Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sometimes, I feel like a motherless fawnnnn

Very frustrating. When the internet goes down, I feel strangulated. Not for this aimless meandering writing, but because I use it for work. Dammit, I can’t do the accounts, so I’ll work on the website…. D’oh! Ok, I’ll, crap, what’s left? I’ll answer some of those emails I put stars next to with the FULL intention of getting back to you… Nope. I can’t do ANY work. Guess I’ll just read some blo…aaaargggghhh

In SA we had enforced power cuts. Despite exporting electricity to other poorer neighbours, we didn’t have enough for ourselves (noble, but idiotic). So at the height of the power cuts, we had two two hour periods a week where we were forced to do without. So there’s no power, and you think oh dear, I’ll watch some TV…er, have some coffee…. Er, take a shower, er, read that book with the 6-point type, er… so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut says.

I’m trying to think of things I do without the luxury of googling or cranking up the power. I’m afraid there isn’t much. Especially since Neen is away. Heh heh- insert lascivious comment here… By the way- the bars closed- no more babies for us. Despite God blessing us with three, we pre-empted additional blessings by having a small surgical procedure during the last birth. And no, it wasn’t on me. Take one step closer with that scalpel, buddy…

So I plonk on the guitar, thinking, Hmm, I should listen to that song I want to play badly… er… and then light a candle, which is romantic if you are on a date, and hoping to drift through to the bedroom, but not so much when your wife is away, and it’s just you and darkness, my old friend. Try some candle experiments, like sweeping my fore-finger through the flame till it is black, molding wax into tiny people. Have a glass of wine, because the candle is there already, and they are close friends, candles and wine…

You get the picture.

*Mental note: When ‘Mommy’ is away, don’t read Bambi as a bedtime story- (sotto voce)- his mother diiiiiies. I was weeping while I read it, remembering doing the same when I was about five, and seeing it on the big screen, my Dad’s cigarette glowing companiably in the giant theatre beside me. Tonight, I read the death scene, and quickly spoke about how Bambi’s mother had become burgers and spaghetti, to lighten the moment. It was a gamble, but it worked. The only tears were my own.

But the power is on now, obviously, so I can shower whilst drinking coffee and watching TV, if I damn well please. And no, I do not shower in the nude. You people have filthy minds.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Confession: I punched a girl

I’ve punched a girl before. And a five-year-old boy. And my best friend. I’m just warning you. The logical me would never do those things, but the ticklish me…

Neen asks why I can’t control my reaction to being tickled. I really don’t know. I suspect that if you filmed it, it would take nanoseconds for me to lash out. I’ll be standing there, quietly, thinking inane thoughts, such as maybe it is better to dye all the white clothes red or pink, since that rogue sock got in and started the process, when BAM!You didn’t even see that one coming. There was a pair of hands at the top of my ribs, just under my arms, and my body defended itself.

Jonah keeps waking me up in the night- yes- I know he’s three and should be sleeping in his own bed all night- but he doesn’t- Since a baby, his nocturnal comfort has been to slide his hand under the sleeve of my t-shirt, which makes me leap out of bed, my nerves jangling like a bell-ringing contest at church. Takes me ages to fall asleep, and he does that all night. Feels like Guantanamo Bay.

The girl was a girlfriend at school, the child the son of friends. Terrible! I sprained my thumb badly, and gave the five-year-old a beeeeeeg black eye, and I mean real raccoon eye. I couldn’t pick anything up for a month with that hand, so I must’ve hit him pretty damned hard. I’m just not a violent person. It frightens me that I could have this violence coiled up inside. About the only thing it's good for is if I get mugged by someone with roving fingers.

It’s programmed there, this tactile defensiveness, so for the moment, I’ll just warn you to keep your distance…

A.N. Idiot? For Doodles, with love

“Hannah is a dear little girl who is quiet and well-behaved. Her concentration is good and she is able to follow instructions. She enjoys physical education lessons, but is still reluctant to participate during swimming lessons. She is friendly, and gets on well with her peers”. Hmmm. Interesting report- not sure who this kid was, but apart from the reluctance to swim, I don’t particularly endorse the opinions of the teacher… Able to follow instructions???

And: “ In order to further improve his comprehension skills, it is recommended that James reads suitable English fiction books regularly. Although James has a good imagination, he needs to use more formal language in his stories, and punctuate his sentences more frequently… excellent results in tests… blah blah blah…It is a pleasure teaching him”. What! He reads for three hours a day, because he wants to! And good books, too. He is one of the best readers in the class.

Stupid reports. Guess I never got over the stinging, and often meaningless, remarks of my teachers. Particularly my Biology teacher, who coincidentally happened to be the author of the textbook used nationally, who, when handing back the exam papers after marking, got to mine- I’d failed (comes from sitting in my bedroom smoking and reading Tintin books)- I’d also forgotten to write my name on the paper.

Who is this person? He boomed… On top of the paper, he’d written : B.A. Boon?

Loved that guy. Just couldn’t be arsed studying for his exams.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What she needs is a burlap sack and a low bridge over a fast-running river

Because chaos isn’t chaos without random additions or subtractions: Sister-in-law’s cats had some kittens. Bee’s cats are prolific breeders, despite us begging her to take them to have their genitalia mutilated. They breed like rabbits, only cattier. So every six months, Bee’s friends avoid her like the plague, as she desperately attempts to hand out free kittens. (For most of Bee’s friends, if she was handing out free wine, it would be a totally different story- they’d be on her like a rash).

I spent the night at the maternity hospital/ Bee’s house last night with my three children. The children kept darting through to the garage to look at the kittens- tiny quivery things- very mushy-poster pretty, being only five weeks old.

Naturally, the talk soon turned to I want one daddy- we’ve avoided it before, pleading allergies. Ok, I’ll have to discuss it with Mom, I foolishly declared. So later, skyping their mother, (Neen: absent mom- on a business trip for ten weeks), as all functioning families do, I asked her what she thought, and she must be really missing the children, or picturing their joyful faces (the joy that fades beyond the first appearance of kitten stool)- she jumped at the idea.

She asked me about their colours, whether the children were sneezing, and of course, how old they are.

Nine, six, and nearly three, I said.

Poor guilt-ridden Neen is an easy target. I apologized.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is That Amnesty International? I'm a prisoner in my bedroom

The strange but true side of sleep deprivation:

  • Watching at 1am as you send an lovely email to your traveling wife, and an Out of Office reply comes from the head of Amnesty International, South Africa, whose details are in my address book. Fortunately, the email was not too lascivious.

  • Having surreal semi-waking dreams as you nod off- One example from last night: I found myself waking up, saying to myself: “Did Frank Sinatra have a pet pig named ‘Loverman’?” What I wouldn’t give to remember the content of that dream.

    He didn’t. I googled it. Another weird thing to find yourself doing in the wee hours, googling ‘Frank Sinatra pig’.

Something bad must have happened

It’s no secret that people are searching for a purpose. For some that purpose is the ability to emotionally engage with the stuff you do during the day that ends up paying the bills at the end of the month. For others, the purpose is to find out whether or not the couple with the neat clothes, battered briefcase and apocalyptic magazines are right, or if spiritual fulfillment comes from meditating through to emptiness and epiphany.

I’ve had my purpose modified. Exhaustion has made me feel like a shotgun. Perfectly calibrated at the manufacturers, each tiny wheel and catch designed to operate in joyous harmony at the points of combustion, propulsion and destruction.

But I’ve gone a step further- I’ve been hidden in a shack in a back yard, covered with an old t-shirt that once said ‘Marathon Runners Do It Faster’, and, by the sound-dampening cover of night, sawn down to further extend my brutality.

My purpose is still the same- but my accuracy is off. The benefit is that now I’m almost guaranteed to get there, a flesh-shearing spray of pellets will do the job of a single spinning pointed death sculpture of a bullet.

This is cheerful stuff, eh? I can almost hear you backing away slowly. It’s impossibly early, but I’m going to sleep, now, and, with luck, will awake in the morning, read this, and think- who was that temporarily insane man? It isn’t that bad, before you attempt to check up on me- I have a doctorate in Melodramatic Studies.

Maybe I’m suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. I don’t think I’ve been through a trauma, but one of the symptoms of PTS is mild amnesia, so who knows.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What would you ask for from Paris?

There was a very slight chance I could have been off to Paris this weekend. Not Paris in Mpumalanga, the European one. The rest of the office is going. I’m left to ‘hold the fort’- read ‘looooser’. Nah- I didn’t push for it because Neen is away in the States- someone has to be a loving and committed parent. Sniff.

So my boss asks me- he calls himself my colleague, but I have immense respect for him, so to me he’s my boss-colleague- “What do I want from Paris?”

Hmmm. No lewd Jokes about the heiress, please, this is not a youtube video, and I don’t understand women with Chihuahuas in fleur de lis bags.

I smiled, enigmatically, but didn’t have an answer- is this a question I’m supposed to have an answer for, stashed away in case the question ever crops up? Do YOU have an answer? How about if I asked you, if clothing was flavoured, which would it be? Would you have an answer then?

Well, boss, here’s my answer:
What do I want from Paris?

A kickass suit from Yves Saint Laurent, to strut down the Champs Elysee,
A thrice woven wool, preferably black, genuine Parisian Beret,
Not too fond of les eux, but I’d like un Bordeaux,
As I wander through Paris in Spring,
Yes, lilies and onions and garlic and roux
Are terribly wonderful things.
I’d grow un moustache, and store up a cache
Of art painted in a café
Then wait till the artist ate a bad escargot
And make la fortune in a day.
I’d be able to sneer without moving my face
In a way that is terribly French,
And sit, with baguette and a bicyclette
In le Jardins, on a bench.
To smoke les gauloises,
For hours and hours
Yes, that seems quite pleasant to me.
So boss, I hope you
Have saved le Euro
To pay for the excess baggage for all the stuff from Paree.

Yes, I know the last line doesn’t scan, but who gives a stuff?
What would YOU want from Paris?

And this is NOT a poetry blog, ok?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Prince and the Pee

I won’t tell you too much, as the ability to think is still eluding me.
Remember the Princess and the Pea? Well, I am obviously not a princess, and we’ve had a pea-related post this week, so I’ll have to go with artistic license:
Prince Jonah, the youngest in my torrid dynasty, is breaking with the habit of sleeping in his own bed. He’s in nappies. He drinks formula.

Every night I am awakened by his pattering feet. He jumps into my bed, and then within five minutes, manages to coat the entire bed and himself with toddler urine (just as smelly and offensive as the urine in the charming urinal at Cape Town Station). Why do some urinals curve towards you? Why? I won’t say something terribly misogynistic like they were probably designed by a woman, but that splashback is really naaaaaaasty. And why do some public loos place the urinals in front of the door, so that every time someone comes in, your urinary habits are flashed to the world? And why do some people only zip up AFTER they have exited the toilet?

Where was I?
Oh, yeah, there is something soul-destroying about being weed on every night- like being marked as a possession or something. Washing those duvet covers and sheets is just not fun anymore. And this is only the first change- he wants more bottles, and more, and more. In my more paranoid moments, I suspect I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since 1999, when the firstborn clambered onto my now ruined mattress.
39 days to go!

Hey, Babe, anyone ever tell you you are really dishy?

Just realised that sometimes I layer stuff in my head- I hum a lot, and it sounds much better there than being squeezed through my nostrils- must sound like an adenoidal bee to other people. But I wasn’t hearing just one song; it was a few different ones at the same time…

  • Drums from the Dead Kennedys song ‘California Uber Alles’
  • Bass from Joy Division ‘Heart and Soul’
  • Rhythm guitar by Johnny Cash- any unchukka, unchukka song
  • Voices! I hear voices! Nina Simone’s talking, octave bending call and
  • All three at once! Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and their respective narrative brilliance
  • Some really short lead guitar solos- Clapton, Harrison, and maybe a couple of Buzzcock riffs

    This is what is caterwauling through my head, along with the chorus of three children acting in opposition with each other. You mean you don’t hear all of that, all the time? Fibbers! I also tell myself jokes- hey! I’m an audience that’s easy to please, and think up bad plots to novels that never happen:
    Here’s an example;
    This is a novel written in Tweets- each sentence a separate thought- a man finds himself locked out of his own house, and can’t override the security system. He can’t remember how to bypass all the complex codes, and has to go to hypnotherapy to see if the therapist can unlock the codes in his head. While under hypnosis, he reveals the reason for his paranoia and secrecy, and why he has secured his house like that. The therapist is very, very afraid.
    But the novel has to be written on Twitter. Any publishers biting? Didn’t think so.

    And all of this is wrestling with the usual culprits for space in my brain-food-sex-drinking-parenting-work-oh-yes-work-friendships-not-too-many-of-those-around-lately-putting-off-tidying-the-house…..
    I could go on.

    Make the noises stop!
    Make the voices stop!
    Is this what it’s like for everybody?
    *Editors note: Scott has had approximately 6 hours sleep total in four days, and is classifiably insane- stand back- he’s not responsible for his actions, and is just not going to provide links to all those music artists. So there.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The forgotten food group: Artificialia

This is purely for the kids. I really can cook. As much as I like oven chips and fish fingers (and their less popular cousins, peas and tomato sauce)- this was not an adult meal. I suppose I could get all revisionist, describe it with continental flair- A tousled nest of lightly fried game-fish, becrumbed in a golden fashion, warmly mated with lightly seasoned amusingly rippled French fries, accompanied by organic peas, sweetened in the kitchen, and a robust tomato condiment….
‘Condiment!’- Hahaha!!! Sounds like a rude word… (I remain painfully male sometimes).
Actually I did make a concession to my own preferences- look closer-This not-really-cooking meal is served on the finest recyclable paper plates. It’s only been a month. Starting to really miss Neen… 6 and a half weeks to go!

It’s difficult to ‘cook’, when you have James wanting to show you he doesn’t need help with his maths homework, Jonah repeating the same phrase over and over like a head-case- I mean, the kid is two and a half- I’m changing his nappy on Sunday, and he crosses his legs, pinches his forefingers and thumbs- squints at me and goes ‘OOOOOOOM….OM……OM….’ And laughs. It’s not like we get visited by the Dalai Lama (especially not lately), so where does it come from??

And Hannah is stream-of-consciousnessing: ‘James, in a thousand years will you still be alive? OBVIOUSLY NO!’, and, about my library book: ‘Now THAT is truly gross! (Me-what?)- That book has GERMS on it! Because it’s a nice book, and other people will read it with their hands, and their hands will have germs on them…’ and ‘you know tonsillitis? I think tonsils are on your tongue, or in your body or something’, and…’ Dad! I hate pricks! I never ever wanna get a prick. If I get a prick, I’ll scream louder like an alarm’. *I think that's what she calls injections/syringes

You go, girl.

It’s been a long, long day.

Monday, March 23, 2009

As worn by mass murderers and other interesting people

Time to fix my sewing machine, make my own clothes again. Had this realization- I just can’t do chain stores any more. In Cape Town, there are chains of clothing shops. I opened an account at one nearly fifteen years ago- broke, getting married, needed to buy shoes. Bought those Doc’s, and paid, paid, paid. Once you are paying, you have to buy clothes using the same account, until when the clerk asks ‘How much would you like to pay?’ you are tearing the very soul from your being and casting it down before her.

So any clothing I need, I trawl very dodgy crap stores, trying to find something that won’t give me electric shocks on escalators. Crappy chains- you can find them across South Africa. I see people on the train wearing the same shirt occasionally.

The problem is this- several times, and I am not exaggerating- I have watched the news- footage of drug dealers and murderers and other nasties- and had the same horrible feeling as I notice something. As they are being dragged into courtrooms from the prison van, jacket over their head, I see that they clearly have the same taste and budget as me- they are wearing the same shirt, t-shirt, trousers…

I’m not kidding. It is a lousy feeling! Watching the SA movie ‘Tsotsi’, which won an Oscar, the main character was a gangsta-killer. He was wearing EXACTLY the same red skinny-rib long sleeved t-shirt I bought at Mr Price, and wore to the movie…

I am not a hillbilly, criminal, miscreant. (Well- not any more!) Although my sister-in-law slept over the other day. I was on the couch. OK?

So I have to do designer-wear, but can’t afford to, so I’ll have to get back to my roots- interfacing, pleats, button-holes and stitching. I can do that. Cut patterns, do hems, sew on collars. I studied it during a bad year- I treated it as a gap year, but was actually studying clothing design. I dropped out, but it’s like falling off a bicycle- you pick it up easily again. (Except with all the needles and jutting bobbins, you don’t want to fall off a sewing machine).

But I will never, ever make another pair of tartan trousers with matching waistcoat again (see above pic- note cowboy shoestring tie). I have matured…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mass Graves Leave a Sour Taste

Here are some thoughts about citrus fruits. Sit back, grab something with a dimpled skin (Noooo not your wife! Are you mad?) And relax.
If I was a lime, I’d be quite peeved. I’m a fresh green colour, and rather sweet, so why do they call it ‘lime-washing’ when they paint something white?
And why, for the love of Mike*, do they call it Liming, when they pour white crap into a mass grave after some terrible genocidal atrocity? The only thing that cheers me up is that English people are rarely called ‘limeys’ anymore. Rant over.

And lemons. Why is a really crappy car called a ‘lemon’? Huh? Why not a quince, or a kiwi fruit? I happen to be sweeter than the other citrus fruits, and without me, the tequila industry would experience a serious swan-dive, as tequila tastes, let’s be honest, like toes. Before I leave you with a sour taste, let’s just all ponder on the use of lemon in cleaning agents. Why not avocado? Do lemons really smell clean?

This was supposed to be a theme, but I’m running out of citrus material. Go figure. So I’ll leave you with two thoughts, unattributed- but not mine.
There isn’t a word in the English dictionary which rhymes with orange. So all you poets with a muse stirring you to citrus-poetry, be warned.
Knock-knock… Who’s there? Orange... Orange who? Orange you glad to see me? Hahahahahahahahahha
Sorry. Love talking bad jokes with my nine year old.
*no idea who Mike is, but he is very, very loved.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gimme some fun, or the Squid gets it.

Life can get terribly dull at times. It can feel as though you‘re marking notches on a tree like Robinson Crusoe, waiting for the inevitable rescue of death. Since the first humans slithered out of their mother’s wombs and headed off to hunt and gather their food, people have philosophized- what the heck is it all about? That’s a question you can get your own answer to- don’t ask me for your answer. And don’t get it from reading The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Some days, I feel like I can taste it, it is so close. Others- not so much.

But I have something happy to report!

Life may not have been gripping today, but it was much, much better for me, than for the life of the squid. The squid that was swimming, or propelling, or whatever the hell squid do, along, happily thinking squiddy thoughts- or happily devoid of them, when he was sucked into a squid-net (dunno how they catch em), hauled aboard a ship, taken to shore, delivered to a pizzeria, chopped to bits as a response to my internet delivery order, placed on a pizza with green peppers and pineapple, baked in a wood-fired oven, and finally, pointlessly, eaten by me.

Life is good, wouldn’t you say?

*And don't correct me: I know the first humans can't slither out of their mother's wombs. Duh!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Glaced Eels, Sugared Kidneys, and Fondant Spaghetti

I’m the cooking equivalent of the nervous skinny guy playing the saxophone in the subway- he clearly enjoys his instrument, but he hopes that by squeezing his face up into odd positions, and doing bizarre rippling things with his eyebrows he can distract you from his lack of skill. After all, those guys always pick the classics- who isn’t going to want to chuck a few coins in his sax case whaen he hears ‘Take Five’ on the way home from work? But I know that the piece doesn’t go like that, and it certainly doesn’t Da Capo every eight bars…

So. Cooking. I enjoy it because- I get to drink- wine drunk while cooking has a certain nobility to it, as opposed to wine drunk while doing the ironing…
I like going crazy with the food, but mostly I’m needy. In the kitchen, I’m ok, but when people are eating (or, in the case of small children, smooshing food into inextricable corners and prattling on about crocodiles and spiders)- I need compliments. To cook and then have to tidy up with not a word spoken is just lousy. Neen knows this, and always compliments me- gives her half an hour to watch Oprah… and have a glass of wine.

I’m not terrible at it- I occasionally have culinary epiphanies, but mostly I have to make do with the same half-a-dozen ingredients as always. But the secret is this- when cooking, take the small cap off the spice bottles. Tip them up until there are herbs drifting all over the floor, out of your hands. Add them to the pot, thinking, oh crap, that’s gonna be herb-y, and than add some more….

When the dish is cooked, and very strongly seasoned, add some sugar. Gets them every time. Sometimes I use syrup. Whatever- like the junk food version of home cooking. I may have broiled cow armpit stew, but, add that sugar, and the children love it. Not so much when all their teeth fall out, but if I’m doing the cooking, then Neen can make sure they are brushing their teeth.

Here are two recipes, one, the worst ever invented, by me, while on a thinners high just after I left school (based on the principle- hey I like all those things separately, surely they will taste nice together?) Erm, no. they didn’t.
The second is foolproof.

Buy- tinned curry, six pack of beer, giant pack of cheese chips, and some noodles. Add to big pot. Heat until hot. Serve, and gag. (Totally serious here- it has been done).
500g-1kg smoked haddock/yellow-smoked fish, butter, milk, peas, mashed potatoes- as per any old mash recipe- but LOTS of salt.

Poach fish in equal amounts butter and milk- little water, maybe- just covering fish- about 8 minutes, serve with peas- mint and syrup added, and mash.
Easy peasy. Kids love it, but if you hate fish, then you won’t.

Always double the amount of spice you are told to add. It might make you run for the loo tomorrow, but who cares? Live for the moment. And the wine helps. I’m thinking Neen, who is away for another six and a half weeks is worried, right about now… Don’t worry, nobody has scurvy yet…

*note: it is ok to drink wine while cooking, but sniffing thinners is never good, and best left out of the functioning kitchen. I don't do it any more.- Munchies cooking, that is.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Confession: I was a Teenaged Pervert

I remember high school, the library. I’d be the only one checking out Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, thought of myself as a poet. But there was another book there, ask most people who went to school in the 80's and they probably know it. It was one of the most ‘read’ books in my boy’s school library: Manwatching, by Desmond Morris. It was a lavishly illustrated anthropological study of human beings and their behavioural psychology. Groundbreaking, even. He’d talk about body language, showing pictures of different cultures and how they express anger or love, or how we perceive things in different ways. One experiment he referenced was a Stanford University experiment- locked kids up, deprived them of sleep. They went nuts after about an hour. Which is about what I get every night.

It was so popular with the teenage boys because there were a couple of pictures of naked women. Hardly classifies as porn, but, as hot-blooded teenaged boys, well, it was probably the closest we’d get until, hopefully, an ill-conceived fumble at the school disco. I read the book, too, and I mean actually read it. Twice. That makes me a more educated pervert, I think… Being a teenager is hell.

So you don’t have enough gratuitous nudity… here’s some for ya!

Found this today. It’s the surgical bolt I had put in my shoulder after a parenting mishap two years ago. I was leaping over a low wall at a children’s birthday party, and swan-dived onto my shoulder, which exploded. I didn’t post pictures at the time, because
a) This was still inside me
b) Afterwards I couldn’t lift my arm

On the back of my shoulder is the scar where they pulled it out again. I was quite proud of it- first time this surgical widget had been used in Africa… Didn’t work all that well. It would be very difficult to lift Manwatching with that shoulder right now.

I edited out my face. Hope nobody Photoshops it back on…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spooning can be Fun!

Sometimes I wish that I had better control over my mind. That I could steel my brain to thinking what I damn-well wanted it to think. That I could deal with loss, hurt, challenges, fears, insecurities by closing my eyes and thinking very hard. Or emptying my head- Isn’t that what metaphysicians do? But I can’t. I’m just a regular guy, perhaps a little bit more neurotic and melodramatic than most, who crumbles like a meringue at the first sign of emotional threat. In a perfect world, I’d be cowboy hero- a man whose inscrutable level-headed stare is carved out of volcanic rock, who can pose in noble outline at the top of the trenches as the bullets fly. A man who doesn’t mix his metaphors.

There is nothing quite as soul-destroying as hearing yourself say something you never thought you would say, or doing something of which you would have claimed to be incapable.

But, for all that, it is possible to find solutions. Sure, Uri Gellar can bend a spoon with the powers of his freakish brain, but so what? I can unbend it with my very normal hands. All I have to do
is want to.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thanks for the Mammories

And, like Lady Macbeth, I need to out some damned spots, so I’ll give you something less graphic to read…

I wish I had a better memory. Not for everything, because, let’s face it, some things are just too nasty to replay. But for names, faces, people, some events. I can’t remember my first kiss. Just can’t. I can’t remember everything about the night I met Neen. (It was in a nightclub where I worked on the door- she was carrying a baseball bat with nails stuck in it- long story- it involves lots of tequila and me proposing to her using a flier and my eye-liner pencil. It was the 80’s, ok?)

I can’t remember many things. Some people can. Neen has a word-perfect recall for TV shows and conversations. Particularly conversations where I say something cruel and unusual. Mea Culpa. My older brother, who manages the oldest restaurant in London has a perfect memory for the most obscure TV personality- ‘HEY! That’s Lindon Twiblet- don’t you remember? He was the midget third from the left in Blake’s Seven episode 4b!” It’s his job to make sure ‘celebrities’ are observed, acknowledged and butt-kissed.

So some people remember words, some, faces and names. I remember weird useless stuff, like the way my best friend’s house when I was five smelled like geraniums, or entire advertising jingles from the seventies. Do I want to have those things playing in a loop in my head? NO!!! I want lovely thoughts.

I wish I could leave you with a cheerful quote, but I can’t remember the source. It’s either Woody Allen or Billy Connolly. (Just try it in different accents, maybe you can figure it out!):

(On bumping into someone)
Hmmm, yeees, I remember your name, but your face escapes me…

You know who you are

Remember three weeks ago when you threw your girlfriend of six years in the air and she landed on her face? Twice? And kicked me in the head? When I tried to stop a man twice my size from hurting my friend? Remember? No, you wouldn’t. The tooth you knocked out of her mouth, the bruises and gashes from head to toe- that was because, according to you, I ‘stomped’ on your foot. No, sweetie, I put up my arms in horror when I thought you’d kill my friend, but you hit me five times in the head before I could ‘stomp’ on anything.

That’s her blood there on my white t-shirt, after I helped her inside. I don’t know which gash it came from. Maybe all of them. Anyway, the police called tonight. They’re talking prison (the policeman mentioned Pollsmoor prison- google it) after following up on the charges I laid. You’ll have lots of opportunities to exercise your particular brand of mindless violence there.

I didn’t ask to get involved in your Jerry Springer nonsense, but, as they say, ”yo goin to tha big faam, buddy!”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't make me angry... you wouldn't like me when I'm ANGRY

So I said to the boy last week: Do your homework!
He claimed he didn’t have any, so I signed his empty homework book and sent him to school. Happened five days before I wrote a note to his teacher. She said they have homework every day, but that he has not handed in his book to be signed by her.

Much anger, many tears. I’ll never do that again, Dad, he said, but today he did it again…

I loved the 70’s TV program, the incredible hulk, with Lou Ferrigno. I especially like the opening sequence where he rescues a woman who is stuck under a car (sic? Can’t remember…) Anyway, after David Banner is affected by some kind of radiation (Gamma Rays, ditto?), if he gets really, really mad, he becomes triple his size, his skin goes green, and he suddenly wears stuffed up purple pants. Why purple? What happened to the original pants? Did he not suffer from stretch marks?

Which is exactly how I felt, today…

Sunday, March 15, 2009

And After That I Did the Knife Scene from True Grit

The typical
(generalizing here!) South African male spends his weekends:
Watching rugby, fixing the car, washing the car, watching cricket, watching more rugby, drinking beer, kidding around with his buddies, braaiing (barbecuing), watching rugby, eating junk food…

I, on the other hand, spent the weekend baking a cake for my father-in-law’s birthday, drinking a pink cocktail with my sister-in-law, picking long-stemmed roses at a rose farm, and… braaiing. The last one was not just an attempt to compensate for the first three, but because I can do manly things, too.

Actually, the children ‘helped’ with the cake (spoon-licking is an important facet to the process), and also picked the roses, so I was being a good parent, too. It was kinda frustrating- they were very bad at ascertaining the longevity of a rose, and picked ones which were clearly entering the Zimmer-frame equivalent of rose-hood. I, on the other hand, chose marvelous blossoms, destined to fill our house with floral cheer for a day or two. I win.

Hannah says: Hmm, these roses probably won’t last till Mommy comes home. Yup. That’s true- Seven weeks to go!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Broc 'n Choc

There should be a cookbook on cooking for children which doesn’t lie. The ones I’ve seen would all be sending the needle leaping all over the place on a polygraph machine. They don’t even make much of an effort at it. Right there, in the contents pages, you see some glaringly blatant untruths. A section on vegetables? Three balanced meals a day? All the food groups represented? Cheap and easy recipes? The biggest lie of all is that food wearing a fake moustache and a clown wig will be eaten.

Disguising food does not work. This simple test proves it: Chop up mushrooms or onions (or both), whichever is the most offensive. Mince them so finely that you need a magnifying glass to see individual parts. Add to pasta/stew/pot of food. Serve, and watch your little CSI team perform forensic tests. Watch them search for trace elements, and remove every speck of onion or mushroom from the food. If, and that’s a big if, you can get them to eat anything else on the plate, you’ll end up with a pile of chopped veg which looks like caterpillar puke.

No, the cookbook should say: Cooking with Broccoli and chocolate chips- an honest guide to feeding children.

With Neen away, I’m going a bit mad trying to feed the children. I do cook when she isn’t away; it’s just harder at the moment. I look at the food in the freezer and cupboards; Whaddya want, I say. Do you like …. This… that?
The only consensus is that they like chocolate and broccoli. We have to have three different kinds of breakfast cereal. I’ll make something- one of the children will be all ‘Aaaah Dad! That was lovely! Can we have that every day?’, and the other two will be staring dolefully into their untouched plates, and if I ask them to eat will make tiny gagging noises.

Every day I attempt to give them different things on sandwiches, and also put other stuff in the lunchboxes, and still not one day passes without one of the children not liking something. One day they LOVE plums, the next, they HATE them. Very passionate about food they are, but the passion is mostly vilification.

So tonight, we are having Broccoli a la Scott- with an amusing chocolate sauce.
For breakfast tomorrow- A reduction of broccoli on chocolate toast. I think they’ll soon start to like other foods again…

Friday, March 13, 2009

Memes are the kiss of death, so why not meme about death?

So I could tell you almost anything, but I choose this: I know memes don’t really rattle people’s cages, but I want to create one. It’s based on a book my parents got us, my brother and I, when our siamese cat died after being run over by a fish truck. Good way for a cat to go, eh? Anyway, it’s called, “the Tenth Good Thing about Barney” by Judith Viorst, published in 1971. I still have my copy, 35 years later.

It’s about a child whose cat has died, and his Mum and Dad help him to deal with it by asking him to think up good things about his cat. My favourite is number ten: “Barney is in the ground and he’s helping to grow flowers. You know, I said, that’s a pretty nice job for a cat.”

The tenth good thing meme is listing ten good things you think of someone who has died. Could be a family member, could be a friend. Could be a cat. I want to write about my Mum, who died last year in August…

My mum was

  1. Awfully considerate of our feelings, to the point of denying her own.
  2. Fond of craziness, like boiler suits and bell bottoms, crew cuts and gin.
  3. Incredibly loyal- you could have asked her as your friend to do absolutely anything. She had resources and used them to touch people.
  4. Obsessed with cooking stuff we’d like- long after the craze for pineapple-upside-down cake had passed.
  5. Able to do crosswords in an insanely fast time, and once won the national Scrabble tournament by accident. Pissed the others off no end!
  6. Able to sing in Afrikaans, French, German, Latin and English. She loved to sing. Oddly, it’s what I remember her mother doing, too.
  7. The granddaughter of the first man to own a car in Dundee, Scotland, which is pretty damned cool- although he had no-one to flip the bird at at stop streets.
  8. The woman who taught me how to sew, and didn’t mind her sons dressing up in her clothes. Sorry I ruined your Jaeger floral blouse, Mum!
  9. The adult who loved to share my music and film tastes, and was thrilled to sit drinking cappuccinos all day with me- she drank decaf, I drank caf, until my ears vibrated.
    And the tenth good thing?
  10. Well, it is that as the months go by, I forget the pain you felt, and the hurt I caused you, and I remember wonderful things. I love you, Mum. Your presence is at least as real as the virtual people reading this. I love you virtual people, too!

    So, in order to be a meme…
    If you want to:
    Cath, daveman and hmmmmm Leah, you could do this.
    If you don’t, that’s cool. If you want to turn it into something funny, that’s cool, too. My Mum woulda liked that!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pig Fat? With Fruit? Mmmm

I feel like a colander with holes that are too big. I try to tell my children the truth, within limits, but sometimes too much escapes, or I just get it wrong. I want you to read the following sentences, as said by Hannah, 6, today, and see if you can figure out how her mind works…

“We only eat Pig Fat at parties, or if we’ve been very, very good!!!!”

“Some people wish they had a different mom, but I don’t!!!! As if I would!!! My mom is the best mom!!!”
Note- six-year-olds speak with exclamation marks, ok!!!!!!!

The first statement comes from a very hazy explanation I gave as to the origins of jelly (jello in the US). Enough said. She didn’t finish the bowl a church friend had brought round for is in Neen’s absence. My own culinary skills are up to making jelly, ok? Add water, stir, refrigerate. Got it. I'm glad I didn't start talking about marine shortening...

The second statement was entirely random, and makes me wonder what these children talk about at break-time, and if I should be more guarded, in case my life gets dissected by a class of six-year-old girls- long acknowledged to be the most analytical group of human beings at any point in their lives. But then, are they going to be kinder than you?

When they say things like these, my heart nearly busts out of love for them, and I totally forget about, well, the previous post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Keeping me in the loop

As a professional communications person, you’d expect more from me. Here are some examples, and these are not invented or embellished, of typical interactions in my house at the moment:

With James, nine: James, could you tidy your room? James, could you tidy your room? JAMES! Tidy your room! Ok Dad. Is it tidy yet, James? Yes Dad. What are all those clothes all over the floor? Oops, sorry Dad. Is it tidy now, James? Yes Dad. (Goes through to room to find clothes still on floor, a makeshift camp set up in the bottom bunk, and what appears to have been the aftermath of an incendiary device detonated in a tub of yoghurt all over the school bags… James is attempting to ride his scooter, but the lego blocks are jamming the wheels. At this point, I lose patience. Right! Do you want to not get tuckshop money on Friday? (His pocket money)… This usually works. Kinda.

Hannah, six: Hannah? Why are you crying? Silence. Hannah what’s wrong? Silence. Can I help you with something? Silence, muffled sobs. Getting worried now- Hannah? Are you feeling sick? Muffled yes… nod… Oh dear! What kind of sick? My ears and my tummy. Good grief, it’s earandtummylitis! So, Hannah, you have swimming at school today? (At this point she breaks down… Idon’twantoswimIhateswimmingIcan’twaaaah). Me, kicking self for saying the S word- you don’t have to, you can just sit on the side of the pool. But it’s too late- what follows is half an hour of gentle cajoling.

Jonah, nearly three: Jonah, breakfast! I don’ wan breakfast. You have to eat, boy, we’re going soon. I don wan breakfast, can I watch a Nemo? No, You have to eat breakfast! (He runs away). Come Jonah, you can have this yoghurt (Opens yoghurt which will go rancid in heat and be ignored). I don wanna yoghurt. Randomly: He wants a hippo. (Make toast which won’t be eaten). Come, Jonah, eat this toast. He dernt like atoast. Please eat, Jonah, I’m begging you! He wants a chocolate. No! You can have cereal (make bowl of cereal which won’t be eaten) OK, (me, gritting teeth) I’m going to get ready, then…. Pause… Daddy, he wants a breakfast…

It isn’t the isolation of these things that catches me off guard, and drives me mad, but that these scenes are repeated all day, every day, and I haven’t sat down to figure out how to stop them. I know I should be figuring out a way to unravel this Gordian knot, but I think my brain will unravel first, if it hasn’t already.

Love this communicating.

Gimme a laptop with an extra battery, I'm going underground for a long, long time

I hate watching old movies for one reason: Sitting there, watching the old frames flicker, I get depressed. I start wondering about the actors, and whether they are all dead. I try and work out how old they would be based on their age at the time of filming, and the year of release. Unless there are retirement complexes and frail care centres in Hollywood housing hundreds of 120 year-old movie industry geriatrics, they are all pushing up the daisies in the cemetery there. (Or, being Hollywood, orbiting Earth in cryogenics capsules).

Same with music. Many of the artists I like are dead, although few of them from ‘natural causes’. On bleak days it feels like I’m listening to ghosts, as I hear the emotion in their voices. South Africa has a very low life expectancy about 40 years, and professional musicians probably rival even that. Second thoughts- I shouldn’t say that- it’s very flippant when AIDS is wiping out my fellow South Africans.

So the point of all this, is:

What happens to all of us who live such virtual lives? When we die, our blogs and social networking stops (clearly, it’s difficult to make new friends when you’re a stinkin’ corpse). All those passwords, combinations of pets, middle names and telephone numbers backwards close the door to all the accounts.

A good idea would be to stick ‘em on a piece of paper, and add it to the will, so that someone can post a note saying what happened to you….
Facebook: Jim is: n’t
Twitter: What are you doing? Decomposing
You get the picture. If we lead virtual lives, we need to have a plan in place to deal with virtual deaths, or at least conveying real death to virtual people. This is getting confusing. If you play the game ‘Second Life’, and you really die, then who kills your character off? Maybe that’s why we all have these things: Myspace- we do it to occupy some place that will die after us. I’m sure most of these programs and groups have a way of weeding out inactive accounts eventually, but for a while, you could live on…

For those of you who don’t update your blogs- you should understand the amount of anxiety it causes paranoid people like me- Are you dead? Not that I’m saying blogging is a life and death thing, but would it kill ya to post something? I have visions of blogging friends from over the years who have stopped writing, visions of their skeletal bodies seeping decomposing body fluids into their keyboards. I was quiet for a long time, but no more!

I’m alive!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yet another reason to be glad not to have been born 200 years ago

Because you are all on tenterhooks: I’ll relieve you. I’m not dead.
Let’s just say that I survived, and I was incredibly brave. I won’t tell you how I lay there thinking, with the infernal zzzzzzzzeeeeee of his multiple drills in the background: “ juuuust gooo to your happppy plaaace, ggggoooo tooo the hhhhappyy plaaace”, and then realizing I don’t have one…

I know I wasn’t speaking out loud, because I had scary things sucking my spittle out all the time, but somehow he must have heard me, or else felt my feeble trembling, because afterwards, the dentist eased me into his chair, and said, “you seemed very nervous. Next time we can give you nitrous oxide, or a complete sedative…”

HAPPY GAS! Thanks for telling me about that AFTER you’ve had your entire arms up to your elbows in my mouth, and you have left me drooling blood like an asylum inmate.

But enough about me. I did try to look for sympathy with the children, when I got home, only cooking meat and ONE veg, tonight, and saying, weakly, that I could only read Finding Nemo tonight, because *insert weak cough here* daddy had to have SIX injections in his mouth. They didn’t care. I have made the groundbreaking discovery that empathy is hard to come by in children.

A little piece of me did die in the dentist’s chair: the part that has to go back ina month, and then six months, but at least, at the end of it, Neen (wife, not anonymous) will be able to say that her husband has all his own teeth.

She’s still in the States- for another 8 weeks. We have the small thrill of seeing her at 23:00, in her pj’s, and here it is 6:00. That’s am, and we are also in our pj’s, all courtesy of a Skype tm video link. But (Yea!) I have travailed through the valley of the shadow of death at the dentist, so I can take a few weeks of cooking badly and signing homework diaries.

Note: He is a damned good dentist, I am a damned bad patient… And I DON’T suffer from halitosis, but apparently, that’s his speciality…

Monday, March 9, 2009

Scorch marks on the ceiling

This post is being co-hosted at both sites- sort of a blog threesome (eh?). I have settled for Blogger, as it is linked to so many fun widgets and applications, and is easy to upload stuff to. I do feel a little guilty, blogdrive, in case you were wondering. Which is insane- guilt about a blog server? C’MON!- We were close, once, but I guess we just outgrew each other.

So I’m ready to make the move, but don’t want to alienate any friends, so will keep up the old site- maybe transfer some archived posts. I don’t think it’s going to be possible to transfer the whole thing, but hey, a fresh start wouldn’t be so bad.

In a fit of marketing genius, I left the name the same, but added ‘ymous’, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone who gives a hoot to find it. My lack of posting for a year or so has left a distinct lack of hooting, though.

Unfortunately, it has been so hot, that on the weekend I spontaneously combusted, and am now forced to type this as a pair of smoking shoes with fried feet-stubs poking out. I hope to reconstitute my body, but as the heat is turned up in Cape Town AGAIN today, I will remain bodiless. Did I hear you say mindless? That’s just rude.

I’m really getting into this again- writing down nonsense. I have to as an antidote to blowing up inflatable frogs and digging out school socks from behind the bunk beds. It’s also great because I can throw out sentences such as “I’m just fiddling with my widget”. When I was a teenager, I would have been without pocket money for a month if I’d said that.

So this post will appear on both pages:
Husbands Anon and husbands anonymous- I can’t claim to have two blogs, though. I would keep both, but it is hard to type when you are just a pair of ash-laden shoes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

interim blog

I'm considering moving everything across here, to blogspot, from blogdrive.
My blog is still there, until I can get my head around cutting and pasting things, or linking, or something...
Everything is linked to the blogdrive address, so I'm a little intimidated by having to remember all the old passwords, and the schlep of letting everyone know...
I also want to make sure that blogger is better than blogdrive first- easier to post to, and also easier to add images/widgets/whatever...
In the meantime, please carry on visiting