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Saw my sister today. First time in about two years. She is my father’s daughter, and was born when I was 14. We never lived together.
Her mother is coloured, and in those days, mixed race relationships were illegal. “The Immorality Act” they called it. I don’t think their relationship would have been sustainable, strong willed as they both were. They would have caused each other emotional damage, if not grievous bodily harm. But they made a beautiful daughter.
I’m happy that my father got a grandchild before he died. Little blonde and blue-eyed Tyla, with her great-grandmother’s Chinese eyes.
I’m invited to a children’s party by a Hassidic woman that I like very much. I don’t really fit in there, but feel comfortable anyway. I’m startled to see that someone lights a joint. When I meet the woman’s children, I discover that they are coloured. Then her husband comes into the room, and I see that he is a Rastafarian. I introduce myself to her and find that I am actually at the wrong address. This is not the party that I was invited to. But I am enjoying myself, so I stay anyway.
First dream of the year.
Walking the labyrinth that Sophia drew on the beach on New Year’s eve, I notice my familiar apprehension. What if I do something wrong? What if I take a wrong turn and end up in the wrong place?
Asked once if I have a recurring dream, I said no, and then realised the recurring theme of getting left behind, but being happy where I end up. Is there really a wrong turn?
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Life’s quite surreal. “You’ve been saying that a lot today”, says Kate. Ran into another old friend this evening. Larger than life Elliot, now going as Zebulon Dread, cultural terrorist, trickster, ridiculer-of-all, sparer-of-none. He’s selling his book of short stories, in which he tells me he’s written about me, and of course: “Buy a copy!”
It’s fiction of course, but no, Elliot, I didn’t follow Kevin to Johannesburg. If truth be told, I got a job for a week, and took the opportunity that I’d been looking for for years, to run away from home.
Note: Don’t make assumptions, Andie.
My last sleep here before I go home tomorrow. I’m not usually comfortable sleeping in strange beds. But this is the most comfortable I’ve been sleeping away from home in years. It’s comforting having Kate in the next room.
Been a fun and sociable time of yours, mine and ours friends wise. Lots of people, smoke, dogs, sun, sea and dancing. And no technology, apart from the dreaded cell phone. I’m reminded that I have a life with people in it. Just not in the same town. What happens when work becomes life, I guess.
The flight left 15 minutes late. Two people checked I their baggage, but didn’t board the plane, so it had to be removed. After the obligatory “they’re trying to blow us up”, Sophia and I speculate other options. Did they have a fight? Get drunk?
I’m still awed by flying. As Kate put it, “To think there’s a whole world going on up there. People having dinner, going to the toilet!”
Looking down on the lights of the city as we come in to land, Sophia says it looks like men have tried to recreate the stars on the ground.
I haven’t spoken to anyone today. Haven’t used my voice at all. And I’m sick as a dog. “An emotional reaction?” Alice would have asked. Maybe. And maybe the chocolate mousse and flapjacks I ate yesterday, before giving up the sugar and caffeine today.
And still wrestling with the solitude versus company paradox. (Will someone find me at the top of the stairs, not quite having made it to the bathroom? I don’t even have Bridget’s eaten-by-wild-dogs fantasy!) As Kate says, it’s hard making every decision alone. But then I know myself, and I struggle with making collective decisions too.
Why am I struggling so hard to return to the virtual world? Well that’s a first for me! I’d really rather lie here on the couch and read a real book of fiction.
When I look up from time to time, I catch sight of the treetops, and the clouds floating by. It reminds me of the ‘Peanuts’ cartoon…All the kids looking up at the shapes in the clouds, and they turn to him and say, “Well…what do YOU see Charlie Brown?!” And he replies, “I was going to say a horsy and a ducky, but I changed my mind.”
“You know what’s wrong with the New Age”, Sophia says…”there’s too much emphasis on the light, and not enough on the shadow.” She’s browsing through ‘Odyssey’, SA’s oldest new age magazine, revamped, as it’s given a run for it’s money by ‘Namaste’, amongst others.
I’d agree with that. So would Dr Jung, I expect. You’re going along - all love, light and peace - and suddenly someone zaps you, and THEN where are you?! Give me a bit of rage any day. Spew it forth, and let it be over, and then let’s get on with the business of communication.
Oh Linzi Linzi Linzi……..Linzi and I have spent every new year together for about the last ten years. All except this year, cos she’s given it all up for love, and now she’s in Oxford with her guy to be or not to be. I think she’s very brave. I don’t have the courage for that. I need to know that I have a warm corner of my own. My mother did it, and it did her in. But then I am not my mother. And neither is Linzi.
It was good to speak with her on the phone tonight.
Sometimes my stubbornness is really counter-productive. I don’t like taking medicine. Don’t like putting artificial substances in my body. But sitting here with toothache for hours, it suddenly occurs to me that I *can* take a pain-killer.
No prizes for where the stubbornness comes from. Watching my Dad in the hospital I begin to see my grandfather sitting there. I tell my step-mother this, and of course she tells my father. “I’m my mother’s child!”, he responds. Yea, yea…you’re your mother’s child. But the Miller stubbornness is unmissable. You’re also your father’s child. So am I.
I take a pain-killer.
If I look up from the computer as I write, the view outside my window is of pure green, but for one red, and one black rooftop. The sky is dark right now, as there is a good old-fashioned Johannesburg afternoon thunderstorm in progress, so the quality of the green is almost luminous. I call this my tree house, as I live three stories up, in the tree-tops, amidst the birds. One has even flown in the window once, and I let it out the front door. It’s not Cape Town, but GOD I love where I live. I’m blessed.
I’m not one for resolutions, but this year I just want to say aloud: I aim to move away from negativity. I want to see and expect the best in people and from situations, and stop complaining about what’s wrong in my life, and with the world.
It’s not that I am a negative person. On the contrary, I’m really quite optimistic. But I find the need to be a voice, (albeit self-appointed) for the voiceless – I know what it’s like to feel unheard and invisible. I also need to say aloud: I care about poverty and inequality. And rest.
I’m watching “Life, Love and Everything Else” and he calls. Sometimes, amidst the real and imagined aches and pains, the cosmic sense of humour is just too much! I haven’t spoken to him in years. When we last talked, he asked “how’s your heart?” “Getting better”, I think I replied. Now his heart is fragile. And it’s serious. Nobody wrote the book that said men can also love too much. What help is there for them? In spite of everything that happened, I know that he loved me. Is it my imagination, or is my toothache feeling a little better?
Hmm…spoke too soon about the toothache. Woke at 1.30 am with my mouth throbbing. I’ll have to go back to Soli’s book… ”gums represent the necessary basis for our vitality and aggression…So long as we lack our full measure of native confidence and self-assurance we shall never succeed in getting actively to grips with the core of our problems, or have the courage to ‘stand up and fight’”. This, too, is hereditary in my family. Our bark has always been worse than our bite. Got to work at putting my money where my mouth is. Meanwhile, I’ll take an anti-inflammatory.
“Faith is not ordained, it has to be cultivated”, Jeremy once said. The weird thing about faith, though, is that it sort of happens in the leap. It’s not like you can say “just prove it to me God, and I’ll have faith”! You jump, and spread-eagled in the air, you make or break it. I’d like to believe that the potential for success is greater up there, for the courage it requires taking the risk. But there are no guarantees. It was a shock to finally discover, that despite his belief in God, my father was actually an empiricist.
It’s hard striking a balance with doctors. I suspect you know what I mean. On the one hand, you go to them for their help and expertise, but on the other you also want to make your own decisions about having parts of you removed without being made to feel like they’re God and you’re a difficult child. It’s the empiricism arguments that really get me. Viva my doctor years ago who said, “the health food of today, is the carcinogenic of tomorrow”. The toothache lessened by about 70% mind you after I told the dentist his negativity wasn’t helping.
My desk calendar today says: “So Pooh hummed it to him, all the seven verses, and Piglet said nothing, but just stood and glowed. For never before had anyone sung ho for Piglet (PIGLET) ho all by himself." I know how he feels. It’s happened to me on occasion.
A little bird flew in the window this afternoon. It’s not the first time. I live high up in the treetops, in a tree house (at least that’s how it feels) with big windows, so it’s easy for a little bird to get confused. I let him out the front door.
I’m doing something that I’ve done a million times before. New environment, but I know how to do it. But it’s not working. And I’m sure I’m doing it right. I’ve checked, double checked, and checked again. Still no luck, so I consult the cards… When will I get this job done? “Purification” comes up. (Yes, the energy doc says I’m going through a “major cleansing process”.) What will it take, I ask? “Healing” comes the answer. Yes, but when?! “Surrender”. Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh. “God give me patience, but give it to me now!” The wind’s come up. The rain is coming.
I have just experiences my first virtual loss. I went for my daily dose of laughs, and got “An appropriate representation of the requested resource /blog/index.shtml could not be found on this server.” A temporary glitch, I assumed. But just to make conversation I asked, “Why is your site defaulting to a Google search?” And then the blow came: “I'm spent. I can't think of anything funny to write about anymore…” What will I put in the “favourite website” section of my page now? It will have to remain empty for the meanwhile. RIP Fishrush. You will be truly missed.
Value is such a personal thing. My treasures might be your junk. But my junk could become your treasures. Very often with things received, it’s the love with which they’ve been invested that become their source of value. When my mother died, my father kept her jewellery for me. What he thought a little girl would grow up to value of her mother’s things. I wish he’d kept the things she’d written, and a recording of her voice. When my grandmother died, her cousin sent me her jewellery. I kept a turquoise ring. I wear it on my wedding finger.
Sophia reckons if we don’t feed our Ancestors, they will consume us. I think she’s right. But how do we feed them? Looking back at my writing over the past few months, it becomes clear to me that I feel the need to tell their stories. Of course it’s my version of their stories, but I feel the need to give voice to them, as they form the beginnings of my stories. Possibly the only way we can be immortal is to live on in the minds and hearts of those whom we loved. And we need to be heard.
Learning to be assertive is a difficult thing. You know the old saying, “I’m assertive, you’re bossy”? Although this only seems to apply to women. You ever heard anyone refer to a bossy man? I once asked my friend Soli why he thought I tended to get fired by women bosses. “Women don’t like other strong women”, he said. “Yes, but I don’t seem to have this problem with men”, I replied. “Well, men just think they’re superior anyway!” he concluded. The best ‘boss’ I ever had once said to me: “You’ve got something to say. Say it.” Thanks Brandon.
We’re sitting in the office of the recreation centre, where Verrelli is administrator. He tells me he wants to start a youth group for the children of the police personnel stationed next door. But it’s difficult when the previously state-funded recreation centres are now expected to become self-sustaining. “We run holiday programmes for R50, but they don’t have any money. Then they become excluded, and they make holes in the fence etc”. “Doesn’t it frustrate you?” I ask. “Feeling your hands tied like that?” “Well, things aren’t going to change overnight,” he responds. Verrelli, the Buddha of the recreation centre.
I get on the bus, and the bus driver charges me less than the required price, and doesn’t give me a ticket. This is because he is pocketing the money. Of course, he thinks he is doing us both a favour… I’m travelling cheaper, and he is making a few bucks on the side. He doesn’t realise that a lack of funds (that he and his colleagues are skimming) is causing layoffs, busses that are falling apart, a compromised service, and people giving up on using the busses (what there are of them) altogether. But I’ve learned not to lecture.
One of the things I like about 100 Words, is that there are no links. Compulsive linker and quoter that I am, it’s easy to cop out, and give you someone else’s opinion rather than my own. “It’s a nice article”, Sophia once said, (oops) “but I’d like hear more of
voice, rather than all the quotes. I’m not sure if it’s my obsessive need to give credit and acknowledgement where it’s due, or a fear of laying myself on the line (probably a bit of both), but point taken. Apart from this, I have nothing to say today.
I saw little Noa today. Half Israeli and half Angolan, I wonder who she will grow up to be. Will she ever really know where her mother and her father are from? Her mother, yes probably. There are still regular trips to Israel. And maybe they will even go and live there one day. But knowing her father’s homeland is doubtful. It’s a different kind of war torn. He came to South Africa as a refugee sponsored by the Red Cross. Now even a trip home for him is a mission. Will she ever learn to speak Portuguese, I wonder?
The assumptions we make…There is a small, quiet girl in my exercise class. She looks to me like a secretary. (What does a secretary look like?) It is raining, so she stops to give me a lift. We talk. “Do you come straight from work to class?” I ask. “Yes”, she replies. “What do you do?” I ask. “I am a physician”. WELL!! I try and imagine this tiny, endocrinologist with her patients. I suspect she is a good listener. Did she always want to be a doctor, I wonder? Do people often make these assumptions about her? Go Girl!
I caught a “Zola” today, the mini-bus taxi named after South Africa’s barefoot runner Zola Budd, probably most famous for inadvertently tripping Mary Decker at the 1984 Olympics. Zola was little and fast, like the taxi’s that “zip, zip, zip”, often to the infuriation of other motorists. The Peril of the road, but the saviour of the immobile masses, with it’s unique language and hand signals. Despite the safety factors, it’s the one time that I feel part of African culture. Usually the only whitey, but accepted as just another carless commuter moving from A to B. I like it.
I read today: “…moving around causes loss of time proportional to the amount of energy which is poured into the transport system.” It could be argued that I lose a lot of time. I’m a pedestrian. That is, I walk – A LOT. It’s always irritated me that pedestrian is also defined as “dull and uninspired”. I beg to differ. I can think of nothing more dull and uninspiring than being stuck in rush hour traffic twice a day. Where possible, give me a leisurely walk to my destination any day. I have up on my computer: “Tortoise Wins The Race”.
I’m constantly surprised by the unexpected ways in which the Universe supports us. This year, it really came down to a choice between my coffee or my teeth. They just don’t like the acidity anymore. “But oh, how hard it’s going to be to give up my daily ritual of popping across the street to the coffee shop.” And then I returned from holiday to find that the coffee shop had closed down! No more greasy breakfasts or coffee for me. Four weeks now and no coffee. A round of applause is in order. (But the coffee shop closing helped!)
The Tip Jar