Be brief, be bright, be gone!

There’s a meme that says, “there’s someone for everyone and the person for you is a psychiatrist.”

And thank god I found one in the form of a patient and loving partner because I’m cooked, psychiatrically unwell, hell I’m bat shit crazy.

The Spychiatrist has been telling me for years that I’m ADHD. And if anyone was equipped to give this diagnosis it’s her, A) she’s studied in excess of 10 years for this qualification and B) she managed to live with me for 10 long, long, long years. She knows me better than I know myself. ADHD = distractability, impulsivity, inattention, hyperactivity etc. The problem is I’ve never really listened until now.

Inattention

I’m only listening now because I just realised that I can’t bear to sit with a friend and have coffee/lunch/dinner with them for more than 7 mins. I get bored, distracted, I feel trapped. That’s why I love the friends I do activities with. For example, swimming, walking, running and boogie boarding. And while I do these said activities, I still take myself off and do my own thing. And when I garden (on my own of course), I lose time. I just potter and play all by myself. A meditation. I’ve become so self sufficient and introverted as I’ve gotten older. No longer seeking the social but still seeking adventure and still curious to learn. Watching documentaries, Ted talks, vehemently reading and taking online courses in my cave.

Hyperactivity

My parents used to call me a “Wildechaya” – a wild child in Yiddish. It was appropriate. It stuck.

Be brief, be bright, be gone. This is my motto. In corporate I used to wish I could have said to some people say what you need to say in 2 minutes and politely fuck off. Like an elevator speech. Hurry up, the doors are about to open.

I figure I’m nearly 42, and I have had quite a successful life. I’ve taken Ritalin maybe 5 times in the past and on it I can’t sleep so I haven’t persisted. But if I’d taken it as a child, the possibilities would have been endless. I’m sure I would have been an A student. I’m not saying this to be arrogant. I did get As. I was a good student, but mainly got Bs and Cs but if I had been focused, if I could have sat still for more than 5 mins and not been such a chatterbox well maybe I’d be a nuclear physicist today. Actually that’s bullshit – I have no desire to be a nuclear physicist and the arts are my everything.

Impulsivity

The Spychiatrist says I’m the most impulsive person she has ever met (I can’t plan my way out of a plastic packet), slow is not a word that’s part of my vocabulary. I do everything at speed.

Distractability

When I do household chores I do 10 things at once. I walk to the kitchen to load the washing machine and land up wiping counters, rearranging food jars and picking up dog poo. No there’s no dog poo in the kitchen, thank god, I land up picking up dog poo because I notice I have to take the food waste outside to put it in the Bokashi bin. Side note: Not only are we fervent recyclers we’re also over zealous composters! I don’t land up doing anything I had intended to do. I’m totally distracted.

The more I age, the more I learn about myself, the more I learn to accept myself.

Coffee anyone? Not on your life!

Winter Wonderland

Last night I created a winter wonderland in my living room. Not on purpose and not one of my smartest moves.

Yesterday I decided I was bored and needed to venture to an industrial area called Parrow close to Cape Town International Airport. I was on a mission to procure polystyrene balls. What for you may ask? Yesterday I’d come up with a great idea to refill one of our bean bags. We’d bought it a few years ago as a gift for the Raging Vegan and a few years on it was looking a little “pap”, a beautiful Afrikaans word that when translated to English doesn’t do it justice. One of the definitions is flaccid (can a bean bag stand stand erect – it’s debatable). Anyhoo, back to the story.

So I find this warehouse, a recycling plant, a South African business in all its beauty. They take used polystyrene (think Woolies fruit tray) and turn it into a plastic like composite which the Chinese then buy to make stuff or shred it into tiny white balls to fill bean bags and the like.

I didn’t know that you could recycle polystyrene, I was going to stop buying fruit from Woolies for this reason, I’d heard you could but yesterday I saw it with my own eyes.

Side note: Here’s a plea from me and the Raging Vegan, please please please put the polystyrene tray, cup, plate etc into the recycle bin and not the actual trash.

Back to the story. They load 5kg of polystyrene into the back of my Defender (the perfect vehicle for carting goods by the way) and I’m happy as a pig in shit. Can’t wait to get home to refill my bean bag. The lady at reception did ask me why I didn’t bring the bag for them to fill, I ask why, can’t I do it myself? (I love DIY, Julia stole Suzelle from me) and she said “well it can be a bit messy”. Still not one to take advice from those in the know, I’m known for learning from my failures more than my successes, I plod on.

So I get home and forget I have a gazillion cacti from the gate to the front door and the entrance isn’t large, it’s a tiny house. 5 kg of polystyrene is a rather large bag. Before I even step into the door, there’s white polystyrene dust flowing out of multiple holes. What happens next is one disaster after the other. Just know that it took me 4 hours to clean up and a bucket load of sweat. Polystyrene balls are light and have the aerodynamics of a Concorde so you can imagine how far they reached and how many cracks they filled, including human and dog cracks. Thank goodness the Spy Chiatrist and Kween D’ Oro (another popular name for the Raging Vegan) are out of town. If they had been there the neighbours would have knocked to find out if we were partaking in a crucifixion. The Raging Vegan would have shook her head in pity and said “not one of your smartest moves” a phrase I have come to know well (I have flooded the kitchen and a million other stupid things…) and the Spy Chiatrist would have crucified me, not for making an epic mess but rather for turning the dogs into little snow creatures.

By the way I’m very happy with my handiwork, I’ve attached a pic of the newly inflated bean bag and the left over polystyrene (which I’m trying to give away on FB marketplace – sadly no takers yet). I didn’t take pics of the winter wonderland (it was too embarrassing) – oh well there’s always next year.

May you and yours have a beautiful and blessed Chrismukkah!

My parents were gutted, I had been retrenched

I woke up this morning after a dream of being retrenched. The feeling was one of uselessness. I just wasn’t needed anymore. And my parents were so disappointed. That silent disappointment. The worst kind. They weren’t so worried about the uselessness but more around the fact that the bank had been part of my life for so long and what would I do now? What would I be? I’d been a banker for so long. How would I earn? The desperation that only a parent can feel when their child has lost something.

 

I didn’t get retrenched. I left of my own accord in Q2 of 2019. I had always wanted to be retrenched. I wanted the package that comes with retrenchment and I remember having a conversation with the head of my dept before I left, in a way asking for her to let me go because I was so intensely unhappy. But I never got the letter and I never got the package. I left with part of a pension that I was allowed to draw on and it paid off debt immediately, but that debt that has already resurfaced.

 

If I had got what I wanted and received the package would I have been satisfied? No, according to dream. No, because I felt useless, they didn’t want me anymore or my skill. So perhaps me leaving, a decision only made possible only by my life partner, was the best decision after all. I left before I became useless and hung onto a salary for months and months, contributing nothing.

 

The most intense feeling I’ve had to deal with is loss. The loss of an organisation, a group, a family that I was once part of. The people, not the work, the adventures and the learning along the way. A piece of my heart, a journey finalised, now locked away. I can’t tell you about the existential pain and the need for more Prozac and eating to fill the hole.

 

It’s been one month since I find myself belonging to another group. I now work for a youth organisation. An organisation that is loved by me and my family. I am part of a group again. I belong. It’s early days. The work isn’t nearly enough and the money is shit but it’s something to build on and I get to add value. And I love my colleagues, they were family before I even joined.

 

2019 has been a watershed year for me. A family lost, a family gained. A lesson in patience. A lesson in depression. But in that a friend (probably my only girl friend in this new city) has given me the love for swimming when I’d lost the world of running. I’m hopeful for 2020. I thank g-d (even though I don’t believe in a god) for my charmed and beautiful life.

I’m answering phone calls

I’m answering phone calls for the first time in ten years and my phone isn’t on silent anymore. What’s changed?

I certainly feel freer than I did in a long time. I’m not bound by the 8-5 and I also don’t get those phone calls saying where are you it’s ten minutes past eight and you’re late! Actually I always used to get in around 9. Or after. Definitely after. I’ve never fully fitted into the regimented culture that is corporate. I always wanted to be a star on Broadway. Alas, I sold out to the corporate machine. And as much as I didn’t fit, I did fit. The bank was my home for 10 years and I was fiercely loyal. I still am. I still refer to the bank as if I work there and I still hold close the relationships with the friends I made there. They are probably, hopefully reading this now.

And now that I work from home and run my own life and time, it’s like I’m not a child anymore. I used to avoid work phone calls like the plague, especially from those above me in the hierarchy. I was always afraid that they were phoning me because something was wrong and in the last two roles something was always wrong. I’m not saying I wasn’t to blame. Perhaps I was.

Currently all my needs are being taken care of by the Spy chiatrist. Financially (she’s my blesser) and emotionally. I am so grateful for her and everyone/thing in my life.

I went boogie boarding in Muizenberg the other day and I met my 11 year old self. I haven’t boogie boarded in 30 years. It came so naturally. I just knew what to do again. My body and spirit hadn’t forgotten. The salt of the sea was burning my contact lenses but I stayed in for at least 40mins, determined to catch the perfect wave. I wouldn’t have been able to do that in my corporate days.

I don’t know what the point of this blog is.

Are these the ramblings of a lunatic? Or maybe I’m ready now to resolve my feelings about my stint in corporate and the loss and vacuum it’s left in my life.

Leroy – my trusty steed

I went to the dermatologist today to get a thingy cut out of my arm. All’s well not to worry and thanks for asking but the appointment was significant because my Derm also drives a Defender.

I didn’t know this at first as this was only my second appointment  with him but he had a Landy mag in the reception waiting area and Landy stuff to me is is like chocolate (can’t resist). So of course I picked it up and tried to inhale as much of it as I could before being called in. Once inside and in an attempt to make polite conversation and while he jabbed a local  anaesthetic in my arm (not once, a few times, but truth be told I didn’t feel anything after no 2), I asked him if he drove a Defender and he said yes, how did I know? Not many doctors have Landy mags in their waiting rooms. You’ll find fashion mags, health mags, metro men’s mags etc., you’ll even find outdoorsy mags but this is the first Land Rover mag I’ve ever seen. So we chatted on about the new shape Defender and how we both think it turned out well because it could have come out as an Evoque/ Freelander mix. We both agreed we couldn’t afford one. And that this new shape would appeal to the younger more fashion-conscious crowd. Make no mistake I only drive a Defender because it’s the most beautiful looking car on the road (tar or concrete), gravel and water (yes a Defender drove on water at the northern tip of Scotland – Google it if you don’t believe me).

Anyway long story short he said I should blog about Leroy and our adventures. Leroy is my Landy. My trusty steed. Leroy has taken me and my family to the top of SA in the north east (Kosi Bay); to the Transkei (south east), to Clarens and Dullstroom, Durbs and down yonder.

And Leroy has never failed me. But Leroy is expensive to run and don’t get me started on carbon emissions. The raging vegan (our child) and I try to drive Leroy as little as possible. I do the school run and grocery shopping and try walk everywhere else. If I do have to drive Leroy I really try not to go far. But that’s the whole point of a Landy – to go far. To go where no-one has gone before. It’s time for a trip.

But Leroy also needs a new clutch – not the cheapest part and the spy-chiatrist who looks after me financially isn’t thrilled. But it’s that kind of car. The car that will get you anywhere. Anywhere if it’s in good working order and you have enough money to maintain it once warranty runs out.

Oops I’m late, off to do the school run, so bye for now, will keep you drooling until  the next Leroy installment.

sisters in arms

It’s taken me one year to walk up Lions Head. When I left Joburg in Sept 2018 one of my parting shots to my ex colleagues was that as soon as I arrived in Cape Town I was going to climb Lions Head! Well it’s taken me a year because this morning I finally did it. It was gorgeous! I was terrified, worried I’d fall because parts of it is steep using chains to get up and down and I’d just heard of a 12 year old fall 20 metres and needed to be sky lifted out. But even more terrifying than that was all the weight I’ve picked up and would I be able to get up there in the first place?

Well I did it, and I did huff and puff, but that endorphin releasing, psychic joy kind of huff and puff. I’ve decided that I’m my best walking/hiking, taking in the surroundings, breathing to that perfect rhythm. It’s meditation for me. I’m not one of those people who can sit still so those Calm apps don’t work for me. I meditate when I walk.

But another reason I’m writing this blog is because a friend asked me to write one for her FB group and I’ve been struggling with the topic. Struggling and procrastinating. I’d rather clean drains, unpack and repack the dishwasher and fold laundry rather than sit down to write sometimes. To actually get me to sit and write is quite some feat. So where am I going with this? Well things take time. I pressured myself into climbing the Lion’s Head as soon as I got here and it only happened a year later. Everything in it’s time. Things happen when they’re meant to and this is particularly difficult for me because I’m very impatient. So impatient that waiting for me is on par to watching horror movies (another thing I’ve never been able to do).

So this FB page is a sisterhood. A page by sisters for sisters to give emotional support, motivational and inspirational support and also support each other in our small businesses. We’ve been using it as an advertising platform to market our services to each other. And my small business (freelance writing and editing) is moving at a sloth’s pace. In fact it’s not moving. It’s tough out there and I’ve only had a few small breaks, so no real, solid income. But then I speak to my therapist and she tells me things take time. And I know what she means but I want to be a fucking writing rockstar already!

So ladies in my sisterhood, need a writer for your online presence? Pick me? Pick me? Please? I’m good and I’m cheap and I’ll help you grow your business. In Austin Powers fashion, “Let’s throw each other a frickin bone here!”.

On being an Elizabethan

Kalk Bay
Every Sunday my step daughter volunteers at Tears Animal Rescue about 7kms away from Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay. And every Sunday my partner and I drop her off and move on to the main street in Kalk Bay, mostly to brunch, sometimes if the weather permits, for a swim in our favourite tidal pool.
It was a really hot weekend in Cape Town, the first hottie of the season and the Elizabethans were out in full force, walking along the main road in their Birkies and shorts looking for a cooler place to brunch. On that day in particular one could have called the small fishing village Elizabethanville.
I’m an Elizabethan. I knew this before I was 10 years old.
Let me explain what an Elizabethan is.
A few years ago, when I still lived in Johannesburg, I had a therapist (let’s call her Vicky for confidentiality purposes) who told me this story during one of my sessions with her.
She always used to talk to me about her 4 year old granddaughter. Her granddaughter was the light of her life and very bright (much like her granny). Vicky was and still is a young granny who runs 8kms per day following her regular 4am wake up. We were obviously quite close back then and I knew much about Vicky (which I shouldn’t have –
the therapist-patient relationship and all…).
Back to her story. Vicky saw her granddaughter regularly, if not daily, and during this meeting her granddaughter was telling her about a birthday party she’d recently attended. Vicky being curious of the ins and outs of her granddaughter’s social life then enquired whose party it was, and her granddaughter began to explain. She mentioned it was so and so’s party and then continuing the conversation Vicky wanted to know who the parents of so and so were. Vicky asked if the parents where John and Mary (a couple she had met and knew) to which the 4 year old replied “NO granny her parents are Elizabethans!” Meaning lesbians but she obviously couldn’t remember the correct term.
Ever since then I’ve referred to myself as an Elizabethan.
Getting back to Kalk Bay… It makes my heart warm and glad to see other Elizabethans out brunching, living normal, boring lives and it’s one of the reasons why I moved here. I mean apart from the great outdoors which is literally on my doorstep, Cape Town is so much more liberal and forward thinking than other cities in SA. I can count more than 10 vegan restaurants in my vicinity where there were less than five in JHB. And in my limited observation, Capetonians seem more liberal, less inclined to hurt and rescue stray animals and are fiercely protective over their mountain ecosystem which I’ve discovered isn’t only Table Mountain but spans all of the Western Cape.
It feels good to be here. I’ve found my place. Now just need the sea view and off grid shipping container. How lucky am I to be alive?

The only place to go is up

I listened to a property developer do a talk at WESGRO last year and he mentioned that the property in Cape Town’s CBD is so sought after that the only way we can accommodate all the new incumbents into the city is to build upwards. He mentioned that soon Cape Town’s CBD would resemble Hong Kong. That means more skyscrapers and micro apartment living. His theory was that more and more tech workers (since Amazon’s expansion into SA) were bound to want live within the city rather than farther away and fight the traffic in a daily commute.

In a way it’s terrifying because there’s no space left to build sideways and overpopulation is a real strain on the environment and the earth’s resources. But it’s also exciting because property trends are changing for the better to be more inclusive because micro-living is a good solution for dealing with issues like affordable housing. As South Africa’s cities get larger and larger, the only options for the poor are makeshift shacks with no electricity, indoor plumbing and where hundreds of people use the same mobile latrine.

I love the idea of micro living spaces because the fact is that humans are social creatures, we feel safe and comfortable in the presence of others and it makes no sense to keep building large properties for people to inhabit. Bigger properties mean more cleaning and caretaking and maintenance. With the cost of living, who can afford cleaners and gardeners and artisans for general household maintenance?

I’d love to live in a shipping container with a sea view, but that’s a story for another time.

Back to co-habiting. Co-living or co-housing is gaining popularity. Costs and chores are shared and loners are inclined to be well, less lonely. What if you get sick and need to be hospitalised? It’s nicer knowing that your co-housing friends will be taking care of the place while you’re gone and eagerly awaiting your return.

Co-living has been successful in Denmark since the 1970s, in Israel with their Kibbutzim, and in Silicon Valley, where millennials find co-living the new normal working within the tech industry and for start-ups.

There’s an African saying,“It takes a village to raise a child” this means that the community is responsible for childrens’ care, health and safety, education and general well-being. What better way to ensure sustainability and progress for our future societies?

You don’t even need to build that high up there are parts of the city where two and four story buildings can be converted to renovated living spaces for inhabitants. And then incorporate green spaces. Just think of apartment buildings with roof vegetable gardens where the community gardens together and shares the fruit of their labour at group social events.

I truly hope that this isn’t a pipe dream, I hope that developers and councils and governments start with empathy to provide solutions for real world problems. It remains to be seen, and I hope I’m here to experience it.

 

 

 

Things I would collect…

If I had money these are the things I would collect:

  1. Land Rover Defenders (Series I, Series II and any of the limited editions). As well as cool accessories that pimp the ride like snorkels, bull bars, anything butch really.
  2. Kelim rugs (no matter the geography of their manufacture, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, any place ending with an).
  3. David Koloane and William Kentridge prints.
  4. Vintage watches – anything before 1980, preferably Calatravas and the iconic Datejust.

I am a lover of these things and a big fan of Gumtree! I’m a thrifter and true bargain hunter. But I’m afraid the things I love are ridiculously expensive and I’ve also never seen any of them on bargain websites.

Another madness is my succulent collection. Now here I have a proper collection. Maybe because they’re a lot more affordable and because I propagate my own. Get one, get a gazillion free! Because if you’re good to them (plenty of sunshine, water and the odd conversation or two, you can even sing to your plants – they will appreciate the effort) they will bear many baby succulents known as pups. Problem is, I no longer have a garden just a 12 sq m concrete courtyard, so space is a huge constraint. My only solution, like in any cramped city, is to aim for the sky – build up. So now I have succulents on the ground and succulents on tables and chairs. Every conceivable space is being used.

Side note… darn I hate blogs, who can write more than 200 words, who has time to read 200 words? As we speak I’m only on 267 words. Who said a blog post should contain at least 300 words in order to rank well in search engines?

But I digress. Back to the blog.

Even though the succulents or “vette”in Afrikaans, (don’t you love that word?) are affordable, and much less luxurious than owning my other true loves mentioned above, the succulents are what brings me joy and contentment. To see new life grow and flourish brings tons more meaning than artwork on my floor, on my walls, wrist or in the garage. Planting, potting, repotting, pottering, call it what you like, makes time disappear.

There you have it, 366 words!

Pet peeves

Why can’t all glue be like Post-it note glue? A Post-it note uses a glue that sticks but doesn’t stick. Such a wonderful invention, ie you can remove the note and re-adhere it. Pet peeve no 1: sticky label glue that won’t be removed for love or money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood at the sink and scrubbed tirelessly, waiting for the glue to disappear, dissolve, evaporate. No such luck, the label, sticker, price tag wants to stay, it won’t budge. Eventually the paper/plastic is eradicated but the glue remains…

Pet peeve no 2: labels attached to clothes. Yes one might think I’m on the autistic spectrum for this but I hate labels on clothing that rub against my skin and irritate it. Can clothing manufacturers find a better way? Are you also one of those people who cut out the label as soon as you get home? It seems that clothing manufacturers look for the most uncomfortable fabric for their labels just out of spite – davka!

I can’t think of any more pet peeves right now, will return to this blog post once I’ve remembered the others.