Sometimes, when you are troubled and have that petrified nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach - a feeling not unlike menstrual cramps - and keep adjusting, by a thin hair, the seemingly random, but actually meticulously thought out and arranged (you might have had a dream about how to execute said arrangement) assortment of candles on the dining-room table, the reality of South Africa slaps you in the face.
When you are consumed by the sheer impossibility (you never fokken ever thought it would happen) of the actuality of the fact that in not so many hours you will be at the airport, waving a Danish flag (Don't ask. Let's just call it an ancient viking tradition), and holding up a sign saying Mom and Dad your Viking thought would be a hilarious thing to be waving, waiting for your father- as well as your mother-in-law to clear immigration (Any favors in the form of an anonymous phone call to customs or immigration? Your choice. Anyone?), it kicks you in the stomach.
When you are fearing the discussion over the non-existent television in the living room because what kind of people don't own a proper television and put it exactly where it belongs and what the hell is up with all these clay skeletons you have everywhere, it smacks you upside the head.
When you realize that you have actually, against all possible odds really, truly forgotten to fokken buy more coffee regardless of a certain someone asking you on Facebook whether you would be willing to serve it and now you'll have to find a way to make the purchase on the sly and, boy, how sneaky will you have to be, it knees you in the back.
When you kill the umpteenth ant crawling out of your laptop and again, in a fair panic, try to make sure there are none in the foodstuffs anywhere, it sneaks in a right hook straight into your ribs.
"The panties in the dustbin, you don't want them anymore?" She asks me in a quiet voice over the hissing iron.
"The panties?" I reply, completely bewildered. Because, really, there is no way the maid could be talking about my hole-y old underwear I threw out this morning? Surely? That would be absurd. I must have misunderstood. She couldn't be talking about my nasty, washed-to-oblivion, cheap-to-begin-with, cotton underwear.
What kind of a world would this be if she was?
But she is.
And she would like to know whether she could have them, since I don't want them anymore.
Here, have a penguin! Or what the hell, have two. (No, you may not take possession of the third. That one is already spoken for by some obscure wildlife organization.)
See (or hear, if that rocks your boat in a less sea-sickening way and unlike the waves that make it almost impossible to get back from Robben Island to the safe haven of the Cape Town Waterfront [that's where they keep the coffee and wine], but are still not enough to scare away the secret tears that almost came at the sight of Nelson Mandela's cell, if you know what I mean, which, naturally, you do.) that silence right there. Right below this here post. A silence of days, if not weeks.
A good, calm silence. Not a thought (okay, maybe a few hundred in my weakest of moments) spared for the abyss of the internets.
I missed you all, and even more than that loved being missed by you. But it was good.
That silence was me falling off the end of the earth, which, purely statistically and the South African politicians alone providing proof aplenty of this, on the tip of this here continent I inhabit is a much more common occurrence than one might think. Unlike the politicians though, I fell gloriously, and right into the mix of family and great friends, lions (who again refused to eat me - Are they not into pickled things or what is this aversion all about? Am I not good enough?), windy and not so much beaches with white, warm sand, French champagne at its nose-tickling best, farting rhinos (both actual as well as a few more commonly referred to as my brothers), golf, great wine at great restaurants, dolphins, much too much wine at much too many vineyards, talk, discussions, penguins, chatter, smells of the sea and one unfortunate giraffe carcass, one severely flat mountain at sunset, and real, fleshy people, places, things, coffee, and some more of that wine, in random locations this time though.
A decisive sip of Calvados at the golf course.
And I'm just now coming up for (net)air. Only to find that small ants have made a busy apartment complex (or an Asian Shopping Mall, if those kinds of things are more familiar to you) of my MacBook Pro, and that I'm in serious need of an external hard drive (and the various skills involved in using it. Please tell me to create folders before moving a thousand pictures onto there. Thanks.) should I want to empty my camera of the 2000 large JPEGs firmly lodged on there and depicting mainly penguins in various (okay, pretty much just the one) positions.
They are cute, those penguins. But still!
Zeus, what in the name of hockey sticks, soured molasses, and one six-year-old are you playing at? What kind of a signs are these? It almost feels as if me on the internets is no longer working for you? Or is this just payback for the disappearance? What?
*kills an ant making its way across the space bar*
Hey Zeus my man, you are leaving me with very little direction, ants or no ants, when you very well know the in-laws are making their way towards South Africa practically as I write. You know they have packed their fridge down in case I refuse to feed them, or Africa is completely void of anything eatable, which of course is an understandable, rational belief. Yup. You know.
This might just be the end of Extranjera altogether. Or at least the remotely sober-ish, non-biting one.
Look for me in the bottle. The one by the penguins.
"But I'm NOT pregnant," says Extranjera to the Hubby after reading some of the comments left in response to her previous post.
"Nope. No sirree. Not at all," she continues, while the Hubby glances at her and pretends to listen, while he is actually playing some inane game on Facebook, and is probably thinking more about whether to recruit his new-to-social-media-and-thus-all-excited-and-baffled-by-it mother to his virtual vampire army, than anything even remotely close to producing offspring. Unless that offspring were undead. And on Facebook.
"Uh huh... Hmm, vampire spawn?" he responds, and clicks with his mouse.
Extranjera is bewildered: "Not even a little bit pregnant, or in that movie-star way that Jennifer Lopez wasn't when she ended up having twins with that skinny guy, and that we all think Jessica Simpson might [not?] be, but then we remember that she isn't actually getting any bigger," she iterates, "And so, yes, I'm not pregnant like Jessica Simpson, which is to say that I like my burgers. With lots of mayo too. The ones made of beef of course, not of babies. Other than that, no link whatsoever."
"Eating babies. Uh huh. The Chinese? No, sorry, dogs," the Hubby compassionately pitches in.
"Yah. The Chinese. Google's fighting them too," Extranjera assures the inattentive Hubby, "But so no babies. No. Not in the uterus, or the stomach, or really even on the mind. And the bottom line is that the only way I'll even acquire a baby is if someone, somewhere in the world (crazier things have happened, and it turns out that regardless of my genes, I can hug after all and it doesn't even make me gag [I know, I'm just as surprised as everyone else]), gives me a baby to take care of," she goes on.
"Personally, I won't be popping them out. Ever," she adds with conviction.
"I know, hun. The Chinese should just give you a baby and stop eating them. That would be the humane thing to do," the Hubby says, "Do you think my mom will understand the word decapitate?"
The loudspeaker above this dialogue crackles and the nasal voice of an oldish woman comes on.
"We break this interesting exchange to bring you a very important notice regarding the main character in this blog: She is most certainly not pregnant, just really busy, and currently on her way to the airport to pick up yet more guests, the second bunch, and won't be back online until the 25th, and then with fears of similar exchanges since the last, and third, installment of guests consists of her in-laws. Although she is too busy working and entertaining at the moment to be online, she should be back by then and be most certainly driven to drink. Again."
"We here at the crossroads of the Super Id, Guilt and Perfection thank you for your attention, wish you a lovely week, and hope to see you back on the 25th. Or thereabouts."
And all sorts of general havoc, mayhem and chaos that only four Finns and one Viking can possibly wreak, but finally, albeit very sadly, the first set of guests is on their way back to Europe.
Although no thanks to Iberia, who bring new meaning to the words 'customer disservice'. And 'blow'. And 'suck'. And 'incompetent'. And 'rude'. And 'clueless'. And apparently also 'endless list'. They make me wish I mattered. Thanks a lot Iberia!
And as for me, you ask?
I'm having a pile up. Of people, to-dos, assignments, laundry, places, things, trash, mails, calls, jobs, and everything and anything imaginable. But mostly good stuff.
The real world is stealing me away. And not only from you and your blogs, but also from sleep which is resulting in some seriously suspect encounters, to-dos, arrivals and departures, answers, calls, performances, photos, some inadvertent public nose-excavations, and a lot of yelling at Iberia. And possibly at someone who had absolutely nothing to do with Iberia, but may have just been passing by.
And for once I have to just stick to coffee.
Seriously, the unimaginable has happened: I have no time even for wine.
I might as well just quit right now. But I can't. I'm too EXCITED!
"Are you going to try to eat me?" asks the younger of the visiting brothers when I open yet another packet of cookies, or candy, or chips, or biltong, or lunch bars, and stick it under his nose and prompt him to "EAT SOMETHING for goodness sakes!"
He is suspecting me of attempting to fatten him up, like what's-that-boy-in-Grimm-Hansel-someone, so that I can trick him into the oven in my gingerbread house and feast on him.
I'm not. I don't even like chicken that much (which is what people taste like according to Hannibal Lecter, I think? Or possibly that Argentine team that crashed their plane? I forget. Someone said chicken, right?). But just in case you were wondering where this blog was headed and whether prison or into hiding were some of those places, they're not. Sorry, I'm your garden-variety nut, not the murderous, wacko kind of loon, and although I would seriously want one, I'm fresh out of gingerbread houses, even the cheap, small kind. And I've never been a big fan of brown as an exterior wall coloring.
See! Not crazy after all.
But something is definitely going on, and while not a cookie-related, cannibalistic something, it's still creeping me out.
The only thing I can think of is: When did I become someone's grandmother? And whether this new development in my personality will also mean that wearing men's long underwear outside and accessorizing that awesomeness with a pair of rubber boots and an apron is something I'll find myself doing next (this might be in the genes)? And will I perhaps soon notice myself keeping crumpled euro-bills in my apron folds and slipping them to unsuspecting children whenever I get the chance? Alongside with cookies I've baked myself, but that accidentally have human hairs poking out of them, which I won't be able to see because of my failing eyesight (Ja. Also in the genes)?
Is this where I'm headed?
Because there's no way I'll ever become one of those grandmothers who coif their hair every morning, wear Dior to the expensive, posh grocery store, accessorize that very same Dior with a little bark-y pooch, and have dinner with their still-alive friends before heading off to the theatre.
Oh no. I'll be the one whose breath alone will scare kids far and wide. And whose hard candy will have that weird pocket-fluff and other assorted goodness stuck on it.
I'm rattled. The visitors are driving me towards an existential crisis.
But on the upside, I saw a wild lion up close and it didn't eat me. And In my world that's some serious balance right there.
Excuse me? Are you the one who starred in the Lion King? No? Didn't think so. Although I must say the resemblance is uncanny.
The visiting Finnish contingent - consisting of two brothers and one girlfriend - is currently happily asleep, still all exhausted from a busy trip to Cape Town to welcome the 2010 to the south of Africa, while also involving avoiding being bitten by aggressive penguins, scaring locals with whiter than white abdominal winter-flesh, more meat and wine anyone ever thought possible, windblown and sandy hair, and following a failed attempt at some serious golfing this morning.
"They ask me to tell you... sir... that there is no golf today because of the rain," the guard tells me at the entrance to the golf club at the ungodly hour of 6:30am.
(I was wearing my baseball cap on my head, and half of an egg yolk on my cheek, which I'm thinking explains the 'sir'. Or at least I'm hoping it does. Historically, egg yolks have been implicated in many a gender confusion, correct?)
I look at the sky. There is not a drop of water coming down.
"Because of the heavy rain?" I chuckle, expecting the guard to let me through, but he just looks at me somberly.
"Yes. Because of the heavy rain," he nods.
He refuses to lift the boom, and I'm forced to make a less than graceful retreat (instead of putting the car in reverse I manage to put it into 5th gear, but no actual harm is done), and the Finns retire upstairs to their respective bedrooms.
For me, there are always dirty underwear to be laundered and plates and coffee cups to be washed. And nothing says enjoying your visitors like sorting through piles of laundry and being surprised by a dirty pair of underwear that someone was clearly wearing while sitting 19 hours on different planes and then into the next day because their luggage failed to leave Europe when they did.
Except maybe the joy of such statements from the hobo-ish brother as: "Are you sure I shouldn't drive? I'm really afraid now, and you hit all of the traffic cones back where there was road construction. I saw them roll away in the mirror."
I barely touched the cones. Or the underwear.
Indian Ocean, meet the Atlantic. Atlantic, meet the Indian Ocean.
A child of a global world, originally from the land of Santa and cell phones, married to a bona fide viking, and attempting to raise a loud little life who has Down syndrome, all the while getting used to the US Pacific Northwest after many years in Latin America and Africa. Against all odds the kid's first words turned out to be 'mom' and 'book' instead of 'fuck' and 'no'. That may well turn out to have been my finest parenting moment ever.