Doors

I started writing a post in November about the doors we bought for our house. Because when we first moved in, the whole place had been stripped of its interior doors.

There’s been a lot of drama around the doors. You’d be surprised at how important they actually are, on so many levels.

Aside from the way that a lack of doors can make an entire house feel completely bare, even when it’s full of your family and furniture and you’ve finished unpacking all your boxes, it takes away so much from ordinary, every day things you wouldn’t otherwise think about.

Without a bedroom door, for example there’s no escaping yelling kids and needy cats, no quiet time spent catching up with each other, sharing intimate moments or arguing differences of opinion out of earshot of the offspring. (There’s no stalking off and slamming anything when you’re not winning the argument, either.)

No bathroom door means never feeling comfortable enough to poop in your own toilet.

And no doors on the kids’ rooms means that even when you want to, you can’t turn a blind eye to the mess they insist on making of all their toys and clothes and books and school stuff… You can’t just close off their bedrooms when visitors stop by and see the state they’re in. And so you worry about more than whether your guest prefers Earl Grey or normal tea. No, your anxiety levels shoot right up because now you’re also painfully aware of how they’re judging you for your poor parenting skills…

Doors are important, people!

So, I had this whole post half drafted about how the seller we purchased our house from had promised us doors as part of the sale agreement but it all went horribly south. I went to great pains not to refer to the seller as anything else. More specifically, I made a conscious effort not to refer to the seller in terms that I would not use in the presence of a prospective employer or client. Which is more than said seller deserves, but okay…

Anyway, I was interrupted while writing the post and then just never found enough time to get back to it and do it justice, so you never got to read about the doors we got after the doors we got from the seller were a complete disaster.

Instead, you got the watered-down, PG version, because for all of my big talk about reclaiming my writing voice and bringing old-school back, I’m still afraid of the bogey man and the swear word police. And all of that just to let you know that we now have doors. Because, as was established earlier, they’re really, really important.

 

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.

 

 

Voer Die Wit Hond

The following is a post I started writing in December last year:

I cried in the car on the way to work this morning.

You’d think I’d be singing and dancing instead, right? I should be. The folks at work have been nothing but kind and welcoming. And the prospect of a decent, regular income is nothing to cry about.

Yet, here I am, coming apart at the seams.

It’s been happening at random intervals over the past week or two and after giving it some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m depressed.

Apart from half-whispered utterances to my husband in moments of exhaustion, I haven’t used those words to describe my mental state in many years.

But the fact of it is, they fit.

Of course, I know that these feelings don’t just come out of nowhere. They build up and escalate over a period of time, often unnoticed until it all crescendoes into an enormous, dramatic mess.

I’ve been lucky this time in that I picked up on a few clues recently.

On Friday, we had the end of year party at work (I know – how cool are these guys for including me, when I’ve only been working with them for a week, right?). We were thoroughly spoilt as the company treated us to a matinee at Madame Zingara – a big favourite for me! The food was amazing, as always, as was the Merlot I washed my meal down with.

And then I went home and slept all weekend.

And that’s as far as I got with that post.

I cried in the car on my way to work again a few days ago. Apparently, it’s a thing for me.

I don’t plan it. I’ll be driving along like a normal person and, suddenly, my eyes just fill up and spill over while Tony Blewitt talks through mouthfuls of biscuit on the radio and I can’t stop it. So I blink lots to clear away as much blur as I can while I drive and I try to avoid getting tears in my mouth.

Those of you who’ve read my blog since the early days will know I’ve had run-ins with the black dog many times. I always live to tell the tale.

I don’t know why I’ve been feeling this way, so I’m not sure how to fix it. For the moment, I’m just telling people. I tell them that I’m not feeling myself and I don’t know why. I tell them I’m sad about nothing in particular. I tell them that the voice in my head is saying mean things to me. (Okay, maybe I don’t say that bit out loud.)

I talk because putting it out there makes me accountable for how I deal with it. Or, at least, for dealing with it at all. And that’s how I’m getting myself out of bed every day; I remind myself that checking out would be such a pathetic cliche.

I’m not running. Or baking. Or washing my hair as often as I probably should. I’m not bothering with make-up or looking like much. But I’m getting through every day having done enough to pass for functional and, right now, that’s good enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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.

Sometimes I Doubt Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion

For the past while (I’m not sure exactly how long because there wasn’t a one-time, conscious decision to make an effort in this one particular aspect of my life) I’ve been trying not to be a screaming banshee in general but with my kids overall. Because, as some of you may recall from back when I used to blog more liberally and say the things I actually wanted to, I’m kind of a (mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing) shouty, sweary mom.  And recently, I’ve been trying not to be.

Let me tell you that it hasn’t been easy! You see, being a mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing, shouty, sweary mom makes it possible for me to NOT be a complete psycho. No, I’m not joking.

Mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing, shouting and swearing might LOOK scary, but it doesn’t hurt anyone, set anything on fire, get anyone put in jail, break anything or cause any permanent damage. It really just lets me get rid of lots of pent-up frustration and communicate how unheard and generally disrespected I feel. But it also makes me look like an irrational lunatic. And, slowly but surely, it’s becoming less and less effective at either getting my message across or making me feel better.

Which puts me at a bit of a loss. Because sometimes I feel so completely unheard and generally disrespected within this family.

Most of the time, I get really upset with David about this because he doesn’t seem to think that it’s a problem when the kids talk back to me or treat me like their personal maid or simply ignore me when I speak to them. It’s fine for him because he’s the fun one. He’s the one they are always happy to see at the end of the day, after I’ve asked then reminded then yelled at them to get changed/pick up their toys/do their homework/put their dirty laundry in the basket…

When David disciplines the kids – especially the littler ones – it’s with a light touch and of short duration. He’s quick to call them back a few moments after shouting at them to give them cuddles and have a gentle talk about things. I’m more of a “bitch” about it. I don’t agree with apologising to them for punishing poor behaviour. I don’t feel it’s okay to let them have their way to get them to stop nagging – that’s rewarding and reinforcing the idea that if they nag hard enough, they get to have whatever they want. I believe in getting the message across effectively. So, if they nag, they don’t get whatever thing it is they want. And if they speak disrespectfully to me (or another grown-up) I don’t respond. Or give them a stern talking to. And when they ignore me, I make a point of making myself heard and getting an acknowledgement.  And if they don’t finish their supper, they don’t get dessert. I don’t believe that these are unfair expectations or reactions on my part. But I lose this battle EVERY time David is around because he feels I’m too hard on the kids and lets them have their way. And they adore him and ignore me because, clearly, I’m just unreasonble.

I often find myself questioning myself on this stuff. Am I going about it all wrong? Should I be more like David in my approach to parenting and discipline? I mean, if someone kept telling me what I could and could not do, how to speak or what I could or couldn’t have, I’d tell them (in no uncertain terms) to FOAD. So maybe there is something to David’s approach?

I saw this video posted to Facebook earlier today and while it’s hilarious, it did make me think a bit about the way I handle my kids…

I look at this and think, you know, this video makes a good point. No adult would allow another person to speak to them like this.

And yet, do I really have to point out that children are not adults? They need to be reminded to do or not do things all the time. They still need to learn all the social filters that adults take for granted and they learn them  through their interactions with others and the example of the adults in their lives. But also by the consequences of NOT using such filters in their dealings with others – adults in particular.

So, once again, it’s all down to balance, isn’t it? That magical, elusive fucking middle ground. And all the patience.

Right?

The Things in My Head

My head is full of things. So many things! Some of them make me happy, even though they shouldn’t, because I’m not really supposed to eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Because gluten and sugar and stuff.

But I’m kind of ready to pack my one-woman camping bag and spend the night parked outside the doors before they open up their very first store in SA on 25 November.

25 November is significant to my family for completely different reasons, too. It was the birthday of my younger cousin, Donnavan, who was killed in a freak accident in my matric year. He would be turning 31 this year.

And just like that, my head is full of loss. Of images of 12 year old me, watching the hearse drive off, my father’s body in the casket inside. And of the yellow daffodils my grandmother arranged for Donnavan’ s funeral in 1997. And of the helplessness I felt, watching Gaby suffer through her final moments almost two weeks ago now and how those pictures have stuck in my mind since then. And of the dream I had last night in which I was being comforted by Cath after realising my mother had died of cancer.

And of the relief of waking up, realising I’d been dreaming.

And suddenly my head is full of other things again. Of how things change – how I’ve changed, over time. And also stayed the same.

Of how anxious I am about things right now. Things I hadn’t realised were so important to me. Like the job I’ve applied for and am waiting to hear about and how it’s been many years since I’ve felt so exposed, having put myself out there.

Best not to think on that too hard…

So, it’s off down another one of the tunnels in my mental maze, looking at the things about the year that’s almost gone and what lies ahead in the new one.  Now, my head is full of school things. Of how Jack seems to have gotten off to a pretty good start this term and I hope it lasts! Of how Michael is doing well in everything but Afrikaans and it’s totally my fault because I’m half boertjie and yet have raised my children to speak only English. Of how, in a couple of months’ time, Megan will be off to boarding school and I won’t be there to see that it all goes well, that she settles and is happy and makes friends…

 

It’s a good thing, I think. It’s like mental pins & needles as my brain wakes up after having been stuck in a hazy state of numb for an awfully long time.

I’m so ready to be awake!