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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Too cool for school.


Do you know how cool it is to go to the gym wearing odd socks? Not very cool at all. Probably you do not know, because y'all seem quite fashionable and sensible out there in the blogosphere. That is, until the arrival of the fashion disaster that is me.

They weren't even vaguely similar, we are talking one secret sock and one long school type sock that you need to fold down. I tried my best to tuck it into my shoe but it kept riding all the way up my leg while I was running. I think it is possible that people noticed.

I am just not very good at the sock thing. Usually I don't care because they are underneath my jeans and no one can see. I am not very good at the dressing thing in general. I once went to the climbing gym wearing my trousers back to front. It is possible. They were large trousers. It took AGES before anyone said anything, too.

When some guy finally asked me if my trousers were meant to be that way round, he had this look on his face like "are you OF our species?"

 I probably would have got a similar look in South Africa too, but the English are particularly talented at this look of "what I am seeing is too weird to happen so I am not actually seeing it".

Meh. I need a wardrobe assistant. Or even better, an invisibility cloak. How cool would that be? I wouldn't even have to bother with clothes. Think of what a fortune I would save. A bit cold though, perhaps.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Work hazards


Sometimes I wonder if I really thought my choice of career path through. Actually I wonder this every single day. You know that thing called career guidance? Well it didn't exist when I was at school. They told us "Girls, get a career. Never have sex before marriage and get a career." I managed to achieve one of those and I am not saying which.

So no one told me that doing well in exams didn't neccessarily mean I can do Science, because to be a Scientist you need to have practical skills. You need to be good with your hands. There were those pesky practical thingies at university which should have given me a clue, but they were generally disastrous and I just pretended they didn't exist.

I happen to be extraordinarily clumsy, with the fine motor skills of a rhino.  And then there is the fact - I may scare off the boys now, sorry- that there are certain times of certain months when I should not be allowed to leave the house, never mind be in the same room with things like machines with acetylene flames that can explode and kill us all. 

Despite this, I am proud to say that my disaster list is remarkably bare. Most people I have worked with have had worse disasters than me. I have friends who have poured acid all over themselves, stabbed themselves with glass pippettes, and there were bits of glass and dubious red stains forever impaled to our ceiling after one young man managed to explode the pressure cooker (very important piece of lab apparatus, a pressure cooker).

Here is my disaster list:

1)Shaking a 5kg salt container without remembering to put the lid on first. Hmm, salty.

2) I once put some nasty burny and carcinogenic chemicals in the wrong tubes, and they exploded in the centrifuge (a really fast spinning thingy a bit like a washing machine). But they were really tiny tubes. It was nothing really.

3) Accidentally setting fire to a very expensive acetylene-containing machine which could have exploded and killed us all. Oops.

4) Accidentally setting fire to a very expensive acetylene-containing machine which could have exploded and killed us all. Again.

Let it be said that both times I reacted with a cool and calm head. Well, the first time I froze and screamed like a girl, but the second time I calmly put out the fire and continued as if nothing had happened. Sadly my boss found out about it because one of my wonderful colleagues wrote my name and the date on the molten piece of plastic that was once the bottom of the machine. Thanks dude.

And that is it. See, nothing bad at all. Employers you can employ me with peace of mind; hopefully there will never be pieces of my mind to pick out of the ceiling.

The blogademy awards.

An award! I was awarded this by kitty cat:
 




I would just like to take this moment to say thank you to me for inspiring me to start this blog, and me, for writing this blog, and me, for doing it so very well. Good sea monkey.

Come on, this may be the only award I will ever get so I may as well make the most of it.

Who to award it to? As you may know from my blogroll, I read a lot of blogs, and they must all be good or else I wouldn't read them now would I? Lots of people have already won an award, can I award it to them again?

I would pass this award on to everyone but it would take too long so for now I give it to:

1)cybersass - the blogsphere's very own soap star, for giving us an insight into the life of an actor.

2) justB[coz] - for being so honest and raw and true.

3) Ches - for giving me insight into living in Jozi, a place as foreign to me as Azerbaijan. And for broadening my education about fart noises more than I ever thought possible.



Friday, 26 September 2008

Crisis!


I am disturbed. The economic crisis is more serious than our governments would have us think. 

Chocolate digestives now cost 35p. They never cost more than 20-something-p before. 

Maybe I should stockpile a whole lot in case the price goes any higher. But then I will just eat them all in one go and die from chocolate overdose because my brain has no "stop" function.

What a dilemma. I am trying to keep my cool.

The voices of the future.



I am feeling serious lately. Where did my funny-juice go? Oh wait, that was gummi-berry juice. Explains my super-human strength and lack of humour.

I blame not having a job. I sit around and I think too much. I have been thinking about the future. Not my own, but the future of South Africa. Dunno why that country takes up so much of my brain space. It just does. I blame UNISA with their Africanised syllabus.

So yes, the future. The future is not about me and my kind. Sad but true. We pale folks have to accept that we are a minority, and just not very important in the grand scale of things any more. I really feel that the future is all about the poor folks. It has to be. They are getting antsy and unless this is addressed soon things may get messy.

I do not blame Mbeki for this situation. He was a sensible man on the economic front. He realised that poverty needed to be addressed, but not at the cost of collapsing the economy. So he focussed strongly on a top-down approach, enriching a few at the top and hoping it would filter down in time. He kept the country (relatively) stable.

But time is not something poor people are interested in. They are tired of waiting. This is why they have resorted to hero worship. They need a Messiah. I have read that people think Zuma will feed them, clothe them, make miracles happen. What Zuma will do on this front is anyone's guess. It is a mess really. You can't just go out and hand out houses and cars. He inherits a very difficult situation indeed. 

Why do I have this sinking feeling that the future may hold the reverse of what the poor need? There is something about those vocal Zuma supporters that leaves me unsettled. Their propensity for "killing" perhaps?

Nevertheless it is time for the voices of the marginalised people to be heard. Soon.

In some ways I feel very redundant right now. Who needs another white South African voice out there? My time has gone. Yet this does not make me feel too sad. And it won't stop me writing and thinking. We can be useful still. We have skills, we have education, we can pass these on. We can contribute to a better future, we just have to accept that our voices and our demands will not be very important. If we can swallow that and move on then we can get on with just living our lives for the better.

Does any of this even make sense? How does a generation accept and deal with their redundancy? And does it really matter since they are redundant anyway?

                                       Or is it just me talking shite?


P.S. I nothing about economics or politics, so please inform me of where I go wrong.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

An every day South African hero


I had to read Es'kia Mphahlele's autobiography Down Second Avenue for one of my UNISA courses. I really admire this man. He is proof that success comes from nothing but hard work.

He did not have one single advantage in his life, no big break or helping hand. He grew up in poverty and worked hard at school and never gave up. He went on to be a writer, teacher, activist and scholar.

His mom worked full time as a domestic worker to put her three kids through school, so Ezekiel was brought up by his grandmother and his aunt.  Men seemed to fade into the background in his childhood.  He was surrounded by stong women who were determined to bring the children up to have dignity and strong morals, despite the hardships they faced daily. Who in the history books ever remembers the important role that these maids and clothes-washers played?

Es'kia's school career started off inauspiciously; herding goats was a priority in the Maupaneng countryside where he grew up. Once he moved to a Pretoria township he showed an aptitude for reading and English that led to him becoming a writer and journalist.

 He was also a teacher but was banned from teaching after he objected to the new Bantu education syllabus. He includes a snippet of this syllabus in his biography and it is shocking to see the substandard education the government saw fit to provide non-whites.

He completed a Masters in English literature with UNISA and passed with distinction, this being the first time anyone of any colour had achieved a distinction for a senior degree at UNISA.

An extract from the book that really stuck with me is this:

“you must keep moving, writing at white heat, everything full of vitriol; hardly a moment to think of human beings as human beings and not as victims of political circumstance….our South African situation has become a terrible cliché as literary material.”(p210.)

I have often thought that our South African situation is a cliché that still weighs heavily upon our writers. Will we ever be able to free ourselves of this yoke and write about human beings as human beings? And if we do so, are we being honest about our human experience? Most of us experience the South African cliché, whether directly or indirectly.


If you want to get an idea of what it was like to live in the townships from the 20's to the 60's, you should read this book. Mphahlele is a quiet South African hero who triumphed despite the huge odds stacked against him.

No Manto?

No Manto?

No Manto.

All those others lined up to leave and no Manto?

The logic of this world never fails to delight.

That is all.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

They do it for the noise.


My chiropractor is my hero. I do believe there is nothing he cannot do. Apart from being  "powerful figures on the Scrabble board", chiropractors can solve multiple complex injuries and structural issues just by "cracking your bones". My chiropractor has managed to fix in weeks injuries which my TEAM of GP's, physios, and specialists, have failed even to diagnose in over a year. 

I will sadly never be able to trust medical professionals ever again (except for the bone cracker). I still have a lot of deep-seated bitterness about the fact that I had an operation on a part of my body not related to my injury, and it turns out that they had completely the wrong idea about the cause of the problem. So I was sliced open and subjected to pain and misery for nothing. And now I am recovering from an injury inflicted upon me by my surgeon. Nice.

What I want to know is, why do GP's not refer people to chiropractors? It would have saved me loads of time. Why are they classed as "alternative medicine" as if they perform some kind of witchcraft?

Well, it does seem a bit like witchcraft, considering a mere cracking of my bones has achieved miracles. Chiropractors study two degrees, why are they not considered worthy? My chiro was the first person to think of x-raying me in over a year of pain and discomfort. Ie. he was sensible and had a brain.  The specialist I was referred to wanted to slice and dice me just for the fun of it.

In the future, whether I have a sore back or diptheria or a pesky neighbour, forget the GP, I am going to my chiropractor. All he has to do is "crack my bones" and all will be good.

Ghostbusters stand back please, because "when there's something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? The chiropractors!"


Quotes are from the hilarious Eddie Izzard, from his show Dressed to Kill.
Being Brazen's profile reminded me of the Ghostbusters song.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Do you like American music, baby?


My local Somerfields (small kwikSpar-like store) plays the most awesome music. Every time I go in there, the first thing I notice is the music. And every time I am struck by what amazing taste somebody in there has. I don't think they play a radio station. Apparently one of the cashiers used to work for EMI records, so this might have something to do with it. On more than one occasion I have heard music in there that I have been inspired to download at home.

Now this surprises me for many reasons.

1) I have not met many English people that like the music I like. They tend to listen to more British (UKish?) music over here. In the 90's in South Africa we were exposed predominantly to American music (baby). Over here they often haven't even heard of bands like Live or Pearl Jam that were huge in SA when I was wee. But this store plays it all, even the Goo Goo dolls.

2) My music taste is not mainstream. I am old and uncool and stuck in a 90's timewarp. I hate most of the stuff on the radio over here. I do like some new stuff though, and most of it I have discovered through my friendly local Somerfields.

3) It's a freaking supermarket. What supermarket has good taste in music? I have never been anything other than tortured by supermarket music before. Boney M's greatest Christmas travesties springs to mind as a prime example of supermarket music-hell.

It is an excellent marketing strategy, because I go there often even though they are twice as expensive as other supermarkets. They should be sponsored by iTunes.

Who would have thunk it? I am 100% musically compatible with a room full of groceries.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Thank you Eskom



Here is a poem. I was saving it in the hope of publishing it in the literary world some day. But then I got real. It is not very good, and if I publish it here on my blog, I can still say it is "published" right?

Of course, if you get the urge to put it in an anthology of "One hundred greatest poems ever" or something, please feel free. Don't forget to tell me about it.



Thank you Eskom


Yesterday
Your razor eyes peeled back
my carrot skin disguise
Exposing things long tucked away
By mouldy familiarity.
And I, cold and raw, x-rayed you
And I too saw.

We tiptoed a fine-spun thread,
teetering on edges of ugliness,
Eyeing depths that offer no return
that plunge to parallel dimensions
without intersection.

I stiffened, poised to leap
into the icy winds of love’s defection,
into the slipstream of the left-unsaid,
but then the lights winked out
and we
well we did something else instead.



brilliant poem is copyright of Po.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Life, the universe and everything.

The following may or may not be in any way related to the  truth:


I was feeling lost and confused and struggling to see the point of it all. So I asked the internet:



Me: What is the meaning of life?

Internet: 42

Me: Shut up. Be serious. 

Internet: the meaning of life is that it ends.

Me: well that is cheering to know. So then what is the point of existence?

Internet: Why do you need a purpose to your existence? Are you not satisfied with what existence gives you? 

Me: No! And I am the one asking questions here. Is it possible to feel satisfied if you feel like your existence has no purpose?

Internet: Is it possible to be sure you exist if you cannot find your purpose?

Me: Fuck. Now you are screwing with me. Fine. Do I exist?

Internet: DNS server error.

Me: Internet, I hate you so very very much. I ask you again, do I exist?

Internet: If you think you do then you think you do.

Me: how very profound. 

Internet: However, we do not have you on any database. To us you do not exist.

Me: But I am asking you stuff right now! You are full of shit. You know what, I am going to kill you now, yes, you heard me. Die internet die!

Internet: We know you don't have the willpower to switch us off, we know you are addicted.

Me: well, you just proved I exist after all. I have to exist to be addicted to you. Now piss off, I am going to play spider solitaire.


(with thanks to Yahoo answers).

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Do not come between me and the WC!

My G is programmed like a little robot I tell you! I am sure it has something to do with his engineering genes. He loves routines and sticks to them like clockwork.

Lately I have been staying up later than him. I leave the light on because he sleeps with a mask anyway. I often lie on the bed next to him reading or surfing the net on the laptop. I usually only decide it's time to go to bed when I really need to pee, because it gets me up. 

For some reason every single time I get up off the bed bursting for the toilet, G wakes up, gets up, all groggy, and heads straight for the bathroom, often literally cutting me off as I am trying to make a dash! Not cool! This happens every single night and is driving me nuts. I mean, I wait til I am quite desperate before I have the energy to get up in the first place.

Trying to break G of his habits is like getting a puppy to separate from his ball, not easy. Maybe it is easier if I break my own habit, and pee and brush my teeth at the same time as him, and then read til I fall asleep. Either that or I am bringing out my latent rugby tackling skills. I'm sure I have just been suppressing them all this time.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Why I love South Africa



For some reason South Africa is always on my mind. I left one day to go travelling in the big wide world, and so far I have not returned. But because I never intended to leave forever, I feel that SA and I have unfinished business. Who knows where I will end up, but I really hope it is back to the place I call home.   I have become ridiculously homesick and patriotic, which I know is not always sensible or rational but for now that is the state I am in.

I saw these lists on expensive mistakes and cheap thrills, on Roxilla, on Spacebook and on candi perfume girl. I was inspired to do my own list.


So here are 6 reasons why I love South Africa

1) It is where I grew up. I am me because I grew up there. Everything that happened to me and everything that happened in the country are interwoven into the product that is me. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

2) Swimming, sport and the outdoor lifestyle. Do we South Africans know how priveleged we are/were to live in a country where swimming outdoors is common?  The weather, the sea, and the environment combine into a playground in which people can play and swim freely. 

3) The sun. How cliched. But do not underestimate the importance of this great ball of fire in your life. I used to be an outdoorsy person. Here in the UK I rarely venture outdoors. I have terrible circulation, am always freezing, and suffer from a general lowness that is due to grey skies and constant rain. People here manage just fine. But I have seen the light,  haha, and am spoilt as a result. African sun and African skies are hard to forget.

4) niknaks-jumpingjaks-ultramel-simba-ghostpops-steers-jellytots-steristumpi-biltong-oumarusks-EVENricoffy-I-can-go-on. Oh man, South African food! There are some things we do so well. Chips (never crisps) for one are incomparable. And rusks, and South African fudge. The last time I was home, my sister and I filled a trolley full of food to take back. 

5) Walking barefoot. In Europe people do not do this. It is against health and safety. I have been told off very sternly for walking barefoot in someone's garden. In SA, people often nip into the shops barefoot, and no one has a cadenza. When I visited Potchefstroom, the schoolkids walked to school barefoot and no one died. I like to let my toes breathe now and then.

6) Being a South African is never easy, no matter your colour. And I love that. I'm not really sure why. I think because it keeps me real, it keeps me thinking, reflecting, challenging myself, and stops me from sweating the small stuff. My life seems intolerable sometimes; if I put myself in the shoes of a person who has no access to clean water then suddenly my neuroses don't seem so bad. To be South African and survive you need to cultivate tolerance, patience and perspective. Good things to have.

 
That is my list. I hope to read yours.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

?

My head feels worn 
with too much thought
or too little, and torn
between fear of success
and failure safely borne.

Nothingness is easier than you think-
but slipping through the cracks,
hiding from mediocrity, 
is only to sink.


Monday, 15 September 2008

Wild coast no longer?



I was so saddened to hear about the mining that is going to be happening along the wild coast. Have you seen the wild coast? It is breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt. That whole stretch of coastline is one of our major tourist attractions. The mining is proposed for the Pondoland area, which according to ecologists is a sensitive area. 

The justification for the mining is of course the increase in jobs to the area. I see this as an expedient excuse. There will be a few jobs for locals, but surely these jobs can be replaced by the development of eco-tourism? Most of the money will go into the pockets of the Australians and the BEE company that won the contract.

That area of coastline will never be the same. Species of plants and animals will become extinct. Our resource of potential new medicinal compounds will be reduced. But for me the saddest thing is that something beautiful and ancient will be torn apart for ridiculous human short term gain. 

I have been studying environmental philosophy, which has allowed me to see the way in which we treat our surroundings in a new light. Few people would go so far as to accord a coastline the right to exist for it's own sake. But then let it exist for our own sake and the sake of future  South Africans. We have responsibilities towards future generations whether we like to think so or not. We will never get that coastline back.  Where will the Xolobeni ancestors rest?

If you feel this way too, please sign this petition.

(photo is not of the area to be mined).

The bloggy disease

Blogging is bad for me. At first I spent more than a normal amount of time thinking about posts I was going to write. Then I discovered other people's blogs. Things have never been the same since. 

I am technically a student. Well, technically, as in I AM a student, even if my assignments and study material come in the post. I still have to write exams in a month or so's time.

I am a nerd, and in the past have always managed to somehow pass by some feat of last minute cramming. But this year I am not sure that I even have the desire to pull it off. I have lost the ability to care. I have not opened a book in months. Motivation has deserted me for the first time in my life. I want it back!

It could be that I am way too old to still be studying and my brain is in the advanced stages of a teenage-regression-rebellion. Or it could be that the blogosphere has hijacked my will to be productive.

Given that I spend most of my time in the South African blogosphere, this hijacking should not come as that much of a surprise. But seriously, if you are South African and you have a blog, chances are very high that I have read it. Even if I haven't blogrolled it or followed it or commented on it or some other stalker-like behaviour, chances are I have read it via Amatomu or someone else's blogroll. I have stopped adding to my blogroll for now because if it gets any longer it will cross the channel. 

And if you are foreign, chances are I have read your blog too. I have read a LOT of blogs. I have a disease. Blogoritus. It is a serious case. 

So, I blame you all if I fail my exams for the first time in my life, and you will all be receiving bills in the (e)mail for my resit fees, or worse, the fees for another round of the courses I failed. Please make cheques out to:

Dr Po Seamonkey Esq. 
red piece of coral on  the far left, 
seamonkey tank batch no: 21344587, 
Little Piddle
UK.


Um, and thanks for keeping me entertained for the last few months.

Friday, 12 September 2008

World's shortest interview


Cute little furry creatures. They are my friends. Including rodents. Hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, gerbils etc. I have had some of these as pets.

I went for a job interview yesterday. It lasted one minute. I blame the furry creatures.

No, I was not attacked by a stampeding herd (?) of distressed degus whilst I was trying to remember how to spell my name.

You see I found this job which looked promising in the advertisement. So I applied. After I applied I was sent the link to the research group's website. There I noted that while I was totally cool with most of the work they did, there was this tiny aspect which challenged me ethically, but more on a personal level. 

I phoned a friend (I want to be a millionaire) who informed me that the probability of them getting me to do the not-so-cool work was very low, because it takes skill and experience that I do not have. He advised me to go for the interview and I did.

I missioned all the way there, paying £22 for a train trip that totalled one hour (that is R317! Is that even conceivable? Did I mention that I am unemployed?). I even put on makeup and  (relatively) smart clothes. 

Not that there was much point to my beautifying process, because by the time I arrived for the interview I looked like a drowned, er, rat. Not a good look at any time, but considering the place I was about to enter, potentially a life threatening appearance!

Yeah so after a few seconds of me saying how wonderful I look in a labcoat, the interviewer began to explain the work to me. It involved 100% work that I was not prepared to do. So within 1 minute I was apologising profusely and leaving. Sigh. 

Apparently they couldn't advertise the nature of the work for legal reasons. I'm guessing it is also to protect them from certain types of activists.

I don't think I would have survived the job anyway. It's at the number one institution of its type in the UK, possibly the world. What would a little seamonkey from Durban who is on a permanent chill pill know about surviving in a place like that? They probably only hire royalty anyway.

So, back to the drawing board to find me a job that does not involve little furries and the harming thereof.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Please state your business with this bench.


Story I read in yesterday's metro newspaper:

If you are alone and not accompanied by at least one child in a particular park in England [adults not to be trusted without child supervision :) ], you WILL be approached and questioned as to your intentions in the park. This is to reduce paedophile activity, apparently. 

NO COMMENT.

Actually, I do have a comment, I do, I am pulling a muscle here, jumping up and down, to make a comment!

This nanny state business is getting out of hand. I often go to the local park, ALONE, (this may make me a loser but not a paedophile) or with G, and we do not have kids. I always thought we had the right to do so, but apparently not. Are parks for the use of kids only? Am I going to have to squeeze one out merely to have the right to use a park? What about infertile people?

This country has been very kind to me during my stay. But it is insane sometimes.