Sunday, April 01, 2012
Monday, August 01, 2011
Well let me tell you, I have been 'up' to great feats. No mere mortal has successfully achieved what I have done in the past five months. Well, ok, maybe, and perhaps it happens every day, but rarely does it get put into one's Five Year Plans. It certainly wasn't in mine. ... "Bar tending in skimpy glitter" was probably higher on the list.
Nonetheless, in impressive skill & charm, I have successfully worked my way down the corporate ladder!
Step by step, I have gingerly manoeuvred my way from managing projects to now secretarying them. And let's not kid about & fluff this in gloss, I ain't talking about no "Secretary General of the UN" here.
Why no. I am the friendly voice on the other side of that first port of phone call. I am also the dumbass going "uh.... can you repeat that.... you want who? To do what? uhhh....suuuuuure... Please hold! [cut off phone call "by mistake" now]".
It's delightful. Quite delightful. The old grey men play their part by passing inappropriate comments & doing the dirty 'secretarial look-up-and-down', the strangers who all approach my desk think I am an idiot & speak slowly & rudely to me, I take more coffee breaks than one's pumping veins can move the caffeine & sticky sugared treats, I smile sweetly & tilt my head & try not to swear while I quietly dig pained nail marks into my desk during which someone like you stands at my desk shlurping on coffee and making droll conversation knowing the secretary (sorry... receptionist... sorry... administrator) is trapped & forced to listen "with delight".
... sadly, I have not yet butterflied into the short skirt high heel stocking with loaded seam stage of the role. But we hold out hope!
And surprisingly, the folk are actually quite delightful, and for the first time in years, I am having fun work days. Who knew! Take that deceiving Five Year Plan! I will not succumb to your wily ways!
...."Delightful. Quite Delightful" said Alice as she reached over for another piece of sticky sugared cake, to take her further down the 'rabbit hole'...
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Or finding my way out of the war being waged on my body by some lurgy. 5 days and counting of staring at walls and feeling like’ death by head cold’ is leopard crawling through my body.
Or! A new strange phenomenon. Explaining away on an almost daily basis to mates that I am good, happy, smiling and doing juuuuust peachy. Yes. Even in spite of not having a life purpose; a.k.a. cubicle job/ partner earning the moola/ belching teething baby to clasp to my chest in terror.
But no matter what I write, I hear them tut tutting their heads and saying, The Lady Doth Protest Too Much!
No words seem capable of getting through that actually, it is amazing how wonderful unemployment can really be when you accept, embrace and use it to sleep in, pull out stray hairs, and catch up on all sorts of books from economics to French language to oil drilling drunkenness. And on seeing how much money you can spend on a boozy night out with mates before guilt cuts through the gin and hammers a reminder to you of the lack of affordability of this activity. (So far, gin beats guilt any night!)
I have grabbed on and motor-boated the dear “Unemployed” label with relish this time!
[Now if only that label came with more dollar bills to stuff down my “G”.]
But, in friends’ minds, it would appear that unemployed is as unemployed does. Fuck it, Forest, what does that mean anyway?
“Are you ok? No, really?”
“I know these are difficult times”
“Why don’t you go home for a visit” [Because those sneaky airlines are now requesting cash be handed over for their tickets. Capitalist Pigs!]
“Shame hun. You will be ok. You do know that. Don’t forget that. Hun.” [Vomit]
To which, I am forced to rewrite the same email in a multitude of ways.
It’s like trying to convince Aunty Mapel that you love single living and are not weeping your spinster self to sleep each night; to convince First World people that Africa is not just one giant continent filled with dirty children covered in flies sitting in dirty puddles of water; or convince Zuma that Carla Bruni, hot as she is, ain’t gonna accept Wife 5 as her next life role.
I reckon Zuma stands more chance with Carla than I stand with convincing people that cashless unemployment does not mean my world is falling apart at the seams. But that it actually makes for great night-time convos, over mid-strength VB, cause honestly, I can’t afford the gin…
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Day 2: Receive Response.
No. Sorry. You were rejected because you did not meet our requirements.
Count number of hours. Reckon that they didn't have enough time, that they're full of shite.
Balls are already against the wall. Given up caring. Fire back email "Why? Which requirement?"
Day 3: "Why?" is answered"You did not ask for enough money. That said, you asked for just a bit too less. If you reapply, and just ask for more, we will consider your application. Kind regards, We Make Crazy Look This Good"
Day 3.5: Reapply. Asking for $10,000 more a year. Check your mental health online to see if you are not the crazy one.
Day 3.9 Have a really good ironic chuckle (chuckle in that way that you stab your eyeballs with stolen pens from the current job's stationary cupboard) because the last dear ex-boss was quite happy to tell you that, despite your post-grad, your field experience, your local knowledge, and your 8 years in the business, you were damn mad to expect so much as (a pittance of) a salary and you will be supplementing that with volunteered hours.
The lunatics will run the asylum...
Thursday, February 03, 2011
A friend of mine died during the "holidays".
She was someone who was a mate probably before I knew how to focus my newborn eyes.
By this stage of our lives, we were on the sidelines of each other's lives mainly; as family friends often become. Where you know the big happenings, have cheesy dances to old school tunes, cheeky memories, you help out each other out through kak or confusing times, you slot back into seeing each other so easily, when you do. But the two of you don't need to be there daily.
It becomes monthly emails and always barracking for the other.
I watch what her family now goes through as they mourn & deal with this. And that is the most painful bit.
Because there is not much you can do, but watch them have to process it, realise & accept gradually that she is not so close for that call or quirky remark or bitch or laugh or love, she's lost from their every minute.
They search out new support systems without dishonouring her. No one wants to close the gap that she's left, but you cannot stand still forever. But how can you not.
She & I did a lot of bantering.
She may have published a very dirty book with a lot of my very dirty stories in them.
It is "funny" though, when I am having a kak low moment & get that not-so-awesome glance into a nemesis doing so much better than me in life and my jealousy gets the better of me, when I realise I am way below benchmark, and might even be going backwards (downwards?) I now realise that none of that really does matter in "the end".
People said she didn't have an easy life, there are some stories that get me so worked up that she had to go through them, she definitely fought her way through some kakness. But to see how many people are heartbroken, who cherish her and still miss her daily, to realise that even if she was on my sidelines she's left a gap.
All those people in her daily life wouldn't even have the first clue who I was, or that she was important to me, and I watch their stranger comments and am awed by their love and respect for her.
She was so incredibly loved by those people that did love and know her – that there was so much importance to her living. Even if her life was not playing fair.
Even if you only have one friend, or only your family loves you, even if every career option you have tried for has failed, you're unemployed lying on a couch out of options & have only eaten stale rice in a coupla days, didn't manage your level of study, you ended up in a much smaller world than your teenage self dreamt of, or your arch nemesis is one step away from ruling the world while you are considering applying for the train driver job opening…
....none of that really matters.
It's sad that death is what has to bitchslap us back to this reality and this simple lesson. Particularly me. Particularly now.
To stop the comparing. The vying. The struggle to achieve goals that actually are obsolete in the end. To show up folk who aren't worth it. To keep pushing for a path that won't lead to my objectives, but it is the most obvious, and always makes for great conversation & some awing. That it is about quality, not quantity.
There is value to life that we cannot comprehend. Even when your life gets dented along the way.
So, for today, ease up on yourself.
I have to go finish a job application to be a train driver.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
...comment comes out of the very disturbing ridiculous idea currently doing the glossy bubble rounds, that women can have children, fine fine, we fashionistas will allow you that icky act, but then they must get back to looking as stylish & pre-baby as possible.
Forget that breastfeeding, woman!, get yourself to a gym! And pilates! And earning enough money to keep up with the trends, and be the envy of all your gold-glitzing community, by ignoring that crying needy lump, although doesn't it make a delightful accessory ...in these clothes we recommend you purchase for it... and get back to lunching and socialising!
Now THAT'S something to aim for in your life!
Forget raising a life to the point where it can keep raising itself in some self-adjusted way, forget just the achievement in becoming a mother (idea scares me to... well... to The Pill), it's all about how you look doing it at the end of the day!
All about envy!
Dammit woman! Stop feeling so proud of you & this kid! Have you seen those stretch marks! Just look at that flabbing stomach. Why! Look at H.Klum. Look at HER stomach & how many children she's had! What. Is. Wrong. With. You.
[Even. Woman becomes first female Prime Minister of a bloke society! ....But what did she wear when she got there? Buy our magazine now to find out!]
Monday, September 20, 2010
Or the devil?
“No No No. We are the only creatures that consume milk after we have been weaned! Did you know that!!! Did you!”
Uh oh. .....No.
What about goat's milk... llama milk! That must be alright! Right? My dear slightly demented hippy friend?
“It is just not right! None of this global milk drinking is ‘alraaight’. Right!”
Uuuuuh, my tea is getting cold….
“Do you know how they GET the MILK from these animals!?”
YES! Teats! Teats and suckers! I’ve seen it happen! All the fat arse cows spend hours in a field eating & shitting. Then they suddenly just all waddle into line & stroll on home with their massive udders swaying about. The farmer sticks on some gadget, and the milk flows and flows and flows! It's incredible! Nature & science at work!….oh… why are you looking ill… am I wrong about this?
“And what goes INTO that MILK. Not just MILK! I assure you”
Yes. But. That “stuff” isn’t that shite for you. Excuse the pun. After all, look how it improves cheese!
“Cheese! Well, cheese is different! Mmmm cheese…….”
It is?? Milk, bad? Cheese, good? Both for the same reason?
Some days are just harder than others to be enclosed in offices with do-gooders.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Which led to my face being rubbed in a woman’s breasts and me walking out of the pub $15 richer. The two incidents fairly unrelated.
What a Saturday!
Earlier in the day, we’d been throwing about advice to some folk who’d be travelling to South Africa. It got nowhere pleasant or to no real point rather, and so I excused us under some bad reasoning of needing to work on a Saturday night (Ha! One day I will be that proactive!), and sought out the closest pub for a needed reality check.
Now this pub is the very same pub we had ventured into on our 3rd day in Australia; when my partner had needed a toilet break while we apartment-searched. … He strolled in. And stopped. I strolled in. Was greeted by a smiling barwoman. And I stopped. Cause her bare breasts were also smiling away at me just inches above the mahogany counter. 3pm on a midweek day. Were all Aussie bars like this? … we were informed by friends later, that no, this was a complete “lucky fluke” on our touristing selves.
We’ve since learnt it is a fairly renowned titty bar; frequented by Footy supporters for a bit of liquidating (& oogling) before matches.
To Note: Titty bars are not to be mistaken for anything as “classy” as strip joints. The girls aren’t the point in a titty bar. The beer is. It is still a pub, whose staff just happen to all be women, who all happen to prefer pulling pints & rubbing bar counters while their wobbly bits wobble freely in the fresh air. Topless barwomen. Skimpies…
Think The Jolly… with more nakedness & rubbing. Well. Knowing the Jolly, the same amount of rubbing.
Ah well. So be it. Nothing wrong with it & as long as no-one minded me, I was not too fussed to chug away at some cheap beer in this joint as the only female patron. The point was the beer, and to try keep a straight face while not pulling a glance-down when ordering more beer.
There’d be moments of some naked woman prowling about on the bar counter to cheesy music and admiring drunk men. Fine fine suip suip. She would grab a man’s head, stuff it between her boobs and rub at will. Then stick some ass near another man’s face and fondle away.
We met some tradies who explained why the country was in such dire straits: “that’s what you get when you let a woman run the country!! Ooooooooooooooooo HA HA HA! Suip” I got chatted up by a geriatric with a wandering hand: “Oi grandpa!” And a couple of youngsters bet me that I wasn’t who my ID said I was. Which is how I earned $10.
Then they said that not only was I not who I said I was (but was actually their mate’s sister), but that my ID was not what it appeared to be. Which is when the barlady, who was playing mediator, showed them my bank cards while handing me their wagered extra $5.
And that’s how I earned $15 in a titty bar!
More beer & laughter. Another prowling woman, cheesy music, and admiring men.
When suddenly this lady prowled over to me, apologised to my boyfriend, grabbed my head & rubbed away…! The men cheered! And I blushed redder than a prude in cucumber veggie patch.
And that’s how I got my first ever titty-face-rub.
Had to happen in Oz, of all places.
I lied about the part where I walk out $15 richer. I was in a bar after all. That money was spent on cheap beer before you could say “prude in a cucumber patch”.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
And to check up that the folks aren’t spending all the inheritance during their child-free older years.
… they are… which just led to me spending some straight back…
Everyone wanted to know how Austraaaaaalia was, did I want another double gin, would I live there, when am I coming home, how about another plate of biltong, was it working out. I woo’ed and wow’d them with my tales of how the continent is not all that bad. It’s made up of convicts’ kids and missionaries’ kids. The trick is to stick with the penal bunch.
But, as soon as I hit O.R. Tambo & watched the Springboks lose to a hail of vuvuzela’ing foreigners, I got the cold smack of reality that is the missionary descendants.
“For You Own Safety”…
For your own safety, we are going to check your hand luggage twice, ensure you only pick up your duty-free booze as you march single-file onto the plane, check your passport thrice, and ensure NO ONE smiles! This is not a party in your aeroplane sort of joint, lady with the blue rinse! We will have you know what a serious business this flying activity is. No swinging sixties drunken pilots being coddled by short skirted airhostesses anymore! No more free lunches on this flight. Oh no! This is a sit-eat-watch-listen-sleep when the lights are out-piss when we take the seatbelt sign off-wake-yawn-watch-listen-march off style of route, for the lot of you! Why, you ask!? Well, don’t! There will be NO questions on this flight! But if you must know, For your own safety, Of course!
And so during the following thirteen painful hours, I was reminded of that distaste that this Island manages to coat about, using their fear-inducing glass-caged citizen-tranquiliser motto of…
“For Your Safety”, we are only going to serve free drinks during the meal, and that means only one free drink per passenger per meal.
We are reaching a spot of air notorious for turbulence, so we are going to put on the seatbelt sign, JUST IN CASE PEOPLE, ITS FOR YOUR SAFETY!
“Can I have a full cup of tea, please, sir?” NO! Did you not heeeeeear the captain! Deargod man, this is a NOTORIOUS spot of AIR! I can’t have passengers just flinging tea about over every possible air burp! Generally I would give you half a cup but for such defiance, you get one quarter!
And every fleeing Poffadder ouma & bitter Koffiefontein oom nodded their heads in unadulterated agreement. Ah yes, this is why we are exil’ing! No more THINKING for us! We act when and how we are told! This. Is. Bliss!
Ag tog, this is luvely! This little speaker above will tell us when to act, when to eat, when to toilet break, what to fear, what not to eat - …which is why I spent the last hour of the flight scoffing down my SA chocolates & crisps. I would rather be sugar-sick than “declare these indecencies” to Customs, or worse yet, chuck them… Because, rid of them you must be! In case a plague of Tempo Bars breaks out and joins the frogs, camels, flies and bunnies in swamping The Island.
The Nanny was back and she was beating me with her spoonful of fear while walloping me with hypothetical uncertainties.
After the 10th announcement in as many hours (I fear I do not kid on this, I even filled out a “Customer Feedback Form” in complaint of the overzealous announcer), I strolled up to the “Free Water” (offered in miniscule cups that require you to stroll every 2 damn minutes… for your safety, we don’t want you spilling room temperature water on yourself after all!) place located conveniently next to the “Ladies Only” toilets. And as I strolled back fearing that I had not wiggled an ankle in the appropriate amount of time or slept with my seatbelt on the outside of my blanket, the voice boomed the cabin;
“Passengers are reminded to NOT stand up & walk about the cabin when the seatbelt sign is still illuminated!”
The eyes glared at me. I shuddered. What now! I had broken the laws of the islands. The Voice went silent. It had pointed me out. Outted and ostracised me sufficiently. I knelt down and praised the Voice for its compassion in not voting me off the island right there and then. I was a dissenter. And now I was branded. Let me step out of line one more time & imagine the mayhem that possibly maybe surely could and would break lose.
The bubble might be burst! Reality and, horrors, the Boat People, might come streaming in!
Incredibly all stayed calm. In fact, even that notorious patch of air stayed surprising calm.
The O “HayTCHA” and S folk sighed in relief. We got lucky. This time. But never let that guard down! Never let the people not be aware of how we are protecting their safety at all time, in all places, for all sorts of reasons!
When I got safely back to my seat, strapped myself in, and ensured I had my reading light on and window shade firmly down, I “quietly” bitched that perhaps, just maybe, The Island was little OTT. My expat neighbour, who had hogged the middle seat the whole night while loudly singing to himself between bouts of boozy snores replied “That’s why this country WORKS!” Hic! Now stop the gay people marrying and the tanned women wearing those black clothes over their faces, give them motorbike helmets instead, and the universe will finally be in alignment! Hic!
Ah yes, alignment. And all will be protected about the bubble ‘ey.
And a few hours later, I stood in front of a Customs lady who asked me inane questions about biltong and reasons for daring to take a trip out of such a “lucky counry” for the outside dangerous world, however briefly. I glanced to my right and saw the Blue-Rinse tannie hand over to her Customs Lady a small Pharmacy package of panadoes. The Lady nodded with approval and ticked the boxes. OhForFuckSake. I am never getting back in. I will be bust right here & now. My guy will be left to roam mateless for years to come while I suffer it out back in Africa.
Which is when I sucked in my pride, unscrewed my backbone, and I in turn coughed sweetly, and bravely enquired ever so politely from my Lady, “sorry, but I’m half way through a course of antibiotics, do I need to declare this medication?” as I half-heartedly grasped for the untidy pack in my one piece of hand luggage.
A glare of ultimate uniformed services came back at me and a rude “No!” was thrown down onto me.
“But next time…
… For your own safety!”
Monday, August 23, 2010
Hundreds of folk,
Clicking on phones, blackberries, ipads, laptops,
Desperately trying to connect, to reach out, be touched, interact with
On virtual social networking sites,
With coded friends and facades of mates,
All to escape the 'real' loneliness and impersonal big city life,
While all desperately trying to ignore the hundreds of humans pressed up against them on trains.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Or should I say “1 year in Melbourne”, considering how little of this big island I have yet seen. (Outback photos still to make it onto here)
ONE YEAR! OMG!!!! …. Naaa, not really. So be it. One year. That’s nice.
I am more amazed that it has been five years since Brett Kebble off’d himself in that group-murdering sort of way. Allegedly.
This week of 2010 I am overwhelmed with too much information from too many angles. I am not keeping up. 2 jobs & a volunteering thing that can’t be cut off. Too much in the news. And too many people with too many social requirements.
A 2009 year ago I was freezing my fat arse off, mind-numbed, jumping between reading novels, staring at FRIENDS episodes, feeling kinda lost, kinda isolated in some distant suburb in a bigoted expat strangers’ home, searching for apartments in areas that were alien, and occasionally spamming people with my CV.
Not much has changed on that CV spamming front. Or on the looking for apartments. Except now I know what streets we are dealing with here!
But finally my head is allowed to work in one of my two city offices (HA! How fancy does THAT sound!). ((It should not sound that fancy. In fact it should not sound fancy at all)).
I am starting to lessen my hold on information flows from the west. Slowly slowly I am allowing my inbox to pile high rather than send back random waffle, just to stay in “touch”.
I love that I can walk. Walk everywhere. And that I can read every morning on a train to the city. That lunch is Mongolian Beef on Noodles for cheap cheap. Or just sushi rolls. If nothing else, when I move on, I will miss the $2 sushi rolls!
I am not completely settled & at ease. And I still don’t have any of those incredible in-town friends that are important to living. I still reflect too often for it to be healthy. But at least I was given time to reflect in the past 12 months. And wow did I. I had several years of slow-moving career to reflect over & kick up a few gears & goals. And past social turbulence to iron out into deeper understanding. Yes, I do feel so much wiser & in control. And I like that feeling.
I have achieved one goal of using the time in a “politically quieter” corner of the world to up my ante on other global issues. Fas.cin.ating. It comes highly recommended. The national anger & knee-jerk reactions that lunge out of the wrestling match that exists between SA politicians and SA media don’t cloud my global information consuming & I can start to apply perspective to issues back “home”.
I have been exposed to a very ugly side of South Africa… hiding out here in Australia and on the world-wide-web. White supremacy at its ugly racist “forgetful” best. “I don’t see why they say Apartheid was a crime against humanity, its not like we did anything that bad”… And for once I was dumb struck & said less because I knew “he” was saying this statement to me because he knew I did not agree with it & he was trying to stir me into an argument.
…back to happier things… blinkers blinkers…
My partner seems more relaxed. … incredible amounts more relaxed and in philosophical control… life in the middle of fkc-off nowhere for a coupla months will do that to one. It will also grow you a beard that you refuse to shave off. . . ….. that beard mention is still related to my partner. To him. Not me.
I now comfortably refer to my partner as my partner. That’s how you do it in Oz.
He cooks. I clean. Because I once was too feminist to learn how to cook, “cause I wasn’t going to be any man’s cook!!” … which apparently has meant I am now one man’s cleaner. I need to have a chat with those feminist mentors of old! I have had to face up to some ridiculous feminist notions here & just get on with making sure our “walk-in-cupboard” home functions. Cause I can burn as many bras as I like, but that doesn’t appear to cause dirt to bugger off, sheets to hit the Laundromat, or paid-for groceries to appear.
We have progressed to being able to afford more than 2 beers in a night! Now THAT was a momentous occasion for me! To turn down invites cause there is just too much going on. And know what’s what and when that what is where’ing.
I tried to get jobs in other industries. And failed amusingly miserably. I still wish to get the hell out of this industry cause it seems obsol-patronising-elete out here.
I found a coffee that I can drink daily (double macciato). Even if I have yet to find out how to spell it.
I did not write a groundbreaking novel from my unemployed couch.
But I did scrub a bath clean of its years of pink mould.
Voila! One year!
Do I like Oz? Well, it’s a big island. A bit tough to generalise into one sentence sum-up. I hate their media. It could possibly be the death of all that they hold dear. Their politicians forgot to mature out of the high-school debating club. Their footy rocks my Collingwood socks (except for when I am listening to why it is a superior sport to the one I am watching on a tv at the time). And their people in this here Euro Town, at least 90% of those I have met, really are gorgeous. Generous interested bunch who speak a funny language.
[I’m trying to get into the juggle of 2 jobs, 2 computers, 2 internets. Daily blogging is collateral damage as a result but will also up its ante all in good time].
Thursday, July 22, 2010
There you are closed-mindedly boxing away some group of people or events, and life just says, “But what about THIS exception, which isn’t really an exception, but maybe the exceptional norm!” And you are left feeling bad for judging, but happy for being wrong.
So as I grumpled my way to the rain soaked train station today, thinking, “This town is suffering from Bit City Syndrome. No one looks at anyone. No one wants to acknowledge there is a living breathing feeling person standing inches away from them. We are all islands in a sea of ignore-able human avoiding beings. Why won’t anyone just SEE me!”
When some Spanish man approached me & pulled out some of the most amusing “I can see you av passion & fire in you!” lines.
Uh, well, that is impressive insight as I just stand here staring at a train timetable notice! Can I help? What exactly about my half-awake eyes & badly dressed style gave this away?
And so a most random conversation got going, between grumpy me & some spanish musician that ....yes, yes, I av dated some South African women, you are not eazee women, so tell me how is South Africa now, eets economy... and lasted as long as it took for the delayed train to arrive, when he said cheers, and that was that.
If it was a pick-up line, he wasn’t pushing his luck….
That might have been because of me setting my “relationship status” straight when he pulled out his second line of “I can see you are not in love. Love, it has hurt you…”
… Ha! No! I am very much in love & that is even why I am on this corner continent, cause of some guy! And that look that you see about me is the extreme dislike I have for being out of my warm bed to stand in freezing drizzle waiting for a very late train, without shots of coffee near at hand!
But he chatted away. The train arrived. And we parted ways.
It was a random quick moment. But it perked me up. And made me realise I was wrong about the “Too Big City Syndrome”
Thanks life! You won this one.
Monday, July 19, 2010
I feel revived!
Well. That’s what I was thinking about 2/3rds of the way in.
“I feel damn exhausted and think I will take long leisurely showers every hour for a week and please can you drive just a little faster so I can finally use a “real” toilet and will one of you grumpy men smile already! Oooo man, I can almost smell the beer from here!” closely sums me up by the end.
Naa, not actually. I was still loving the experience by the end of my trip. But knowing there was a shower & a toilet where I’d close a door & shut out the world, as well as the last preciously saved clean clothes, in just a “few” kilometres time did make thoughts a bit skewed.
I loved the trip. And have so much to write out that I have kinda writer blocked myself in being overwhelmed by where to start & how to do it justice.
I climbed Uluru! Which would be wonderful if it wasn’t culturally frowned on to do. D’Oh. And we stayed on a cattle station just outside the resort, which does give that much more authenticity than the tourist trap.
Then we packed up two vehicles, stocked up on water & diesel, and headed wester than west, to where permits were required & the road was corrugated mud & sand…
…to the 30 year old “office” caravan, which hasn’t been clean in about 29 years and 364 days! Ha!
And there we worked. Up at sunrise, winter temperature be damned. Down by 9pm. Exhausted. In a setting that could cousin up to the Karoo. But only if you doused the Karoo in buckets of red sand.
Everything always served with red sand.
I stood on mountains in the serious middle of nowhere. Where I’d be well aware if that day’s lone car drove along the sandy path in the distance. Not only because I could hear it because of no other sound pollution, but from the red sand dust it kicked up miles into the air. Then I would hike down that hill, crawl my way down a ravine, and clamber up the next side to the top of the next mountain.
Or walk across two “fields” of Spinifex growing on red sandunes, for my sins. Spinfex? The spear of grasses. Do not let it touch you!
I lived out of a tent, cause the swag was just too small for two of us.
Warmth was a 10-week growing bonfire that feasted on “snappy gum”.
The toilet was behind enough bushes to not be spotted by the other 4 to 6 campers. And toilet paper had to be burnt. Lovely. But its funny how quick you adjust to “disappear behind bush, scrape a hole with back of shoe, squat, get it done, bury & burn if necessary, done!”
We ate well. We didn’t hygiene too well. BUT! Because I was a girl, the “camp manager” was not only charmed by me but reckoned I needed luxuries, and so we actually were allowed to shower every night, bar two. The Guy loved having me in camp as a result. Although, by “shower” I mean, jump in to a small cubicle tent behind the caravan, turn on taps, get wet, turn off taps, soap up, turn on taps, rinse, turn off taps. Out in less than a minute. Those who showered for 2 minutes might have the water turned off on them.
We drank tea from “the billy” every day, in the most random of spots, because there is always time for some tea from the billy (tin can dumbed right on the fire, and you make a handle from the car’s pliers, to pick it up & pour).
One highlight of this on-the-go fire “kitchen” being where we had some chicken schnitzels by chance in the truck’s fridge around about lunchtime, so those got thrown onto the car’s jack metal base plate, put that over the small on-the-go fire, braai’d it all up and grand feasts were suddenly so easy. Car grease & all. Mmmmm.
I saw one kangaroo the whole trip. One!
But saw so many camels with their flapping flailing camel lips by the herds.
Some of our companions even met a camel hunter & his blood-soaked Jack Russel.
I might even have eaten some camel. But I enjoyed the buffalo medallions more.
There were spiders of all sorts everywhere. Spiders that put up camp between bushes for you to meet very up close & personal when you strolled between the two bushes. AAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!
Spiders with lumo green eyes that scuttled about at night and when you saw them you decided maybe you wouldn’t squat behind that bush, thanks.
F$%king flies. And apparently I had it eassssssssssssssssssy, with the winter temperatures. They especially loved to perch around my sunglasses as I was taking a precarious step down the ravine. And I had to just accept that 20 would be hovering on & around me at any given afternoon hour.
As long as there were more hovering around The Guy, I reckoned I was ok.
Big Red Bellied Ants that liked their pink flowers & carried them about in pride.
And dingos that were always on the outskirts.
But often, I’d wonder, where are all the animals? Some days I felt like I was in the Kruger, at one of those remote viewing spots near the Moz border, where you can see for miles, and can spot all sorts of animals dotted about. Not here though. Not much more than camels. And carcasses of abandoned burnt-out cars on the single road through.
I got sunburn and/or wind chill burn. Cause nee maar fok, that wind was cold when it blew across the plains. Serious Antarctic cold. And you could literally hear it move, from a starting point to an end point. I even woke up with frost on the inside of the tent one morning, inches from my nose. I would start a morning with 10 layers, no skin exposed, reach afternoon drenched in sun cream & minimal layers & a massive fly-covered hat, and then be layered up soon after 4pm.
I saw more stars than sky. And a luna eclipse. We even had the privilege of meeting a star guy at the one cattle station when we were home-bound, who showed us spectacular sights of Saturn, double stars, arrow clusters, matter & no matter, through his mega telescopes.
I had the privilege of meeting Aboriginal Elders who camped with us for a few days. And visiting 1 or 2 Aboriginal communities, to stock up on water & basic provisions. And all I know is that now I know 0.02% of “that situation” and am more mind-fkced confused about it than when I was 0.01% of knowledge behind that.
There is a whole lot of happiness. There is a whole lot of confusion. There is poverty. But does poverty matter if people are happy? I don’t know, I did not get to ask. And there does appear to be a whole lot of contempt by the white residents in the areas. A lot of reminding of “whose paying the taxes, who is receiving the taxes, and who is doing what with the tax money”.
One thought I did keep getting back into my head is how “cultural” the need for money can be. That the culture I am from sees money as a goal, a pursuit, a definition of self. And that here was a culture that would rather not get paid for those extra days because they would rather be at home with their family. That money is to be shared to all as soon as it is received by one person. But is this sustainable? But is the pursuit for money sustainable?
And even, I was reminded, from just a few weeks of intense simple living, how possessions are really meaningless at the core of life.
I think South Africa & Australia has so much to learn from each other & teach other & help each other out. Because I might be quick to judge at first, and I know Aussies who visit SA have been quick to judge us, but I keep reminding myself that my county’s “successes” come from a different background and need and majority/minority. That we are nowhere near “solved” but might only be at the beginning of the story & maybe Oz is further along it? Maybe they are on a completely different path? Maybe they did get it wrong? Maybe not? That the situations might not be comparable? And that all the Australians I know in Melbourne are engaging and would like positive things to come out of the current confusion of how to empower & bring back self-determination to Aboriginal people.
And every day when I got up in zero degrees in a temporary bedroom shelter & found a private public space outside to ablute, and put on clothes I’d been wearing for countless days that stank of me and of last night’s fire, I did remember how so many South Africans are doing this every day, and that they don’t think that they need a medal for it. That it is just their life.
So. All in all. This city girl beat her camping fears & successfully & happily camped for 2 weeks. Sad to come back to my heater and structured city life where you are surrounded by so many people but really engage with even fewer than when living in relative isolation.
When you have so little, you do realise that you do not really need so much.
P.S. During it all, I was reading a book called "Listening To Country" by Ros Moriarty. She's a white Tasmanian woman that married an Aboriginal man, and the two of them have strived to bring White Oz closer to Aboriginal Oz. I do have to wonder how much her story influenced my experience.
P.P.S. I have also been told to read Ernie & Sally Dingo's books for more insight into this all.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Some people take a hot water bottle to bed. Others take some hot skanky stranger.
I take a broom and an iPod.
And for no kinky reasoning other than that hissy-fitting insomniacal drunk possum.
It hisses. I bash. It charges about the ceiling. I bash the ceiling some more. This routine hits Hour 2, and I bring in the iPod.
Nee maar fok. Between the late night soccer (football) and the possum, I am doomed never to sleep during the day’s dark hours again.
I have World Cup Jet Lag & Possum Insomnia.
And that is why I can only type this much zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz