ed Balls, a British Labour Party politician. I didn't know he existed until I for some obscure reason [all of the above] earlier today found myself Googling balls. But I like his name. And yes, I refuse to make any joke-y reference to poor Caster Semenya. The poor girl doesn't have any balls, just the testosterone.)

Also, since I do love reader-participation, encourage it wildly, and really appreciate your comments, tell me: How are your balls today? Neatly in the air, on fire, tightly in a vice, tucked away, or completely absent?  Let me know, my stress would love some ballsy company right about now.