Thursday, October 21, 2010

I realize I'm not often perceived as a lady by others so I'm left with no other choice but to do it to myself

(Although, when I really am doing it to myself I refer to myself in the third person. Leaves a better taste in my own mouth at least. Also, as a side note: I'm so not trying to sound dirty. I swear.)

I am such a nice lady. I really am. I was totally afraid that because of the countless South African maids who I ended up having weird disagreements with regarding grease and feces and other assorted wonders of the modern household and then had to fire or watch them theatrically quit on me my chemistry was at odds with, it would turn out that it wasn't them being duds and bad specimens of the cleaner corps here in the Joburg highveld, but that I had turned into one of these horrible white women, with snakes for hair who can freeze you if you accidentally look at them while you're actually trying to flee their cold grip.

But I hadn't.

Turns out my hair doesn't hiss or ingest mice, it's just quietly trying to bid farewell to the mohawk and my very questionable attempts at dyeing it solo (in my own bathtub, without permanently blinding myself or the already fairly sad bathtub), and as much as I'd like to I have no freezing action, just this sorry trick of finding out my stress level by the number of chipped teeth in my mouth after a night of some serious teeth grinding, and, hmm, my grip is not really cold, more lukewarm and sometimes a little clammy.

Because I really am a nice lady at heart.

El Grande Vikingo (the husband, a.k.a. the Viking, is going back to the original name, since it's very likely that we're going back to Mexico, but I'm not saying anything yet, because he still hasn't definitely put pen to paper and although I'm already thinking about selling the cars and having the insides of the house put into a container, I haven't actually even ironed anything in a while, let alone folded and packed) says I can be all warm and fuzzy as long as someone remembers to pick up coffee regularly at the store, and, well, it's been ages since my last 'ohmizeus-and-other-as-valid-deities-I've-run-out-of-the-sweet-manna-that-keeps-my-soul-going-someone-fucking-do-something-quick' (this might also apply if one were to imagine 'sweet manna' to refer to wine), which leads me to believe that I've been downright pleasant lately.

A nice lady!

But don't just take my word for it, I have proof.

Which is still technically my word, and I could totally be lying about everything and be a middle aged man who sits around in his underwear all day long in his mother's basement and convinces himself that he's conducting an exciting social experiment by pretending to be a past her prime trophy wife in South Africa who is married to a bearded Viking.

And who is also a nice lady (Not the Viking. He has all his bits.).

But I'm really real, and so's my proof.

Picture this:

A cluster of military-colored and yet eerily mock-Tuscan houses nestles in the suffocating embrace of slightly larger military-colored yet even more eerily mock-Tuscan houses in a valley far, far away, technically in the northern suburbs of Joburg, but in reality way behind the boerewors-curtain in the Afrikaner-territory of Pretoria.

In one of the houses in the cluster, a woman in her (very early) thirties (that's me!) sits in her living room reading a book and occasionally surfing the world wide web and sorts out donations for various charities. Every once in a while she glances outside to her backyard and at its one forever-dying tree and brown grass. It has been weeks since she's been able to do that. A crew of painters has been employed to paint all of the houses in the cluster a deeper and darker mix between military grey and green (so really, kind of melted together camouflage which is still a very kind description), and she's had to close all the curtains to avoid someone seeing her absentmindedly picking her nose or attempting to find out where exactly that weird smell is coming from (Is it the trash? Is it the armpits? Is it the breath? Wait! Is it actually something stuck in the latest chipped tooth? Yes. So Gross.). But it finally seems that everything has been painted and the painters have moved on to the last house in the cluster, on the other side of the street.

The weather's so nice and that breeze, oh that breeze, it brings with it the smell of margaritas and suntan lotion. She feels compelled to open the door out to the patio. To let in some of that lovely, lovely breeze. She makes some more coffee and drapes herself with the book on the cushy chair once again goes on with her charitable endeavors some more.

Then she hears a sound. Talk, actually. A whole discussion. In a language she doesn't understand.

She doesn't panic. She quietly walks back towards the patio door and once she reaches it, she sneakily peeks out.

Four men turn to look at her. Two of them are sitting on her loungers and another two have their lunches laid out on the patio table. They have lighted two of the citronella candles she's left on the table. The men all smile at her.

"Hello, ma'am," one of them says cheerily and smiles some more. They all wave. She waves back awkwardly, blushes a little, and slinks away. Suddenly things start clicking for her - she remembers that extra trash in the trash can her husband was asking her about, she recalls the muffled voices she has been hearing for the past week around noon, she thinks of the amazingly dustless patio table, and the patio furniture that hasn't quite known how exactly to position itself in the last few days.

She deems it too impolite to close the curtains, and even as she slides the door closed again, she tries to do it quietly. She leaves it unlocked.

She feels an odd sense of pride that the painters should have picked her backyard and patio as their lunch room regardless of which house they have been working on. They had 12 houses to choose from. 12 more or less identical backyards and patios to choose from. 12 houses with roughly the same view. 12 houses without other differences to them than the people who live in the houses and their perceived reactions to four paint-spattered guys making use of what they consider as their 'property'.

It must be because she is such a nice lady.

Such a nice lady.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Change of scenery

While I'm sitting here at my (the original since I'm still not quite feeling the new one but which is slowly being coaxed out of its boxy hibernation by the Viking who I seem to have promised the current [although antsy] one to should he be inclined to buy me a new one... dammit) MacBook Pro, smelling what can only be the death stench of burnt ants emanating from the innards of this here silver (it has to be silver, the black just looks so scary. Apple designers take note!) keyboard, I'm looking at apartments.

In Mexico City.

Yes, my dear people, it's again that time of the decade. The ants in my pants (and not just the 'puter) part of the living that I do daily. The looming end of the Viking's contract. The should we stay or go or take a long vacation hitchhiking through some obscure countryside somewheres in the world point in time. The let's ditch the turquoise couch once and for all but still find it in the container upon arrival to the new country (the same goes for the forever-temporary television-stand. Sapient pearwood?). The let's find some new adventures and leave friends (sadness abounds) and routines (fokken A) behind. The let's call it a day and then some and MOVE.

Houses. Towns. Countries. Continents.

Let's shake it up a bit. Let's learn a new language, discover some new foods, wines, and find some new neighbors (Could be you. Scared?) to impose our by now extremely quirky 'Scandinavian' on (that's a nice way of saying I will always belt out the chorus to Yö's Ihmisen Poika [best song ever and perhaps the best band too] loudly in the shower when you least expect it [I take showers at odd hours apparently], and the Viking will look at you funny when you ask him to ask his wife to stop singing in the apartment before inviting you in to taste the world's best mustard [which is of Finnish origin, naturally!]).

So Mexico City would sort of be cheating, since we already left it behind after a wonderful and memorable two years there, only two and a half years ago. But I miss Mexico. And Mexico seems to miss the Viking and wants him back very badly (good thing he's so lovable. No one would ever want me back, I know it). It seems however, that South Africa wouldn't mind us staying another year, but lately, all talk of ants in my pants and various crevices (those bastards get everywhere, they do) aside, we've began to think that perhaps a change of scenery would be an appropriate move.

Don't get me wrong, I've had an awesome time here in South Africa. It has been cool to get behind all of the nasty reporting on the 'dangerous Johannesburg' and see the real city, the land, and its people, experience the beat of Soweto, get in touch with the reality of life in Diepsloot, hear a lion roar in Pilanesberg (and then see it try to avoid a puddle at all costs like the true kitten a lion still is underneath all that mane), hurtle down a barely-there dirt road at a breakneck speed in a rattling 4x4 in a red cloud of dust (this is, in fact, my new off-road route home from boot camp), be head-butted by a 'tiny' rhino, discover that I've actually contributed to a couple of kids learning how to read and then cry a little bit in the car because, seriously, how fokken great is that?, but maybe it's time.

There have been moments, you know. Those times that tell you, loud and clear, that a change of scenery/ mate/ hobby/ spending habits/ internet provider/ vehicle/ deodorant/ job/ trainers is in order. I've found myself automatically locking my car doors without anyone having to ask me "Um, are we locked in?". I seem to have internalized the lay-out of my neighborhood Woolworths and can thus do my grocery shopping with my eyes closed (not that I do. mostly). I realize that I lock the door behind me while I open the gardener's lunch can of beans for him. I bought Jack Parow on iTunes and was excited about it. I've stopped hyperventilating every time someone is surprised I'm not Afrikaans. I say things like 'Ag ja', 'shame', and 'eish' without even registering what's exiting my mouth.

I've told people that I'm fine instead of good, for fuck's sake!

In other words, I've started to feel at home.

And we all know what that spells, don't we?

Goodbye South Africa it must be. It's not you sweet SA, it's me. I just need some time alone, you know, to figure out where I'm going in life and whatnot. You deserve someone better, you do! I would just make you unhappy in the end. We could never grow old together. You'll be so much happier without me and you'll find happiness with that special someone. I'm only leaving you open for that person.

I'm not breaking up with you, I'm doing you a favor. Trust me. And besides, it's been a nice ride, neh?

So now all that's left is a great break-up fuck. Unless that fuck involves us staying the year longer, in which case I'm not sure I feel horny at all. Nuh huh.

Until then.

I'll always cherish our time together though. I will! Oh the scenery...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just a few bones

(Which I almost spelled and sent out to the reading world as boobs, but that, my peeps, is a whole different post altogether, and alas, I'm trying to move away from that kind of stuff. Really, I am.)

I have been known to scream at the Universe on several different occasions. Sometimes said screaming has taken place in front of complete strangers, on other occasions I have mistaken the poor, guileless Viking for the Universe (or the other way round, I often mix up the phrase, sue me), and at other times it has just been me, all by my lonesome, screaming at that stain on the bedroom wall that vaguely looks like what I imagine the child of Elvis and Madonna would look like - one big thing of black hair and veiny arms. Sometimes it's just PMS, which I keep forgetting I suffer from nowadays.

Having done my fair share of screaming, I have also found that the Universe does not respond well to screaming, if it responds at all. And I think we can all agree that the poor Viking has been through enough, and it is, after all, his birthday today. And he's going to be really old. Ancient, in fact, as I told him and all his buds on Facebook today.

So I think I'm going to use this forum of the interwebz to pick my specific collection of bones with the Universe. And then it will be up to her to read me or not. Cool?

Cool.

First of all, Ms. Universe, I would like to open by saying thank you for the awesome shit you have thrown my way over the years, like the whole being privileged enough to have been born in Finland to a couple of sufficiently lovely and quite normal folks, and not to have been a boy back then because then those folks would have very likely made me play ice-hockey and, well, I'm just not that into cold. I'd also like to say thanks for making my bladder embarrassingly small leaving me in constant search of a bathroom, a condition without which the Viking might have never entered my life, very possibly leaving me married to some schmo who would never let me buy my fill of extravagant shoes, or possibly a hippie (but really a hobo) with bad hair and only a sign saying 'will sing for shoes'. And that would have been just awful.

I'd also like to thank you, Ms. Universe (marital status undefined), for making me the kind of person (although I do believe Ironfist my mother would like to share in the glory on this one somewhat) who has never been afraid to make her, and others', own decisions, to steer her life in the direction she wanted it to go, and when it wasn't that steerable, pushed it with all her might until it almost broke, but didn't. Luckily.

For all of the above, having made me into a stubborn Finnish woman, I thank you, dear Universe, but that's not all.

There are some bones. Figuratively as well as literally.

There is the giant fishbone stuck in my throat. There is the whole maid-situation that is quickly slipping from a situation to a Situation. But not the Situation, although I bet he's much better at vacuuming than any of the recent maids we've had the pleasure of working for us, and then there's that stuff in his hair which I do believe would work very nicely on my armoire in desperate need of a polish (not a euphemism, unless it's Friday and you've already had a couple of glasses). There is the not remembering the Viking's birthday until after yelling at him for not making the coffee strong enough. There is the ringworm on the back of my arm that just won't go away. There is the having to use superglue to fix the car and then having bad dreams about stuff falling off the car because superglue isn't what it's cracked up to be, and also, that I might have owned that specific tube even before I knew I was going to marry the Viking, which is to say forever ago. There is Facebook telling me to blamingly reconnect with the Viking, my own husband, which I have now done and possibly pissed him off quite nicely in the process.

The first bone?

Yup. A humongous fishbone stuck in my throat. Came in with a delicious bouillabaisse, will not leave, has long since overstayed its welcome (and to be completely frank, it wasn't that welcome in the first place), made me unwell enough to visit the emergency room in Cape Town on Sunday night, on my vacation, where they made me drink three cans of Coca Cola sending me thus onto a sugar high that took most of Monday to clear off and left me with what I'm certain is a bleeding hole in my stomach lining.

"That stuff will dissolve anything, it's like drinking drain cleaner, only somehow you don't die from it," told the lovely ER doctor to me.

The second bone?

Well, there are no actual bones involved in this one, but I've decided to go completely without.

What? Without a maid? Really?

Yup. I'm pretty sure the gaping whatchamacallit I'm completely certain is in my stomach and bleeding like the mother of all ulcers, was just exacerbated by the Coke and was really caused by the maid-saga.

And of course you are the innocent victim in all this?

Of course. What do you expect. me to say that it cannot be the entire corps of maids found in South Africa whose main objective is to piss their employers off, but that it's me? Are you crazy? It's the universe sending me duds. One after the other. She keeps sending these folks my way who.... Argh. never mind. I'm winning this one by going completely without.

So you're just going to live in your own filth, huh?

Pretty much. Take that Universe! Let's see who comes out stronger on the other side. You with your purple unicorns that Pink flies or me with a crust on my clothes like a protective armor should some form of alien military want to invade earth. I'll show you, Ms. Universe. And your area 51 friends!

Uhm. Are we still doing bones?

Hihihihihihihi..... cough, cough.

I'm not sure. I don't think so. I think we were doing wine. weren't we? I'm pretty sure we were... And not blogging about no fokken fishbones and devilish maids, but getting ready to acknowledge that it actually is the Hubs's birthday and that even though his dear mama sang to him on the phone very early this morning (always a frikken pleasure) perhaps his day is not entirely complete with that, but something more is expected. Perhaps a nice dinner, a present, a card at least...?

Err...?

So wine for me it is. Without the screams, if you don't mind.

This thing bears absolutely no resemblance to the Viking or wine. It is dead though. 
Screw you, I never said I was sane in the first place. Or in the last. Not to mention the middle. So there.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Welcome to Nigeria. No, actually we don't want you anyhow, but thanks so much for asking. NOT!

There are those who would argue that my yesterday could have possibly been better spent. Even I would perhaps be inclined to think so, had I not been procrastinating and not doing the things I was supposed to do anyway, and as such the day actually, instead, will now forever epitomize for me the perfect day of pure and utter procrastinatory unaccomplishment.

What in the hell, woman? I mean... what?

Well, as it happens, a coffee with my Capetonian (A person who hails from Cape Town, South Africa. It is too spelled like that, I swear.) friend of Wheatlands News, the lovely and utterly smart journo Lynne (that's her reflected in the glass I think) who I've actually met through this here blogging thing and made friends with since she was in no way a psychopathic killer, a religious fanatic, or a crazed cat lady a la the Simpsons (and that's only bad because she uses the poor cats as weapons), turned into (How do you like my sprawling, to put it mildly, sentence structure? I know, bordering on insanely ingenious, neh?) a day sadly mostly void of coffee and cake, with nothing to eat but sugar free, teeth-whitening gum I had stowed away in my purse, at the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg.

After weeks of fruitless phone calls to the consulate (apparently, the whole answering the phone when it rings hasn't really caught on with the consulate staff yet), Lynne had finally decided to fly into Johannesburg yesterday morning and wrestle the visa needed for her travel to Nigeria on Saturday, out of the unhelpful folks herself.

She was giving the match 3 hours tops, and then we were going to be free to procrastinate our day away in the wonder that is the flashy and relatively safe (or so they claim, while I think they're wrong and I personally feel much safer [and more sane] in other parts of Jozi) 'the other' downtown of Johannesburg, Sandton. With plenty of coffee, foreign, air-freight mags that we would read for free at one of the book stores over a rather nicely executed latte, maybe a touch of shopping, some unadulterated people watching (believe me, Sandton is the place for flashier than Paris or any of the drag queens impersonating her put together amongst the Jozi-crowd), and of course lots of catching up and gossip, before Lynne's flight back to Cape Town at five.

Alas, 'twas not to be.

You really are all over the place with the lingo today, dude. What's with that? Plain, good English no longer good enough for ya, or what?


Hmph.

So I spent the morning doing some light shopping (Buying perfume and shoes, and trying on perfumed shoes [who wouldn't want a pair, or two seeing as I already own one, of these babies?] almost doesn't count as shopping, does it now? Everyone nod! Thanks.), and getting through my fill of the UK Vogue for free and some wisdom from the authors of the South African Cosmopolitan (I refuse to pay for the mag. It's just that useless) while waiting for Lynne. She had gotten to the consulate at 9am. Surely she'd have her visa by noon?

Finally, around rolled noon, and she texted me that things weren't quite going according to plan, and that she had been yelled at, treated like shit, accused of fraud, nothing was happening regarding her application, and that she had been told to either withdraw her passport or wait some more. To top it all off, that had been when someone amongst the numerous (and clearly not very overworked, as we later witnessed a clerk take a break for over an hour during their official 'office hours' and go grocery shopping) staff had been kind enough to actually acknowledge her presence in the waiting room, instead of avoiding her gaze and slinking away behind mirrored glass. She asked me whether I'd like to hang out in the waiting room at the consulate.

How could I have said no? Well, I couldn't. It was, after all, the waiting room of the Nigerian consulate. Who in their right mind would say no to that?

So equipped with two bottles of water, Lynne had asked me to bring, I set out to find the place. Time was running out. They were closing the doors at one. The GPS was no help. The lady who lives in it, was unable to locate the consulate, the road that it was on, and in the end Johannesburg as well. She kept asking me to make a left at a stop light in Pretoria, after which she would furiously recalculate before telling me to, what else, make a left at a stop light in Pretoria. I just drove up and down the street I thought the consulate was on until I saw a building that kinda, sorta, looked like an embassy.

I got lucky.

(Note to self: Learn which flag belongs to which country. Might come in handy when the woman in the GPS tumbles down into the wine cellar... Just saying.)

With not a minute to spare I left my car in front of some office's front entrance and dashed into the consulate. Seeing as I always carry in my wallet, when I need to stoop to that mind you, the card which can only be referred to as 'a frighteningly blond and pale woman in heels carrying what looks like whoop-ass in her purse' and in my desperation for entry decided to play it, I strolled right through the exit door, past the sign-in and the guards, straight into a largish but very sparsely furnished room with a counter with no one behind it, and frustrated looking people in various, most of them quite resigned-looking, stances, and found Lynne.

Who was holding a sleeping baby on her lap. Just not one of the grown-up ones she's personally brought into the world, but a tiny, cute, sleeping baby-girl. Not wanting to admit I'd missed her pregnancy, change of mate/ adoption process, and the birth of this little miracle (I really should read y'all's blogs more. I know I should. But really, I'm afraid to find out what I've missed...), I simply ignored the baby, let Lynne in on the bender-ways of my GPS sweetheart (she's really okay, until she hits the bottle or snorts something up her air vent), and how I almost didn't make it and...

And that's when I saw the lady in the corner, bawling her eyes out, the mother of the baby. And the people trying to calm her down. And the clerks quickly swishing by the counter separated from the waiting room by a glass clearly hoping not to be noticed on their way from one side of the offices to the other. I'm sure if food hadn't been involved they wouldn't have moved.

Later that day, after getting no answers regarding Lynne's application, as I was carrying around the tired and hungry baby clearly in no mood to be spending time in any embassy or consulate, her mother, as a last resort to finding some answers (all this poor Nigerian woman needed was a travel document for her Nigerian baby so that she could travel home to Nigeria), threw herself on the floor and pleaded on her hands and knees for one of the passing clerks to help her.

Even after "You want us to die here. In South Africa?" from the distraught woman, the clerk simply shook her grip off of the leg of his pants and disappeared behind the locked door.

From now on, when I think of the words 'undeserved' and 'unjust' what will undoubtedly spring to mind is the way the poor woman was treated by her own countrymen. For no other reason than they could do it, and get away with doing it. No one wanted to help her, instead it was almost as if they wanted to make her misery worse.

But when I think about the word 'smug' the only thing that can come to mind from yesterday on, is the face and the tone of one of the clerks, when she finally, at 4:30pm, came into the waiting room to talk to Lynne, only to tell her "See, this document is missing the sender's information and that's why we can't confirm it. No, you giving us that information would just defeat the purpose. Can't you see how it would defeat the purpose." This was a letter a Nigerian ministry had sent to the Nigerian consulate.

And then everyone went home. But not before one of the people from the bigger upstairs offices came downstairs in an effort to get us to leave too, pretended to be someone else than who he was after it became absolutely necessary for him to identify himself, told Lynne he would otherwise grant her the visa, but the office had been locked up by the visa people who had already left for home, and that she would just have to come back on Monday, because of the four-day weekend.

And then we really were thrown out of the embassy. Politely, but still. Swept right out the door. And Lynne ended up canceling her very necessary mentoring trip to Nigeria and paying double for her flight back to Cape Town.

I want to go to Nigeria now more than I ever did.

Do you think I should apply for a visa now? You know, in case I get to go for my 50th birthday?

My sentiments exactly.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What's love gotta do with it? Well, duh, that's what it's all about.

Since the government workers' strike has been raging on here in South Africa (and I mean raging, people are in the hospital because they wanted to keep working, and the vuvuzelas have so been dug out from wherever they were laid to rest after the World Cup), and I haven't been able to do my thing of teaching poor 3rd and 4th graders my variety of twangy American, I've been papering some readers instead.

(Okay. To be honest, I've also been running, drinking wine, eating sushi, and reading Terry Pratchett,  although mostly not simultaneously, but whatevs, like you'd want to know.)

Yup. It's a dirty sticky job, but since we paid good money for the readers, we better make sure they survive more than just one read. In the face of new books, some of our students can be a little, well um, let's just call them rather overly excited and enthusiastic in that tone that makes you all want to donate more money for more readers for these poor children whose shacks don't even have floors. Seriously.

*severely pulls at several different heartstrings while swearing on something or other holy, like possibly her copy of Mitchell's Cloud Atlas or even Eminem's Mockingbird, that they're very hard at work on installing that Pay Pal button on the Edu Fun blog*

However, I wasn't the only one papering anything (one rarely is, as papering even sounds like a viable group activity). There was a whole crowd, nay, a whole gaggle or even possibly a coven, of women (to be fair, since a lot of them are of a Swedish persuasion maybe the collective noun used for extremely tall and rather gorgeous people would be the best, but you get my drift), all frustrated by not being granted entry to the temporarily closed down school and needing something else than 'lunching' to do with their now empty mornings.

So naturally there was talk.

Where there's coffee and tea (and also sometimes wine, but luckily this wasn't that kind of a happening) there's talk, right?

And some stuff came up.

Heavy and deeply political stuff, this meeting being about charity, poverty, and providing disadvantaged children with a better future. The kind of stuff came up that I consider very dear to me. Stuff that I'm not willing to negotiate on. Life-changing stuff. Stuff that I don't think I could live without. Stuff that is an integral part of my everyday life. Stuff that feeds my soul to the deepest and darkest of its niches (and there are many me being an atheist and all). Stuff that helps to define me. Stuff that is practically a part of who I am as a person. Very important stuff, see.

What? Wine?

No, you fool! I'm way deeper than that.

The Simpsons of course.

And my love of the show, right alongside my almost equal love for Futurama, South Park, King of the Hill, American Dad, and Family Guy.

But guess the fucking what?

Apparently, not everyone is in luurrrvvvee with these shows. And as if that revelation wasn't enough, there are people who judge me to be irresponsible, maybe a little weird, and immature based on my adoration for these shows.

I know. It's almost like someone saying they don't get Brad Paisley's humor, don't think that Madonna is somehow key to stopping global warming, or that they haven't realized that Oprah is synonymous with 'power controlling the universe'.

Madness, right?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I rarely conceive of work as something I would be able to engage in

Because nothing (cue sarcasm tone) ever happens in my life, and because of how much I simply delight in a chance to fly anywhere (You know it! My butt just loves it! Have never said anything different, neh?) I've applied for this gig that pretty much entails me flying all over for two whole months.

By myself.
On planes of various caliber and level of comfort.
All over the world.
On Planes complete with airplane food, crying babies, and, my absolute favorite, the seats.

Yes, indeed.

The dreaded airplane seats.

Now, after submitting the application, the website cordially told me that a picture of me, which I had, through a complicated series of functions (it was on my external hard disk and first I wasn't even sure where I'd seen it last. The hard disk that is. I won't even mention the painful task of actually accessing it, finding a semi-decent photo of myself in which I'm not wearing some sort of wig/ horrible grin, and then getting the picture from the hard disk onto my laptop without looping it via China or possibly the second moon of Mars [what's the word on Mars's moons? Do such things exist? Do we know yet? The Big Bang Theory, which I've been watching lately and which consequently is the sum of my info on any other planets than earth, wasn't too precise on that... anyhoo]) added, was missing. So perhaps H. Zeus did a decent thing and stopped me from applying until I could come to my senses, and could instead just get stuck reading Terry Pratchett again and forget to apply altogether before it's much too late.

Seriously, this getting stuck and forgetting business is why I'm not a lawyer now, why I didn't receive my student bursary for a couple of years, why I still keep getting the online version of New England Journal of Medicine, and why I don't have any photography classes at the moment.

Go H. Zeus and Terry Pratchett!

Wait, am I getting sucked into something completely different now?

Yes. I think I am. Hmm. Maybe I should write about Discworld though. I do love reading about it so. I do... Too bad there won't be any more, seeing as Pratchett has Alzheimer's. Poor guy! So unfair. Such an imagination and flair for comedy...

Hold on!

I actually think I want this gig.

I mean what good does it to complain (about having to squeeze into an airplane seat made for a barbie doll [not a life-size one, the tiny doll] and fellow passengers smelling of camel and urine and possibly camel urine) if no one is paying any attention (the gig would in turn involve complaining about travel among other, flashier things)? Or at the most just reads this here blog and thinks that whatever I'm saying is sort of funny and quietly wishes I would go on some more excruciating trips, just so I would be able to write about how I got my massively surprising and surprisingly flowy (yes, this is exactly how gross I get sometimes. Completely out of the blue too. I'm sneaky like that.) period in mid flight without having realized anything of the sort would happen and [a potentially very nauseating bit about fashioning a sanitary pad from the items commonly available in a standard airplane bathroom] while also desperately waiting for that layover cup of Starbucks at [any airport with the sweet manna of actual, real Starbucks], and then having to cut the visit out in favor of buying tampons, which almost turned into a missed connection (Yup. I'm that lady they invented the threatening 'this is a call for lady, where the hell are you, we know your plane landed like 2 hours ago Extranjera, please make your way to gate 16B immediately, the plane is ready for departure' announcements for). And it's all because of tampons. Or lip balm. Or jewelry. Or Sand and Malene Birger clothing. Or a pair of sunglasses. Or a toothbrush. Or one more drink.

Well, mostly tampons.

Really? Why do I keep going on about frikken tampons? What is the matter with me?

I should be thinking about this gig!

But definitely not of the hundreds thousands of others who'll be applying for the same exact gig. And are probably much more qualified, far less angry at random airlines, have no problems with airplane seats, don't start furiously menstruating in unfortunate mid-flight, never get their feet run over by the food cart, won't accidentally get into an illegal taxi at a strange destination and end up in the 'wrong part of town', wouldn't ever scare the security check people by accidentally falling over and hitting their head on the scanner while removing their shoes, always exit a plane looking fresh instead of like roadkill that not even the crows wanted, carry reasonably-sized hand luggage, aren't neurotic about their camera equipment and other people handling it, never run out of things to read and then subsequently panic and harass the fellow passengers for at least the realty section, find that elusive restaurant everyone is always raving about in the guidebooks instead of giving up and eating some nuts and semi-melted cheese on a park bench next to a homeless guy, and always know what to say and what to do in any given situation instead of getting caught picking their nose/ farting in public.

Yup. I'm a shoo-in, aren't I?

What do you think? (No need to answer if you also applied. In that case, the battle is ON! But thanks for reading.)

This is not the picture I attempted to attach. This is one of the ones with me wearing a wig. This wig has gold lamé in there. Purty, neh?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things I blame Africa for. Vol. XI

"So, what are we talking about today, dear Ext?" she says as I position myself on the plush, white couch that always looks so inviting and comfortable, but ends up poking me with a loose spring right at that place where no flesh covers my tailbone.

I change from one already uncomfortable position to another. The spring pokes at my backside. I wince.

"Well, dear blog of mine," I open well knowing that If I suggest any sort of redesign that will imply getting rid of what's been on here for what seems like forever, she'll just smile and nod. Smile and nod. And then do nothing. The picture with the giraffe and the whiteness are here to stay. There's no way out of it.

"I seem to have become a clutter-happy hoarder," I test the waters.

"Oh, what makes you think that?" she queries, as if she doesn't know how uncomfortable the couch is, or how monotone the picture of the giraffe has become. Or how many bags of coffee have been bought since that item was placed on the to do-list, neatly tucked into the margin.

"See, Africa has made me like that," I answer as if I'm actually answering her question.

"Oh?" she just says, without the slightest tone of interest in her voice, and looks sadly at the description over the poor giraffe's head. I know she feels the wine and the bad, bad books mentioned in the description have been lacking, but alas, she could just rewrite, but no. She feels the readers will look past the description, straight at her, the soul of the blog.

"You know when they didn't have any coffee filters for like two months?" I continue as I revisit the panic that almost overwhelmed me when I realized that it wasn't just one chain of stores, but all of them that never got their shipment of precious coffee filters. That go in the coffee machine. Without which the machine is rendered useless. Completely, and utterly useless. And a french press has to be brought in to replace filter coffee. And it will never, ever taste the same. A quality of pureness will forever be lacking. Oh no... I can feel myself slipping again...

"No," she just replies, "I don't think you've mentioned it before."

"Haven't I? I thought I have. I must have! I almost unraveled at that point," I remind her.

"Hrmph," she let's out an unintentional laugh that she then tries to mask as a coughing fit. She is professional like that. Or at least she tries.

"You unravel a lot, you know," she looks at me and it is easy to see she's still about to burst into giggles.

"Maybe," I tell her, "but that time I really almost did, kind of like that time my iPhone didn't work and then the international internet connection went from all of Africa, and I could only read the Sowetan and even the 'news' in it didn't make me laugh or cry or whatnot anymore."

"Ah. So it was bad. Really bad," she frowns. And now I can see she doesn't feel like giggling so much anymore.

"Yes," I almost yell, "It was bad! But guess what's going on now?"

"Tell me," she encourages me, "but don't just tell me. Make it funny too. And somewhat self-deprecating. And maybe even a little touching. Those always work well," she continues.

I do a little snappy imitation of a drumroll and she rolls her eyes.

"So, they're out of my favorite body lotion. Like everywhere. Everywhere!" I tell her as I feel the hot tears creep up to the corners of my eyes.

"Lotion," she says "that's what's making you unravel today?"

"Well, yeah," I don't understand her less than enthusiastic response to my predicament,"today it's lotion, tomorrow it'll be the deodorants that I've luckily been hoarding for a while now feeling something like this hurtling towards us, and let's face it, I really should also point out the 'what's with deciding to only import the crappier of tampons and sanitary pads and none of the good ones all European women get to use?' fucker of a deal we've been handed here in southern Africa."

"I have money. I can, and will pay for tampons. A lot. If that's what it'll take, I tell you," I finally breathe out. I feel myself going a little red in the face. But sometimes tampons will do that to you.

"I said funny, not embarrassing yet oddly pointless," she stares at me with a blank look on her face.

"But see, that's what's making me a crazy old cluttered maniac who always buys ten of each when she should be buying one or two," I finally reach the pinnacle of my story, but I can see I've lost her.

"Really? Do you really think talking about South Africa's tendency to have 'temporarily out of stock' on red background plastered across various shelves of its reality, at the most inopportune of moments, is a good idea?" she sighs.

"I mean, you hit a wall twice with the car yesterday, you have a new maid (again), you keep scaring random people when you wear that South Africa beanie even though you yourself think you look really cute in it, and you went back to teaching yesterday, yet you still think people want to know that you prefer European tampons (and you didn't even make that joke)," she lists with an increasing speed.

"But, but... European tampons are so much better! I wish European tampons on everyone!" I just wish she would listen to me.

"In fact, I think it would make everyone's life easier if Oprah would just do one of her South Africa specials and bring some in for the locals," I give her a meaningful stare. I know how much she loves Oprah.

"With the help of Oprah I know South Africans would see the light. Or the tampon, as it may be," I finish off with my coup de grace.

She stares at me. Then she carefully makes a fist and coughs into it.

"Oh Ext, you're just as clueless as ever," she smiles at me patronizingly, "I think our time for today is up."

I bet Cape Town wouldn't mind a shipment of some decent tampons. But that's just my opinion.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Posts I could have written while I was actually golfing.

What gives? Or has given, or something in that vein, you might be wondering.

Well, I could tell you, but that would just involve a lot of random chatting about mildly (and also possibly only to myself) amusing anecdotes about golfing and everything to do with golfing, stuff about my ma, pa and wee brothers (and their significant others) and they have firmly placed themselves on my 'do not write about us you frikken ungrateful child/ not from the same seed sister' list anyhoo, more stuff about bears in my backyard and what kind of meat they would imagine me as, and other such greatness that, needless to say, I won't let you in on those tidbits of great insight and even greater awareness, but instead will again pretend like my last post was yesterday (and involved me talking about my lowering my handicap three times in one week and how I then cried and then weirded myself out totally by caring so much about a sport but then ultimately deciding that golf was really more like a guilty pleasure involving balls and shafts and thus much more like what happens after wine and not really a sport after all and aren't you glad you never read that post...) and delight you with...

Yes, you guessed it. You always do. Who am I kidding anyway. Transparency is what I'm all about, right? Oh wait, maybe that's the USA judicial system or legislation or something like that instead. Hmm, maybe I just need to drink more coffee instead. Yes, coffee. It's early.

...bits of posts I could have written while I was actually golfing (not really. some of this is stuff I just thought of while I was in the shower and blow drying my hair which I don't think can really be considered golfing. Even in my universe. But hey, at least for once there's some sort of thought process involved in my writing [again, not really. I'm pretty much giving this the same amount of attention as I am to the bag of cashews that is fast becoming my second breakfast of the day. It's nuts]):

But above and beyond.

1. I'll kick off with a great concern of mine: Of late I seem to be tucking things in. I kid you not. It's bad. It's shirts, t-shirts, tank tops, blouses, if it's in the top-family of clothes I'm tucking it in. Worrying. Now, why am I doing this? Are other people doing this? Is this fashion? Are we heralding the return of all of the bad things about the 90s, my teenage/early adulthood years? Not just the flower prints, mullets, pastels/ neons, and the ever so randomly rolled up pant leg, but tucking stuff in as well?

Great hawk that could swoop down and easily spirit Justin Bieber away right in front of our eyes! Will the body as a piece of clothing and not just the thing hanging below my chin(s) make a comeback too (buttons and the vag should never connect. Just saying)? Also, there is a pair of shoes smack in the middle of 1994 that I refuse to ever lay my eyes on again. I swear. Otherwise a vortex something something and a hot tub that's really a time machine sucks up something something and everybody gets rich and something russian and stuff (I saw that movie over the summer and remembered some stuff, I tell you. No need to go back. Simply cannot return. Ever!).

Ehem. Call in with your opinions if you should feel so inclined. Remember to reference the point in question, because there will be many. I golfed a lot. A lot.

4. Why is finding love so difficult for so many? Are there things one should do to find that special someone and things one should never ever do? Because apparently, regardless of its standing in modern society, Cosmopolitan does not have the answers to these questions. Neither does anyone on Sex and the City, the movies or the show. Or even me. Regardless of how hard I believe this to be a fact and continue in the same breath (always) that since I have found someone utterly awesome and cute with a side of nice firm buttocks at the same time, I should be considered a high priestess of attracting potential mates.

Totally not so.

Only thing I know for sure of this dating game a la Finland is that as a woman, if one attempts to attract the opposite sex that is, one should not get a haircut most men (and, frankly, most women as well) interpret as 'lesbian hair.' Also, it would not be advisable for one (my friend lady K in search of the father of her future rugrats) to go out partying with someone (me in a splendid display of the mohawk and other variations of the do) who will be, by most (including the poor lady K's inebriated colleagues at a concert) construed as one's spouse and/or love interest. A sad thing, I tell you.

Furthermore, why is this stereotype of what a lesbian looks like (so that you can spot them, so that you never, ever have to... OMG... talk to them without knowing that they are totally checking you out all the time and just thinking about your naked breasts and not ever, for example, their pets or tax returns or the inevitability of death) so rampant in the minds of Finns? Aren't we supposed to be like... uhm... sort of forward about these things? Oh wait, I'm thinking about some other nation, because we could totally be way more open to, well, pretty much everything and stop having embarrassing debates in the media about homosexuality, because those only lead me to think one thing: Thank Zeus our language is so complicated no one can understand us but us, and even we can pretend like the lady who said those horrifying things is not in the parliament but rather cleans its halls. No offense meant to the actual cleaning staff. They're probably great and very comfortable with homosexuality. Or so I like to imagine.

Again, feel free to chime in anytime. But remember, as usual, only if you agree!

3. How frikken great is B.o.B.'s (looks wrong when you stick an apostrophe on that, doesn't it?) and Bruno Mars's (regardless of the name itself, the s's instead of the older s' still looks far more normal, neh?) 'Billionaire'? Isn't it just awesome? Singable like nothing else. You get to swear (in the explicit version naturally, but right there in the chorus) while you belt it out, and you get to sing a little bit about Oprah, and that in itself is almost like praying and probably cancels out the swearing.

This one you don't need to comment on. Just sing it with me! You know you want to!

Yes, YOU! I'm looking at you!

4. Friends. Aren't they great? Except when they're not. Sometimes the only thing to do is to take the high road and that's what I'm doing. So nuff said.

But you're free to share. Get petty. Vent. I won't tell.

Plenty to choose from. There are always new ones.

A-Z. P!nk. I WENT TO HER CONCERT IN FINLAND! Not to the one during which she fell, which was bad for her and also took place in Germany, a country I did not visit during my European tour, and which I wouldn't have minded seeing. Still, the one that I went to WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!! Normally, I'm no fan of concerts because of the size of my bladder and the state and frequency of the toilets, and even at this concert, I was still in the line to the toilet (surprisingly vomit free I must say, P!nk must mean class in Finland) when P!nk descended onto the stage (with black wings on her back, while breathing fire and brimstone, on a unicorn galloping down a rainbow, I'm told. But I'm not bitter), but since I'd had a few sugary ciders I managed to jump erratically up and down, really fast, for the duration of the first 8 songs, and get a pretty good calf-workout, which was a totally unforeseen P!nk-bonus. And then I took some photos of her the stage which she is undoubtedly on, with my iPhone.


She's awesome. Truly awesome. You better agree, buddy.

98. Blog Camp. It was great. But it's better if you don't try to put it into words. Or me either.


2. Punctuation. I don't care for it and generally like it very random. Sometimes to facilitate, sometimes to confound. That's how I swing. Also, I think thinking about it is a waste of precious golfing time. I could think about it at the time because I was actually golfing at the time and not in the upstairs shower as previously, albeit erroneously, assumed.

Don't comment unless you're actually golfing at the time. Actually don't even read the above point unless you're personally swinging the club, and if you are, let me tell you, according to the etiquette that phone/ laptop/ other wireless device is not supposed to be out if you're swinging. Bad golfer!

FOOOOORE (See? Totally lame.)

16. I completely and utterly get what Kelly Osborne is saying. Not about her dead dog, or her cheating boyfriend (just spelled that boyfiend which Apple insists on not being a word but that totally should be an often used expression about those people who through Photoshop-enhanced imagery tell us what we should weigh or how smooth we should be (i.e. teenage boys, neh?), or anyone who doesn't like small boys. Sweet Z! Am I really leading up to something about pedophiles? What's wrong with me? No one knows. Especially about that weird bump on the back of my arm, or my brain, but whatevs. Dropping the thread as of now.), or shopping, or in general, but with this one thing - I veritably feel her every word. Kel's that is.

She said that what she could never understand was that the attention paid to her weight was much greater than the attention paid to her drug use. Or something closely resembling that statement. No way am I Googling Kelly Osborne. Again. And just for the record, I have never, ever taken drugs, mother, although I support the legalization of Marijuana. If the criminal element is taken away from a substance that is comparable to alcohol, much can be achieved in this world and a lot of money can go to much better ends than fighting an inane battle.

Where was I?

Ah, I was talking about myself. What else?

Since losing a lot of weight, completely as a side-effect to some very necessary and hard changes in my life, people have come out of the woodwork to comment on how 'great' I look now that I'm thinner. It makes me uncomfortable. I never meant to lose weight (I know this is a smack in the face for those trying to lose weight, but the weight didn't just come off on its on, the loss was connected to a complete change in my diet [including my wine-y ways!] and all that jazz and hooplah). I was and still am adamant that I always looked great, no matter what my weight was, that it might just turn out that it is just my head that has had a surprising growth spurt and my body has stayed the same (I also saw Alice in Wonderland this summer), and that weight has nothing directly to do with health. Period.

Throughout my years as a fat woman I have had to time and again listen to various health 'professionals' advice on and urging about losing weight. I've had to deal with common peeps stupidity regarding my girth or the roundness of my various parts, I've had to submit to judgement from people that I actually know and who know me, and more. The Viking's the only person on this earth who has never touched upon the 'issue'. Still, when I was a raging (that means almost, mother) alcoholic, and even prior to surgery told a doctor how much I was drinking, no one, and I mean no one, ever said a word about my problem. Maybe they were too busy trying to gauge how much I could weigh? Who knows?

I hate being congratulated about something as stupid as weight loss. I've always paid attention to what I wear (I posit those 6 months in the green bathrobe as a profound comment on the power of fashion), my hair (the cutting it myself and having the Viking do the back also commentary on the pressures of society on women), my face (I actually managed to dye my own lashes and eyebrows without blinding myself, also as a statement on the beauty industry), my accessories (there's no commentary in shiny things, they're just shiny and thus must be owned), and my appearance in general.

I've always looked great. But there is just so much, so much more to me than the way I look.

Aren't you gorgeous too? On the outside and inside. Tell me.

Man, that's enough rant for today. Also, I have to go grocery shopping. Yup. My life's just that exciting.

Oh yeah. In case you were wondering. I'm home. Back in the cold as frozen shit South Africa. In home sweet Africa with Elvis at the security gate telling me he's missed me, Mrs. Guru, these two months, and peeps calling me Sir.

And I love it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Huh? I thought I already published this, but since I clearly didn't I'll just call it old news or some such crap

Old News or Some Such Crap:

There are certain things in this country (Finland. Because that's where I am right now. Weathering the amazingly hot [Come on people! It is barely over 30 degrees celsius. Let's not be such weirdo snow-castle dwellers for once. Everyone stop fainting because of heat-exhaustion asap. Drink some water instead. And please, whatever you do, stop drowning in it. Take it in a glass instead!] weather and watching the bears run free on the streets [I kid you not, more on that below]) that make me, surprisingly and not, proud to be a Finn (that's the correct noun, learn it now). And then there are certain things that make me (yes, even me) cringe more than any average person would, watching Paris and/or Perez Hilton put on... try on... say... wear... carry... well, do anything really.

So?

Behold, I shall now give you the highlights (complete randomness and jabbering. Go ahead and ignore the word 'highlights' and replace it with drunken and you're miles closer to the core) of such pride as well as said cringing. Because I want to. Not that anyone asked. And, you know, too much time has passed for me to acknowledge that I haven't blogged for a long time, so I'll just plunge in head first and pretend like my last post was yesterday.

I am proud to be a Finn when I can read the newspaper and see how some poor journalist has found yet another new and surprising way of making strawberries, and their 'sudden' appearance on our farms (it has only been happening for centuries, once every year) front page news. It shows we are inventive. I bet this is how we came up with Nokia too. Although that might have been an idea someone had in the shower, a place where you seldom ponder about strawberries, but might actually be thinking "man, what I wouldn't give for a chance to be telling my bff how frikken bored I am while I'm lying on my bed at home and my mom's yelling for me to get up because grandma's coming and if i want her money I should not still be in bed." Assuming, of course, that the inventor was a teenage girl. As one does.

I'm proud to be a Finn when I realize that my Finnish (the correct adjective, learn it) society is such a high-tech society that my parents, who cohabit a medium-size house, can without any sort of hassle, although I imagine they were both in the living room/ kitchen area at the time, call me separately yet almost simultaneously - my father to tell me that a bear running around close to downtown was a "complete city center away" and not to worry about stepping out, and my mother to tell me that "there is a bear around your way" who might just decide it would like some African-spiced meat in the form of a wine-marinated, blond, mohawked piece of flesh (not my mother's exact words), cross a few highways, and emerge from the forest (it's a park with a statue) next door to eat me. As to how the king of the woods would cross the highways, it would "walk of course" (my mother's exact words).

I'm proud to be a Finn when I realize that there are still live animals in the woods in Finland. Not just the zoos. And that they are fierce. And might just cross highways to get to me.

I am proud to be a Finn when my best friend tells me completely honestly that she thinks that I am just "so utterly strange" while I still feel the love. Apparently it's strange to love the Finnish schlager-tradition, have spiky hair as well as a giant belt with a metallic head of a tiger on it, and argue with a clothes-store employee about why she is not doing her job and returning clothes to their assigned racks after people have tried them on (I won and scared her witless, but will now forever boycott a certain store due to their unethical production methods or some such thing). Still, I personally think all of my quirks are simply delightful and spice up the general thing of living, and although "so utterly strange" could be construed as a negative, it's not, and my bff loves me regardless. (Yey!) The Viking husband of mine just tells me that I'm "special."

I'm proud to be a Finn when the local health food store (the one in Kauppahalli) owner notices the milk thistle having reached its sell-by date a month previous and thus gives it to me for free, because "it's still usable for six months, I just shouldn't sell it." And then I walk away, real quick like, because it's too good to be true and I suspect I'm on one of those horrid candid camera shows. Or being Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher himself. Totally. This is void-of-service Finland after all. And maybe Ashton's into bear-scares?

I'm proud to be a Finn when I can read in the newspaper about the heat wave. Every single morning, every single newspaper. Finland (and my mother right along with the nation. In a real bad way too. Like totally creepers) has a fixation on, nay, a weather fetish. And something about never being happy with the state of it, rain or shine. But at least that must mean that there really aren't that many actual news around, right? (Yes, because the other two headlines are about a puppy being saved by a helicopter and a guy biking across our glorious Funland "just for kicks.")

Wait! Am I still being proud, or have I already started with the cringeworthy stuff?

Agh. Who knows. All I'm certain about is that I will continue in list form. Before I pass out because of the 'heat'. Because everything other than that would just be disrespectfully un-Finnish. Yup.

I'm proud to be a Finn when... Golf. I'm not sure the sport has anything to do with being proud to be Finnish, but the 'heat' might just be getting to me and I wanted to declare my undying love to the playing of golf before I do that passing out thing, right here in my bedroom, possibly onto my bed. Which seems to be the thing to do. No, it's not called sleeping in! I'm frikken passing out because of the 'heat'. What drunken stupor? Screw you haters, it's the 'heat' that's making the nation wonky! Not in any way the season that we Finns refer to as the 'terrace season' - a season during which bars have tables outside so wearing one's sunglasses while drinking one's beer/ cider doesn't seem so out of place.

How did I go from golf to drinking beer on a plastic chair outside? The 'heat' must be getting to me. But apropos of getting drunk.

It makes me very much NOT proud to be a Finn when I go to a restaurant, order two glasses of dry, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, and then, from the corner of my very own beady eye, witness the waiter fill up the glass that comes up short with an Italian Chardonnay. In Teatterikahvila, where they're supposed to have class.

It doesn't make me proud to be a Finn when I go anywhere expecting any kind of service from the lovely folks of Finland in the service industry (not euphemistic, really referring to waiters, clerks, cashiers, stewardesses, and the odd bus chauffeur). Apparently the term service does not exist in Finnish (the correct name of the language, learn it). Those of you who know Finnish (You there, yes, you!) and would like to suggest to me that the direct translation is palvelu, I would like to remind you that although it perhaps used to be as easy as that, nowadays the term rather signifies getting the client do your work for you, ignoring the client, gossiping with your friends on the telephone or over the counter while several clients are giving you the stare, and pissing the client off with inanities and/ or pure unadulterated lack of intelligence.

Yes, I'm pointing at you girls at Gina Tricot (Why was I even there? The clientele is teenagers for walking cane's sakes!), the oddly confrontational Paunu bus chauffeur, and the sorry excuse for a waiter at Teatterikahvila!

Read my revenge!

Grrrr!

Cue Punch line.

What? There isn't one? What were you going to do? Just taper off to nowhere?

Oh. Post a picture...

Because, clearly, me in a blond wig in an overexposed photo is what this post needs. What else?

 

Monday, June 21, 2010

So what you're saying is that you've accomplished absolutely nothing?

I have started a million different posts, but there are just so many things to tell you, my dear readers, that I haven't known where or how to begin...

Dude! No you haven't. You haven't even logged onto blogger for like two weeks. At least! Stop lying, woman.

Okay. So maybe life has taken over a little bit. I've had to travel here to Europe, do all this super-important stuff and shit and see all of these people who just need to be seen like right now.

Really? Stop lying. Last night you had time to watch Porky's for the umpteenth time in history, and what's all that urgent shopping you've been filling the closets with? You just couldn't run your busy life without that black, studded, leather handbag, or what?

Well... Necessities man. I also got some deodorant on that outing. Get off my back. It's not like I've chosen not to blog. Stuff has just been going on. Like crazy shit and such.

Oh yeah? Like what?

It has too! There was that one night when I went to turn on the television and wanted to change the channel for the first time, because one of those weird, Finnish, badly-produced interior 'decoration' shows was on, and all of the channels disappeared. I had to call my brother to find out that I was using the wrong remote - a remote that probably should not even work on the television but I now know will make all of the channels disappear and green text in some language I've never heard of appear and possibly will send a distress code to the Titanic and not the other way round - and that was a total pain. Took me like half an hour to even get to sit down.

The TELEVISION?!?! That's your big time-consuming important shiz? Come on!

Well. There was also that Irish construction worker who followed me and the ever-fabulous K (wanna date a gorgeous, intelligent 30-something chick? E-mail me) home from the bar to be unceremoniously dumped at the downstairs door (But now he knows where I live. Frikkin scary. Should maybe have considered that beforehand...). And then there was that whole night, the overly expensive, but not that nice wine, and the scandinavian markup on the food in that new restaurant, the drunken men hitting on us in a way they had dredged up from the eighties, the incredibly awkward attempt by that older woman to hit on me (she started by, literally, hitting me on the shoulder), and attempting to resolve why it is that people leave their houses without ever looking into a mirror (because mirrors, as everything else in Finland, are too damn expensive) especially if they are attempting to attract the opposite sex (or the same, but so very different anyway), was just totally something I can't even really blog about.

But that's just one night. Or Am I mistaken?

No.... But I went to the movies too and suffered through the mostly plotless Alice in Wonderland. All while the 3D glasses were really uncomfortably pressing on the bridge of my apparently not average shaped nose. And that was like supremely time consuming. Felt like years. Unlike with the A-team, which I also went to see, which totally rocked and made me believe in the power of cinema to once again numb one's brain completely.

And then your fingers broke?

What? No! But that just took up some time. What's your problem anyway. If I don't want to blog about my parents' new puppy who is just the cutest thing ever, and who I keep carrying around like a tiny helpless baby and giving kisses to, that's my business. It's hard to blog when you're being all Paris Hilton-y and toting around 8 pounds of the sweetest, cutest puppy ever.

Carrying a dog? As an explanation? I mean... I don't even really know how to respond to that. So maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I should just let it go. 

Just breathe in and out and let it go.... let it go... let it go...

Wait! I haven't even told you about the whole debacle with me not liking Finnish coffee anymore and how much dust that has stirred up. Or me losing my voice to Finland. Or me going way over budget (damn expensive European countries, can't even buy decent shoes and stay within a very generous budget) on a budget I've imposed on myself to learn the value of money (obviously so far it has taught me to loathe budgets and be weirded out by people who impose such things on themselves and to always give myself way more wiggle room than I initially think is necessary whilst imposing anything on my own person. Damn budget! And that money is worth more here in Europe than in South Africa which makes life very difficult on everyone, and that everyone should rebel against this European value of money. Yah. Very deep and all.). Or how it is totally possible and even quite likely to forget how to clean a house, pack one's own groceries, or put gas in a car (Although this one is purely theoretical as no one is letting me drive. Bastards.). Or how tiring it feels to haul too many bottles of wine across town manually (i.e. without the helpful aid of a car or a husband). Or... how long it takes me every morning to fashion the new mohawk into something that both looks cool (but not in that teenager-way) and that will hold up in this surprisingly windy city I'm currently calling home-for-now-because-my-computer-is-here. We are inland for Zeus's sakes! What is the deal with this wind? Or how much I miss the Viking and think that he should totally be here to carry my stuff for me, and drive me to places (see, they let him drive to places).

Uhm... Yeah.... See, I've just remembered that I have this thing that started like 10 minutes ago and I should be going at this second. No time to waste. Chat to you later!

Wait, wait! What thing? There's no thing today! Why haven't I been invited? I want to go to a thing too!

Dammit.

Oh well, there's always golf. Aren't you just excited to bits to be reading about that?

The coolness itself. In case you were wondering. Not saying that you were, but just in case. Just to stop you wondering. Just to you know, stop you. Uh huh. Yep. Indeed. 

Thursday, June 03, 2010

It's a country alright

Since I fainted in the shower the other day, nary avoiding the sharp edges and blunt walls (upon a third-degree regarding the painful bump on the side of my head this morning, the Viking admitted to witnessing me "possibly having bounced my head off the wall a teensy bit" as I went down, before he could completely catch the limp me), I thought that I would have plenty of time to write this superbly long (and needless to say, eloquent as shit) post about driving through Namibia and Botswana and packing for Europe and all that excitement I'm about, on account of the Viking taking all of the car keys with him, so that I wouldn't pass out on the road and kill myself. Or possibly one of the poor guards at our gate (who jump out of nowhere straight in front of my car due to no fault of mine, as you all know).

What?

Yes, we shower together. We're that kind of a childless and sickeningly sweet deal. With hefty doses of caffeine and alcohol thrown in, and I guess now, complete with some earnest Victorian drama, just without the stifling corset.

But I just kind of sat there all of Monday and instead of uploading the photos from my camera onto this here laptop, I kept googling 'brain cancer', 'hypoglycemia', and ' exercise and sudden loss of consciousness', like the raging hypochondriac that I am, as well as 'how to hot-wire a car' in case the hypochondriac would start to feel her brain swelling, cooking, leaking out through any kind of orifice, and/or filling with blood. As one so often does.

(Naturally the smart and most definitely the sane thing would be to hit the road if one's brain was leaking out of one's orifice(s). Yes.)

But she didn't. Which is good, because I don't think I even know where the lever to open the hood of the car is located, having never googled that (I clearly still have no idea how to do any kind of wiring, hot or cold, or even gently spiced, Google), which would have left me with no other choice than to furiously kick the car and yell at it, and that would have surely worsened whatever brain-condition the hypochondriac had arrived at, and we all know what a mess that would have made in the garage. And the maid hates cleaning the garage. Spiders, bottles, guts, and what have you.

So yeah. Namibia. On Wednesday Thursday (I went out to lunch on Wednesday and managed to raise my trophy wife status to new heights by spending a good 7 hours at it) instead. While I'm supposedly going to the dentist and packing for Europe. In list form:

1. Namibia is pretty awesome. Not in that intense, in your face with experiences way, but more like in that "didn't we drive past here a 1000 kilometers ago? Oh no, it's just that the desert goes on for like... forever" way. Not to mention the "are we still in the third desert, or is this the fourth consecutive desert now?" kind of way. Or the "dude, shit, I think I see an actual person, and I'm pretty sure it's totally not a tiny dune this time" way.


2. There are very few people in Namibia. But there is a lot of sand. And somehow these people, who are even fewer in the places where the sand is mostly (the locals call it the desert as you might have gathered), have made an industry out of charging Germans lots and lots of money to drive them from one place with a fair amount of sand to a place with much more sand. And sometimes some dead trees.


We didn't let them drive us, seeing as they thought we were German too and made me royally pissed off at them, leading to our car now being half-filled with sand and making a sad noise when the wheels are turned sharply to the left at a high speed (which is incidentally how I like to make my left turns).

And the car was not a happy car to begin with.

3. It is very likely that on any given day in Namibia the amount of German tourists, all of whom seem to like to travel in herds in big air-conditioned busses, order beer loudly in German, and own creepy, circa mid-nineties styled fanny packs, exceeds the amount of actual Namibians. Statistically speaking. Or maybe it just seems that way, because they are so very... German*... like all the time.

4. Oysters. Who knew you could even prepare them breaded?

5. There are some pretty big holes on this continent. Most of them don't make for good photos but you are urged to go see them all. As are all of the German tourists, who, by the fifth big hole in the ground, you begin to suspect might be following you. And not in that good way, but with their fanny packs rudely pointing at you every time you glance in their direction. Not a good feeling, let me tell you, being eyed by a gathering of nineties fanny packs.


The holes do NOT come equipped with functioning toilets. And now many Germans are telling their neighbors of this hippie-woman with a mohawk and a camera around her neck who felt so moved by the beauty of [insert name of hole here] that she felt compelled to dance and jump up and down upon seeing it.

And then she might have even leaked a little.

6. Any Namibian as well as a Botswanan town can be comprised of a gas station and a bakery/liquor store in its entirety.

The town of Solitaire

7. The cows in Botswana very likely outnumber people. Or at least while people are nowhere to be seen,  the cows like to hang out on the roads, especially the Trans-Kalahari highway, and it makes little impact on them to see you hurtling down that very same road at a breakneck speed smack towards them.

8. Forcing the Viking to learn how to change a tire was a good thing indeed.

Yes, I own a mint-green car.

9. Seeing the sun rise over anything is the best feeling ever, a sunrise will always kick a sunset's ass, and sunrise has the best ever light for photos. Ever. The only downside is the lack of sundowners at sunrise, but I'm working on that as I write, and contemplating a possible inclusion of a coffee-based cocktail as a morning picker-upper or some such thing.


10. Now that I'm actually studying to become a real photographer, turns out I don't really take that many photos anymore.

*Normally I have very little problems with Germans, although I must admit I'm quite put off by that whole Nazism thing, and this television show about a bunch of German highschool kids they used to show in Finland. Also, I don't like their idea of grammar. Or the schlager tradition (it's too sing-along-y, which is always my downfall). Or beer. 

Ten points. Whew. There you go. I'm onto bigger and more important things. Such as figuring out whether I should a) pack my stripper-heels instead of my skull and bones hoodie, or b) just wear my golf clubs as an accessory on board the plane. Tough decisions. But I must go, those stripper-heels are not going to windex themselves.

I have to go tell the maid to do it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

NAMIBIAAAAAA!

That's me going on a long and winding vacation in the neighboring nation with my Viking, not some sort of unintelligently constructed war cry or anything (for a war cry one kind of should go with a classic like Geronimo, right?).

This is an illustration of how involved I have been in the planning, where my packing activities are currently, and exactly how much I know about where I'm going. Oh well. Diving in. 

Love ya'll and see you in June for the Extranjera goes to Europe to hang out with her mom, to golf and obsess about golf with her dad and brothers, and to drink plenty of coffee and wine with everyone else who will admit to knowing her.

So it'll be a while.

Miss me.

Please.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Can you move up from accidentally buying maternity wear?

Some might say I should just pay more attention. Concentrate more. Steer away from the departments I have no business in. Focus. Look at the bigger picture. Weigh the situation.

To avoid these things.

But I say "What the hell. Go ahead and call this progress":

I was looking for a neon sign. The 2010 edition.

Lately, I have been 'forced' to do quite a bit of shopping for some new clothes. There's that inadvertent weight loss and no one likes a scary lady in a tent, neh? So I've been shopping my little heart out.  I know, mine is a hard and tiring life, but it's all mine and well, yes, someone has to do it. Otherwise, what will happen to the global economy? How will the finances of nations fare? Without my contribution? Especially, if I don't walk out of a shop with at least one pair of highly weather-inappropriate and uncomfortable shoes, at least a couple of belts (say it loud, say it proud: "I think if I belt this shirt it will be even cooler"), and the odd, yet very cool and edgy t-shirt. And jeans. Shouldn't forget the jeans. Who will then keep the globe going, I ask you?

People who work all day long and pay taxes? Pshaw. You may say that, but you don't really think that. Do you, Husband?

(I can hear him roll his eyes and scream ever so slightly when he reads this. He sometimes does that in the vicinity of this here blog, but pay him no mind. He'll soon be on vacation.)

All I said was "how safe, just black and white," and then he totally decided to ignore me. 

But shopping here is getting harder and harder. The winter ("Ha haa" I say in best Nelson-from-the-Simpsons-style as I weather the 'cold' weather...) is approaching. The things to own right now, at least according to all of the shopkeepers, seem to be big and woolly dark-colored sweaters, black and grey turtlenecks, navy scarves, black leather boots, dark wash denims, black pants, and really any dark things made out of flannel and wool. To be worn on top of other items made out of flannel and wool. Black and grey and navy and dark purple everything. Layered. one layer on top of another, onto infinity, it seems.

And I always was a gal for bright colors and big prints. Light, billowy fabrics. Just wearing that one shirt, instead of an undershirt, a shirt, a vest and a sweater. And I may have also mentioned my obsession fascination with bold horizontal stripes? Yes? I believe I have have.

So what do I do afloat on the sea of dark flannel and woolly things, also known as Woolworths?

I home in on a beacon. A splash of bright turquoise shining, nay, glowing in a wintery world made up of black and grey. I set my course. There is no stopping me. I rush over. I extend my hand and lunge.
I grab the lightness of the fabric. I hold the fabric to my cheek (as one does in broad daylight in a department store). I drink in its simple design and cut. I rush to the fitting room and gaze at my turquoise reflection in the mirror.

I think of summer and feel my heart growing lighter.

I wear the shirt three days in a row, before I see this:

AGE 11-12
HEIGHT 152-155cm
BUST 72cm

The tag on the shirt tells me that I am wearing children's clothing. Which I presumably bought at the children's department. Without noticing.

I hate you winter fashion.

Friday, May 07, 2010

When things fall apart (not by Chinua Achebe, although that was a very good book indeed)

Once again, I seem to be here to spew some venom into the world. Yes, you read that right - VENOM. By which I mean someone out there was unable to read my mind and decipher the exact meaning of this piece of professional communication from my side:

 ".... Uhm. Stuff. You know. Pretty and shit. Vintage. Yah. Get it?.."

and has now therefore deserved my uninterrupted (at least until the coffee's done) spewing ability.

What the hell is she talking about? Snakes on a Plane again? What's with this reading snakes' minds all about? 

Oh, I know! She must be making an obscure reference to that one Harry Potter with the hissing serpent in it, whose thoughts Harry Potter, or was it that red-haired boy, could read, thus making an insightful commentary on the sliminess of it all, whilst drawing a parallel to the UK election? Right? That must be it!

Yeah. Right. That totally must be it. Sheesh...

What would you, as an English speaker or not, take with you intellectually if I told you that someone out there has been kind enough to donate a marketing space for our charitable organization and that we are looking for 'vintage-y' items, cool/cute decorative items, expensive items that would be better off sold to raise money for the community than donated directly to the community, to sell at this marketing space?

Would you package up your old underwear and your paint-stained, torn t-shirts and cart them over to my house? Would you give me a 'decorative item' with (very!) explicit sexual imagery on it to be sold at this family friendly space? Would you drop off tons of things with huge company logos plastered all over them? Would you toss some dirty glassware in a bag and expect it to stay whole in a cardboard box underneath a ton of toys covered in a mixture of what very well might be feces, snot and some red-ish sand?

Would you?

Would you do that to me? Personally to me? And then on top of it all, would you give me un-constructive criticism helpful advice on how to run this specific sale?

Would you dare?

You wouldn't. Because you are an intelligent human being. And you wouldn't even be thinking of me, you would be thinking of the people you would be doing this for. You would be light years from the school of thought that can only be summed up with "they should just be grateful with whatever I can give them, even if it means not cleaning any of it, with a twist of one man's trash is another man's treasure especially if the other man is filthy poor and should just be happy with my already gnawed to oblivion leftovers, since they can still be used for soup or sucked on."

You would still assume everyone is worthy of respect and has dignity, right? You wouldn't be one of the  expat wives/ ladies who lunch who are very vocal about "doing charity" because watching television and going to the gym just don't get the same wow-effect from the friends back home.

You wouldn't be cheap. And you wouldn't get venom spewed at you in digital form.

So no. No parallels to the UK election. I have bigger fish to fry this weekend. By which I mean broken glasses to be tossed, that costume 'jewelry' to be untangled, parallel-universe vintage-y clothes to be washed and ironed, and those trash bags to be carted somewhere far, far away where the smell of the used and moldy 'vintage-y' clothing can never, ever reach my nostrils again.

Also, I have a migraine. So there's that to be nursed too. With coffee, wine and venom. The trio of the gods.

Fancy meeting you here my old friend migraine! How did you find me again? Oh I know, you probably heard of me from our mutual acquaintance, Stress, right?

Think of me this weekend, and put some good karma into the universe to cancel out my bitchy. Please!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Now that my hormones are under control some minor rage issues seem to have appeared

Today for me was to be completely internetless. Not a huge feat I'll grant you, seeing as I have barely spent any time at all here in the last few months (not counting Lamebook and Go Fug Yourself, which I seem to be able to check even if I'm in the bush without any kind of coverage just with the pure power of thought and the intense desire to view bad fashion), but still a trying day of only checking Twitter every now and then with my iPhone and getting through the day without laptop-heated thighs (oh the horror!).

Why?

Well, since we are on the continent of most likely (too lazy to Google, but can't be far from the truth) the slowest, yet most expensive internet in the world, the reason would be the oh so ubiquitous South African "I've reached my cap". I normally suffer through this a few times every month and have to top up (i.e. make the Viking make some phone calls and top up my account of limited and pricey access-joy), but I figured last night, I really truly did, that since May is just around the corner I can make do for one measly day without the glory of the interwebz. I really did.

But then things started happening and I started getting pissed off. And then I realized I wanted to blog. I wanted to share the stupidity of other people in the real world (and some of my own). I wanted to bark at other drivers in writing. I wanted to sweep that smug smile off of that face with the insults that I could only think of when I was already in the car. I wanted to stop screaming at the Viking (on the phone, and he couldn't really hear me, so I don't think he's too fazed). I wanted to vent.

Also, I think I'm PMSing.

So here I am. Internet topped up. Ready to let it rip:

Unhelpful, arrogant, and very unprofessional Apple iStore technician at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg

You will have to do better than "Well, ma'am, I'm sorry about that," if you make me drive 30 kilometers to your iStore to get my MacBook Pro fixed only for you to tell me once I get there that you don't actually do hardware repairs, which you could have told me anytime during the lengthy phone conversation we had (okay, the Viking had, but that's beside the point. Like I'm meant to make my own phone calls. Tsk.) during which you were repeatedly told that it is the CD drive that is ill and noisy and possibly ant-infested. I mean, are there ever people who are willing, without any kinds of back ups and separation anxiety, to just leave their Macs in your 'capable' hands without any warning for the duration of at least 2 weeks? I didn't think so.

You make me want to own a PC.

Big man in Big truck in front of me for miles and miles

Why does your truck say Fast & Fresh if you and the innards of the truck are neither? Why are you going 60 kilometers an hour when the speed limit is at least a 100? Why are the eggs (let's just say it's eggs, because it fits my beef today) you are carrying never ever fresh? Why is it so hard to find fresh eggs in this city? Could it have something to do with your snail pace? I think so. And why are you always there, at the ready to turn right smack in front of me, when I have to pee?

Yes, that gesture I made out the window when I finally passed you was Finnish for 'hello'.

That huge bruise on my calf and my very own hands while holding a jumprope

You will have to fade like right at this minute. You can start any time now... You are huge and purply black in a slightly yellowish and green way and you could light up a sizable room. You are the one thing  (those weird fatty deposits on the insides of my knees excluded as usual) standing (lying?) between me and that flamencoesque, shortish skirt I intend on wearing out tonight. My one decent pair of black pantyhose smells like it should have been washed two years ago and would just scare innocent bystanders. So fade you piece of conceptual art on my calf! And while I'm at it... nah, The jumprope held in the tired hands at 5:30am at boot camp led to the bruise and that's all there is to that. Bad hands. I wish there was someone else than myself to blame.

Yes, today I will rock a bruise like a Louis Vuitton handbag: with weird pride, because it's not like I want it, but now that it's there I might as well make the most of it. It's obviously cost me a lot.  

This very northern suburb of Johannesburg we inhabit and my school in Pretoria

Why can't you be more like Cape Town, where apparently no racists, such as described in my previous post, exist? Why should you choose to house, nay attract, proliferate, and breed, the most base kind of human beings and then put them on my path, one after the other? Because I am not talking about just one or two, but of a multitude, coming at me from all directions, from varying positions, and again and again.   Just when I least expect it.

Perhaps I should just never go out again. Rather than face the reality of South Africa.

The ideas person who likes to suggest things but never actually does anything and always ends her mails with "I hope it's not too much to ask."

It is. Do it yourself.

Icy.

Have an exciting weekend everyone and thank you for reading (and even if you didn't I feel better already)!