Flat-out or just flat?

So, this morning I had that personal training session at the gym. When Vera, the personal trainer, got in touch with me earlier in the week, she asked me what my goals were, and I told her that I just wanted to start building fitness, toning and tightening up some soft areas. I mentioned that I have very weak arms and zero upper body strength and that my posture could do with some work.

Then I put it out of my head entirely until this morning.

When my alarm went off this morning, the only thing that forced me out of bed was knowing that it would be incredibly bad manners for me to cancel less than an hour before I was due to meet up with Vera. So I threw on my running clothes and started getting ready.

I’ve never been a fan of gyms, primarily because I haven’t the first clue how to use the various different machines, secondly because I am fully aware of just how weak my body is and finally because I’m afraid of ending up on Youtube or as an internet meme for making a complete ass of myself, like these poor folks:

Fortunately, I’m getting over being worried about what other people think, though, so I asked David to do the morning school run and Megan to pack the school lunches and off I went for my 7:00 appointment.

Now, normally, when I go for a run, I don’t really eat anything beforehand because I find that I start feeling nauseous during my run if I do, so I just smashed half a sandwich in my face as I left and figured it would tide me over. Turns out I figured wrong!

Vera started me off on an elliptical machine, on the very lowest setting, for a 10-minute warm-up. I’d never been on one before – I’ve only ever run outdoors or on a treadmill, which I hated!

This was still very different from running on the road but far less awkward than on a treadmill, and I think I may be able to get used to it. I kept a slow, steady pace but still found myself in the “talking with effort” zone by the end of the 10 minutes. At the same time, I wasn’t dead and felt sufficiently warmed -up. By now, though, I guessed that I was not going to manage a full hour of working out.

Vera thought it best (and I concur!) not to try getting onto any of the fancy equipment just yet – I suppose she also wanted to gauge what I could do – so we went into one of the group exercise studios, which are open for use by anyone when there are no scheduled classes running.

So here’s what we did –

    Vera handed me a weighted bar like this one:

And we then proceeded to do the following:

Front barbell squats – 2 sets of 15 reps

Standing front barbell raises – 2 sets of 15 reps

Bent over barbell row – 2 sets of 15 reps

Weighted extended crunches with a 2.5kg plate – 2 sets of 10 reps

This was supposed to have been 3 sets of each, but since I had skipped breakfast and only had that half a sandwich, I started feeling dizzy after the first set and we only did one more.

I was surprised at how unfit and weak I really am! But I’m looking forward to working my way up to actually finishing a workout, and getting fit and strong!

Jim at the Gym

I joined a gym the other day.

I wasn’t planning to, although I have seriously considered it on a number of occasions, because the running just isn’t happening and I see myself softening and rounding and sagging in places where I’d rather not.

Anyway, I did it – I signed up, paid for my access tag and even attended the “New Member Induction” the following day, with both of my teenagers in tow. Nothing special about that.

But I did want to have a small rant about the joining experience itself, which has more than a little to do with why I have not yet been back.

You see, as I mentioned, I was not planning to join the gym. I was, in fact, pushing a trolley full of groceries out of Pick n Pay and heading home to consume a whole bunch of tasty stuff. I happened to be in a good mood at that moment, anticipating all the tasty things to be enjoyed in my almost-immediate future, so when one of those gym guys who hang around in high-traffic areas punting their gym joining specials approached me, I was patient and friendly and didn’t stalk off in a huff at him for even suggesting that I looked like anything less than a fitness goddess.

Rookie mistake.

Anyway, so I smile politely and tell the guy my last gym membership expired before I ever set foot in the gym, and then – like a bloody fool – I ask him what the joining fee is right now.

I know, right?

Right. But then, my ears prick up when he says, “Today, it’s free.” HA! And that was me, sold. So I went in as arranged at 14:00 and proceeded to experience something I was totally not expecting:

I arrive at the gym at the appointed time and ask for the sales guy I’d spoken with earlier – we’ll call him Jim (see what I did there?). He arrives at reception moments later, and off we go to the sales office to complete my application. Of course, we start making conversation, as you do. I mention that I’m really not a fan of gyms but have lost my running buddy, and I jokingly mention my husband’s reluctance to run with me.

Now, I don’t know if mentioning one’s spouse’s disinterest in sports/fitness is some kind of code in the gym world that implies that one is somehow “available” or “looking for something on the side”, but it certainly seemed to be exactly that in the Jim world, if you take my meaning?

The guy suddenly became unbelievably familiar. It seemed innocent enough at first – he asked me what my husband does for a living. So I told him – he’s an engineer. This must have, unbeknown to me, been more code, because he smiled at me then, and made some crude comment about how my husband must be loaded, then. I didn’t quite know how to respond because, in 2018, I kind of assumed that we all know that asking questions or making assertions about a stranger’s personal financial situation is in poor taste?

Of course, I’m a little taken aback and unsure as to how to answer, so he starts telling me about his restaurant in Gordon’s Bay, and my bullshit meter slams into the red zone. I ask him what he’s doing, selling gym contracts, if he has a restaurant in Gordon’s Bay, and he spins me some story about how it’s his inheritance as the once-favourite grandson, on account of his once having played rugby for the Lions, or some such, but he’d rather work in an industry that lets him interact with people. He lets his sister and her husband run the restaurant, while he does what he’s passionate about. I leave it at that, because hey – who am I to say what someone is or isn’t passionate about, right?

Anyway, so Jim moves on and asks me what my goals are in terms of training, and I tell him that I’m just looking to regain some fitness after four kids and being fairly inactive for many years. I specifically mention the four kids because, in my experience, this is usually a pretty strong “I’m not even vaguely available” message. But Jim takes it as some kind of competition, and tells me he has six, and then takes my surprise – let’s face it, six is quite a bit less common than four! – as a sign that I’m mighty impressed by his unparallelled virility. But I miss this, because now we’ve crossed over into the “parent zone”, and as someone who pretty much lives there full time, I relax and begin to feel like I’m on familiar territory. So I ask him if they’re all his own or whether some are step-kids.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Jim launches into a whole spiel about how he’s in the middle of an ugly divorce after he caught his wife cheating on him, and asks me if I’m happy in my marriage, and whether my husband works really long hours, etc. He’s kind of hinting that I’ve somehow implied something of the sort, and I sit there wondering how the hell he came to that conclusion?

Was it the fact that I stopped to talk to him outside Pick n Pay? Was it the fact that I showed up at 14:00, as arranged? Was I somehow saying things in a code I knew nothing about, that kept answering his own coded questions in the affirmative, and thus giving him the impression that I’m interested?

Anyway, I ask for information on class times and who the instructors are, trying to steer the conversation back to neutral territory, and we conclude the paperwork, and I sign on the dotted line, thinking that’s that. Jim promises to forward me the class schedule info via WhatsApp and tells me about the New Member Induction that takes place at specific times, and asks me what time I’ll be there that evening. I tell him that I’m not available in the evenings due to family commitments. (This is the truth, but I also figure it can’t hurt to make it clear that I have a family that matters to me, and I’m NOT AVAILABLE.)

Jim makes a comment to his (male) co-worker about how “passionate” I am about not being available in the evenings and suggests the following afternoon at 15:00 instead. I agree to attend the induction at that time.

I go on my merry way, relieved that this awkward encounter is over. I have not yet started my car to drive home when I get a WhatsApp notification from Jim’s personal number:


I send him a thumbs up in reply, because I’m still trying to keep it polite and not make a big deal out of anything that might just be a misunderstanding on my part.

He responds with:


I don’t respond to this because, really, what is there to say?

But then, about an hour later, he sends me another message.

And then another, an hour after that.

And then, at 21:03, while I’m sitting on the couch with my husband, watching Friends, he sends me another message:

Now, the first two, I figured he was just being nice and letting me know he hadn’t forgotten to send me the information I’d asked for.

But to send me a random text after 21:00 to find out whether I was going to keep the appointment I had made? (No mention or sign of those promised schedules, by the way!)

Had I not kept my first appointment, and arrived punctually?

Had I not made it clear that I’m NOT AVAILABLE in the evenings?

Had I not tried to steer the conversation toward the actual reason we were talking in the first place – i.e. the gym?

Had I not given him a totally neutral, non-verbal response to his initial invitation to chat, and then been silent in response to all his later messages?

So, when I lost my patience after this last text and showed it to my husband, he sent Jim a message telling him that 21:00 was not an appropriate time to be messaging me, and that I had an appointment for 15:00 the following day.

Jim responded with some bullshit about “just making sure our clients get the best service” and FINALLY stopped messaging me.

The next day, I brought my two older kids to the induction appointment with me, so that I could purchase each of them an access tag, too.  I made sure not to look dressy, either, and arrived on time. The appointment was not with Jim, which I was glad about, but he made himself visible as soon as we arrived, and then proceeded to make a big show of fobbing us off on every other staff member he could possibly rope in, not once, but on several occasions.

What had taken less than 10 minutes to do for me the previous day now took close to an hour, because Jim could not find enough other people to ask to “please handle this” for him, before returning to impose himself and his very cold demeanour on me again, before finding the next person to “quickly handle this” for him again.

I don’t know what Jim thought I was going to to do, but he was clearly pissed off with me. And, you know, I get it. He must have felt pretty uncomfortable when my husband sent him that message, telling him to back off.

But, seriously, was I wrong? Somehow, I don’t think I was misreading his intentions the previous day – he wouldn’t be so vindictive about it if I had been.

He’s obviously used to having the women he hits on be much more receptive, and he was clearly sore that I hadn’t fallen for his spiel about playing for the Lions or his fancy restaurant in the Cape.

I was actually relieved when he fobbed me off for the first time, because I figured I could then deal with a different sales executive going forward, but he was clearly out to make me as uncomfortable as possible.

But, you know, my skin’s gotten a little thicker over the years and the older I get, the less inclined I am to be gaslighted, undermined or otherwise intimidated out of a space I have every right to occupy, with the full expectation that my privacy and personal space will be respected.

So, this Friday, I’m cashing in my free session with a (female) personal trainer and I’ll be showing up at the gym. And I’ll be showing up again after that, and owning the service I’m paying for.

Because I came here to gym, Jim. Understand?




This Is 38

I celebrated my birthday last week – actually celebrated it, and had a blast doing it! I rounded up all the usual suspects and hosted a fondue at my house.

We were too busy catching up and chatting and drinking wine and beer to be fussed about eating as soon as the fondue was ready, so the cheese began to set in the pot and we had to “fix” it, so it wasn’t quite perfect. But it was delicious and I wasn’t the tiniest bit anxious about anything. I ate until I couldn’t anymore, and drank cherry cocktails out of pretty cocktail glasses, and danced to 80s music as if no-one was watching.

Much about this birthday has been significant for me, for various reasons – one of which is the fact that this is the age my father was when he died. I’m not sure why, exactly. It’s not that I’m especially emotional about it, or anxious about my own mortality.

Another “big thing” about this birthday is, I suppose, its proximity to the next big number (round it off by two more short years and I’m there) – and there’s some serious planning to do for that one because it’s going to be epic!

But what has really stood out for me at the close of this last little jaunt around the sun is how changed I feel.

I’ve made many changes over the past few months, most of which I think are pretty much invisible to all but those who know me especially well. But I feel those changes and I feel how different I am from the woman, wife and mother I was just a year ago.

I didn’t do a “2017 Review” post at the end of last year; I had intended to but found myself rather busy living and being present in my own life and having no time to spare. 2017 Was also a particularly rough year for me, emotionally. I didn’t  catch the sads the way I have around September in most previous years, but I struggled with some big and deeply personal issues throughout the year. I questioned my identity, my quality of life, my personal values, my parenting capacity and just about everything else in between, and I’m still not sure how much of that I want to put out there.

However, it was also a year of tremendous change, as I have said. I quit my job, cut off my hair and started on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment that has taken me into and out of myself in ways I cannot describe with mere words.  It has changed my general outlook, a number of my tastes and preferences, my inner dialogue and my capacity for human empathy. It has changed my approach to work and its problems and to raising my family. It has given me a glimpse of what I have the potential to be and I could not be more excited about the future.

This is 38, and I will never be the same again.




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…



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?


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.


Getting to Know Me – Tagged by Cassey

Are you named after someone? 

Yes – My mother. My father filled in the birth certificate application and gave me her name without discussing it with her first. She was pissed, so they added something to make it a little bit different.  Very few people know what my name actually is.

When was the last time you cried? 
Eh? I cry almost every day these days. Sometimes because something is just so damned beautiful and sometimes because it’s just so damned sad. I think it’s probably time to visit my doctor and get my hormone levels checked because I’ve only ever been this prone to tears when I was pregnant.
No, I’m not pregnant now. It’s probably thyroid related. Or else I’m heading into early menopause…
Do you have kids? 
Yup. Four of them. Megan is 13, Michael is 12, Jack just turned 7 and James is 5.
Yes, they are all mine. I birthed them myself.
No, I do not need a lesson on contraceptives.
Yes, they keep me busy and on my toes and drive me crazy.
No, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
I like to think so. I can be a bit of an asshole, but it’s mostly without malice. Also, generally, when I’m being an asshole, it’s to myself.
Do you have a guilty pleasure? 
Many, many guilty pleasures. Mainly in sugary, edible form. (Ola, WHY did you have to discontinue the Red Velvet Cupcake Magnum? It was one of my reasons for getting out of bed every day!)
Do you like handwriting? 
When I was still in school, I refused to learn how to use a computer. I wrote everything by hand. And I wrote lots and lots of stuff, from poems to stories to long, long letters full of the agony of my misspent youth.
Now, typing is so much faster and neater.
What is your favorite cereal? 
Not sure. Most of the cereals I love are no longer an option for me because gluten. But if I’m going to fall off the wagon, it’s going to be over something sweet and most likely chocolatey. Like Coco Pops. Or Milo cereal. But I won’t turn up my nose to a few bowls full of Cheerios, either.
What is the first thing you notice about people? 
The way they “feel”.  I can tell within seconds of meeting someone whether we’re going to get along or not and it’s based entirely on the vibes I get when I walk into their space. I have yet to be wrong.
What color are your eyes? 
Blue/grey, sometimes green. It changes with my moods. And sometimes with what I’m wearing.
Scary movies or happy endings? 
I used to love scary movies and then, one day, I didn’t. Give me the happy ending – the world is scary enough without Hollywood’s help!
Favorite TV show? 
I’m not a big TV watcher, but there have been a few shows I’ve enjoyed over the years:
How I Met Your Mother
Big Bang Theory
Game of Thrones
Dexter (STILL haven’t watched seasons 6 and 7!)
Sons of Anarchy
Prison Break
Summer or winter? 
There are bits that I love and hate about both. Winter used to be much harder for me before I started treatment for the thyroid issues. Now, I don’t get as cold as easily, so it’s easier to enjoy the hearty, warming foods and hot beverages and the rich colours and luxurious clothing.
Then, I also love the lightness and freshness of the warmer seasons. I like the greenness of gardens and the sound and smell of a giant thunderstorm and of the ground after heavy rain. I like easy, summery salads for dinner and ice-cream and popsicles. I like soft, flowy skirts and dresses and strappy sandals.
Sorry – can’t pick just one.
Hugs or kisses? 
Depends who they’re from. ;P
What’s the furthest you’ve been from home? 
London, on a business trip in 2007.
Travelling to different places was one of the BEST things a job has ever meant for me and I will always remember those trips with fondness. I hope I’ll get to travel some more before I’m too old.
Do you have special talents? 

Not really. I like to bake, though, and do a mean shower karaoke!