I choose the shoes

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine started a new job. Naturally, she needed to go shopping for some new things to wear to work. And, of course, such an expedition should never be embarked on solo. So, being an excellent friend, I volunteered to brave the rails and mannequins of the retail world and accompany her on the journey. We flattened two shopping malls and came away with a single pair of shoes.

Then, not long afterwards, my mom and I spent a bit of time together one Sunday, ambling around Eastgate shopping centre, looking at shoes and clothes and homeware. We went to a whole bunch of shops I would normally just walk right past because when you’re not looking to buy, it’s easier to grab something pretty off the rail and not worry about the price tag attached.

Of course, I saw a few things during both of these excursions that spoke to my heart, which is a dangerous thing. Why is it a dangerous thing, you ask? What could possibly be the least bit threatening about being surrounded by pretty things, and singling out the ones that capture my gaze and set my imagination sizzling?

I’ll tell you why.

Because, while I traipsed dutifully alongside my friend to several stores in search of the perfect pair of work/play-suitable shoes, without clunky “granny heels” or sky-high stilettos; that aren’t flat but aren’t too high; that would allow the foot to breathe without being too “bare”; that would hug the foot and hold it in place without being too hot; while we scoured every clothing and shoe shop in our path for just such a pair of shoes, there were many, many pairs of shoes that grabbed my attention. And during this time, my mind wandered to the trusty pair of wedges that have been my go-to summer shoes for the past two years, and to the fact that one of the decorative studs on the right shoe has fallen off somewhere along the line. It reminded me that the heels of these once perfect shoes were now scuffed and ingrained with dirt.

The scuffed heels:

It caused me to reflect on how, despite the fact that I rarely walk around barefoot, the inner soles of my favourite pair had developed a black-brown imprint of my foot in each shoe, and that the inner sole was beginning to peel away at the lip of the open toes.

The imprinted inner soles:

The lifting lip:

It drew my attention to the fact that my favourite pair of dress-up/dress-down comfy shoes had probably reached retirement age, and it kindled in my weak, womanly heart that most treacherous and fickle of emotions: desire.

Because, as my mom and I oohed and aahed over blouses, dresses, jeans and jerseys; as we held up mermaid gowns and summery skirts, commenting on the colours and coolness of the fabrics, I happened upon a pair of leggings at Zara that would be the perfect replacement for my favourite black pair, which had recently met its untimely doom at the proverbial hands of a rogue nail that had found its way into my new washing machine. And it awakened in me that wicked craft that all women possess, to calculatedly manoeuvre and justify the acquisition of a coveted item of adornment, even at excessive cost.

Still, you might argue, for a woman to desire and covet something is perfectly natural, and to possess the mental alacrity to motivate for its procurement is nothing to be ashamed of. And were you to argue in this vein, my friend, you would not speak untruth.

But what if, as in the particular case of a certain mother of four, there has been an aberration at play for several years? What if this aberration were manifest in, say, the habitual abnegation of the aforementioned desire and coveting, and thereby also in the abject neglect of the accompanying craft of obtention?

I put it to you, friend, that in such an instance, disaster looms. And I do not postulate such an alarming prognosis lightly, but on the premise that the long-term suppression of a powerful force – such as the natural wile of a woman in the pursuit of her material desires – seeks to stifle and restrain something that is, in effect, uncontainable.

We’ve all studied Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, right? Exactly.

I see that questioning look you’re giving me right now.  Are you asking me whether I’m comparing a woman prevented from shopping to an obscurial? Well, yes. Yes, I am.

You see, much like an obscurial, a woman who suppresses her natural urge to shop for an excessively long period of time will eventually succumb in spectacular and unstoppable fashion to the urge to buy an item whose price tag matches the magnitude of the previously suppressed urge to shop. And when this happens, the woman in question will be completely and utterly unable to do anything but submit and let her nature take its course.

There is no way of telling when this might occur, of course. I mean, some women have been known – renowned, even – for frugality in the face of retail taunting that would have most others grasping for their credit cards before you could say “Marc Jacobs/Alexander McQueen/Versace/*insert-top-fashion-label-name-here*”… But, sooner or later, some trinket or gadget or statement piece of one sort or another will cause a stirring. That stirring will soon become a murmur, building in depth and intensity until, in what seems like a moment, it has evolved into a scream – visceral, primal, and omnipotent, and it overrides all reason and any objection. It simply takes over and, before she knows it, the once-responsible woman finds herself bowing her head in shame while simultaneously sending herself Straight Home to Think About What She’s Done.

This could totally happen. As a matter of fact, I have seen it with my own eyes – just last week, actually.

There I was the poor, unsuspecting woman was, wandering around Eastgate, looking for Zara so that she could purchase a particular pair of trousers and all the while keeping a keen eye out for a suitable pair of wedges to replace her trusty favourites, when I saw the perfect pair of espadrille wedges jumped into view from a shelf right at the back of the Preview shop as she passed through by a shoe shop of no particular description.

Since there’s no rule that says being frugal means you don’t get to look, she stopped and examined these paragons of perfection, and noted with delight that they were on sale before noting with just as much shock that, on sale, they were marked down to R1190*.

Naturally, she left the store then and there, and made her way to her actual target – Zara. Once there, however, she discovered to her chagrin that the longed-for leggings she’d sought to purchase were of the currently-trendy “cropped” or “ankle-grazer” style, which would not do. So, after perusing the shelves and rails at Zara in hope of finding a suitable substitute, she walked away emptyhanded and triumphant in her saving of R500. But unbeknown to her, that stirring I mentioned earlier had already begun.

By the time I had marched into Preview again she made her way past that store with the beautiful, expensive shoes, the stirring had blown beyond the murmur stage and the full-volume scream had calculated that her earlier saving of R500 essentially brought the price of those shoes down to R700. And for quality like that, it was a total bargain.
Even more so when, on closer inspection and after trying them on, they happened to carry the name of a certain sought-after designer. Now, normally, the sheer folly of paying the kind of prices commanded by certain names would cause this particular shopper to smirk at the pretention of those who would pay them. But at R700, the quality and the sheer perfection of these shoes was nothing to sneeze at. So, albeit not without trepidation, I bagged those babies before I could blink she plucked up the courage along with her card and made the purchase.

*Only, it turned out that, in my blind excitement, in her summary initial dismissal of the possibility of paying in excess of a thousand rand for a pair of summer shoes, she had misread the marked-down price, which was actually R1990. For a pair of summer sandals. At 60% off. (Yes, that’s what I said, too.)

Needless to say, it wasn’t long (less than 30 minutes) before the buyer’s remorse gravity of her actions set in, and our friend found herself walking back into that store to return the shoes. At this time, however, she was informed that store policy prohibited the return of sale merchandise, except in cases where the merchandise was defective. However, the store manager would be in that afternoon, and she could come back then to discuss the matter with the manager if she so desired.

And that was when my good sense finally kicked in and I realised that I am actually allowed to buy myself things sometimes. So I kept the shoes, and I love them. So I’m locking that stingy bitch that lives in my head and keeps telling me I can’t have stuff, in a trunk, and slipping sedatives into the half-cup of water she gets with her daily ration of dry toast. Because I am a woman, and I choose the shoes, damn it!

The Shoes:


 

Not a Blogger

It’ll be twelve years in March this year, since I first started writing online. Back then, I was afraid to call myself a blogger, because I was still so new at it. Because I didn’t know all the technical stuff.  Because we were far away from everything we knew, in a new and foreign place and I was just me, writing my personal rants and journal-style stuff, and no-one actually read it.

And yet, what I was doing was keeping a web log of my life. A blog. I wrote almost every day, and had loads to say about all sorts of things. And it turns out someone, somewhere,  did start reading it. And after a little while, that someone became maybe three someones. Eventually, my three readers became five or six. And as I found my voice and kept on writing, a few more people started stopping by to read my posts. By the time we moved back to South Africa, I’d made contact with a few other South African bloggers and we started meeting up every so often, to share offline what we didn’t necessarily share online.

Brands started taking note of blogs as a potential marketing tool and, by some fluke, I somehow landed on a couple of media lists and started receiving invitations to cool events.

And then everything changed. Blogging as a thing and blogging in South Africa in particular grew up and got serious.

Suddenly, it wasn’t enough anymore just to have an opinion on something and to write about it. Now we were comparing ourselves to other bloggers, installing site counters (remember those?!) and keeping track of how many comments we received on each post. Within what seemed like moments, there was a massive evolution and various metric and analytics tools started showing up everywhere.

Intimidated by how much I didn’t know, I let myself get left behind and started blogging less and less frequently. Concerns around my family’s privacy started becoming an issue and I started blogging even less. Until, eventually, managing to throw together a single post per month became an achievement.

And still, life, family commitments, laziness, fear of failure – all these things – caused me to hold myself back from learning about and using all these new tools of the blogging trade.

Meanwhile, braver souls who had embraced these things started really going places with their blogs, while I stopped writing at all, sometimes for months at a time. Because I was either too busy, too blocked or just too damn tired. Of what, I can’t honestly say…

I started doing a blog makeover toward the end of last year and got as far as a header & logo after having booked and paid for an hour session with a consultant. And when I look at it now, I’m not even sure I like what I’ve done all that much.

Maybe it’s because proper blogging and all that that entails costs money these days. I definitely don’t feel I can justify spending money on my blog, when there’s so much I still haven’t taken the time to learn how to do for free…

Maybe I was just never that into it in the first place. I find that a little hard to swallow, but the statistics speak for themselves, don’t they?

Whatever the reasons, justifications, explanations or excuses, I think it’s safe to say I can’t really call myself a blogger anymore. Certainly not in the most current sense of the word.

I’m almost relieved to have reached this point, actually. No more feeling guilty for the things I haven’t learned how to do; no more pressure on myself to meet unrealistic goals; no more interrupted posts sitting in my drafts folder forever because the moment is gone. No more fooling myself that I have the time or inclination to ingratiate myself with brands or with anyone else, or writing out of a sense of obligation rather than desire.

Rather, I’m getting back to just being me, writing my personal thoughts, experiences and other life stuff, without guilt and without fear. I’m bringing back the old-school blog and there’s space on this bus for two or three someones…

 

Sprung

How is it already the end of September? I thought I was getting into this blogging groove thing but it’s already been more than a month since my last post!

That said, I’ve done a lot more thinking about posting than I usually do, and even drafted some notes on my phone, with the intention of doing some scheduled posts. I know that many of the bigger bloggers out there use scheduled posts to make their lives easier. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m wondering whether it’s worth the bother in my case, because, scheduled or otherwise, there’s still the issue of having to find the time to actually write the posts. (Those of you who have this down, some tips would be welcome!)

As you will have guessed by the title of this post, I’m doing my Spring thing today – half-arsed and late to the party, as always. I must be honest, though, and tell you that I’ve had some really cool things happen since my last post, not least of which was being invited by Jacaranda FM and Discovery to participate in a blogger activation in anticipation of the Jacaranda FM & Discovery Spring Walk 2016, which took place on 25 August at the gorgeous Planet Fitness Platinum health club in Sandton.

Upon arrival, bloggers were treated to refreshing drinks and delicious smoothies, during which we exchanged Twitter handles, greeted familiar faces and tweeted the obligatory selfie or two. Next we had a bit of a warm-up stretching session with a semi-sadistic fitness coach, interspersed with frequent water breaks and fuelled by some delicious wraps, juices and other edible treats. Because you can’t exercise properly without being appropriately plied with food, right?

Suitably stretched and refreshed, we made our way to the club’s fabulous indoor running track, where we split into teams and it was fastest feet first for some amazing prizes. This part of the day’s fun brought me to the shocking realisation that, having not run all winter, I am extremely unfit! Luckily, through sheer luck and the kindness of better athletes, I walked away with the best prize of the day: A complimentary 6-month Premium membership to Planet Fitness, which I intend to put to very good use, regaining some semblance of fitness and (hopefully) toning up for the coming summer! You can catch a glimpse of me coming in 6th or 7th place, here:

(I’m the one in the light blue crop top! 😛 )

Because happiness is healthy-ness, right?

 

Lanced

I have this thing where I feel like I have to make each new post follow at least vaguely on the last one. It’s kind of annoying. So I’m just going to stop it, because I can, damnit.

For someone who’s a supposed writer, I have very little to write, I’ve realised. I’m not even going to try to figure it out or come up with reasons why.

I saw a post in a bloggers’ forum on Facebook today in which some guy tells us all how whiny and boring we are. I was instantly offended but couldn’t really counter what he was saying. At least, not as far as it concerns me personally. I only ever really blog when I need to vomit up my ugly stuff (and then I do it under strict censorship anyway), or when something big has happened. (And then I just give you the basic bones of it, afraid either to put too much out there or too lazy to go into any significant detail.)

I’m a bad blogger. And I don’t mean in the “I-don’t-post-as-often-as-I-should” way. I mean in the “my-blog-is-shit” way.

But you know what?

I don’t care.

There. I said it. Who gives a shit whether my blog is boring? Who even bothers reading it? I’m obviously not making a living off this thing, or I’d be starving. And the few people who stop by whenever I bother to share that I’ve posted something are people I’d tell this stuff to if I saw them in person anyway. Mostly.

HahAAAA! That dude is right! And I don’t give a fuck!

On another note, I’m feeling much better. Maybe still a bit raw after exposing myself somewhat more than usual. But certainly better for having let out some of the built-up stuff.

So that’s something.

More on that another time.

 

 

We bought a house.

The building next door to the house we’ve lived in for just over 5 years now once belonged to the Mayor of Johannesburg. You could tell, looking at what remained of the original house when we first moved here, that this house had been a grande dame in her heyday.

But several decades, a nightclub and a fast-food joint (both of which failed) later, the house is no longer the grand old home it once was. And then, a little over a year ago, things started happening there. There was talk for a short while of the house being restored, which made me happy. But then we learned to our horror toward the end of last year that this beautiful old landmark is to become a KFC instead, complete with drive-through ramp and window overlooking our garden and living room.

And so, after 5 1/2 years (the longest stretch we’ve spent in any one house), the time had come to find a new home.

The decision to buy rather than rent was made quite quickly, although not lightly. And we told ourselves we’d take our time and not settle for something we could live with, but that we’d hold on for the perfect place; one that lies within a particular little pocket of the neighbourhood, has VERY little work to be done and came at the right price.

I felt oh, so very adulty, looking over the options, inspecting every tiny detail and debating the merits of each house we viewed with my husband. We came really, really close to putting in an offer on a particularly pretty place, until we went to see it for the third time and discovered some very nasty, VERY expensive issues. The seller (according to the agent, at least) refused to negotiate on the price, though, so that was a bust. There was just something off for us about that particular agent… And so I mentioned to D that there was a particular house I’d looked at a couple of years ago, that had recently come back on the market. We chatted with the agent, who put us in touch with a bond originator and we started looking at whether or not we’d be able to swing the bond on this place. But by the time we’d gotten a pre-approval figure back from the bond originator, the house had been sold.

Still, we met up with the agent, gave her our list of requirements, price range, etc. and she set up a few appointments for us. And then, after four or five houses, she suggested we take a look at a particular house that had been up for sale for a while. She said she knew it wasn’t what we’d said we wanted but I guess she must have just had a feeling about us and about this house.

Let me begin by saying that the house is pink. Not a subtle, pale kind of pink that could almost pass for a warm, creamy colour. No. It’s a deep (albeit sun-faded), bright, just-this-side-of-salmon kind of pink.

Of course, my first comment was that it would have to be painted immediately.

It is also enormous, filling the bulk of a steeply sloped, 1300m2 stand with its 4 levels (5, if you count the triple garage at the very bottom).

The garden is a ghost of its once glorious, terraced self, overgrown with weeds and home to all kinds of rubbish left behind by tenants who did a real number on the place.

We put in an OTP within an hour of having seen it once.

By 5pm, the seller had accepted.

That was on 15 April.

We are now approximately 2 weeks away from moving into our very own home for the first time. There is a huge amount of work to be done to make it the home we want, but it’s ours, which makes all the scrubbing, painting, fixing, weeding, sealing and other stuff worth doing.

I plan to document the transformation of the house as we go, so watch this space!

 

 

 

What it felt like to run my first 32km

This past Sunday, I ran the Colgate 32km.

This is the longest distance I’ve ever run (if you can call it running, given that it took me very close to 4 hours to finish!) and it was HARD.

The day started off hard, because it was freezing, so just getting to the starting line in the first place took a hell of a lot of pushing. So, this one time, I guess I’m at least a little bit grateful for that voice in my head that reminds me how much I’m going to hate myself if I don’t do the thing/s I’ve set out to do.

I set my alarm to wake me at 3:50 on Sunday morning, so that I could throw on my shoes & running gear, pick up my running buddy and hit the road by 4:20 at the latest.

I grabbed a little container of leftover curry mince & rice and two small bananas, gulped down some L-Glutamine and headed out as planned. We arrived at Boksburg stadium just before 5:00 – an hour and a half before the start of the race. I ate my mince and rice, set my alarm to wake me again at 5:45, reclined my seat and curled up to catch a few more zzzz’s…

When my alarm woke me again, I hopped out of the car for a second to grab something from the back seat and regretted it instantly. Let me tell you, I was THIS close to starting up my car and driving straight home! Instead, I handed my running buddy (who was signed up for the 15km race) a banana, and ate one myself, and half  joked about how much I wanted to go home and get back into bed.

I started the race REALLY not feeling up to it and at 3km in, I doubted I was going to finish. But I reminded myself that I have a full marathon coming up in 2 months’ time and I had, at this point, only ever run about 23km.

At around 6km, I needed a loo really badly, so I did the unthinkable and stopped at a petrol station along the route to use the bathroom, and quickly learned that I was but one of several runners who’d had the same brilliant plan. Ultimately, the bathroom break cost me somewhere between 6 and 10 minutes which, given how dismally I performed in the end, didn’t help. But then, given how dismally I performed in the end, 10 minutes weren’t going to make a huge difference, either. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The race route is a double loop around the Boksburg stadium and past the Unilever factory, so many of the places you pass (twice!) appear to be really close to the finish. At times, this is great, because it creates the impression that you’re nearly done. At others, it’s awful, because it creates the impression that you’re nearly done, only to reveal after another 3km that you still have several more to go!

I was sorely tempted to pack it in after the first lap, and follow the rest of the 15km runners to the finish. But my legs carried on straight instead of taking the turn into the stadium and to the finish, and I fought a small mental battle with myself in that moment, and lost. Or won, depending on how you want to look at it…

In the 16th kilometre, I found myself completely alone on the road and wondered for a second whether I was imagining that there was a race at all. It was one of the single loneliest moments of my life, out there in the middle of suburban industria, feeling like I must be the last runner on the road.

By 17km, I had caught up to and passed a couple of my fellow stragglers and I felt encouraged to keep slogging away. At 18km, I was joined by another runner, who came up from behind me and kept pace with me. We ran next to each other, silently, until two other runners came up from behind us and one cracked a joke and we all managed a chuckle and my new comrade and I introduced ourselves.

Suddenly, we were chatting like old friends, urging each other on in turns. It’s as if the universe knew that I needed someone to share the slog with just then.

By 21km, we caught up to the cut-off bus and agreed that we’d stay with them, ensuring that we would make it to the finish on time. But I found their pace difficult – I just couldn’t get into their rhythm. So I let my legs do what felt right and soon found myself pulling ahead of the group.

By 24km, my friend and I had widened the gap between us and the bus by a good 0.5km, which felt good!

But at 26km, I started taking strain. My legs felt heavy, my mouth felt dry, my right ankle started protesting and the Coke I’d been gulping down at the refreshment points was starting to repeat on me. I thought about stopping and catching a ride with the sweeping vehicle, if there was one, or calling my real running buddy, who had my car keys, to come and pick me up. But then my new friend urged me on a little bit further, and somehow I managed to pull myself toward myself and run another step. And another. And another…

My phone rang somewhere between 28km and 29km, my D wanting to know how it had gone. I felt a mixture of pride and shame as I told him I was still running, and pushed myself to keep at it just a little bit longer. I could hear the bus chanting behind me and was determined not to have come this far to fail. So on I went, alongside my new friend.

A man was handing out Jelly Tots at the 29km mark and smiled at me  nodding a “Hell, yes!” at him as I approached. I grabbed the packet from him and slowed to a walk.

Another friendly face at 29.5km called out the words I needed to push on again, “You can’t walk now! Only 2.5km to go!”

Turning off the road and into the stadium grounds at 31km, I had to have another little internal discussion with myself, once again a split second away from giving up. But then that cut-off bus loomed just behind me again and I couldn’t.

As I turned into the stadium, expecting to see finish line, I almost cried when I realised that I still had 500m to go, around one end of the athletics track. I think I shouted at a marshall “When does it end?!” before forcing myself to suck it up and get to the finish.

I watched the clock tick over 3:56:00 just before I crossed the finish and that was that. 32km.

 

 

In 2016…

Normally, in January, I reflect on the previous year – Did it go the way I’d imagined it would? Do I feel like I made progress, i.e. did my life improve in general? Normally, this is (I suppose, quite naturally) the time for taking stock and… I won’t say setting goals, per se, but setting goals, y’know? Only, it’s more like defining what my gut tells me the new year is going to deliver.  The last two years, I was dead wrong. Nothing went as planned and life slapped me silly.

This year, I have no idea what to expect. I’m not even trying to figure it out. It doesn’t feel like a new year.

Of course, that might be because I did all the typical “new year” stuff at the end of last year. New job, new routine, new operating basis. We also did a massive de-kluge and got rid of loads of junk. And I feel  so much lighter for it. If I’m honest, though, it’s still a work in progress. We keep coming across things that have been taking up space in our shelves and lives without adding anything. Things we haven’t looked at or used in months – years, even. So we’ve been chucking them out as we happen upon them, or donating them to people for whom they might have value.

I’ve decided not to do a “look back on 2015” post this year. Or to write about my goals for 2016. Instead, I’m giving myself only this one goal: To live every day with as little upset as possible. And that, I reckon, is a goal worth pursuing into and beyond this year.

 

Lemonade

As you may have read in an earlier post, I applied for a job in October. I thought the interview went really well. The test I was given was nerve-wracking, not because I couldn’t do it but because I TOLD myself I couldn’t do it. Because as soon as I realised how much I really, really wanted that job, I knew I’d somehow screw it up. It’s what I’ve done almost all my life: Sabotage the things I want the most.

So I did a rushed, panicked job of the test and had all kinds of technical stuff go wrong, just for good measure.

Even then, though, it still felt like things were kind of on track. And then I started pushing and nudging and I think I kind of felt the shift when I followed up for the third time. I’d blown it. I received a message that the other candidate they’d been considering was more experienced than I, but they’d keep my details on file for a possible future position.  I actually cried.

I’ve had all kinds of mixed feelings about this these past few days. I’ve explored other options, set up a few appointments with people and largely moved on. What lingers, though, is the sense of having been deemed unworthy, not only of the job but also of an open, outright, honest dismissal and having bought into that mindset myself. *

Anyway, it didn’t work out and I can’t wallow forever.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, though. There have been a few highs in between the dips and it has been an especially busy time in these parts. With our eldest finishing primary school and gearing up for high school next year, the youngest getting prepped for Grade R and the year having been a tumultuous one for our Jack in Grade 1, there has been plenty to keep my mind occupied!

Since my last blog post, here are a few of the things that have happened:

I tweeted for and won a double ticket to the Titanic Expo happening in Rosebank. It’s not a huge thing in the big picture but was a much needed little boost to my emotional state.

Then, I was chosen as the lucky, lucky winner of a copy of Sarah Graham’s new cookbook, HOME. Food From My Kitchen PLUS a R1000 Yuppiechef voucher!

I spent my voucher buying several of my Yuppiechef Wishlist items, an experience which was made extra awesome by the fact that they were/are running a 4 for 3 sale, so you get the cheapest of any one of 4 items from the sale for FREE!! Naturally, this meant that I got to spoil myself not only with some coveted kitchen goodies but also some decadent edible treats!

My Yuppiechef Loot
My Yuppiechef Loot
My new Sarah Graham cookbook
My new Sarah Graham cookbook

Then, on 1 November, I got to revisit the Soweto Half Marathon, which was amazing. Soweto was my first ever half marathon last year, and I was thrilled to be able to go back this year.

It was a tough one and I was a lot slower this year than last. But I was happy to be there and humbled by the interactions between the runners and the residents of Soweto, especially around the 15km mark, where the water point that was supposed to be, wasn’t.

Residents brought out hosepipes and jugs of cold water to cool down runners and quench their thirst and I was just overcome with emotion at the kindness of strangers. That, to me, was the true embodiment of The People’s Race.

*And then, the day after Soweto, I received a rather cryptic tweet from someone I didn’t know, which would soon lead to something exciting, which I’ll blog about that in another post. I will say this, though: November shot by in a blur of panic and excitement and between my big news and the preparations for Megan’s first year at high school, there hasn’t been much room for anything.

2015 Seems to have been a hard year for many of us and I can certainly say that it was nothing like what I was expecting. But I guess it hasn’t all been lemons.

Catch up

Last night, a friend and I met up with a former colleague from Dubai, who’s currently visiting South Africa on business. I got home at 2:00 this morning. It was so good to reconnect with old friends and feel a little bit like a person again, rather than a mom. People have more fun than moms, you know. And bikers have more fun than people. But we won’t go there just right now…

Anyway, we met up and enjoyed some cocktails and beer and a very late night burger, which was delicious. And we talked about all kinds of grown-up things, like education and learning and the study of literature in a hypertextual world. Things I used to be deeply engaged in before my whole life became all about five other people.

It was wonderful!

My brain misfired every so often, trying to plough through the fog of misuse that settles when you spend 80% of your time in the company of a pre-schooler, and still it was marvellous.

Apart from that little detour, not much out of the ordinary has happened around these parts this last while, so I’m going to follow Angel’s lead and post some random photos from my phone.

Mud party
What little boys do when Mom’s not home
Chris Riddell, 2015 - 2017 Children's Laureate, explaining the negotiation with "Edna Mode" in the publisher's "Making Books Beautiful Department" to his fans at Exclusive Books in Melrose Arch.
Chris Riddell, 2015 – 2017 Children’s Laureate, explaining the negotiation with “Edna Mode” in the publisher’s “Making Books Beautiful Department” to his fans at Exclusive Books in Melrose Arch.
James playing on the building site at Sci Bono.
James playing on the building site at Sci Bono.
Samuel Johnson snapped at the beginning of a big yawn. Looks like she's mouthing off something cheeky, doesn't she?
Samuel Johnson snapped at the beginning of a big yawn. Looks like she’s mouthing off something cheeky, doesn’t she?

Oh, also – I’m job hunting at the moment. There are one or two possibilities I’m very excited about but I’ll tell you all more when I know where things are headed. Wish me luck!

 

 

(I’m) A Little Bit of Everything

I’m a bitch

Jack recently needed to have a couple of teeth extracted because they had decayed to the point of causing infection in his mouth. (Yes, I know that’s bad and you can keep your judgements to yourself, thanks.)

I was of the opinion that the situation provided an opportunity to teach Jack the importance of good oral hygiene by showing that the Tooth Fairy does not collect and pay for rotten teeth. D felt otherwise (and had his way in the end). While we argued about it, though, he made a comment that really stung. He might as well have punched me in the gut: “How would you like it if you were your mother?” This implies, of course, that I’m an unreasonable bitch and my children shouldn’t have to suffer me.

Well. Okay, then. I’ll just file that away under “Things to throw in the husband’s face during a future disagreement.”

I’m a lover

One who doesn’t discuss in public what belongs in the bedroom… 😉

I’m a child

If you’ve been reading MamaMeeA for a while, you’ll know that my mom and sister moved in with us in April last year.  It was going to be a three or four month thing, while they sorted out some stuff, found new jobs, etc.

I moved my daughter out of her large bedroom with ensuite bathroom and put my mom in there. I moved my office out of my office and into my bedroom, and my daughter into what had been my office, which she would share with my sister.

I rented a storage unit in which to store those of my mom’s things that could not be squeezed into our house and moved out of our house and into storage those of our things we could live without, to make room for the rest of my mom’s stuff.

We adjusted and adapted and made do.  My mom found a job near our house and contributed from her small salary toward the household. That big project we had going from last year ran well into this year and the regular income from that masked the fact for quite a long time that we were going to run into trouble. And then my mom left her job for another one that didn’t work out. And then that project of ours was over and we ran into trouble.

So, in the middle of last month, I called a family meeting during which I asked my mom and sister to move out at the end of the month.

I’m a mother

Yeah – no surprises there! Between the weirdness of watching my two eldest enter puberty and all that goes along with that, wrangling my strong-willed Grade One child to some semblance of  pretending to cooperate with his teacher in class and having the youngest at home during the day (a new and hopefully temporary development), that fact is hard to miss.

I’m having so much fun with the younger kids at the moment! My littlest J happened upon a PEZ dispensing Perry the Platypus among his toys a few days ago and when I saw a packet of PEZ sweeties in the checkout queue at Dis-Chem later, I bought it.

Then I filled up Perry while James watched a movie and waited a few minutes before I called James and asked him whether he’d heard something that sounded like magic. James being James, he played along and agreed that he’d heard “magic noises”. I suggested that perhaps the noise had come from Perry the Platypus, prompting James to set off in search of the toy.

Watching him discover his “magically” refilled PEZ dispenser at random intervals over the past few days has been so much fun!

The older kids are doing pretty well, too and I find myself enjoying many proud mom moments lately.

Michael started playing chess this year and it turns out he’s really good at it! He’s currently one of the top players in the school and I’m so pleased he’s found something he enjoys, is good at and is likely to stick to.

Megan has started writing prolifically once again after seeming to have lost interest for a while. She’s also suddenly started surprising me with some impressive academic results and I’m so glad she’s finding her groove.

I’m a sinner

And these past few weeks, I’ve been paying for my sins.

Right now, I’m implementing a strategy to put my little company back on track after a few setbacks. I won’t lie – it’s slow, tough going and I’m not having loads of fun. But it does help to have a plan in place. Plans, actually. Plural.

Phase One entails handling the immediate internal issues, including the setting up of standard systems and protocols and drafting policy for future operations. This follows naturally on recent events and is the product of lessons learned from the experiences of the past couple of years.

Phase Two is where things get interesting and while I can’t say much until all of the various NDAs and other agreements are finalised and signed (single most valuable lesson learned so far – no verbal agreements!!), I am  excited for what all of this means in terms of long term potential.

I’m a saint

Okay, so that one’s never going to fly. I’m not exactly the choirgirl type. But I could be.

Could have been.

If I’d wanted to…