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on the subject of colour… received in my mail-box today, “find out your favorite colors and the top careers that correspond with your color signature.” So I did: “You are the CLERK !!! (A person who works in an office performing such tasks as keeping records, attending to correspondence, or filing.)” I would deny it, were it not for the fact that I spent 400 words in February writing about the virtues of filing! “You also like to talk (receptionist)”. True. I started with an organisation 9 years ago as receptionist, and left 8 years later as information manager.
I lived with Zara for the first three years of her life. One day, bag in hand, she headed for the door. “Where are you going?” we asked. “To work” she replied. “What kind of work do you do?” we asked. “Green work” she said. I still wonder what green work meant to her then.
Shortly after I moved, she came to visit, and I gave her rice cakes for lunch. Her face lit up: “Popcorn bread!” she exclaimed.
I feel nostalgic for the time when we used words spontaneously, for no other reason than they described what we meant.
A while ago, Zara came to visit. Returning upstairs from the swimming pool, she informed her mother and I: “I just met an interesting guy down there, he was telling me about his religion.”
“What was he?” I asked, “Jewish?” as most of the people in my building are.
“No, he goes to the
Liberal Catholic Church
.” And as an afterthought, “You’d like it Mom.”
“And what do they believe?” asked Morna, herself a lapsed Catholic.
“Well, it’s sort of New Age, sort of holistic…”
And I begin to wonder what the word holistic means to this twelve year old…
“It has begun to rain! Made me think of you, cos I get all excited and I know that you would be quite the opposite”, said Kate from Cape Town today. She’s right.
“It rained and it rained and it rained. Piglet told himself that never in all his life, and he was goodness knows how old – three, was it, four? – never had he seen so much rain. Days and days and days.” So says my desk calendar today. I know how he feels. That’s how Cape Town winters feel to me. Kate gave me the desk calendar for Christmas.
Had a dead nerve removed from an eye tooth today. I wonder about the symbolism of that…Does it mean that I personally just no longer feel any pain that results from this tooth? Or that I can also now sink my fang into you without ever feeling nerve meet bone? Is it preferable to have nerves of steel that grant me fearlessness? Or to be so sensitive that I feel your pain too? Well, it’s all hypothetical anyhow…now I have a bridge, and need to be careful what I bite into. I won’t feel pain, but could be rendered toothless.
He tells me I write well, in a way that suggests that his opinion is something to be valued and his words are definitive and I should be flattered. And yes, there is no doubt about the fact that he has a good command of language and grammar And yet, so often he seems to have so little to say, apart from criticising those who don’t have the same skill, or meet his standards. He makes arbitrary rules about what should be written, and apologises when he breaks them. But does anyone, apart from him, really care?
I have begun to feel in this exercise like Auggie Wren in
, every day photographing the same spot…
“But they’re all the same” says his friend Paul.
“They're all the same,” says Auggie, “but each one is different from every other one…Sometimes the same people, sometimes different ones. And sometimes the different ones become the same, and the same ones disappear.”
It’s all in the quality of the light. Kind of like my days.
(Searching the script for this section, I’m struck by how often the word light appears. Of course lighting up is an integral part of smoking.)
Linzi says “we are each other’s diaries” which “serves as a witness to people like me who get lost in their own stories”. I think she’s right. Or as playwright Steven Dietz put it: “…our legacy is our friends. We write our history unto them, and they walk with us through our days… [they] grant us the chance to make our grand, embarrassing, contradictory pronouncements about the world. They get the very best, and are stuck with the absolute worst we have to offer. [They] get our rough drafts. Over time, they both open our eyes and break our hearts.”
It’s official. The cheapie domestic airline is no more. I sat on the phone all day yesterday, trying to get through, and then there it was on the news! The office was closed, with not so much as a notice up, and all the passengers stranded at the airport. Good thing I procrastinated and didn’t book my ticket earlier! Of course all the bad journalistic jokes about “
…in need of intensive care” ensued. (I always thought it was a bad name/omen for an airline!) The sad thing is, they tried to make it affordable, and went out of business.
I am reading Fay Weldon’s portraits of the ‘stars’... Of Jamie Lee Curtis she says, “she ran her hands over the littlest [child] and his face lit up from inside…” and of Patti Lupone, “stars serve their own genius; celebrities serve themselves…[she] is a star, not a celebrity.” I’d love to be able to write like this… There is a difference between “truth”, and the ability to reflect a spark of light in people, that sometimes even they are unaware of. Good grammar is a skill, and can be learned. Generosity of spirit, on the other hand, is a gift.
I admit it. A fair amount of the words that I write here are not my own. But sometimes (quite often) the highlight of my day
something that someone else said.
As author S.E. Hinton (her first novel,
, published at age 17) said: “If you want to be a writer…be a reader. I think that’s one of the most important parts of learning to write. The other piece of advice is: Just do it! Don't think about it, don't agonize, sit down and write.”
Who knows? Perhaps today it may be
words that are inspiring me!
Atheists fascinate me. Agnostics -- or not having an opinion either way in a “frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a damn” kind of way -- I can understand. But this passionate belief in something
being there, this intrigues me. It seems like a religion in itself. As someone once said, “if there is no God, and you believe in one and it helps you live a better life, what does it matter? And if there is a God and you don’t believe in ‘Him’, what does it matter? Do you think we have a God with an ego problem?!”
It’s a sock day today. The first little nip in the air, and the slight chill of toes. I enjoy this changing of the seasons. More I think than the seasons themselves. The peculiar thing about Johannesburg, is that as it gets colder, it also gets clearer. The air can be icy, but you can usually find a friendly patch of sun, and curl up with a book like a cat. (Well cat would be sans book!) So unlike the grey skies that accompany the rain in Cape Town and England. The Goddess was clever when She invented summer rainfall!
“There and back to see how far it is.” That was my father’s stock response to the question, “Where are you going?” It’s true…Sometimes I need to walk, just for the sake of walking. Put the headphones on, and head off in a direction, in the sunlight, through the trees, and the people selling things or just sunning themselves by the side of the road. The destination is unimportant. But of course it’s nice to find a hot chocolate waiting at the end of the road, read for a bit, and then turn around and come back again. It’s Sunday.
“The moment I walk in here, I begin to itch!” says Michelle. She’s talking about the Recreation Centre where we come to exercise. Yes, it’s a little ‘down-market’, but it’s clean, and inexpensive, and there’s no body-beautiful-flexing-of-muscles -- like the Northern suburbs gyms -- to make us slightly frumpy people feel demoralised.
They’ve just painted it, in colours that nobody in their right minds would
. A donation I suspect.
Perhaps I am peculiar, but I like coming here. The sense that there are other ordinary people, getting on with their ordinary lives. It fills me with a sense of calm.
Ever noticed how hard it is now to get by without a credit card?! What happened to the days when paying cash was a good thing?! “Can’t I just deposit the money into your account?” I ask her. “No, sorry” she replies. So I had to get a taxi and schlep all the way to a travel agent to get a domestic airticket. My friend Marius (whose parents worked for/grew up in the
) told me that his father used to say: “If you have no debts, you are a rich man!” My father would have agreed with that.
It seems strange to me that when your muscles are stiff and achy from exercise, ‘they say’ the best remedy is
exercise. But it seems to work! (Well that, and the Radox.)
I find it hard to get myself there, but once I do, I do enjoy it. But now I have a solution… I hire a video the day before an exercise class, and then I
to go down the road to return it. Once I am within spitting distance of the Recreation Centre, it seems ridiculous not to go. These little games we play with ourselves!
There are those apparently healthy athletes, who suddenly drop dead from a heart attack, and then there was my grandmother who smoked until the day she died at 88. When I visited her in California at the age of 77, she told me a joke:
“A guy goes into a drugstore and asks – ‘Can I have a packet of condoms please…(and in a whisper) and a packet of cigarettes.’”
Our government doesn’t seem to know its arse from it’s elbow regarding health priorities, but I have to confess that I was very happy when they outlawed smoking in public places!
You have to wonder why people choose certain professions. I mean whatever would possess someone to spend all day digging around in other people’s mouths or fannies? But I have to say that I am glad someone does!
I have a great dentist. (Not the ‘periodontist’ that I shouted at a few months back.) He’s a real “people’s dentist”, with a let-sleeping-dogs-lie attitude. He treated Nelson Mandela in prison. Has a letter of thanks from Madiba on his wall ’n all. Now he lives and works just up the road from Madiba’s house. Me too. Who says things don’t change?
I wonder what it is that makes him so attractive. He works with his hands all day, fixing things for people. (No not the dentist, the tv repairman. What a cliché!)
“I don’t do audio anymore” he says. But he fixes my tape deck anyway, and refuses to charge me. I give him some money and say “buy yourself some beers!” But he doesn’t drink. The idea of coffee doesn’t seem to appeal either. He smokes cigars. “Take me away for the weekend” he grins. He’s sweet and kind. He gave me back my music. I’ll look for some cigars.
I wonder why this is different for me from “The Morning Pages”? You know, from
The Artist’s Way
? Well where have
been! Write three pages first thing every morning, rain or shine. Maybe it’s that I’m not a morning person. I’m rather grumpy in the morning, and don’t want to have to speak to anyone, let alone having to put my thoughts into words. Three pages of them no less! And somehow the journal that no-one else sees seems to encourage self-indulgent whining. No, I think 100words, at any time of the day or night…“this porridge is juuust right”!
“Was the paint donated, or did someone actually
those colours?” I ask. “I chose them” Verrelli replies. Oops… I need to learn to keep my mouth shut! But I find it fascinating… Of all the colours in the rainbow (and those in between) whatever would possess someone to paint the walls, brown, beige and yellow? But that’s the thing about colour I guess, it’s so personal. “We wanted a
colour” says Verrelli. It’s definitely better than the hospital green. “It looks like ice-cream” I say, trying to redeem the conversation (he doesn’t seem offended). Rum-’n-raisin, chocolate and banana.
“I couldn’t be still, until I couldn’t be still” says Michael J. Fox of his Parkinsons disease. Yes, I understand this paradox. Noticed the way you only get something, once you let go of the desire to have it? You’ve just given up hope, and then suddenly it pops into your mailbox, or your post-box, the friend calls, you get the job... IT'S NOT FAIR!
I was also struck when watching that interview, at the irony of him discovering the illness during the filming of
And then there was the cruellest trick of fate when
I found a really great tailor. This may seem like a very small thing to you, but ‘service’ is pretty much touch and go here. And I go through bags. Or to put it more correctly, I like bags that seem to be made with cheap zips. Bags are very important to me (the kind you can sling across your shoulder), and shoes, because I walk a lot. The shop is called
Dennis the Tailor
. But I’ve never seen a man around. “Are you Dennis?” I ask. “Yes” she laughs. A tailor with a sense of humour. Viva Mrs Dennis!
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that our surnames originate from the professions of our forefathers. But even more than that, the possible symbolism that our names suggest, of our roles on the planet.
I’m thinking about this today, because SA’s GenX Internet millionaire has just blasted off into space. Mark
. Is this coincidental, or was it somehow written in the Stars that he should one day make this trip? It is certainly a case of ‘revenge of the nerd’, which was what he was considered at school. But I doubt that anybody is laughing at him now!
To the Baka Pygmies of the forests of the Cameroon “there is no difference between the word for ‘song’ and the word for ‘dance’”. So say the liner notes of the
Spirit of the Forest
album. And if you listen, you’ll understand why.
Martin Cradick and his wife Su Hart spent six weeks living, hunting, gathering and spending hours making music with them. And the result was
, however, all of their music is played by humans, not machines. Most of their stuff is at AudioGalaxy. Have a listen… I suspect you’ll be hooked. I am!
After my grandmother died three years ago, her cousin sent me a book that had belonged to her, “A History of the World”. I haven’t really looked at it since then, but today I opened it up, and inside found a map of the Southwest USA. Inside the map I found a note from her cousin: “I’ve marked the New Mexico towns where your grandmother and great grandmother were born…” Quite fitting, as I will be celebrating my birthday today (though my birthday is in a few days time.) Today is
in SA. And so the world turns.
I discovered another of the terms-that-our-(children?)-will-not-understand…
! I mean, is there really a whole generation of people out there who didn’t know life before the tea-bag?! Or is it just a very English thing? I ask because my American friend Polly (she’s 30) looked at me blankly when I mentioned the delights of making tea with a pot and a tea strainer. Off to Thailand, she asked me what gifts I would like. I asked for tea. I am currently enjoying
“Nerve-soothing Mellow Brew” along with my fortune cookie, which says: “Your determination to succeed ensures your success”.
The security guard at the Recreation Centre and I have developed an understanding. He knows my face, and I no longer have to carry my security card. I am also noticeable, because I am on foot, and this is the exception rather than the rule. We greet each other as I enter, but I have music in my ears, so the conversation doesn’t usually go much further. But today I see that he is saying something to me, so I remove the ear-phones. “It’s my birthday today”, he says. “Hey!… It’s mine tomorrow!” I reply. We had a bonding moment.
I’m 41 today, I’m 41 today… My friend Rose said this morning, “I think the older one gets, the more one should celebrate, not less.” I think she’s right. One day (Goddess willing) we’ll be celebrating just the fact that we’re still here and can see!
Went for an
(colour therapy) reading today. Seemed kind of fitting, since colour seems to have been playing a significant role in my life of the past few months. It seems I’m purple over red at present. Strange, because I don’t even like red. But then again, “what’s so strange about that?”
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