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?


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...?


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?


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?